"Which one is the wisest warrior?"
Shadows danced on the faces of the students gathered around the fire.
"The warrior who spends the coming years sharpening his sword, readying his mind for battle with each stroke against the stone?"
"Perhaps it is the warrior that spends his days swinging a heavy blade, with each strike of the air, he imagines his enemy fall to pieces before him?"
The circle was quiet whenever the teacher spoke, waiting to see who would rise to answer his question.
"The warrior that swings his sword is the wisest warrior."
The teacher stroked his beard in silence, allowing the eager student to explain his answer.
"The warrior that sharpens his sword, waiting for war, is over preparing. Before the war comes, the sword will become too soft, the sword will most likely shatter."
"That's if you look at it literally."
The confident face of the first student twisted in contempt when his challenger stood up from his seat.
"Would you mind explaining your views for us then."
The teacher allowed the second student to provide an argument for his objection to the first student's answer. A rivalry was beginning to form between these two and it was time they learned an important lesson.
"If you look at the two warriors as examples to follow when preparing for war then the first warrior is wisest."
Everyone was interested in hearing more. The old teacher stroked his beard in patience, allowing the student to finish his thought.
"The first warrior is not necessarily sharpening his physical sword obsessively. The sword that he sharpens is in his mind. The pace at which he sharpens his physical sword isn't implied. You only assume that the pace is quick because the second warrior has a warped and unclear mind from his delusions of killing the enemy. The first warrior is wisest because he only focuses on sharpening his instincts."
Many students began to nod in agreement upon hearing this argument. The first student did not falter and boomed over the rising excitement of the crowd.
"You say the first warrior sharpens his instincts but I say he is wasting his time!"
"It is clear the warrior that prepares his mind for the horror of war will be the most prepared. If you're talking about mental preparation, clearly it is the second warrior that is wisest!"
The two students became engulfed in the contest. The two warriors were now at war with each other as the two students tried to prove to the other who was wrong and who was right.
"The second warrior stands no chance with a dull blade. His strength is his swing but strength alone does not win a war. The one who can think clearly and reason in the heat of battle is the first warrior. The second warrior is a berserker that only knows one thing, how to kill."
"A berserker? A dull blade? Now who's relying on assumptions? You can't just describe how someone will act simply on the way they practice and prepare for something. How do you know the first warrior isn't thinking of something just as barbaric as the second warrior anyway? Who do you think you are?"
Some of the students in the crowd laughed along with the first student. The second student stood in shame thinking of ways to destroy his opponent's character
"Someone who actually knows a thing or two about war, that's who! Not some pampered child that always gets what he wants, thats who!"
The other side of the crowd laughed even harder. The atmosphere was changing now. There was a growing rift between the students. They were all being pulled into the vacuum of emotions that the two students were now acting out.
Although it was quiet, the tension of the moment could be felt in the violent beating of their hearts, spurred on by the adrenaline surging through their bodies.
"It is just like this that the urge for war rises in every warrior's heart!"
The teachers voice shattered the silence as their eyes looked up in wonder. He was like a wizard casting a spell to remove their anxieties.
"Be it in their hatred, their pride, their love, or their sense of justice, each warrior prepares for something he can never truly prepare for."
"It is because the urge for war that a person feels can be spurred on by anything at any time."
"So who is wisest among these two warriors?"
The students perked up in anticipation for the answer to the question they all struggled with externally and internally.
"I say both are fools!"
The teacher let the air settle before continuing with his thought.
"Both are eager to stand still and prepare for war without entertaining the possibility on how to prevent it!"
"Both warriors struggle with themselves because they have set their mind on a path that they themselves reject. For is it not true, based on the points brought on by these two students that the two warriors can both help each other prepare far better than they can do alone."
"The first warrior can help the second warrior clear his mind and sharpen his sword. The second warrior can impart on the first warrior the importance of technique and strength. Each warrior struggles with the same thing without knowing that the enemy they fight are the very mentor they need to overcome their own suffering."
The two students who were only moments ago ready to tear each other apart stood in humility before each other. They both held back their tears, the first student reached out his arm and the second student grabbed it, holding their grips firm. Not in competition but with a renewed sense of understanding and friendship.
"Don't let your rivalries divide you to the point of chaos. Always consider the other whenever you consider yourself."
The students clapped knowing that tonight's lesson has ended. The class walked out of the circle, gathering their tools and heading back to the camp just below the hill.
The old teacher sat alone by the warm glow of the fire. His tired eyes showed patience and fatigue, reflecting the beautiful glow of stars in the night sky.