When the wise samurai learns of a reputed master come to town to challenge his swordsmanship, he does not fret or let egoic fear or pride take hold. Instead, he allows the challenger to act further and sees soon enough that this “Master” is still young and half drunk on rice wine. The samurai does not unsheathe his sword, but rather smiles at the challenger playing with him gently and compassionately until the young contender grows tired and gives up. Not until the next morning, when the drunken swordsman has beaten up a smaller townsboy and is threatening another, does the wise warrior deem this a worthy call of duty, allowing sternness to rise and finally using his sword to swiftly and strongly disarm the young bandit. He regrets the entire circumstance but knows when obligation calls and which battles must actually be fought.
When confronted by an assailing or quarreling person—whether in your professional or personal relationships—always aim to take the high road first. Be aware of your ego-based fear, anger, or pride, and replace them with compassion, kindness, and generosity. View the situation from the other’s perspective and try compromise when applicable. This approach may not feel natural at first, for fury and retribution are the obvious and easy reactions; but in the end, if a situation can be resolved peacefully and with a bit of humor and humility, all those involved will come out the better. If, on the other hand, you have tried kindness and exhausted your peaceful options—when the assailant will not compromise or reason, and your compliance will seriously jeopardize your honest integrity (not your ego)—you may have no other choice than to act justifiably defensive, whether in protection of yourself or your loved ones. In this case, react carefully and swiftly, with as little room for your opponent’s maneuverability as possible. This must be your last resort.
In other words, choose your battles wisely. For in those rare times that leave you no option but to fight, someone will inevitably be hurt, and even the victor may not feel entirely triumphant at battle’s end. Weigh the costs and benefits of a duel; determine how serious the situation is and what may be compromised if you negotiate or comply; and only when absolutely necessary, choose to battle. But remember: Not all opposing forces actually require you to fight. Some simply call for pliability, compassion, and kindness through a larger, more humble perspective. This is the high-road, the God-like path. And this peaceful Way will always lead you to triumph.