Picture of Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, a British heroine of World War II who would rather die than give in.
CONCUBINE OR WARRIOR – YOU DECIDE:
Master Sun was challenged by a warlord to apply his war strategies that became The Art of War to train 180 women from his palace into an orderly army. Among the women, two were the warlord’s favourite concubines. So Master Sun divided the women into two groups and put those the two favourites of the warlord in command of each group.
Master Sun set the women a simple drill and made sure they understood exactly what to do. He began and ordered them to perform the drill, the two leaders burst out in laughter. Master Sun tried again and the women rather than carry out the simple drill laughed. Master Sun ordered the two laughing commanders beheaded on the spot as an example for the rest of the concubines horrifying the warlord. After this practical exercise, the women did not utter a single sound and performed the drill exactly as he commanded them.
To be a warrior, a woman must behave as a warrior. It is patronising, disrespectful and offensive to the – woman her like physically or mentally weak child. Master Sun did something many would consider wrong – but such armchair generals did not command armies or face life and death situations thousands of years ago. Master Sun did what was effective then and his strategies laid out in The Art of War are as effective today.
OBJECTING TO THE NOBLE WARRIOR:
Women have been some of the greatest warriors in history. Women faced challenges and overcame them as they do today. Women treated their lives with importance and knew others depended upon their success – life was not as a game to them. As in the time of Master Sun as now – a woman is not some merchandise that needs a man to protect her like some caged prized pet.
Our strength lies is all of us – those who elevate one group and dismiss another play a game of divide and rule. Control addicts use gender, politics, religion, nationalism, tribalism, racism, money, media and other forms of identity and ‘things’ to divide and to control. Women over time have taken a more subservient role within our assorted cultures to men who were simply busy playing power games of wars and conquest. Being a ‘woman’ (or a ‘man’) is no excuse to limit yourself to what your ‘society’ or culture wants. Move away from this game. A real man (as in the past) does not limit a womans desire to be a warrior.
EMBRACE THE WARRIOR MINDSET:
Who knows the story of Sumaya, who was brutally raped, tortured and killed for refusing to give up her faith of Islam or Mata Bhag Kaur a Sikh warrior-woman who led 40 soldiers against the Mughals. These are just two stories of women warriors who refused to be wounded within, women who refused to give up for something they believed in and refused to be subservient to what they considered wrong. Such women – are in our collective history and we must learn of their courage and nobility and find that same essence within ourselves of what it means to be a real woman – or man.
In politics for example various techniques to increase women representatives in parliament have been used – amongst them women only shortlists – these are a condescending action by those in power towards women as it makes women feel that they cannot succeed on their own and need special aid just to perform normally. Women (or minority) only shortlists are a divide and rule strategy – so if one side complains about the unfairness of this the other side will complain of sexism, racism etc and both sides fight amongst themselves the status quo of lack of quality political leadership continues. Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto, Dilma Rousseff, Angela Merkel and Theresa May to name but a few – these women who got into the highest seat of power in their nations did so because they showed leadership not subservience to some shortlist.
If you pit two gladiators against each other the one who is more competent will succeed – not the one who is just there because she was a favourite concubine of a warlord. Whether in democracy or dictatorship the full energy and expertise of people should be utilised for the betterment of their nation – and not base their ability to serve on whether they have genitalia or lack of them.
The women warriors of the past succeeded because they knew they were equal to men and that is a mindset that we need.
JUDGING ON IDENTITY AND EXPERIENCE:
Simon Bolivar the South American freedom fighter said that ‘Judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.’
War, like politics and business is a game and real leadership blossoms once we understand the games being played – whether against us and how we are used like some chess-piece on a game board – there are those that will aim to manipulate one group against each other based their on religion, social class or caste, culture, ethnicity, language, nationality, sex, gender, race etc – they have no interest in helping the group they claim to represent, they are simply after attention which they think will give them power – all are pieces on some chess-board. When we refuse to judge others based on their identity as chess-pieces and judge them instead on their actions and ability – we are able to judge in a better way more balanced way and may even help some of these pieces to come off the board.
The warrior mindset within knows of the unfairness of a situation and wants to do something – but feels someone else should take charge and lead – many women and men refuse to step up to the challenge themselves. Master Sun said that ‘it is better not to fight than to be involved in a conflict, but if you are going to have to fight, then you must fight to win.’ The strategies laid out in The Art of War can help the lay-person understand the games being played. It shows where they are on the chess-board and will show how to get off the board as well as to break that board if they wish. But above all it awakens the chess-piece to understand how she or he is being used.
