“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” – Rumi
When another person makes you suffer, it is usually because they suffer deep within themselves, and this suffering is spilling over – they do this to feel powerful. Punishing them is easy – but the key is to find ways of assisting them and helping them overcome their suffering. Remember those we come across – are here to teach us something about ourselves.
Master Sun said “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?,” So keep this within your mind and understand how powerful you really are so when another wishes to make you suffer – have the courage to say no to them if they exceed their limits or teach them a lesson that does not dishonour yourself, your family or tribe.
We are all suffering and our mission is not to increase that suffering.
“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
The one who does the attacking usually ends up destroying his relationships in time and eats away within consumed by his own hates and his spirit/soul becomes poorer.
My concern is more for my opponents soul rather than their physical body, of course I reserve the right to self defence should my physical form get attacked but I must be mindful that the soul in my ‘enemy’ is from the same source my soul is from – and both will be judged by the one who originated these souls.
Master Sun said “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.“
We must not seek out battle – but be willing to defend ourselves. The best thing we can do is help our opponent(s) to gain the courage to learn more about themselves so they can leave this battle to fight another time where they are better prepared.
In teaching a lesson do not become the lesson.
“Leadership is not a popularity contest; it’s about leaving your ego at the door. The name of the game is to lead without a title.” – Robin Sharma
When we inflict pain on to others to sooth our pain our outsides may look healed but within we are cut. In response to the recent #DrawMuhammad cartoons by the Dutch politician Geert Widers to get attention on to himself I recall the quote by the great master strategist – Master Sun who said: “The Book of Army Management says: On the field of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags.“
Geert Wilders used the gongs and drums (the social media to call attention to himself) and wanted to use the banners and flags (the cartoons) to get attention. And from the other side specifically Pakistan a religious sect responds with its own gongs and drums and banners and flags. And in the middle are the innocent masses who have no truck with either side and are baited – whilst the baiters remain out of harms way.
Understand the game and know when it is being played – against you.
“Perhaps measuring animal intelligence by comparing it to human intelligence isn’t the best litmus test.” – Ingrid Newkirk
Our height, sex, skin hue, tribe, sexuality, birth-place, parents, loves, religion, politics, philosphy are identities that can be attacked to get a reaction out of us.
Imagine if I love say classical music and martial arts, then that is just me, it’s real for me, this is close to me – this is my passion, and it’s not going to just disappear as a matter of convenience to the one who hates these as he cannot comprehend listening to classical music or may have failed at martial arts.
In the same way our identities give an impression of ourselves to others that tells of our power or weakness – whether based on reality or not. These outside forces, sometimes through law, to suppress say classical music and to make martial arts illegal may happen over the long-term, but this will cost time, suffering and will cause problems to the one wishing to ban these. And in the meanwhile I will continue to listen to my music and practice my martial arts and in the same way those of us who have a deep belief system – in this case Islam will not leave it just because someone does not like it. People who wish to deny others their rights do so most times out of envy. Master Sun said “You have to believe in yourself.” – this is your life and it doesn’t belong to anyone else.
Many of us live our lives comparing ourselves to others. Starting with school and sports. As we get older its the job title, partner, kids, car, wage, house, and other material successes – once we start comparing there are an infinite number of categories and people to compare ourselves to. And this road never ends. We become like animals – like sheep in a field thinking we are free but remain in constant control and check waiting our turn to be shaved for wool, killed for meat or skin.
As we become envious of others and seek to limit their expressions through resorting to promoting hatred of them regardless who they are or what belief system they hold – we attack ourselves and our own self-worth. We are like the sheep when they see another herd of sheep or cattle in a neighbouring field and we and they start bleating or mooing without thought at each other and among ourselves.
We compare ourselves to others because we are uncertain of who we are.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” – Maya Angelou
When those who lack self-control wish to control others – this shows weakness.
Control comes in different forms: Soft control of parents, teachers, managers, the like & Hard control of military officers, politicians, religious leaders, business leaders, dictators etc.
Hard control is inflicted by a person in formal authority over us - like a manager at work for example which means that this is a bad manager but this is ok… we can tell him to stick his job and quit. Hard control is also inflicted by a person who is supposed to be our equal say a partner or intimate friend. Unlike the previous bad manager, this is not just a badly performed professional role, it is a deeper violation of the souls intimacy and trust.
When we seek to control another – we are already being controlled by the other since our freedom depends on the one we are seeking to control and they are deciding how we should feel usually without knowing how much power they hold over us. The key is to control your-self, master your-self, be your-self. Once we can control these areas we are able to deal with the enemy outside.
Seeking to control others is a weakness, controlling yourself is a strength.
“He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.” – Master Sun
The last resort of the ‘Bully’ the ‘hard controller’ who feels all the pain and vulnerability himself but lacks the competence to unload his negativity onto another person through his knowledge – so he resorts to brutal, physical force.
