The next essay in the Budoshoshinshu is titled “Do Not Forget Predaredness for Battle”. In today’s society we may not need to concern ourselves with armed combat, but to survive and thrive can still be a battle. In his original essay Daidoji-san warns his readers, young ancient Samurai, that they should be ready twenty four hours a day, aware of danger at home and away, and wary of “false warriorhood”. These same cautions serve us well in modern society.
First, we should take care to be ready for challenges and emergencies at all times. For the warriors of Daidoji-san’s time this meant never being without their swords. In his essay he speaks of the fact that not only did the warrior class always carry their swords, but all men carried some form of weapon even farmers and merchants. It may be unnecessary, and even unwise, to go about our daily business armed, but that does not mean we should not be prepared to face our own challenges and emergencies. Before leaving home in the morning, review your upcoming day. Before moving from one location to another during your busy day take a moment to consider your route and timing. As you settle for the evening, think back over your day and consider how its events may impact tomorrow. At each of these “check points” consider what challenges you may face and what “weapons” you may need. Be prepared for surprises by “arming yourself” for your day properly.
No place is perfectly safe. Both home and away you face dangers to health and wealth. Making yourself aware of the possible dangers allows you to prepare. When you have prepared for instances such as small fires, floods, loss of electricity, and injury at home you have given yourself a survival advantage. Making similar preparations in your vehicle and travel supplies can make a huge difference in the safety of any sort of travel you may undertake. Don’t be lulled into a sense of safety, even the most familiar places and most common of activities can present danger. Take time every so often to assess how you live, how you have prepared, and what you would do if “bad luck” were to strike.
Daidoji-san’s final words on preparedness may seem a bit strange the first time you read them. You may even believe that they have no modern parallel. In his original work Daidoji makes the statement:
“A samurai who fastens swords to his side and yet does not have the spirit of battle always in mind is not all that different from a merchant or farmer wearing a warrior’s skin.”
I believe this warning holds two distinct means for our lives today. On a personal level it is an exhortation against pretending to be something we are not. The act of “wearing the skin of another” begets trouble when others assume that we are what we appear to be, instead of what we truly are inside. When one pretends to be something they are not they can easily find themselves in situations that are well beyond their ability, situations that can permanently damage reputations or worse lead to injury and death. The warning is also one to live by when dealing with those we meet as we pass through our daily lives. We should beware of the “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, be prepared for battle, ready to protect yourself when the true nature of the “wolf” is revealed. It can also be read as a warning to take care in following “false warriors”, those who take on more than they are capable of handling. In follwing such a person we open ourselves to danger through the deception and negligence of the “false warrior”. This warning holds true for all types of professionals and specialists, if your senses tell you something doesn’t seem right about the person, trust those instincts and dig deeper for the truth.
Preparedness is required for survival as much now as it was then. To be “prepared for battle” today means something different than it did for the samurai of ancient Japan. That does not mean it isn’t necessary, only that we need to take actions appropriate to our circumstances as we make ready to face our daily challenges. The more thorough your preparation the more you can move beyond survival and begin to thrive.