REFUSE TO BE A VICTIM AND REFUSE TO VICTIMISE:
Many of us have flaws perceived and real – the meaning of our life is to have a life of meaning – to deal with and or overcome the flaws we think we may have. A woman or man who can deal with their flaws ruthlessly – is like a noble warrior who shows self- respect and self-leadership. The Noble Warrior practices a deep self-reflection and self-respect which they cultivate within themselves, and through this they learn to stand up for themselves not just to those they may have considered their enemies but also the ones they thought of as friends. Warriors refuse to be victims or create victims. The woman or man who has been hurt or used has the ability to use that pain to rise up stronger and to help others to rise.
TAKE YOUR RIGHTS:
Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it. – Malcolm X
We all have individual rights, we are alive for a purpose and must do something productive with our lives. Our rights do not come from anyone – they come from something greater than us – we are born with them. They are part of us. The Warrior doesn’t consider kindness a weakness; rather, the warrior sees it as a part of themselves which helps them to connect more deeply, and build others up rather than tear them down and help others become more aware of their rights. In the same way a strong women or strong man treats others as they would their brothers and sisters – they show responsibility to others and awaken that sense of responsibility alongside their natural rights that they were born with. Fundamentalists within every religion actively resist change not because it hurts the teachings of their great religious teachers but rather it takes power away from them to control others. The dualism within religions we can see for example where they are exalting women on the one hand, whilst demanding subservience on another. This will be broken – simply because the warrior mind within women (and men) is awakening. Those who say that religion teaches that humans should be subservient to God and yet demand that women should be subservient to men – will be challenged as this form of idolatry is not just a challenge to the thinking Noble Warrior but that same God who doesn’t want humans to be subservient to anyone but Him.
Master Sun said – ‘To see victory only when it is within the ken of the common herd is not the acme of excellence.’ Its up to the warrior woman or noble man to make their own way forward and not wait for their society to change – they need to be the change and make that change themselves – how ever small.
As our world moves away from a culture of war to a culture of peace equality blossoms. This world is becoming more peaceful and equality is happening naturally and alongside this we need to acknowledge the darkness within us all. Carl Jung said ‘Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.’ We need to ‘find the courage within to face our own darknesses’ as well as others who feel threatened by this ‘peace’ they will feel they can’t control others as many of those people who are in power their power depends on how they can keep people fearing one another – Master Sun teaches us how to deal with such problems in The Art of War.
TAKE LEADERSHIP, CREATE LEADERS & LET GO:
The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose. – Henry Kissinger
One of the tactics of guerrilla warfare involve the use of small attacking, mobile forces against large, unwieldy forces. The guerrillas are organised in small units that are dependent on the support of the local populations. Those who seek leadership – should grab leadership of any form within their local communities or groups including to volunteer to lead the next outing or event. Demonstrate your leadership skills through your commitment to a cause that moves you. In this the 21st Century there are ample opportunities for you to serve others through your Leadership. If you have skills and knowledge that can help others – don’t wait for them to come to you, you go to them. And once you are there create other leaders and then let go and support that leader and other leaders where you can.
Master Sun said ‘Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. ‘ Waiting for leadership from others we may consider higher up or better than us – this is something we all need to move away from and understand that real leadership is within us all. If you see someone doing some good work – help them, it shows your leadership and you are acknowledging leadership within the other person.
Master Sun said ‘A good commander is benevolent and unconcerned with fame.’ The leader does not seek fame or fortune or wish to become a role model. If you want to see role models – look around you, look at your parents, family, friends, the one who cleans our roads, the waiter, there are wonderful role models all around us if we simply take the time to open our eyes and look. Think of all the strong women that we know in our lives who have helped shape us as human beings – our mothers or wives. Think of all the strong men – our fathers or husbands. Then think outside of the hierarchy of your group (family or tribe ) that you identify with. Leaders think beyond their roles, functions or expertise. They have a keen interest in what’s happening around them. They engage with others and volunteer to help. They are here to create the path for the future generations.
This write-up is based on my workshop ‘Warrior Women and Noble Men’ – How the teachings of Sun Tzu and The Art of War awaken.