Hi again everyone.
In this blog I'd like to address the idea of resilience and perseverance. Resilience is a really big buzz word right now; and it certainly has its merits and its rewards. However I would like to add a little bit of nuance to this idea. From my experience and in my observations and learning, I think building resilience and fortitude is essential for a well balanced and authentic individual. However, one must be sure that the path they are about to embark on is one that can be managed and one that is constructively challenging. For instance, to stay in an abusive relationship or in a job that is damaging to one's mental or physical health would be foolish. On that I'm sure we can all agree. But in a world where we are so quick to demand resilience and perseverance in our younger generations, a less discerning individual might mistake slugging out a destructive job or relationship or just "getting on with it" as building resilience. This is not the case. No great military leader would ever enter into a battle that they knew they could not win. To do so would be to throw away the lives of their warriors for no reason at all. This lesson can be applied to our everyday lives also. Don't ever feel obliged to persevere with a destructive or damaging environment simply just to "build resilience". Set your goals/objectives, plan your route/path to the goals and then pick your battles along that road.
In Japanese culture "Gambaru/Ganbaru" is a very important concept. It translates as 'do your best'; but in Japan this means so much more than just arbitrary encouragement. Gambaru really means 'see your endeavour through to its conclusion despite any hardship'. It is an integral part of traditional Japanese budo (the martial way). Charging headlong into any and all challenges is not a sure fire way to build resilience or to demonstrate Gambaru. To do so would be to burn yourself out and potentially damage your mental/physical health. In the case of warriors/soldiers, to do so would surely mean death. Impetuousness is not a trait of one who follows a superior way. So you see it is important to apply discernment to your Gambaru. In budo we call this the "Shinshin Shingan", the 'eyes and heart/mind of God'. This means having the ability to see the true nature of things, to see the bigger picture and to think and act strategically. Training through pain and injury, "manning up" or just "getting on with it" is not true resilience or Gambaru: it's plain short-sightedness.
So strive for the lofty goals, be whoever you want to be and see your goals through to their end. But apply wisdom and the shishin shingan so that you can skilfully navigate the challenges and obstacles that come your way and to preserve your health along the way. This is a hidden aspect of Goshinjutsu (self-defence).