Alchemy of Calmness III

A friend of mine was demonstrating a number of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu moves to me the other day, in support of his argument that you are most effective in self-defense when you are calm. If you are in a head lock, for instance, you are wise not to focus on the points of restriction that you can do nothing about. Staying calm allows you to identify what can be moved, leveraged and therefore employed in the accomplishment of your aims. The demonstration was enlightening, as the principle holds true on the physical, mental and emotional levels.

Oddly enough, calmness is a potent state of being. Calmness is far from inertness or impotence, in fact it is an activated field in which brilliance and wisdom emerge. Panic or agitation greatly narrow your field of vision and in turn, limit your options. Unfortunately, the limited options you face are rarely the most desirable or effective.

You may have “lost your cool” once or twice in your lifetime, in the face of an enemy or a frustrating circumstance. An honest review of what followed is likely to reveal a loss of clear thought and possibly foolishness in action. This is frequently at the root of the regrets in life. “If only I had kept my wits about me” you might lament, “and I would have seen more clearly that the course I was on was foolish and only likely to compound the situation.”

William George Jordan describes why the typical approach to injustice is flawed in this brilliant excerpt from his book “The Majesty of Calmness”:

When the tongue of malice and slander, the persecution of inferiority, tempts you for just a moment to retaliate, when for an instant you forget yourself so far as to hunger for revenge,–be calm. When the grey heron is pursued by its enemy, the eagle, it does not run to escape; it remains calm, takes a dignified stand, and waits quietly, facing the enemy unmoved. With the terrific force with which the eagle makes its attack, the boasted king of birds is often impaled and run through on the quiet, lance-like bill of the heron. The means that man takes to kill another’s character becomes suicide of his own.

No man in the world ever attempted to wrong another without being injured in return,–someway, somehow, sometime. The only weapon of offence that Nature seems to recognize is the boomerang. Nature keeps her books admirably; she puts down every item, she closes all accounts finally, but she does not always balance them at the end of the month. To the man who is calm, revenge is so far beneath him that he cannot reach it,–even by stooping. When injured, he does not retaliate; he wraps around him the royal robes of Calmness, and he goes quietly on his way.

When the hand of Death touches the one we hold dearest, paralyzes our energy, and eclipses the sun of our life, the calmness that has been accumulating in long years becomes in a moment our refuge, our reserve strength.

The most subtle of all temptations is the seeming success of the wicked. It requires moral courage to see, without flinching, material prosperity coming to men who are dishonest; to see politicians rise into prominence, power and wealth by trickery and corruption; to see virtue in rags and vice in velvets; to see ignorance at a premium, and knowledge at a discount. To the man who is really calm these puzzles of life do not appeal. He is living his life as best he can; he is not worrying about the problems of justice, whose solution must be left to Omniscience to solve.

My great hope is that through these words today you might be wise enough not to be the agent of your own undoing. Millions have tried to circumvent this basic natural law, but like all laws of living, they cannot be bent or broken by man’s will. Respect and cooperate with those laws and you will discover fulfillment, happiness and inner peace. Break them and the books will eventually be settled.

9 thoughts on “Alchemy of Calmness III

  1. T.W

    Your words today, as I just read all three posts onthe Alchemy of Calmness, were similar
    to a life raft offered to someone in choppy waters. I have experienced
    first hand the brilliance and balance that comes from calmness in a traumatic situation.
    The reminder to allow the heart to be still is a significant call to action
    when it seems that peace is outside our reach, thank you again.

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  2. Kolya

    I’m beginning to see how calm is really such a central state of being – it describes being at peace and not being moved out of that state, but at the same time being completely aware and active in your life.

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  3. Fernando

    I think that’s the point here – what I gather is that if one is to live ‘clothed in the royal robes of calmness’, meaning that if this state is to be a reality and not just wishful thinking, the anchor has to be in a deep belief – a cosmology – that embraces universal justice. From that core belief can flow calmness. Inside out. Good stuff here to think about!

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  4. Lady Leo

    I have lived long enough to attest to this. I’ve watched people spend their entire lives dashing themselves on the rocks of injustice. Calmness is a supreme virtue, not because of it’s rarity but it’s ability to protect your soul in the face of unimaginable injustice. I absolutely believe that the books will be balanced and it is not our business to oversee that. Man was given many gifts of prized abilities; judgement to settle the imagined score of life, was not one of them .
    I enjoyed this series on calmness. What true gems, thanks.

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  5. Colin

    This is a profound excerpt. You really don’t have to look far to find injustice in the world. It is all around us; it is even a clichéd plot device. And just as cliché, there are those who make it their life’s mission to rail against injustice. They throw it in our faces with protests, demands for resignation, and self-righteous outrage.
    But this lack of calmness causes injustices of its own. How many times have we seen someone be tried in the court of public opinion, only to be found innocent be a real investigation. Yet usually their name comes out tarnished.
    It is also somewhat a self-perpetuating system. These witch hunts create a false meritocracy, where any small mistake will have you lose your job. So there are cover ups, and scandals, etcetera, etcetera.
    The solution is as was stated in the post. A constant calm living. A calmess that is accumulated; a habit that can be relied upon when an unexpected situation develops. And the knowledge that people do get what they deserve. Even if you never see someone’s consequence for malice, it is always there. Thanks!

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