Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fearlessly Facing Facts

The warlord was crafty. Racing back to his castle with his retreating remnants, thoughts of ultimate failure fed his mind for the first time. The time was now and the winds of change were blowing across the country. Never before and never again would Japan be so wide open. Rules were for fools and fortune favored men of vision. But had he suddenly gone blind?

For a man who risks everything, one bad decision can wipe out all previous success. "Have I been too bold? Was I more interested in glory than winning? Is this feeling of destiny just an illusion after all?" The warlord had known setbacks - that was to be expected - but never defeat. As the dying rays of the day silhouetted the fleeing riders, this warrior knew he'd reached a point of no return.

Once inside the castle, he threw off his armor and cleared his mind. The choice was obvious: he must face the fact if this was the time to die or the time to live. His pursuers were too many to ward off even with the aid of the castle walls. But the crafty warlord knew the mind as well as the sword was a lethal weapon. With the authority of a prophet, he ordered his men to halt the closing of the castle and to open wide all gates. On the road to the castle, bonfires were to be lit to show the way in. Let us welcome our enemy, let us invite him in.

Horses reared in surprise at the sight of guiding fires leading to the castle's lowered drawbridge. Though victorious in the day's battle, the samurai were far from the main body of troops and they were suspicious of a trap, for the wiles of the warlord they chased were well known. No, they decided, they would not be so stupid as to fall for so obvious a stunt. Wiser, instead, to regroup and cut his head off another day.

But they never did.

This is the true story of Tokugawa Ieyasu as he retreated from the advancing Takeda forces. He had lost all but his wits but his wits were enough. He would survive that day to eventually become the supreme ruler of a newly united Japan. He became Shogun. For 250 years afterwards his descendants ruled the country - a legacy built on fearlessly facing facts.

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