Re: The Telescope
Gareth - Though I am no expert on Japanese culture as a whole, nor budo and bujustu, it is my understanding that '-do' arts are those with a more spiritual based science, while the '-jutsu' arts are those of practicality. Perhaps we are just arguing semantics here.
A more important note is the general theory, I suppose, of budo/bujutsu/bushido. While these warrior codes are somewhat abstract and most likely more misunderstood as their prevelance fades, it seems that they fully embrace the dichotomy of war and peace. Practioners were most definitely trained in the arts of war, they also embraced a high code of ethics and virtues (referring, at the very least, to the 7 virtues of bushido). It seemed it was a most spiritual practice, so much that it took on a 'live to die' sort of meaning. I would say that anything dealing so heavily in the truths of life such as this should be classified as spiritual. Along with this, it seems fair enough to say, came the lack of fear in the face of death, an embracing of it, so much that death itself was a form of peace - the ultimate peace, perhaps. To make this come around full circle, those who were truly masters of death were those who were at peace with themselves - specifically their own (and their opponent's) mortality - and in tune with a high level of spirituality. It is as if true peace/defense can only be obtained once one has gone through the rigors of violence and war. Those familiar with Taoist thought would probably agree (at least from the basis that one is only defined by the other).
If you've ever seen Jet Li's Hero, they discuss the 3 levels of mastery of the sword. The first is mastery of the sword in the hand, whereby you can strike down any opponent. The second is mastery of the sword in the heart, whereby you can strike down an opponent, empty handed, from 100 paces away. The third is the mastery of the sword in neither the hand nor the heart, where the weapon has been laid down, and the swordman is at peace with the world.
While this may be just a snippet from a movie, the life and legend of Miyamoto Musashi seems to agree with this. Perhaps there is an innate peace in death and battle. Perhaps this only comes from true mastery of an art.
Being only recently aware of Taoism and the sword culture that was Japan, my thoughts and opinions are only forming. Hopefully I haven't convoluted them to the point where they are either illogical or do not accurately relay what I feel.
DaveO - An excellent analogy and a point definitely worth considering. At the very least, we should seek to know our own reasons for studying whatever it is we choose, as well as the limitations of the path by which we make our journey.
Take it easy,