Subduing Self and Fear: More Letters to Lynn Redgrave, by Jeri Massi

Subduing Self and Fear: More Letters to Lynn Redgrave

Property Of Jeri Massi. Do not photocopy, distribute, or reproduce this material. It is copyright protected.

Camping in the quagmire

Dear Miss Redgrave:

In reference to your next court date being postponed for several months by the judge, I wanted to write to you about the matter of using time to your advantage. The delay looks like a setback. You may assume that now your soon-to-be-ex-husband can continue to embarrass you because there is no legal process in place to stop him.

Certainly a delay can be nerve wracking. But in your situation I think it will probably be advantageous to you, if you gain a clear idea of how time can serve your purposes.

Sun Tzu talks about camping on high ground vs. camping in a quagmire. In the ideal situation, you (your army) will camp on high ground, in the sunshine. And you will compel your opponent to camp in a quagmire, where the dampness, darkness, and insects will create sickness, depression, and misery for the enemy troops while you (or your troops) recover in the fresh air and light. On high ground, you are able to tend to things like mending armor, recovering from wounds, drilling your skills, discussing ideas for future campaigns, and fortifying the espirit de corps essential for a good army. Meanwhile, the army in the quagmire can accomplish very little of this, as most of their time has to be spent contending with the difficulties of living in a swamp. Wounds don't heal; everything gets infested with mildew; food spoils, etc. Eventually, just waiting to go to war while camping in a swamp becomes a struggle to survive. The swamp will fight half your battle for you.

If your opponent is camping in the quagmire; ie, if he is surrounded by the oppressive influences of his anger, his unsatisfied appetites, his frustration at not being in control, his previous foolish behavior, then long-term waiting is good for you. If he will not mend his ways and be sorry, then let him sit in his own swamp for as long as possible. The effects of a swamp only kick in over the long term, so you are now at an advantage.

So, by all means, keep your mind encamped in high, sunlit places. You've already overcome many obstacles. Whatever is left can be encountered with courage, patience, and skill.


"Men with contriving hearts are lacking in duty.
Lacking in duty, they will have no self respect."
-- Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

The three illusions of criticism

Dear Miss Redgrave:

One difficulty about criticism is that sometimes it seems true. And yet, illusions always abound when one person criticizes another---whether or not the statements include any truth. The skill of rendering criticism harmless is to recognize that---when you are criticized---you are *always* dealing with a person who has yielded to certain self-deceptions. And you must resist being drawn into those deceptions.

Criticism always comes from weakness, even though it's a weapon. I'm going to describe three situations of criticism that demonstrate the illusions that foster it, then explain some typical characteristics of an accuser or criticizer.

This is the disclaimer paragraph: I'm not writing this to you as one who is immune to the flaw of hurtful speech. My continuing ability to hurt others by my words often dismays me, and it's the sin that most often drives me to prayer for forgiveness and the strength to fight my own selfishness. And when I am criticized by someone I care about, it really hurts me, and it takes me by surprise.

After graduate school, I was employed at a religious publishing house, and I worked near a beautiful woman named Cindy. She authored the Chemistry textbooks. She designed her own very stylish clothing, and she was a strikingly beautiful woman and very witty. I was honored when she befriended me. Cindy had a wonderful ability to make science very immediate and practical, and she gave me great confidence in being able to apply science to everyday life.

But as more time went by, Cindy made jokes at my expense. I am not very beautiful and I buy my clothes off the rack. Also, I hop when I walk. I don't mean to, and I hate it that I do it, but I do. I hop when I walk. Boing, boing, boing---all the way down any given hall. I have never been able to *not* do it. Cindy often said things, laughing, in front of the other textbook authors, that highlighted my qualities of being only ordinary. Or she imitated me in front of the others. I never knew how to respond to her.

After one such episode, as she walked away, and I retreated to my desk---embarrassed for myself---a group of the women addressed me on the subject. We were all sort of bossed around and encouraged by an older woman named Kady, and Kady told me very bluntly that Cindy said these thing because Cindy was very jealous of me.

I didn't believe Kady at first. Cindy was the most beautiful, talented, and intelligent person I knew. As you see, I believed Cindy's illusion of being strong, so I accepted her "right" to criticize me, even though I didn't like being criticized. Kady told me words that I'll never forget: "You come in here every morning, energetic and ready to go. You tell Louise [a very motherly woman who wrote the elementary books] you want a hug. You give us the daily report on whether or not the coffee is any good. You love your work, and you work hard. You're just happy being here. And Cindy is jealous of that."

