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Inner War, Essay Example

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Oishi sat legs akimbo at the edge of the traditional pond. He watched the goldfish below him dart in and out behind rocks, hiding beneath the water lilies and racing through the light rays of the sun that forcefully penetrated into the water.

Oishi’s responsibilities after the death of Lord Asano had left him with little time for leisure and reflection. The ascent to the leadership of the Asano clan conferred upon him an authority that meant an even further evaporation of the ability for his own thoughts. Yet it was precisely at this time, above all, that he needed such time for meditation, in as much as his strategic and tactical decisions at this time would ultimately determine the future of the Asano clan.

Oishi had already decided, almost on an intuitive level, that he would decide to avenge the death of his master, Lord Asano, after the Shogun’s proclamation upon Asano of the death penalty for Asano’s actions towards Kira. Of course, this would seem to be the only path consistent with the Samurai code. However, ambiguity crept into Oishi’s mind, understanding as he did that this strategic decision carried with it its own potentially negative consequences. Much would have to be sacrificed in order to realize Kira’s death.

A million questions swamped the mind of Oishi. He tried to ask himself, in this rare moment of peace, where honor itself lay? With these questions, however, Oishi’s determination to kill Kira as the only possible solution to the current state the Asano clan was began to wane.

The Samurai Code, thought Oishi, attempts to minimize subjective perspectives and opinions. By laying out a code of action, all doubt is erased. In this binding to a code of action, there is a great liberation in the mind of an individual. “No”, Oishi thought to himself, “The strict set of obligations that a man of the samurai case must carry is not a form of slavery. It is a form of freedom, since our minds are liberated from having to make such decisions. We are allowed to truly roam with our minds.”

Yet sitting by the point and watching the fish below him almost hesitate with their movements of wear to turn next led Oishi to question his own conclusion. Doubt was more dangerous than any sword blow it appeared, to the extent that it de-centered one’s centre of gravity. The introduction of doubt into the mind was a form of combat that the Bushido code tried to avoid: the war with the self. Oishi now had been thrust into this war with the self: “Yet”, he thought to himself, “Perhaps this is the meaning of leadership? The point where the simple following code evaporates, and the individual confronts the emptiness when he makes a choice?”

Oishi’s wife approached him in his moment of silence, intending to tell him that dinner was ready. She herself was hesitant, not knowing whether to interrupt her husband while he was clearly caught in a train of thought. When Oishi saw his wife he angrily gestured for her to leave, and she, being a good warrior’s wife, immediately obliged. This foreshadowed what Oishi knew he must do: if he would follow through with the plan to kill Kira, he would have to separate from his wife, in order to protect her and his family from any potential repercussions.

Oishi knew that in battle everything was clear. There was an absence of doubt as to where one should place his actions. Certainly, at the strategic phase this was not the case: one must choose the center of gravity and then strike. But in the tactical phase and the engagement of tactical arms, there was no such choice. This was the paradox of the live battle: the absence of a choice as to what to do meant a full freedom, a lack of worry and a lack of decision. The inner war that Oishi experienced at this moment was a true war, the higher war that meant the war versus the self as to what one is to do.

Oishi looked at the fish underneath him, and with the movement of his eyes, he left his mind. A group of fish broke away from the majority group of fish that had gathered in a cooler and deeper part of the pond, and went to the very surface of the pond, unafraid of the warmth of the sun.

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