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On Genius

I believe that we all have an inherent genius. But what is genius? My intepretation is that genius is actually the Great Potential within that manifests without. It is only with great difficulty, confusion, and limitation that we can judge or measure one’s genius by its physical manifestations. We can measure with scientific means and apparatus, but that will reveal one small detail and neglect infinitely more factors of the particular accordance addressed. We can give our own opinions on a matter, but there is no constant in this method, and so it is equally worthless as it is useful. So, I think we must do the best we can in each situation in life, conduct ourselves with genuine humility, and eneavor to cultivate our own personal studies by following our interests. By putting these concepts to physical action, our genius may emerge in the physical world perceived by the five senses, and thusly all realms of life.

Perhaps the result of genius is Quality.

This particular thought is something I wrote down this morning after finishing “the Life Giving Sword” written by Yagyu Menenori in the early 17th century. Like Musashi’s “Book of Five Rings”, this was another classic I had read a few years ago but decided to reread. It’s a perfect work to read along with “The Book of Five Rings” for their similarities and great differences, and because they were both written about the same time. While Musashi intentionally omits referencing Buddhism in his work, Munenori openly uses it along with his discussions on swordsmanship. Musashi was a masterless swordsman who spent his life wandering and dueling alone, while Munenori served the family of the Shogun within the government for his entire life. Studying the history of these two men greatly enhances one’s ability to derive meaning from their works. To me, it seems Musashi writes of his experience and specific details of technique to lead up to his philosophy, while Munenori discusses the philosophy behind his technique first.

If I had to rank my favorite martial arts books, “the Life Giving Sword” would most definitely be in my top ten, if not my top five.

I think both Munenori and Musashi had profound understandings of genius, and sought its manifestation through the quality of their lives.

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