Five Rings Rising

The Tao of Heiwa (part 2)

As fate has cast us with the most unlikely of allies, I am reminded of a fable famously told by Shinsei to Bayushi at the tournement of the Kami. Even though most of the readers will be familiar with the fable, it is useful to put it to paper for the sake of discussion.

The Scorpion and the Frog

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back to the other side because he cannot swim.

The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because I need your help, I like you.”

The frog is satisfied and allows the scorpion to climb on his back and they set out. Suddenly, in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog.

The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink. Just before the water swallows it whole, the frog has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

The scorpion replies: “But little frog, I can swim.”

Scorpion and frog

It is said that Shinsei’s story made such an impression on Bayushi that he decided to he decided to adopt the scorpion for his mon and build its clan on the principle of the fable; «Do not expose your true nature, and others will always underestimate your capabilities.»

It is a little known fact that Shinsei actually was retelling an ancient parable and changed the scorpion reply from its original: «It is my nature». By this subtle change, Shinsei completely altered the meaning of the parable. In the original version, both the frog and scorpion drown due to the latter’s action. The parable served a warning to those who acts without restraint, that, through their impulsive behavior, they are a danger to themselves and to others.

It is not known what were Shinsei’s intention of modifying the parable but it can be argued that the moral of the modified version is inferior to the original as it runs counter to the precept of Bushido of compassion and glorifies the duplicitous behavior of the scorpion. But pershaps Shinsei sensed the path Bayushi was taking and meant for the new parable to serve as a warning to those who tread with scorpions.

The scorpion’s stinger is not as dangerous as his honeyed words.



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