There once was a Master renowned for growing strikingly beautiful flowers. They were remarkable in every way: rich hues, perfectly symmetrical, and aromatic enough to make one dizzy with delight. Shining with energy, they could not be ignored. They had a mysterious way of touching one’s heart.
One day the shogun visited the Master, admiring his flowers. He was eager to find out what made them so magnificent, perhaps some special method or rare mineral. But the Master asserted that he used the same means as everyone else.
Unconvinced, the shogun asked the Master to reveal his secret, to which he responded, “It is said a wise man is interested as much in the external appearance of a phenomenon, as its internal properties. There is mystery in this flower that I doubt I can explain. I have noticed that if a flower grows between rocks or crevices where survival is difficult, it rarely blooms, and if it does, it does so alone. However, it is much more dazzling than other flowers growing in conventional environments. So, I applied this principle to growing my flowers: I tore off excess buds and forced them to depend on the strength of their roots to survive. This struggle makes its buds more beautiful and resilient. Sometimes I won’t let the flower bloom every year. Sometimes it perishes, at others it fights back relentlessly. It might sound absurd, but the flower goes mad; it rises above itself. At some point, it finally crosses a mystical boundary where it derives strength from the profound wisdom of being. The flower accesses the strength of the Source streaming from the afterworld. Ultimately, I am teaching the flower to consider death and fight fiercely in spite of challenges; I am teaching it Bushi-Do.
“We comprehend the Way together for we share a proximity to death. I die with every bud I remove and strive for life again with every new one. For its survival, I am ready to give the flower all my heart. Out of a thousand buds, in the end only a single one remains. It cannot help but bloom. It is perfect. If you could only see how it blooms, so poetic, shining with joy! It is the manifestation of the deepest Mystery of being – the triumph of life over death.
“This is why my flowers are so magnificent, this is why other flowers bear just a pale resemblance to the blossom that has experienced closeness to death and has overcome it.
“Such a flower flourishes, full of light and the fragrance of life. This blossom embodies the Mystery of life that I cannot explain.”
This is a chapter from Samurai II: Spirit of the Warrior