The Life-Giving Sword

Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 6/02/2014

The Life-Giving sword, melts Zen teachings with sword fighting. Munenori found the middle ground between technique and spirituality. He had inherited the ideals of no-sword from a long line of ancestor priests and samurai, the sword being a medium for life rather than death. He teaches how to overcome opponents mentally by achieving the state of No-Mind. By freeing your mind from attachments (sickness), your mind can only act without even thinking of this action. This state is called Emptiness, to act without thinking.

The Life-Giving sword

In a chaotic society many people are killed for no reason, the death-dealing sword is using to bring chaos under control. Once this is done the same sword can be a life-giving sword. The Life Giving Sword – one gives life to the opponents sword, leading the opponent to a place where he gives up the sword, hence giving life. An opponent should be subdued without killing him. In some cases, an especially evil swordsman may be killed to save countless others in the future.


In the Great Learning it says to extend your knowledge to all things, to know people of the world to and understand the principles of all existing things. If you do not understand the principles of things then nothing will come of your actions. If you lack knowledge, you harbor doubts and these doubts will never leave your mind. What you don't understand obstructs your mind and everything becomes difficult. When questions are cleared up they become nothing, you will achieve an emptiness and your actions will be in harmony with what you have learned without your being aware of it.

The Continually Moving Mind

It is the very mind itself that leads the mind astray. The mind must be kept free from attachment and fixation, stopping the mind, abiding, meant certain death from the opponent's sword. If your opponent lifts his sword, you mind shifts with the sword, if it moves to the left or right, your mind shifts accordingly.  If your mind stops you will be defeated in the martial arts, if it remains in the place where it has shifted, the results will be merciless. The mind that releases the mind is one that is let go and does not stop moving. If you keep a released mind, your movements will always be free.

The continually moving mind is philosophically symbolized by the avatar Fudo Myo-o, the Wisdom King, often depicted holding a sword in one hand for cutting through ignorance, and a rope in the other for tying up passions.


When using the sword, if your mind is occupied with thoughts of plying the sword, its tip will not likely be regulated. When practicing calligraphy, if your mind is occupied by thoughts of writing, the brush will be unsettled. When playing the koto, if your mind is filled with thoughts of plucking the strings, the melody will be confused. This is because you do it with a mind occupied with doing something well.

To think only of winning is sickness, to think only of martial arts is sickness, to think of making an attack or waiting for one is sickness, to fixate on eliminating sickness is sickness.  What remains stationary in the mind is sickness, as these sicknesses manifest in the mind, you must expel them.


Abbot Lungchi said to some monks: "Do not see the existent pillar as a pillar; do not see the non-existent pillar as a pillar. Expel Existence and Non-Existence altogether, and make what lies behind them your own".
With Emptiness a swordsman is able to see the inside and the outside, the active and the pre-active. To be able to judge an opponent's actions before they are manifested. This is achieved through tremendous meditation. Emptiness allows you to see the mind of your opponent, it has no color, no form, it is a void. The firmly held mind is also empty and cannot be seen, it strikes at the point where the hand has not yet moved. Victory is determined a thousand miles away. Do not lose the ordinary state of mind, if you think “I won't move”, you have already moved. Moving is in itself the principle of not being moved. If a man blinks normally, that is natural, if he stops blinking, his mind has moved.


Training in technique is done to transcend training itself, by taking training to the ultimate the swordsman goes beyond the fetters of technique. Swordsmanship can be executed with interference from the mind. When you have run the length of various practices, those practices will no longer remain in your mind and that lack of mind is at the heart of all things. By then forgetting your training and casting off your mind, you can become more aware of yourself and your environment, you have put aside thoughts of doing things well and have attained the realm of no-thought / no-mind. You will not be self-conscious and your mind will not be occupied with your actions. You will make no mistakes, but if your mind slips, you will miss your aim. If you maintain no-mind you will always hit the mark. You enter through training and arrive at absence. At this point you don't know where your mind is, daemons and heresies will not be able to find it.

The middle ground is the balance between going too fast and too slow, going fast is the result of fright, going slow results from being overwhelmed.

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