Many people switch off when reading the words “If you go out to war against your enemies” (Deuteronomy 21:10). ‘I am no soldier’, one may think, ‘so this is irrelevant’. Yet The Bhagavad Gita also begins with family tribes “assembling in the place of pilgrimage at Kurukshetra, desirous of battle” (BG 1:1). Perhaps it is wise to be battle-ready. The Huffington Post reported that “for business leaders, reading The Art of War is a rite of passage; quoting from it is de rigueur”.
Many of us behave as if we are going to war on a daily basis, getting angry with the driver who just cut you up, slightly resentful towards lovers, or vaguely frustrated with certain friends. The list goes on. The Biblical art of war is to be mindful when going into conflict, which means being sensitive to captives, respectful of powerless innocents and even honouring fruit trees (i.e. no ‘scorched earth’ policies). This way we maintain our human dignity, preserve a Divine connection and remember that the other people are also humans. Even that idiot in front who can’t drive and apparently bought a car without indicator lights.
There are selfish reasons to take on this perspective. We suffer when when hold hate. Hippy scientists have shown how this manifests in our body (see movie What the Bleep or read The Message from Water: The Message from Water is Telling Us to Take a Look at Ourselves). Whilst there is a time to go to war – there is a time for everything under the sun – our bodies and internal organs feel the stress if we jump to a battle response every single day, and it also doesn’t do much for our relationships.
These teachings were partially encoded in yoga postures. If you are practicing Warrior 1 then make sure you can stay grounded and free from hate. If you are entering a conflict situation in relationship, ensure you keep a higher intention of peace unless you are deliberately seeking destruction. If you enter a work situation with an attack mentality, expect to receive back what you are giving out. In The Book of Five Rings, famed Samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi taught ‘from one thing, know ten thousand things’, e.g., see how you overreact in some situations and realise you may be doing it in many situations.
We often have far more power than we recognise. By staying calm in the face of conflict we might release more energy to our brain to choose a course of peaceful action. Warriors, at ease.
FOOTNOTE: Parsha Ki Teitzei