What Does Musashi Say About Resolve
"Fixation is the way to death; fluidity is the way to life. This is something that should be well understood."
According to Musashi, there are two opposing forces when it comes to resolve. In his explanation of the correct way to grip the longsword in battle, he brings about two contrasting terms: fixation and fluidity. As a samurai warrior and master duelist, Musashi became keenly aware of the force and necessity of mastering and solidifying one’s resolve in any endeavor. For him, life was a continual cycle of staring death in the face, then thwarting its clasping grip. So, then, what does he mean by “fixation,” and why is it considered the way to death? And conversely, what about “fluidity” is so life-giving?
In the terms of life and death, and just as well in the terms of anyone striving towards a dream or really anything of value and purpose to the world or immortal soul, a fixated resolve is rigid, stiff, and unable to bend. In the context of Musashi, a rigid attitude in fighting, an inability to mold to the requirements of the situation would mean certain death. A rigid resolve is prone to breaking. Musashi’s answer to this conflict, both in war and in life, what he called fluidity. Where fixation is the inability to depart from one’s ways, fluidity is the ability to be aware of a situation and adapt to it.
Does this, then, work against our resolve or goal. No. For a moment, imagine the world in Musashi’s mind. In a duel where his life was on the line, Musashi knew that he would have to adapt to the situation—be fluid—to survive. But did this mean that his goal of victory was altered? Of course not. What it did mean was that, in his ability to understand the needs of a situation and how it related to his goal, he was able to reach it more effectively.
Like the duels of the legendary sword-saint, life is a conflict. We all have dreams, and many dreams shatter for being too rigid. But if we have resolve and traverse our path situation by situation, day-by-day, step-by-step, we will find that we can be strong as the sea.
William F. Burk
Award-winning author of fantasy, flash fiction, and poetry. Author of "The Heart of Hearts," a debut fantasy novel. Always writing, forever and ever.