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On the eleventh day, it finally stopped raining. Musashi chafed to be out in the open, but it was another week before they were able to return to work under a bright sun. The field they had so arduously carved out of the wilderness had disappeared without a trace; in its place were rocks, and a river where none had been before. The water seemed to mock them just as the villagers had. Iori, seeing no way to reclaim their loss, looked up and said, “This place is beyond hope. Let’s look for better land somewhere else.” “No,” Musashi said firmly. “With the water drained off, this would make excellent farmland. I examined the location from every angle before I chose it.” “What if we have another heavy rain?” “We’ll fix it so the water doesn’t come this way. We’ll lay a dam from here all the way to that hill over there.” ‘That’s an awful lot of work.” “You seem to forget that this is our dōjō. I’m not giving up a foot of this land until I see barley growing on it.” Musashi carried on his stubborn struggle throughout the winter, into the second month of the new year. It took several weeks of strenuous labor to dig ditches, drain the water off, pile dirt for a dike and then cover it with heavy rocks. Three weeks later everything was again washed away. “Look,” Iori said, “we’re wasting our energy on something impossible. Is that the Way of the Sword?” The question struck close to the bone, but Musashi would not give in. Only a month passed before the next disaster, a heavy snowfall followed by a quick thaw. Iori, on his return from trips to the temple for food, inevitably wore a long face, for the people there rode him mercilessly about Musashi’s failure. And finally Musashi himself began to lose heart. For two full days and on into a third, he sat silently brooding and staring at his field. Then it dawned on him suddenly. Unconsciously, he had been trying to create a neat, square field like those common in other parts of the Kanto Plain, but this was not what the terrain called for. Here, despite the general flatness, there were slight variations in the lay of the land and the quality of the soil that argued for an irregular shape. “What a fool I’ve been,” he exclaimed aloud. “I tried to make the water flow where I thought it should and force the dirt to stay where I thought it ought to be. But it didn’t work. How could it? Water’s water, dirt’s dirt. I can’t change their nature. What I’ve got to do is learn to be a servant to the water and a protector of the land.” In his own way, he had submitted to the attitude of the peasants. On that day he became nature’s manservant. He ceased trying to impose his will on nature and let nature lead the way, while at the same time seeking out possibilities beyond the grasp of other inhabitants of the plain. The snow came again, and another thaw; the muddy water oozed slowly over the plain. But Musashi had had time to work out his new approach, and his field remained intact. “The same rules must apply to governing people,” he said to himself. In his notebook, he wrote: “Do not attempt to oppose the way of the universe. But first make sure you know the way of the universe.