Then all the other authors nodded. I got the idea from their faces (and because they were all standing around my desk) that they had united to clue me in about this.

Kady was right. Being authentic is a sign of strength and self possession, even if a person may lack outer poise and grace (or any other quality that the criticizer targets). Simply put, being comfortable with yourself is the surest sign of strength.

At a weekly Bible study, I usually sat between a young man named Britt and an elderly woman named Adele. It was a thematic Bible study, so we all took turns talking about how a passage of the Bible had effected us, and then others would respond. When I would talk, Britt would criticize what I said or find something funny in it, and Adele would praise me or offer me genuine insight from parallel Scripture verses.

By this time in my life, I knew that Britt had no "right" to criticize me, and I wanted to answer back and verbally fight him. But I forced myself to stay quiet out of respect for the Bible. After one such session, one of the older men told me privately that Britt had been harshly criticized all his life. His father had been harsh and cold and had deserted Britt while Britt was still a young man.

Eventually, with the discreet guidance of the others, the Lord helped me see past my own resentment and past Britt's caustic front to the hurting person inside him. But that was when I learned another illusion of criticism. The target of criticism is *not* the cause of criticism. Since there was just one of me, and I was being received in two completely opposite ways, the choice of how to respond lay in Britt and Adele. Adele, possessed of inner strength, kindness, and authenticity, could guide and nurture. Britt, possessed of fears and a sense of inadequacy, had to find fault.

A friend from grad school invited me to visit her, but when I came she seemed ill at ease with me: hopping around to get coffee, never sitting still, never looking me in the face. She had another friend there, a woman I knew as an acquaintance. Conversation was a little strained because my friend was so nervous. She would ask me a question, and then get hangdog silent, actually looking away as I would reply, and then the second woman would find fault with my words. I wasn't saying anything especially controversial, so I was surprised. The second, aggressive woman sounded intellectual and analytical at first, but she actually got quite rude as the evening went on. This happened about three times, and I realized that certain dynamics were taking place.

The nervous one was opening me up with leading questions, and when I spoke, the other attacked my words. In military terms, it was a classic flanking strategy. But I couldn't figure out why they'd instinctively taken the tactic of one drawing me out to express myself, and the other attacking me when I did. I wondered why I'd even been invited over. I kept checking myself to avoid being bombastic or opinionated, but my words seemed very careful.

There are dynamics to weakness and the use of criticism. "Weak" will instinctively seek "Weak" and unite. And such people hunger for power, so they take prey. My situation was only ridiculous, but yours was profoundly painful when two weak people united in an adulterous relationship that was about getting what each wanted at your expense.

Weak people disguise themselves with appearances of strength. To their targets, they seem attractive or intelligent or powerful---or just "in control." Adlerian psychologists say that helpless and vindictive people set up false goals to achieve: goals that don't mean anything in terms of relationships, no matter how visible, or difficult, or audacious the goals are. Thus, these people seek first places honors, or public acclaim, or become faddishly outrageous, etc. These goals become their emotional centers, so they never get free of their helplessness because they never honestly address the obstacles in life that matter.

Second, weak people refuse to overcome genuine obstacles and instead dominate *people*. Your ex-husband's previous actions bear out these observations. His choice to be an icon of outrageous public behavior fits the first characteristic of helpless people (substituting an unrealistic, audacious goal for a constructive goal), and his attempts to dominate you fit the second characteristic (dominating people rather than difficulties). Deep inside, he believes that he cannot overcome genuine difficulties.

As an aside: retaliation. You might actually agree that you did something to "invite" an attack. But retaliation comes from weakness. It's a choice to avoid constructive behavior; it's never used by an attacker to improve a situation or restore a relationship. In fact, Retaliation is a refusal to take on responsibility in relationships, and a person who retaliates is afterward *less* able to be reconciled. Forgiveness is the way of finding the means to reinstate and rebuild a relationship, if rebuilding is at all possible, or---failing that---of finding some constructive way to move forward from it, without rancor. Either way, forgiveness does not cling to the wrongs of others. It moves forward constructively, in the best way it can find. It's the exact opposite of retaliation.