This is why it is so uncomfortable to even be in the same room with a person who is committing this kind of abuse which remains mostly mental, even if it is toward someone other than our self — and we get the feeling in our gut that we are in the presence of a person so desperate, and so deeply incompetent that many will give in to this thug just for some peace and quiet.
An aggressive and abusive ‘enemy’ does not engage in cost effect calculations. Nor does he weigh in what he could potentially gain by actually fighting, compared to what he may lose. Understand the ‘hard mans’ weakest points when defending, understand that is bullying is usually a symptom that he does not expect to you to stand up for yourself let alone fight back.
Defend yourself on your own terms.
When someone dresses in a certain way say an uniform, sharp suit or religious garb – its to reinforce an outer image that says to others especially their followers and foes that this person is leader in his (or her) field.
This image becomes like a shield for this leader. This happens in the military, sports teams, in the workplace, within social groups and even within families a certain dress sense and a certain way, a certain look is commanded. Understand that many a time when a person tries to impress – ‘outwardly’ – he usually lacks something within.
This is why we see politicians in sharp business suits and religious leaders in religious clothing giving out visual energies of power and holiness – because they wish to prove themselves outwardly who they are, whilst many are just marketing themselves to their followers or seeking more followers.
And when they can’t get attention they seek it by targeting others through -‘Idolatry’ – by ‘Drawing Cartoons or Burning Effigies’ knowing full well that simple people will be angered by pieces of paper or cardboard statues as if that really represents what is drawn or being burned.
Master Sun said “A leader leads by example, not by force.” – the opportunist and weak politician or religious leader will use every trick in the book to get attention – the real leader does what he or she does gently, quietly, with seeking credit or attention.
You are not your own god.
This is most common at a family level, as there is often some “family secret” that is deemed shameful, and here absolute silence is harshly enforced, both inside and outside this family. This drives the family towards being a “rules-driven” family, where there are desperate rules around avoiding taboo topics — but where the rules themselves can never be explained openly (because of the enforced silence), and which are never even openly discussed, so can kids can feel intense tension and shame around a certain topic, and don’t even realise why. This is where religious or political extremists can also take advantage of. These taboo subjects can be seized on by different families/tribes and attacks made on the other.
Silence for good or bad in ourselves and others, lack of response or response can be taken one way or another. When we respond in a positive way it can be taken negative or in a negative way it can be taken positively depending on who we are dealing with or in what way. The family is like a tribe and within this tribe there are bad points as well as good just like any other. Our role should be rather than pointing the faults out in other groups, tribes or people to deal with issues within our own as to strengthen ourselves. Remember simple things can combine into many possibilities and some action we may regard as small may end up growing in an uncontrolled way.
Master Sun said “There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.”
In silence we can sleep better but don’t sleep whilst riding a horse.
Master Sun said “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Contempt is an emotion with lasting effects. Unlike many negative feelings like sadness and anger that usually fade, once someone feels contempt towards another person or thing, it’s difficult for them to let go of it – this is why demonisation of someone that is different than us will end up putting us in a position with growing hostility and disgust, onto not just that person, but an entire group.
Racism, sexism and homophobia are examples of such contempt of “another” that should be challenged within ourselves. I am not saying one should not be proud of their own race, gender or whatever – but rather we need to be able to give a good example of our own race, gender, religion, tribe or whatever. This is how others identify us and for this we need to give a real image of ourselves.
When an individual or group is insulted because of their identity, we should be aware that this comes from a deeper suffering and inner weakness on the part of the insulter who has his own identity issues – so when I look at Geert Wilders or anti Muslim fanatics, or anti Semites or anti Black or anti White or Religious extremists that thrive on victimising others I do not see power or strength.
When we seen another person and dismiss the unique merits of that individual and lump a group of people of a given category into one dehumanised whole – we are not just being contemptuous of them but ourselves as we are saying that we are against the uniqueness and individuality of a human being – regardless of what “kind” of human this is and this cripples us within with a wound of shame and self-negativity however much we deny it as we as individuals are also unique.
Being contemptuous of others shows contempt for ones own self.
Heal The Wound:
Master Sun said “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”
“Saving face” is something that we should allow others to do in order to preserve their reputation and self-confidence. The enemy that is defeated today may become our best and strongest ally tomorrow. This is why when we need to fight someone or a group there needs to be a limit to how far we should go. Our strength lies not really in winning as much as it is in showing that we can win – completely if we have to.
Cornering the enemy and giving them no outlet to escape will place them in a desperate position where they may end up fighting with unexpected and desperate tactics which may end up reversing our wins, so we need to limit our war in a way that will grow our strength and destroying completely will gain us the enmity of their family and tribe who can take revenge at a later time.
We are all in pain, don’t add to it.