July 29, 2023

The serenity of the warrior

In the hustle and bustle of life, we often find ourselves in situations where people try to provoke us with disagreeable words or actions. Our reaction to it can reveal our emotional intelligence and inner strength. A Buddhist story teaches us a unique, peaceful approach to such confrontations and illuminates the power of maintaining calm in the midst of adversity. The plot revolves around the question, “If someone wants to give you a gift and you don’t accept it, whose gift is it?”

The Unshaken Warrior

Once upon a time there was a great warrior who, despite his age, was still undefeated in every battle. His abilities were known throughout the country, and many students flocked to him, hoping to learn from his wisdom and strength.

One day a young, hot-headed swordsman of dubious reputation came to the village. He was determined to be the first to defeat the great master. The young warrior had strength, but his most daunting ability was his ability to recognize and exploit the weaknesses of his opponents. He would wait for his opponent’s first strike and then, as soon as he realized their weakness, strike back with merciless power and lightning speed. No one had ever managed to land a second blow against him.

Despite the concerned advice of his students, the old master accepted the challenge of the young swordsman. As the two faced each other, the young warrior began hurling foul insults at the master, throwing dirt at him and spitting in his face. For hours he ranted and resorted to the worst curses and insults known to mankind. But the master stood still, calm and unshaken.

Finally, the young warrior was exhausted. He realized that he was defeated and withdrew from the arena in shame.

His students, disappointed and somewhat losing respect for their master that their master had not rebuked the arrogant challenger, gathered around him and asked for an explanation. “How could you allow such humiliation and disgrace?” and “Why did he give up without a fight?” they asked. The master replied, “If someone comes to give you a gift and you don’t accept it, whose gift is it?”

The wisdom behind the story

The story conveys a profound truth about controlling emotions and choosing how to react. The ‘gift’ the old master speaks of is a metaphor for the young warrior’s offending behavior. Choosing not to accept the ‘gift’ – the insults and provocations – the master kept his peace and calm. The young warrior’s negative energy thus stayed with him, symbolizing that he was defeated by his own rage.

The philosophy underlying this story is simple yet powerful. Each of us has the power to decide whether to accept or reject the negative energies directed at us. We can choose to react, which often leads to escalating conflict and emotional turmoil, or we can choose to respond, maintaining our composure and thus preserving our emotional well-being.

Application of the lesson in everyday life

The wisdom embedded in this story can have transformative effects on our everyday lives. When someone tries to provoke us, we can see it as a ‘gift’ offered to us. By choosing not to embrace it, we keep our peace and force negativity to stay with its source.

For us to succeed in this, it is useful to be in a resourceful state and to rest completely within ourselves. Mindfulness practice, meditation, and self-reflection can help us to get to this state.

It is important to understand that not responding does not mean being passive or suppressing emotions. Instead, it means consciously choosing not to let another’s negativity disturb our peace. To understand where something is the subject of the other. It promotes emotional resilience and cultivates a peaceful mind, both of which contribute to a happier, more fulfilling life.

What happens if the negative energy remains with the provocateur?

Buddhist philosophy, as illustrated in the story of the unshaken warrior, holds that when we choose not to accept the negative emotions others send our way, those emotions remain with the original source, that is, the provocateur. This does not mean that the provocateur will necessarily suffer from these negative emotions, but it certainly has implications for his emotional state and behavior.

For one thing, the provocateur may feel frustration or disappointment because his attempts to annoy or hurt you are not having the desired effect. This may lead him to intensify his provocations or eventually give up, depending on his personality and motivations.

On the other hand, the retention of negative energy by the provocateur can lead to a kind of emotional self-reflection. In time, the provocateur may realize that his negative energy is doing more harm to himself than to others. This could lead to a change in his attitudes or behaviors, especially if he realizes that his provocations are not having the desired effects.

When friends or your environment are turned against you:

Of course, it can also happen that the provocateur realizes that he can’t do anything with you directly and then tries to influence your environment and your friends and turn them against you.

In such situations, the wisdom of the serene warrior can be applied on several levels:

  1. Emotional control: first, it is important that you control your own emotions and do not react to the provocations. It is natural to feel upset or betrayed when someone tries to turn friends and acquaintances against you. Yet, by choosing not to accept these negative feelings and instead maintaining your inner calm, you are rejecting the ‘gift’ of negativity.
  2. Communication: It can be tempting to fight back and defend your side of the story. But instead of getting into the attack-defense dynamic, try to communicate in a calm, matter-of-fact, and honest way. Explain your point of view and let your friends and acquaintances draw their own conclusions. Remember that true friends and people who value you will judge you by your actions and character, not by the words of a provocateur. The truth always comes to light in the end anyway.
  3. Indulgence: Sometimes people tend to get carried away by the drama caused by such an aggressor. Be patient with your friends and acquaintances and give them time to figure out the situation. It is possible that they will eventually realize who is the true perpetrator of the conflict.
  4. Self-reflection: Use this opportunity also to look inside yourself. Is there something to the accusations that are being made against you? If so, this is a chance to work on yourself and develop. If not, you can still look at this situation as an exercise in emotional resilience and resistance.

By applying the warrior’s principles of serenity and wisdom to such situations, you can not only maintain your inner peace, but also strengthen your relationships and enhance your personal growth. Friendships become closer and more stable after you have survived such an attack from the outside. It is important to remember that we cannot control what others do or say, but we can always control how we respond.

Final thoughts

In a world where negativity is often an unwelcome companion, the story of the unruffled warrior serves as a reminder of the power of serenity. The next time you find yourself in a confrontational situation, remember the wisdom of the old master: if you don’t accept the ‘gift’, it still belongs to the giver.

Keep your peace, for it is a treasure that no one should steal. Remember that it is within your power to reject negative energy and maintain your composure. You know what’s true and what’s not about what people claim or say about you. If you stay completely with yourself, and recognize false or offensive things as such for yourself, you can let them roll off you without comment. The energy then remains with the “attacker”. Compassion can help when the attacks get stronger and stronger because the energy builds up in your “attacker” and misses their desired effect of hurting you. This may cause the “attacker” to start raving and attack you even more aggressively. It may even happen that the attacker tries to turn your friends or your environment against you. But here too. Stay centered and trust that the people you care about will see the truth and your relationship will end up forging an even stronger bond.

Practice this and you will undoubtedly find that you become a calmer, happier person.

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