Self esteem and strong authenticity come from mastering realistic tasks in relationships, not by dominating people. For frightened and intimidated people, hurting another person is a quick thrill and a dose of ego-salve. But it's a fragile fix. Nobody's going to grow or become a stronger person by dominating or hurting you. That person just becomes more savage and more addicted to domination.

People gain self confidence and strength by negotiating real-life difficulties and dealing with them realistically. Like all people who live meaningful lives, you might lose out from time to time, suffer disappointments, hurt others. And like all people who live meaningful lives, you shed tears, get on your feet, get forgiveness, whatever is needed, and continue. Those of us who love martial theory can give you a certain knowledge that goes into the mix of your will, your ethics, your experiences, and your intellect. But the courage itself to live realistically and productively comes from you.

Also, feeling inadequate about some things is not the same as being ruled by feelings of inadequacy. In fact, all sorts of good things happen when we honestly address our imperfections. Wisdom begins in realistically knowing where we are weak. Growth occurs when we actively cultivate those qualities that we find missing in ourselves or in short supply. It sounds like a paradox, but genuine strength does not develop until we *accept* that we are weak. And the heart of martial courage is to fully live by embracing that we will certainly die. Wu Ji, emptiness, is the only mind that finds fullness. So an honest person sheds honest tears in sadness and laughs with honest laughter in happiness. It all turns on being realistic and honest.

People who criticize and accuse never get down to the business of overcoming real difficulties and dealing with the real obstacles to their growth in a realistic way. So they never enjoy the truly good things in life that really give us pleasure and meaning: acceptance, meaningful interactions, continued learning, a sense of community. I'm not saying this to crow over your estranged husband. I think his condition is tragic. But it's a worse tragedy if he causes you any more pain.

Your own happiness, in the martial view, does not rest on what is past or even on what is lost. After all, the past always sucks up the present and makes it disappear. Ultimately, we all lose everything. Your happiness rests in this present moment and what you do with it, your capacity to fully enjoy it. Sometimes that means grief, and sometimes that means joy, but it always means emptying your self and your expectations so that you can be filled.

Those are brave words, and my own heart sometimes falters in trying to live them out. But they are true. You are a strong and remarkable woman. Strong people are able to unite to sorrows and grief; incorporating them into constructive living, so that the sorrows become a part of the weave of who they are, their accumulated wisdom, their life experience. I hope, if you encounter any criticism from others---that these ideas will help you as you continue to build strength and cultivate your spirit.

You have my best wishes for your happiness, and I am keeping you in my prayers.


"By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a
better man?" -- Yamamoto Tsunettomo, Hagakure


Dear Miss Redgrave:


Before I answer your specific question about what forgiveness is and what is required of you to forgive the man who so delights in causing you pain, I want to tell you that I think that the suffering and grief that this man has caused you has been excessive. You have certainly been put into a crucible, and you have sustained the suffering with remarkable dignity, resilience, and strength.

And I want to add that I have also suffered---and not well---over certain periods of my life: physically hit, receiving verbal abuse, being neglected, not allowed to cry, criticized frequently, having my money stolen from me when I was working my way through college. There was one day in my life when I had no shoes and no money to buy shoes, and there was one day when I had no food. And there were many days when I knew to the core of my heart that nobody cared about me. I know that forgiveness can be a tough issue, and one that recurs.

I wish with all my heart that I had carried myself with the dignity that you have shown. But for me it's been a struggle to learn to behave with reserve, with dignity, with graciousness. But I work at those lessons, for those things are important to me.

I want you to understand how highly I regard you, how much I do respect that you have suffered, how much I prize that flame inside you that the Asian fighters call your spirit. And as I have prayed for you, the Lord has helped me to see past the facade of this world and appreciate that there is an unseen side of you that only He knows in full and you know in part, but that no other person knows.


Now, to your question: I can only tell you what forgiveness is, as far as I understand it, and let you match it up to your plans. I cannot read your heart or mind. I do have some tactical ideas about what you discussed, but this is the most direct answer to your question on forgiveness that I can provide:

Forgiveness is the ability to fully commit a situation into the Hands of God. That's a very Judeo-Christian answer, but forgiveness is a very Judeo-Christian thing. Sooner or later, even hardcore atheists will quote Christ when they talk about forgiveness. So let's take a quick look at Christ and cut through some of the nonsense regarding forgiveness to see what the Lord of Forgiveness did.

