The art of war

A great swordsman, a great warrior, came back home and found that his servant was making love to his wife. According to custom, he challenged the servant — gave him a sword and told him to come out of the house and let it be decided; whoever remains alive will be the husband of the woman.

The servant did not even know how to hold a sword — he was a poor servant, he had never been trained in swordsmanship. He said, “Master, although you are following a convention, and respecting even a servant and giving him an opportunity, this is for you just a game. I don’t know anything about swordsmanship. At least give me a few minutes so that I can go to the greatest master — who lives nearby in a monastery, a Zen monk — to have some clue.”

The man agreed. He said, “You can go. And if it is needed, a few hours, or even a few days, or even a few months — you can get disciplined. I will wait for you.”

He went to the great warrior, the Zen master. The Zen master said, “Even years of training will not help you. Your boss is just second to me in the whole country — you cannot hope to compete with him. My suggestion is: this is the right moment to fight.”

The servant could not understand. He said, “What kind of puzzle are you giving to me: this moment is the right moment?”

And he said, “Yes, because you have one thing certain — your death. Now more than that you cannot lose. Your master has many things to lose: his wife, his prestige, his respectability as a warrior; he is a great landlord… all his money — his mind cannot be total while he is fighting. But you can be total. You have to be total — just a moment of unawareness and you are gone; you have to be totally alert. This is the right moment; don’t bother about any discipline — you simply take the sword and go.”

The servant came back within minutes. His boss said, “Have you learned anything?”

He said, “There is no need of learning anything. Come out of the house!”


And the way he shouted, “Come out of the house” …. The boss could not believe what magical change had happened to his servant. As he came out, the servant, according to convention, bowed down to the boss; the boss bowed down to the servant. That is, in Japan, part of their culture; even with the enemy, you have to respect his dignity, his humanity, his divinity.

And then the servant started hitting the warrior — knowing nothing about swordsmanship. The warrior was at a loss, because where any expert would have hit, the servant would not hit because he had no idea; he would hit somewhere where no expert would have ever hit. And he was fighting with such totality that the warrior started moving backwards, and as the warrior started moving backwards, the servant gathered more courage. He was moving his sword without knowing why — to what purpose, or where he was hitting. And since it has been decided that his death is certain, now there is nothing to worry about — all worries belong to life.

Soon he cornered the master. Behind, there was the wall surrounding the master’s garden. He could not move backwards anymore. He was so afraid of death, for the first time in his life, and he said, “Wait! You can have my wife, you can have my properties; I am renouncing the world, I am becoming a monk.”

He was trembling with fear. Even he could not understand what happened. From where did this courage come? From where this totality? From where this awareness? But it can be only in such special situations that without any discipline, just the situation can create so much awakening in you.


Osho – “The Hidden Splendor”


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