Somebody recently mentioned to me something interesting about the Japanese martial arts. He pointed out that the essence of the practice is actually to accept a blow from the opponent rather than defending it. He told me that when one accepts an attack so completely, he can’t be hurt.
The Japanese martial arts are very spiritual, supposed to have been influenced by Buddhism.
But what really struck me was the simple beauty of the concept. It is somewhat difficult for us to digest this as we are all taught to defend ourselves and being defenseless is generally considered a weakness.
Let me narrate an incident. I once had a very very aggressive and dominant boss. Aggressive in the sense that he had to be always in conflict with someone. Perhaps he derived his sense of identity out of it. It used to happen that we would get in to some arguments where I would defend myself fiercely and these meetings left me totally down and drained.
This happened for a while, till I decided to take a close look and analyze what is happening. I could see a pattern which was something like this: My nature was to defend when accused and when I do that I became very emotional and lost my mind. I would then withdraw and sulk. My manager had figured this out (I assume). So what he would do is to begin with a very provoking accusation. The moment I became defensive, he would completely be in control and take me for a ride. I also sensed that there was some kind of gratification he for him out of this.
This was like a game. He was pulling me in to this and I was unconsciously consenting. So what would happen if I refuse to play the game? This is what I started to do. I went completely prepared for the next meeting. I sat there listening intently with calm (as much as I could) face, smiling. When he made some of those accusations, I calmly responded something like “that’s an interesting perception”. I am still smiling serenely. Suddenly something is wrong. The discussion continues and comes the next one and there I am smiling and saying ‘may be’. That was it. He was furious.
I simply remained there unperturbed like a Buddha. I made it clear that I refuse to be pulled in to the game.
The same thing happened in the next couple of meetings and by then both of us had understood it had lost all the charm. And we didn’t have many more such meetings.
This was a great lesson for me. We are always taught to defend us and prove us right. And all that it takes for someone to get us out of the mind is to just tell that we are wrong. But for a change, if we accepted it with a smile, you can see the entire story crumpling right in front.
May be Sensei is also the Zen master…