Sunday, February 26, 2012

To Win, You Lose

Everybody would agree that some paradox contains truth. It is not unusual one gets opposite result from an action he takes. For example, Japanese says, if you were in a hurry, you would take longer route. It is similar to English expression "hurry makes waste." If one were in a hurry, he would make a short cut, and find him in a traffic jam. If one over-speeded, a police might stop him, resulting in taking longer time. The longer route would have less traffic to take one to his destination quicker. As English version is saying, if one needed to accomplish a difficult task in a short time, he should take a deep breath, relax, and do it with peace of mind. Then one would not make waste. Japanese sword art, Kendo, teaches trainees that they "lose to win". In other words, "If you want to win, you lose. If you lose, you will win."

There was a sword master in 15th century. The master had only one student in his life, a boy. The boy asked his master to teach him sword skill to defeat his clan's enemy who killed the boy's father. The master moved by the boy's enthusiasm, taught him skill for about a year. One day the master called the boy and told him "You are not strong enough to defeat your father's enemy. There is just one way, however, you can defeat him." The master told the boy it was risky. The master asked if the boy hoped to try it.

The boy asked how he could. The teacher said; "Plan to fight against him twice. The first fight you will inevitably lose. Be careful not to be killed in the first fight. You will win the second one." The boy was puzzled but he fought the first fight as taught. The boy lost, badly wounded, but survived. One year later, the boy asked his enemy to fight again. His enemy was surprised the boy is still alive, but agreed the second fight.

In his second fight, the boy successfully defeated his father's enemy. The boy told his teacher that his enemy was not even half the man in his first fight, still puzzled. The teacher told his student that his enemy was in his half way defeated, because he was shocked by the boy survived, and still want to fight despite the first fight. The teacher continued that the boy acquired stability of mind by losing and almost being killed in the first fight. Instead, his enemy was so relieved by the fight he son, and lost his mental stability shocked by the boy's survival and determination to fight again. The boy's stability of mind reached the point that the skill cannot overcome. The master told the boy that he knew the boy would win.

The teacher is "Itto-sai Itoh" the boy is "Tenzen Mikogami". Both are legendary masters in Japanese sword art, Kendo. It shows the importance of mind stability, which can make a difference between win and lose, or life or death. It is also intriguing that this story teaches people the mechanism how one could gain or lose the stability of mind.

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