The courage to marshal one's armies against oneself

How serious are you about how you affect others? One of the most powerful self-disciplines is to check your intent before you speak or act. Is what you are about to say or do going to create connection or separation? Will it uplift or tear down? Will it create or destroy?

Anger always wants an outcome. It wants vindication. It wants to lash out. It wants to get even. It wants to hurt. Acting in anger usually tears down and destroys. It is reactionary. Better to find our center before we act.

Life is frustrating. People say and do thoughtless things. Not a day goes by that we are not seduced by anger, judgment, sarcasm, and pride. Are we strong enough to pass on these things? Are we willing to check our intent before we act?

Sometimes what we do not say or do can make all the difference. Our ego wants vindication. It wants to be right. It wants to be clever. It wants to elevate itself above others. But some of our thoughts are just better kept to ourselves. Does acting on them really solve anything? Or does it just gratify our ego?

The I Ching or Book of Changes (Wilhelm/Baynes edition, 15th hexagram, six at the top- link), calls for such self-discipline: "Genuine modesty sets one to creating order and inspires one to begin by disciplining one's own ego and one's immediate circle. Only through having the courage to marshal one's armies against oneself, will something really forceful be achieved."

Next time you are about to be clever, be right, argue a point, or act in anger- ask yourself, "Can any good come out of this?" If not- why say it? Swallowing your pride is hard, but it sure beats the alternative of destruction and separation.

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