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To Serve A Lord


Recently, I was reading a book given to me by Sensei Carlos Ferrer. I had officiated at a Black Belt Testing Ceremony at his school. As a 'thank you gift' he gave me this book and a large Tai Chi Praying Mantis patch that I still wear on my levi jacket.

This book given to me by Carlos is THE UNFETTERED MIND by Takuan Soho. Takuan was a famous Buddhist monk who was an advisor to emperors and the rehabilitator/sword trainer of Miyamoto Musashi. As an advisor to emperors he was appreciated by some and exiled for years by others.

Despite his hardships, ostracization, fame and infamy, he spoke highly about loyalty and self-sacrifice.

Paraphrase or quote pages 37 - 40. The way of the Lord = the way of the retainer.

Although I highly recommend that you read this entire book, I will strive to paraphrase the wise words of Monk Takuan so that they are better understood by you, our modern warrior.

Let's ignore any arguments we may have against the feudal system, caste system, or individual rights. In order to understand the following words we must accept certain standards and rules as our goals:

1. We strive to be of benefit to society by being of service to a Lord / Master.

This serves our purpose in our www.shaolinZEN.org "DISCIPLE" website pages because whether you picture GOD as a bearded old man, cosmic power, or force of nature -- your allegiance is........

The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho, translaged by William Scott Wilson

Published by Kodansha International

We worship and revere the gods regardless of who they are.

When the god of Kitano is worshipped, the god of Hirano is left aside. If the god of Hirono is being revered, Kitano is put aside.

Limiting one god to one location, the ogther gods are not considered to be of value. This particular god is revered exclusively, or this one is worshipped and the other discarded.

When we speak of the gods, we do not limit them, one god to one place. This would not be establishing the Way of the Gods. The Way of the Gods is established when we workhip the gods, no matter where we are or what god we may be facing. We should speak of this in connection with the Way of Lord and Retainer.

Lord means the emperor and retainer means the retainers of the emperor. Lord and retainer are not words used for people below these in rank, but for the present we will use them in that way.

Among the lords there are those who are famous and those whose names are unknown. Among retainers as well, there are likely those who are famous and those who are not. In speaking of a famous lord, a man will say something like, "Our lord is Matsui Dewa," or "My lord is Yamamoto Tajima." In speaking of unknown lords, one simply says, "the lord," without mentioning his name.

For a man who is a retainer, the WAY OF THE LORD should be established if he will simple think, "the lord." And for the lord, if he will simply think "the retainer," the WAY OF THE RETAINER should be established.

Long ago it was said that "a wise retainer does not serve two lords." This meant that it was thought that a retainer would never have two masters. The world being in decline, retainers now emply themselves under this lord and that, in the end fittin gthe image of vagabond attendants while proclaiming their own merits. SUch are the times in which we live.

A lord, saying that he is not pleased with one man or another, will drive the man from the household and heap shame upon him. This also puts the WAY OF LORD and RETAINER, Mater and Servant, in disorder.

Even if a retainer does serve in a number of clans, he should think of his master as being the one and only. Thi smeans that the lord will be an unknown lord, for, if he is unknonwn, the WAY OF THE LORD will be established. Even if he serves in clan after clan, he shoudl think of that lord as "the lord," and this lord as "the lord." In this way he will think of the lord with great devotion and, even though the clan may change, his mind will not. Thus, the lord will be the one and only from beinning to end.

If a man thinks, "My lord is Matsui Dewa, but he is really a lout...," while he is receiving a stipend or fief and coming up in the world, his mind will not be thinking "the lord" at all. When he next employs himself under Lord Yamamoto Tajima, the same mind will follow along with thim,. Thus, no matter where he goes, he will never understand the meaning of the word lord and is not likely to prosper.

Therefore it is better not to inquire who this lord or that might be, but to simply think, "the lord," and to consider rightmindedness towards him without mentioning hi s name. If this is done and if one serves this lord with thoughts of never steppin g in front of the man or even treading on his shadow the entire time he is receiving his support, whetther it be one month, one year or even ten years, though he serve in many clans, the lord will be only one.

The lord, though there be a turnover of retainers, should not meddle with the WAY OF THE RETAINER. He should have love and sympathy deep in his heart, should not make distinctions between newcomers and old-timers, and should act with great charity towards all. In this way, the retainers will all be without names, the lord will be without name, and the WAY OF LORD AND RETAINER, MASTER and SERVANT, will be established. There should be no distinctions made between the new retainer who just began serving today and the old-timers who have been employed for ten to twenty years. All men should be treated with love and sympathy, and each man should be thought of as "My Rretainer."

It is likely that stipend and fief will differ considerably, but there should be no distinctions within the mind of humaniheartedness and love. Even if a retainer has just bejung his employment today, the meaning of thinkg "the lord" will not be found in thinking "today's lord."

Is not this the Way of Lord and Retainer?






  Zhen Shen-Lang,  December 17, 2002

  Chinese chop of Shifu Zhen Shen-Lang
  Buddha Zhen Shen-Lang
  Patriarch, Shaolin Zen




Disciple-Z / p10-serveLordZ.html
"Disciple Pages p10: To Serve A Lord"