The Invisible Target

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Three young ronins were traveling together across the Mounts Okuchichibu to reach the Kanto plains. In these uncertain times, in these mountains infested with thieves, it was better to join forces to be prepared for any encounter. These three young samurai were doing their mush shugyô, their wandering warrior quest. They went from school to school to perfect their art, they fought duels after duels, often risking their lives, with the hope to get a reputation that would enable them to be hired by a daimyo or to open their own dojo. Each of these ronins had his own specialty: sword, spear and bow. As they were heading toward the Jûmonji pass, they got lost in a fog si thick they could see their own hands. When the evening came, exhausted the decided to spend the night in an old temple half in ruin. In the middle of the night one of the samurais woke his companions up. A kind of sneer, chilling you to the bone could be heard. Japanese tales are full of yôkai hauling lonely places : ghosts, demons, she-ogre from the mountains, she-foxes, … the list is as long as an arm. The moon was full but the fog was so dense that it was impossible to discern anything even less to go and check. two of the warriors were worried stiff. the fog screen on which the lantern of the moon was projecting the leaves shadows like a chinese theatre creating a fantastical scenery. Their unrestrained imagination showed them nightmares of flying heads, huge arms, phosphorescent specters, … they had sized their weapons and gesticulated in every directions at the risk of hurting themselves. These dreadful warriors were in the grip of the superstitious fear created by their ancestral believes.

Despite their pointy weapons and their screams, the sinister laughter  did not stop, amplified by the echo of the valley. They begged their companion to use his bow, arguing that it was traditionally used in shinto rituals to chase away the demons like the goddess Amaterasu, the sun goddess, dispersing the darkness with her solar arrows.

In the midst of all this agitation, the archer ordered them to calm down and half-asleep bent his bow. He shoot one single arrow in the direction of the terrifying sneer. The demoniacal laugh was immediately silenced.

At dawn, the last shred of fog were dissolved by the sun. The three ronins decided to go and check where the arrow was stuck. Maybe will they find the corpse of a kitsune, a fox-spirit? They were surprised to see the arrow stuck into two bamboo trees! the wind rubbed them together creating this monstrous laughter. The arrow stuck them together at their exact junction point, shutting them down. The archer hit the bull’s eye from fifty meter, in an impenetrable fog being guided only by its ear. What an unbelievable achievement!    The archers’ companions congratulated him: -You are an arrow master! You will be able to open your own school. -You discovered the secret of the Perfect Shoot that is described by some senses!

Taking his arrow back he replied:

-Stop that nonsense! I was only lucky! And I am going to prove it.

Back at the old temple, the archer shoot an arrow toward the bamboo trees dancing in the wind. He had to shoot five arrows before fixing them together. Then he tried to shoot with his eyes closed. He emptied his quiver without hitting his target. This only confirmed his feeling from the previous night. In this altered stat of mind, his spirit was free of all mental will, in perfect harmony with the universe. Then he was able to let the wood of the arrow merge with the wood of the tree. The arrow left the bow with the innocence of the red maple leaf leaving the tee like a ripe fruit in autumn

The archer had known the our Void shoot. He knew  that he would need thousand and thousands of arrows before finding it again. Such was the law of the path ad technique of the bow.

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