Thursday, May 24, 2007

The 3 Samurai Cats (in a nutshell) by Eric A. Kimmel.

In a nutshell, here is the story:

There was a daimyo (lord of the castle) who was frustrated by a huge, mean rat that ravaged and terrorised his household. He went to a docho (monk) for help. The monk sent a samurai to deal with the rat. The rat beat the samurai to pulp.

The monk then sent his top samurai. Armoured and skillful the samurai fought with the rat. He was beaten to mush. The then told the daimyo that the Neko Roshi (Zen master) would have to deal with the rat. The Zen master turned out to be a decrepit cat dressed in rags and walked with a limp. He never lifted a finger to fight with the rat letting it over run the castle even more boldly. The rat literally became the boss of the castle to the exasperation of the daimyo. It went on a rampage and all the while the Zen master slept, lazed around and let the rat do what it wanted.

During a particular festival (Obon festival) where rice balls were made in celebration, the rat stole rice from everyone and made his own rice ball. He made a gigantic rice ball bigger than himself and then he tripped and fell into the rice ball and got stuck. He cried for help. The Zen master limped over. He told the Rat that he would help him provided that he promised to leave the castle after that. The rat said no, whereupon the Zen master extended a single claw in the Rat's face. The rat had no choice. The daimyo was free from the rat at last. He asked the Docho (monk) how was it that two strong and skilled samurais did not succeed to get rid of the rat but a useless-looking aged cat managed to do so.

The docho replied that in Zen teaching you do not use force on the enemy. You let him defeat himself. The lesson is to "draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting."

This is of the most entertaining childen's story book that I have come across in a long, long time. The illustrations were fantastic. They were beautifully done and the comic element showed up in subtle ways making me smile as I read.

I have travelled miles in life to arrive at this threshold where I have to try to cross over without tripping and falling flat on my face. It will take a lot of mastery to be able to "act without acting". Is this deceit? To act like you do not care when in fact you do?

With people who loves you, that would be deceit because in such relationships, trust and truthfulness should prevail. With enemies and people you do not care for, this principle could be applied as a strategy to defeat them.

This story tells us only how we should act in one type of situation. It is useful to have this knowledge and to apply it when necessary. But life is really very complicated. We do not have only one enemy and some of them know what you are trying to do and defeat you before they fall into your trap.
We also have people whom we love and care for that we do not seek to destroy but whom we do not know how to cherish. What about the saying "Love thy enemy?" Is it possible to do that? Why have enemies? It is not our choice most of the time. Life just unfolds and we just have to face what falls our way be they good or bad and learn not to act without thinking.

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