Ask yourself, every time, if you really need to fight?
In continuation of my blogposts from yesterday and from the day before, I have an additional perspective to share on fighting the good fight while remaining unmoved and untouched. And which is to always ask yourself first, before getting embroiled in a conflict, “Do I really need to fight this person or this situation?” Assessing whether you must fight at all is a great way to retain your sanity and inner peace.
To be sure, not all situations require you to confront them and fight. In fact, on a spiritual plane, the best way to win any battle is not to fight at all. There is a way how, in Life’s scheme of things, what goes around comes around. So, cosmic retribution works – and works like a song. Even if you don’t take up cudgels against someone’s unfair methods, Life eventually will. This is how Life operates. But even if you don’t buy into this point of view, just the awareness of how much energy you will conserve by avoiding a fight should serve as motivation enough for you not to dive headlong into battle. But walking away from conflict is never easy. Your mind will keep reminding you that you must fight. It will entice you into battle. So, understanding your mind and training it to obey you is crucial. This comes, like almost everything else in Life, with practice.
I have, through training my mind, learned to look at every conflict situation dispassionately. I ask myself each time if my ego will be pampered when I fight. And if it apparently will be I don’t fight. I don’t try to teach someone any lessons either. Not anymore. I have learnt that we must press a matter only if we believe that highlighting an issue will help a larger cause or more number of people connected with the issue. So, this means, I no longer have any interest in settling scores with people who have been unkind and unjust to me. Or simply, I trust the process of Life and leave most situations, well, for want of a better word, unbattled.
This has helped me immensely in many ways. But most significantly it has helped me in my strained relationship with my mother and siblings. (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal). I have learnt to be non-judgmental through the process of choosing to not fight. Being this way is truly remarkable – the amount of inner peace it has delivered unto me is immeasurable. So, now, I have developed a great detachment with these relationships – and, important, there’s no feeling of either being victimized or wanting to avenge anything or anyone!
Leaving a situation unbattled really means gifting yourself inner peace. It means choosing happiness over unhappiness and suffering. It means, simply, living intelligently!
You must fight the good fight if the process of fighting makes you peaceful. But if your inner peace is lost, then the cause, the raison d’etre – to fight – itself is lost.
I am often asked by readers or audiences on how we can differentiate between a good fight, a fight worth fighting for, and one that isn’t? This question often arises when I recommend a principle that I stand by – that the best way to win any battle is to not fight at all – or when I tell people to forgive and move on – even if they can’t forget – than cling on and suffer. Let me share my understanding here though, let me quickly clarify, choosing to fight an individual, situation or system is an intensely personal choice.
First, why do we fight anyone or anything? The idea of a fight arises only when you disagree with what’s happening to you – either with the way you are being treated by a person, by an establishment (a community, organization, society or even by a government or legal system) or by Life itself. So, essentially, you fight every time you see a lack of fairplay in an interaction, relationship or context. But just think about it – when did Life promise any fairplay? Life itself appears so grossly unfair when you weigh your intent, integrity and values against situations that you have to end up facing. So, when Life doesn’t guarantee any fairplay, where is the question of expecting it from humans, and from human-made contexts, systems and situations?
Even so, this doesn’t mean you must not raise your voice against acts that are inhuman or are against social interests. This doesn’t mean you must not want to or try to correct an action or system that urgently needs correction or fixing. Surely you must. But do whatever you must do, do whatever it takes, without agonizing, without suffering, without losing your inner peace. This is where the choice becomes very personal.
My close friend got into a litigious separation process with his wife some years ago. She is 16 years younger to him. They married after a breezy romance. But within a year, she separated from him and sued him for dowry harassment, impotency and domestic abuse. All this, because my friend confronted her with evidence of an affair she was having with a colleague at work. Given the women-friendly anti-dowry laws in India, the lady’s strategy was clear – harass my friend so that he grants her a divorce immediately and compensates her with a huge alimony that included a red Pajero! We advised our friend not to take the legal route. I encouraged him to settle out of court: “Just forgive her, don’t ruin your peace of mind, buy her the car and get out of this mess.” But my friend decided to fight her. In court. The process took over 8 years and it was hell – repeated impotency tests, dowry harassment charges against him and his aged parents having to be defended at every level from police stations to courtrooms, huge legal expenses and his inability to keep a job because the matter required 24×7 attention all through the years. Ultimately my friend won the case at the Delhi High Court. He was exonerated of all charges. And the lady apologized to him in court in return for being granted divorce. Now, all through the fight, through all this drama and humiliation, my friend remained stoic. He was always deadpan, unruffled. I never found him beaten or defeated. He anchored very, very well. Now, if you can deal with a fight with such clarity, such equanimity, then, it is perhaps worth it. But if you are going to suffer fighting, then you might as well not fight at all.
I too have the option to fight many fights. But I have chosen not to. For instance, there is so much corruption around us. Just take the state of the Chennai Airport. The contractors and the Airports Authority of India have a lot of explanation to do over its pathetic condition – falling glass panes, leaking ceiling, unsafe carousels and escalators. It has been rated as the worst airport in the world. Yet, no one has fixed any of these things in the last five years. Worse, no one has been held accountable for this shoddy piece of critical public infrastructure. I do feel like filing a public interest litigation demanding a court direction to the authorities to hold the people concerned liable. But between dealing with my existential crisis and public interest, I prefer preserving my inner peace for investing in resolving my own problem first. Or let me take another instance, of my need to be exonerated by my own family – I have been branded “a cheat” by them despite there being no evidence of my having frauded them at all. Now, this is a fight that I will never fight. Because I believe that if members of a family cannot trust one of their own, what is the point in making them realize their mistake? I have decided to let them live with their theory, and I have learnt to be accepting of my reality that I will never have their understanding all my Life. Important, I have forgiven them – even though I can’t forget the way in which I was treated – and I am at peace with myself and with them.
This is how I choose not to fight each time I am provoked – I go simply by wanting to preserve my inner peace. Because the only reward worth cherishing in Life is your inner peace! It doesn’t ever matter whatever else you have, or gain, if you have lost your inner peace!
So, to fight, to forgive, to move on is an intensely personal decision. The only way you can take that decision is to ask yourself what will make you peaceful. And go do what gives you peace. The key is to be at peace, to be happy with whatever is, even as you are making a sincere effort to change your current reality!