A warrior begged a renowned priest for guidance, “I am tired of war and destruction. I have killed many and constantly hear people cursing war. I am tired of watching them suffer, I am tired of everything. I wish to renounce this world and live in the forest with you. I wish to wander, fast, and lead a simple life meditating under a tree.”
The warrior carried on, but the priest was no longer listening. He was focusing, contemplating indescribable things.
Listening silently, the priest looked into the hero’s brave, sad eyes. Nothing escaped his shrewd gaze. He noted the warrior’s stately form shaped by years of training, and felt the deep inner power guiding the swiftness and precision of his reactions.
Staring at him, the priest acquired a window to the warrior’s soul, and the words he didn’t speak sounded louder than the ones that escaped his lips.
After a while, the warrior stopped speaking. He stood silently, awkwardly. Was the priest uninterested? Wasn’t he able to relate to the pain of a fighter? He felt the man was far away, lost in thought.
As the warrior began to walk away the priest finally spoke, “Of course you may become a hermit, but first, answer this: what did you do as a child when other boys bullied you?” he asked.
“I fought them. Eventually I grew stronger and faster than them, so they stopped taunting me. Now I am ashamed,” the warrior responded.
The priest continued, “Look at all these defenseless people. If tigers attacked them, what would you do?”
“I would immediately grasp my bow, shoot the tigers, and fight them with all my might.”
“And what would you do if this peaceful forest caught fire?” asked the priest.
The warrior didn’t hesitate, “I would fight the fire and try to save the people.”
“Precisely. You would not run. You would not pray. You would fight. Few are inherently brave, and from the day you were born, it has been your destiny to be a warrior. You are fearless and fight to the bitter end. You cannot run away, you act like a proper warrior. All your years of training and discipline led you here. This is your essence. It is in every fiber of your being, it is your religion. This is what you have been preparing for your entire life. It is your destiny. Do not renounce the world, for mere mortals cannot grasp the divine plan of Providence. You do not start wars. The world is complicated and full of contradictions, and life requires you to balance incompatible things. You are a Warrior, so this is what God wants. This is your mission, your inescapable duty. Following another’s way is dangerous. Let others sit under a tree and watch it grow. They need it, not you. True religion sprouts from the depths of the heart, and being a Warrior is your religion. Walk that path to the end.”
This is a chapter from Samurai II: Spirit of the Warrior