Monday, March 4, 2013

Conquering Oneself

In the Japanese form of martial art aikido, students are introduced to the founder, O'Sensei's concept of masakatsu agatsu which means "True victory is victory over oneself." Years ago, this aspect of conquering oneself drew my interest into practicing aikido diligently. Now, this very same aspect draws my deep interest into meditation practice. Whether in motion or in stillness, there arrives so much peace when the mind is conquered. "The Fly" by Hanjin Song is a beautiful depiction of this internal victory:

The various world scriptures also emphasize this crucial aspect of conquering oneself...

"Though one should conquer a million men on the battlefield,  yet he, indeed, is the noblest victor who has conquered himself." (Buddhism. Dhammapada V103)

"Who is strong?  He who controls his passions." (Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 4.1)

"Though a man should conquer thousands and thousands of valiant foes, greater will be his victory if he conquers nobody but himself. Fight with yourself; why fight with external foes?  He who conquers himself through himself will obtain happiness....Difficult to conquer is oneself;  but when that is conquered, everything is conquered." (Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 9.34-36)

"With the conquest of my mind, I have conquered the whole world." (Sikhism. Adi Granth, Japuji 28-M1, P6)

"The Prophet declared, 'We have returned from the lesser holy war (al jihad al-asghar) to the greater holy war (al jihad al-akbar).'  They asked, 'O Prophet of God, which is the greater war?'  He replied, 'Struggle against the lower self.'" (Islam. Hadith)

"Attack the evil that is within yourself; do not attack the evil that is in others." (Confucianism. Analects 12.21)

"It is true that the mind is restless and difficult to control.  But it can be conquered, Arjuna, through regular practice and detachment.  Those who lack self-control will find it difficult to progress in meditation; but those who are self-controlled, striving earnestly through the right means, will attain the goal." (Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 6.35-36)

"He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." (Judaism and Christianity.  Proverbs 16.32)

"He who knows others is wise;
He who knows himself is enlightened.
He who conquers others has physical strength;
He who conquers himself is strong." (Taoism. Tao Te Ching 33)

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