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SWORD OF THE SPIRIT

The element of metal, in the Chinese teaching of the elements, represents, among other things, the human spirit. This spirit is represented by the sword. The art of sword making refines the base ore into the refined metal, which is what we are trying to do in our lives as we develop our character.
The sword serves the same symbolic purpose in many cultures. In the Kung Arthur legends, for example, the sword can be thought of as one’s life. It comes from the Lady of the Lake, representing the Great Mother and at the end of the legend, returns to the Lady. This legend can be thought of as the story of how this sword is used and misused by the legend’s characters. In our own lives we are influenced by many people and groups, each vying for our allegiance. We are sometimes misused by these people for their own petty purposes.
Merlin thrust Ex-Caliber (the sword in the Kung Arthur tales) into a stone when it was misused. It could only be removed by a “good person”, the rightful king (which was Arthur). When we are misused it feels as if we are embedded in stone and only a “good person” can get us out of this state. Some people try to impress us with their power but it is the spirit of the person that frees us. The Kung Arthur tales took place at a time when the “old ways” were giving way to the “new ways” (paganism giving way to Christianity) and the legend was based on this transition.
In our modern times many people also feel old ways giving way to new ways. The old ways can be thought of as living a sacred life, a spiritual life. This means that much of our focus is on our own inner development, the development of our character. The new ways are all about getting ahead, owning things and eliminating the “magic” from our lives. Many people feel lost in this “new world”. It is no longer a Pagan vs. Christian conflict. People of all faiths and no faiths are equally concerned. While the sword represents the spirit, it is a weapon. Our spirit is our greatest power to live an enjoyable, positive life.
One of the first lessons in sword fighting is to be constantly on guard not to let anyone take your sword away from you. How often during the day is our spirit taken away from us as we worry about all sorts of things? When we worry we are doubting our power to take care of the situation. We doubt the power of our spirit to get us through difficult situations. How often during the day do we encounter people trying to convince us of things so we can join their crusades?
The sword-bearing Knight of the round table must have guiding principles to use his power, based on helping his community, otherwise he would just be an armored bandit. His common sense and sense of justice must guide him. When we see news of powerful people using their money and position to rob ordinary people of their life savings in order to make a few more hundreds of millions of dollars, we often wonder what would we do if we had power. We do have power. Even though our little spirit sword may not seem as powerful as the resources of a billionaire, that belief is one of the ways we are robbed of power. It was not King Arthur’s strength or wealth that made the legend what it is. It is the idea that he was a just and fair king.
Developing our character may seem naive when the level of corruption in our country seems so much greater than ever before. Yet, with all of their power, what really built the Knights up and brought them down was their character, and that was what the legend was all about. With all of Merlin’s magic, he was at the mercy of the inner spirit of the kings. Neither he nor Ex Caliber could do anything by themselves.
Take note of all the distractions in life – new computer programs you need to learn, new inventions you have to learn how to use, the news of wars and tragedies on television, your friends’ problems, the creditors threatening to turn something off, your own health problems. That is the fire that forges the metal for your sword. Without it you would have a sword made of rough ore. When each of these distractions meets you, remember your power.
Use the “opportunity” to forge your sword. Don’t let the distractions steal your sword. Forging the sword involves both heating and cooling. The red-hot sword is plunged into water. Remember to take some time each day to cool (to practice Tai-chi, Zookinesis or meditation). The balance of fire and water strengthens the sword. Ultimately, worldly power such as money cannot bring you an enjoyable life without inner power. Be the good and fair king in your life. Then, whatever worldly power you have, will be a blessing to us all.