The Path to Truth

Although we are no more than a brief spark in the eternal course of the universe, each of us has a part of a greater truth to recognize and cope with. This does not mean that everyone has to come to the same insight. Each of us has a different question, and one answer will by no means give everyone the same satisfaction.

There are countless paths one can take, and on each, it is possible to attain satori (enlightenment) and insight. One person may choose the path of knowledge and perhaps become a scientist, another the path of healing and become a doctor or nurse, a third choose the path of rule and become a politician or found his own company. Or you could also go the way of the servant or the way of the merchant.

There are numerous other ways, this is just a small selection that you can make. And there is the way of the warrior that we bujin have taken as our way.

The Choice of Path

The first and most difficult step on the path of life is to find and tread the path that is right for us. In the past, it was customary to take the path that birth had preordained. But today you have the freedom to choose your path. However, this freedom can also be confusing, and the number of possible paths can confuse a person. Some discover their path in their youth and follow it undeterred until death. Others discover their way later, some never discover the right way. Others change their path several times until they find fulfillment.

Each of us may find a different answer on our way, but all ways have one thing in common: They only serve as a means to an end and must never become an end in itself.

The Path of the Warrior

Those who have chosen the path of the warrior may come to the realization that all conflict is futile and they work on their strength and invulnerability that gives one the freedom to choose love and generosity.

In many cases, a warrior on the path to enlightenment will at some point embark on an odyssey – musha shūgyō. This odyssey robs the warrior of his homeland, comfort, an orderly daily routine, friends, family, or his mother tongue. The Ninja must be adaptable and resourceful to handle this situation.

Various factors make it difficult for the warrior to enter and follow the path to enlightenment. What hampers us most is that the warrior’s path requires one to immerse oneself in only one aspect of existence and to follow that path with zeal every day of one’s life.

A person who practices martial arts as a hobby is by no means following the warrior’s path. The warrior’s path is an everlasting, lifelong, all-consuming commitment to be followed without deviation.

So What is Enlightenment?

The word enlightenment is handy and yet not easy to define. But enlightenment cannot be put into words, but when it begins to bloom in you, you will recognize it for yourself.

The key to enlightenment lies in letting go of the ambitious pursuit of recognition and losing yourself in an all-encompassing activity or situation.

Enlightenment does not have to be instantaneous, in very few cases does it happen suddenly. Rather, enlightenment can grow slowly. This sense of selflessness can be achieved through a glorious setting, through a meaningful event, or through the shedding of all constraints.

In that moment of truth, one feels awe, joy, total oneness, and vitality.

Such an event brings with it a different way of thinking, and this gives rise to different insights that can fundamentally change the way we live and act. All oppressive heaviness can disappear from our lives.

Enlightenment for the warrior is the realization that everything is just an illusion and that anything or situation, no matter how good or bad it is judged, is seen by the universe as right and right.

Achieving Enlightenment

One method of achieving enlightenment is to break free from all limiting attachments. These bindings can be denoted symbolically as name, elements, and emptiness.

The first influence, the Name includes everything you have done or been done to you up to that point. All the things you felt powerless to do. Everything physical, social, familial, and genetic that you’ve carried around with you since birth. But all talents and abilities that one has acquired over time, yes, the entire body and all tendencies belong to this category.

Getting rid of these elements means removing every weakness you thought you had to live with. It means eliminating all subterfuges and self-limiting habits that one normally used for convenience. I’m just fat, I don’t grow muscles, I’ll never learn that anyway, etc. are no longer there from that point on.

This is far more difficult than it appears at first glance.

The second influence, the Elements, involves the manner in which one responds to incidents. This includes friends and enemies, strengths and weaknesses that you have acquired over time. All cultural, political, and economic influences also belong in this category.

Eliminating these elements means throwing out all standard methods, prejudices, ideals, and blocking opinions. So you have to rethink your current understanding of life. This is very difficult and requires a great deal of patience and perseverance.

The third influence to reckon with is the emptiness. This influence includes one’s potential and power to shape and direct one’s life. One must give up the futile project of basing all actions, plans, and interactions on purely rational and mechanical principles.

One must be able to interpret the cosmic signs, otherwise one will wage a hopeless struggle for the rest of one’s life. But you can also fall into total helplessness because you’ve been waiting your whole life for a little bit from heaven, for helping spirits to save you.

No matter how many books or life guides you read, if you don’t root your goal deep down, enlightenment cannot be achieved.

Text: Stefan Imhoff