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Prompted: Accepting Attack
Ancient wisdom on accepting attack with compassion and resisting temptation.
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Non-violent resistance implies the very opposite of weakness. Defiance combined with non-retaliatory acceptance of repression from one's opponents is active, not passive. It requires strength, and there is nothing automatic or intuitive about the resoluteness required for using non-violent methods in political struggle and the quest for Truth.
Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer them with love.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Few things have stood the test of time. Bestselling books become out of date after a few decades and most of ancient culture has been lost but a handful of stories have been passed down and retold for thousands of years.
The stories have been told and retold so many times that the details are always different, but the lessons within them remain the same. For these lessons to survive all these years, it’s clear they’ve struck a chord with something deep inside of us.
When the same lesson survives in stories from not one, but two ancient cultures, it’s clear we should stop and listen for ourselves.
In Buddist teachings, the demon Mara attacks the Buddha with arrows representing jealousy, greed, and other temptations. Instead of fighting back, the Buddha receives the attack with acceptance and compassion.
The Buddha did not resist the attack, but he didn’t surrender and the arrows turned to flower petals as they hit him. Eventually, Mara stopped the futile attack and the Buddha became enlightened.
Similarly, Jesus was tempted by the devil during his trip across the desert. For 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus resisted temptations from the devil as he traveled across the barren landscape on his way to Galilee.
Jesus did not succumb to the temptations of the devil and instead continued on his own journey unperturbed. Instead of fighting back, he reverted to an internal set of values and used these to guide himself forward.
The message from the ancient stories is simple: accept attack.
Succumbing to retaliation only serves to drag us down to the level of our aggressor. If we resist, it’s like pulling a barbed arrow out of our chest, we make the injury worse as we tear it out.
If we accept the arrows of attack and pull them through our bodies, there will still be damage, but it will be minimal and repairable.
Unfortunately, attacks and temptations are inevitable, but if we can revert back to our internal values and accept attacks with compassion we can overcome the challenge and come out a stronger version of ourselves.
If we engage with the driver who cuts us off we only escalate the situation. If we can remember to accept things as they are and ignore aggression from others (whether intentional or not) we can diffuse the situation.
We can’t avoid attacks from others, but we do have the power to choose how we respond.
Resistance breeds escalation, but acceptance sparks growth.
What situation do I know I will face temptation or attack within the next 7 days? What does accepting that situation with compassion look like?
What are the internal values that I will revert to when faced with an attack?
What does it mean to me to “accept attack”?
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.
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