Readiness - 準備就緒 - Zhǔnbèi jiùxù
Ancestors' blade, unworthy of battle,
hangs on the wall; a display
of martial lineage, not prowess.
The sword cannot remain in scabbard,
the blade must meet the whetstone-
Honed to a killing edge,
steel the nerves for battle,
and prepare the heart
to overcome exhaustion.
The virtue of a warrior is readiness,
the sage's - awareness.
~ inspired by Deng Ming-Dao
Life presents a competitive environment, full of challenges to overcome. In order to succeed, one must maintain constant readiness for the problems and conflicts that may arise. This is why Tao recommends melding the way of the warrior with that of the sage. The courage and preparedness of the warrior is desirable, but the analytical and abstract perception of the sage comes in useful as well. Each day, the ideal person must maintain their dedication, forging strong character and furthering spiritual development. How does one test the blade, without it becoming dull?
The sages tell of a king who observed a butcher at work. He was amazed to see the man skin an entire ox without effort, and without dulling the knife. Seeking to learn the butcher's ways, the king questioned the man, who said that the secret was to cut between the muscles, parting the skin along the natural body contours. In this way, the butcher did not have to sharpen his blade each day, like his more unthinking competitors.
From this, one can see the utmost importance that must be placed upon honing our cutting edge. The blade must be sharp, as much as one's technique. Remember to take action, but only when it intersects with the seams of daily life. By doing this, you will not oppose life's current and needlessly tire. You will maintain progress, and find yourself unopposed.