Less is more, more is less and no good – the way of the farmer

April 14, 2012

In the moment of my youth, when I first came to Kendo, I did not fully understand the perils of diffusing one’s energy recklessly — it was only much latter when I had started working and found myself constantly embroiled in office politics that I realized the importance of tactics and strategy. About this time, I had gained entry into the 5th, that was really the point when I began to take a keen interest in the art of neutralizing one’s opponent with just the right amount of force – to put it another way, to use only sufficient force, no more or less with hardly any trace of waste. At this point you may be wondering what really accounts for my fixation – in truth, the idea of the opponent can take many shapes and forms – it could be a physically demanding challenge like climbing a mountain, where pacing oneself is key or something as everyday as how to manage your bosses which probably requires copious amounts of patience or perhaps dealing daily with the seven habits of highly ineffective people in your life that will probably test your patience. My point is all these challenges will grind you down to a pulp, if you’re not mindful of conserving your patience, sagacity along with sanity.

As a newly minted 5th one mixes regularly with the ranks of the serious men, so it was not unusual for them to ask me out to join them for a makan, poker or a round of golf – this gave me a rare opportunity to observe them and I even took down notes diligently. From time to time, the serious men would share their secrets with me about the philosophy of Kendo along with the ways of the world that they have gleaned in senior positions in their respective industries. Till then Kendo was only a sport – now a whole new world had opened up before me – to understand the philosophy of how less can be more, one must first rein in the capricious mind and expel the ego along with the many pretensions has been encrusted in our behavior and responses – it is only after considerable research that I realized, only when one is able to master the mind along with all its nuances that it is possible begin studying the art of subduing one’s opponent as only then can you see him for what he truly is – to know is to have 50% in your pocket and understanding will allow one to be calm like a lotus on a mirrored lake  – as to understand a thing allows you to appreciate what needs to be done – only then can one set about the business of doing – like a carpenter to plan how much energy, attention and material is needed to accomplish the task. This sounds simple in theory, but the execution is ellusive. As the moment I cross swords with my opponent and after exchanging a series of blows, all remants of calmness is out of the window, with more exchange of blows understanding gives way to anger. And anger is the key that releases your pride and ego. When this happens all thoughts are reduced to their lowest common denominator and only the will of beating the opponent and winning matters – this is why if you go to any Kendo dojo. You will always come across plenty of exponents who swing wildly and aimlessly as if they are splitting fire wood, while the sensei just plays with him by tripping him over and forcing this man to crash into furniture with so little effort. 

Realizing I was getting nowhere despite my preserverence – I began to reflect on this idea of using just enough energy, no more or less to accomplish a task. I would trace it out in my daily dealings with those I came in contact with, always observing how some people are always able to get their way effortlessly despite incredible opposition – in a moment of ephipany I began to trace out that many of these highly effective leaders ALWAYS followed the natural line of things – they never seem to go against the grain and even if they do, they do so deliberately to create the right conditions to influence others. Like experienced climbers, they know it doesn’t pay to against nature, it’s far easier to go with the flow when things are mellow and sit it out when it gets hairy. In lay mans terms, it just means they pick and choose their battles and most importantly they fight only under the best terms. If none of these conditions are met, they just sit back– just as you do not see a tree with it branches in the soil and its roots exposed to the elements – these leaders never go against the natural flow of things. They are seldom frontal and always mindful of their energy reserves along with realization even something as ephemeral as a man’s reputation comes with a credibility meter that you usually see in the fuel gauge of your car. To put it another way, they ALL know it pays dividends to change things when you are in the system rather than standing outside it – as what we are talking about here is simply the ability to scale many of the challenges in your life – and we all have either heard or know people who simply take too big a bite only to choke. We all know of people who play office politics only to end up taking on the wrong guy – we have heard how this or that firm thinks doing A or B can put them in pole position only to end up taking a wrong turn – and all of us have made bad investments, be it buying a lemon smart phone to losing money in the stock market – you could even say, if we all could step outside our own skins and just look at ourselves at so point in our life. We look very much like confused folk (me included) – all we are doing is dissipating energy on the stuff that really don’t matter – we waste our valuable bandwidth thinking what others think about us. When in fact no one gives too shits. Yet very often we disregard what really matters most is how our wife’s, children and loved one’s think about us. We buy this and that thinking that this will improve my chances of finding the one and only one to share our journey of life with. Or whether he or she is handsome or beautiful. And again we disregard the most important – can I grow old with this man or woman? We worry endlessly that we are no well educate or rich enough and that may be the reason why no one seems to respect us. When all they really care about is whether you are sincere and well intentioned. We chase after the vapid and inconsequential and disregard the important that is to say we miss the mark. No one denies, we are using tons of energy to try to find the things missing in our lives. Only we are all getting a lousy return on our energy. Worst of all we don’t find it. And a big chunk of it has to do with not knowing what is important and what is useless – what’s worth chasing and what’s only good for the garbage heap – what it means to live a purpose driven life and ambling along like a drunkard recklessly.

It is only after many years of observing and reflecting deeply about what is important and worthless that my Kendo began to improve dramatically – if my opponent is good at his foot work – I will disrupt his form by forcing him to a corner where he has less room to manuever. If he is quick on the attack. I will occupy the center line and force him to take a defensive position and if he is good in the defence. I will feign weakness by emboldening him to launch an attack followed by a counter strike. But in every case, there is never a decisive blow that obliterates him. And please do bear in mind that ‘him’ may well apply to the many challenges in your life. Rather it is to know when, where and how much to hit with surgical precision. And that is really enough to cut down many of the opponents and the challenges in our life by half – they wouldn’t go away completely, but UNDERSTANDING it goes a very long way. A century and a bit ago, Henri Paretto realized this. To solve 80% of your problems you just need to work on the 20% – and it goes the same the other way – 80% of the good will you get only really comes from dedicating yourself to the 20% of doing – remembering a name and face; a warm handshake; an enjoyable conversation – the 20% makes possible the 80% and that really completes it all. But it all begins with taking control over the mind, by teaching it to always seek out the worthy from the useless – only then can you find the mark. The less is more called 20%.

Research this well. This can be successfully used if you always find yourself a lampost in the company of many men and women, where the former are trying to show off to the latter and you want to get your dream girl – it can also be reliably used to get people you don’t like in your office sacked, to take over the job of your boss. It can also be reliably used to knock sense into troubled teens without resorting to threats and unreasonable behavior. This can also be used to come across as highly engaged in meetings when you have not bothered to read the executive summary. Can also be used to neutralize backstabbers in your office and has proven to be very effective in overhauling engine blocks without causing irrepairable damage due to hastiness and bad preparation.

Darkness 2012

This has been extracted from the e-book, the Way of the Farmer under the chapter, “a little goes a very long way.” – This excerpt has been intercepted in the Azimuth of Bilblo Aurosula Galaxy by the Digital Jamming deep space vessel KDD Explorer – The Brotherhood Press 2012


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