It is days like today that make me overjoyed that I gave up the world for the humble robes of a monk. I see great sadness about me, but it passes over me as my enlightenment blossoms. My companions have freed me from a great prison of the body, yet each remains trapped in a prison of the soul. Though I, too, am yet bound to the world, my prison bars are looser, and my cell far more comfortable.
Had I still been a general, I would have been obliged to focus my attention on the details of the Togashi’s prowess. He is rarely seen, so accurate intelligence as to his capabilities, limits, and tactics would have inestimable value. My professional duty would have required rapt attention. What little remained I should have bestowed upon his erstwhile gaijin adversaries, lest their survivors someday return.
As it is, I can instead meditate upon things of far more import. Chief among these: the pains of the samurai who chanced to rescue me, that I may stand ready to assist them along the Eightfold Path, and so progress along it myself.
First I meditate upon my brother monk, whose wishes I shall follow and not name. He seeks detachment, as I do, but his path is so very different! Where my task is to abandon ambition, he chooses the harder path of abandoning the desire to live. His recklessness and pugnaciousness can only be the result of a desire to die honorably and soon. There must be a terrible story buried with his past. I pray that he finds serenity in the next life, as he is unlikely to long survive this one. Still, he earns much merit by the enthusiasm with which he embraces such a sad karma.
The Hida and the Mantis are an enigma. Both are steeped in darkness, and yet each hungers for the other perhaps as a final self-destruction. Were they happier than they are, they might lead each other towards fulfillment. As matters stand, they can but look for destruction. Cross-clan romances are fraught with peril at the best of times. Those which succeed are likeliest those which are embraced with a whole heart by both lovers, yet both these hearts are broken already, and they are too young to see that their desire does of itself not betray their clans. No, surely they are doomed. Such beautiful sadness! Perhaps they will find a moment of joy in each other before the end. What can an old man say to aid them?
And the gloomy Mirumoto! It is hard for a young leader to not be ruled by his fears, and he has not yet found such wisdom. I well remember my first few commands: the tension, the fatigue, the unforced errors, the shame, worse for being imagined. Strength flows: it is never brittle. But until I earn his respect, any advice I might offer will be unneeded. Patience, Shigaru. Patience. Perhaps he will not murder too many before he learns.
I should be humble enough to take no pleasure in my own progress along the eightfold path, but I am not yet enlightened. My injuries were quite severe today: I stood upon the boundary between life and death. A breath wrong, and I should have passed away. But I remembered my lessons, breathed serenely, stepped back, and the crisis passed. On another day I shall step forward and that day will be good too.
One Experience Point