When choosing a sword, avoid precious or important weapons with a distinguished history or attractive fittings. Choose the sword that won’t let you forget its purpose; choose the sword that can be carried and used without worry or undue attachment. Respect the swords as a tool applicable to all levels of your life, but never let it dominate your mind for any reason. A precious or valuable sword, while providing a certain type of satisfaction, risks becoming an obstacle to one’s expression of swordsmanship and the cultivation of one’s virtue. Often, valuable or precious swords are kept in order to cultivate favorable opinions in others, rather than for reasons that are relevant to our swordsmanship. Given two similar swords, invariably most will choose the one owned by someone famous, or the one that is older, or more beautifully adorned. Why is this the case? We want to associate ourselves with the deeds of others, but these are not our deeds. We want to have a sword that impresses others, but those are not our impressions. Such motivations are selfish and work against our path of cultivation. It is often said that the sword of a superior swordsman must itself be superior, but a superior swordsman is comfortable with any weapon, or even none. To fixate upon ‘favorite’ weapons is a recipe for disaster, since it adds yet another attachment to the vast sea of attachments we already drown in. It is difficult enough to let go without adding to the problem with mere objects. A sword is a functional tool for the purpose of efficiently killing, nothing more, and only when we can truly see it as such does it become a transcendent object of cultivation as well. The only possible exception to this is when a Teacher has given you a sword for the correct reasons. A perceptive Teacher will give you a sword that has a particular purpose for you, and it is your job to find the lessons that it has to give.
occasional writings on the nature of swordsmanship by various members of the Piercing Cloud clan.