ZenView- Investment in Loss

ZenView By Mary Layton

Investment in Loss

“Soft and weak overcome hard and strong” Lao Tzu in ‘the Tao Te Ching’

In the pursuit of learning a martial art well, the ability to lose is a big challenge, hard to understand and even harder to achieve. We all want to look good, we all want to win and we have been taught to do so from the time we were very young. I’m not saying I don’t like winning (I love it). But there is actually something to gain from being able to lose that is rather important.

What could we possibly gain from losing? Losing face, losing an argument, losing a fight is not a welcome experience. However, when we let go of the Ego (ideas and expectations we hold of ourselves), we enter an unknown territory in which we may not only experience and learn new things but also may have a chance at re-inventing ourselves by finding that what LOOKED like a loss can be turned into an advantage and actually make us win in the end.

The old martial art classics teach that if you don’t know how to lose, you will not learn how to win. That we must give up the Ego if we want to gain true knowledge and find harmony within ourselves and with others.

Water, for example, is the softest thing in the world and yet the strongest : It is impossible to break it. Following the example of Water (nature), we too can change a conflict through softness. Instead of resisting we can learn to yield to an incoming force by receiving it in a soft, relaxed manner and thereby transform it.

The place where I first learned about the importance of losing was in a T’ai Chi class doing an exercise called ‘Push Hands’ where two people are engaged in a joint hand exercise. The point of the exercise is to feel and understand another person’s energy and intention. If my partner pushes me, can I be soft and relaxed enough to sense his/her intention? Rather than using force against force, can I then be relaxed enough to observe the force, neutralize it and redirect it just at the right time?

In the beginning years of my training I was afraid of this kind of “confrontation”. I felt competitive and only wanted to “win”. Fearful of losing I resisted my partner and was using way too much force. It was not a pleasant experience. Slowly I began to realize that I learned the most when I did get pushed a lot. It was in receiving, rather than resisting, that I was eventually able to improve my skill level. This is when I realized that I gained more understanding from having ‘invested in loss’.

For more info, go to: taichi4modesto.com, or call (209) 572-4518.

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