At the trial of Christ, when He was unjustly (and secretly) condemned, He calmly told the Pharisees who condemned Him that yes, He is God ("I am" were His words, the name of God.) and that He would be the One appointed to sit in judgement on them at the proper time. But on the cross, when He was reviled by people who honestly believed He had deceived them, He prayed for God to remember that they---unlike the Pharisees---did not understand what they were doing in condemning Him and mistreating Him. And when the dying thief acknowledged his own sinfulness and acknowledged the righteousness of Christ, and asked to be admitted to Christ's kingdom, Christ forgave His sins and took him to paradise, "with Him," ie, in a close relationship between friends.

So not everybody was forgiven that day. Yet Christ had an attitude of forgiveness all the way through, ready at any moment to forgive and restore. But to those who understood the wrongness of what they were doing, He was clear that they would be condemned when God ordained it (the fall of Jerusalem, when the Romans destroyed and burned the entire city and killed everybody in it). For those who wronged Him without full understanding, He turned to God and interceded on their behalf. He did not defend Himself to them; He did not remind them that He had fed them and healed them. He fully committed the matter to God. But to the one who repented, He granted forgiveness and reinstatement.

The Chinese writers do not ever talk about God. They consider the universe to be governed by an infallible moral system of truth that rules all nature. Their perspective is also to step aside from wrong doing, to make no answer. Protect yourself by removing yourself from the harm if you can, and choose your own time of battle. But in the Chinese view, similar to the Judeo-Christian view, the one who furiously attacks is best left to his fury and assaults because sooner or later he is going to push against the universe itself in his arduous attempts to hurt you. And when he does, the universe will roll over him without noticing. Christians would say that he'll be ensnared in his own net, or he'll fall into the pit that he dug to catch others.

Forgiveness is not a one-shot thing. Like love and like goodness, it is a growing condition. It begins in a moment of conscious assent; ie, the moment that a person chooses to commit the wrongs that he or she has suffered to God for judgement. But from that point on, it is a growing condition. It can get so far and no further; it can suffer setbacks; it can also grow and flourish. Forgiveness can exist in spite of feelings of oppression, frustration, and desperation. Because, at its root, forgiveness is not a feeling or an emotion but a decision and a condition of mind. It is possible to forgive a person but to recognize that you still must fight at some level (especially if the person is attacking you). Forgiveness means not rejoicing when your opponent suffers calamity, having no innate desire to harm him or humiliate him. But it doesn't mean facilitating his wrong doing by allowing it. And it can include defeating him to save yourself.

As you are dealing with an unrepentant wrong doer who intends to keep causing you pain, forgiveness will be a daily thing. Every day, perhaps every hour, you may have to address your own state of mind, and declare that for that day, or that hour, or that moment, you will commit the situation to God, you will refuse to be drawn into the rhythm of the other person's assault, you will step aside from the assault in favor of the morally perfect system that governs all things, and you will not struggle against that system by seeking to get even with your oppressor. You refuse to accuse him, to berate him, to punish him. That's forgiveness. You will, in short, let the universe have its way. That means protecting yourself from assaults but not getting between a person struggling against the universe and the universe itself to hasten his end or to facilitate the moment when the universe "rolls over him". It's a fact of life that God judges sin. It's a fact of life that the person who opposes the universe is ground to powder in his struggle. Like Christ, we can explain it with sureness, but we do not augment it, nor do we rejoice in it.

So the means of measuring your own actions are to consider them in light of taking your hands off of the situation, not reacting from anger or pride or vengefulness, and behaving in accord with the concept of either a morally perfect God or a morally perfect universe that upholds justice and truth as a part of the essence of being for humans.

Tactical Considerations

My concern is that any offer that you make to your estranged husband (as a means of "forgiving" him) opens you up for him to create confusion and division. He will probably quibble with fine points. He will try to drag out any meeting. He will try to get you to exhaust yourself by arguing on small issues, by confusing your communications, by using any gracious offer from you as a means to attack you and accuse you verbally.

On the other hand, you may very well be emotionally exhausted by this ordeal. If this is so, then prolonging it is only going to torture you. This situation must be exceedingly painful for you.

But I worry that *any* communication between you and him will serve as an avenue for him to further harass you. I hope that your lawyer can simply handle any arrangements for you.

But I also want to raise this point of concern, for I see that your estranged husband is hitting you where every unkind man can hit a woman: accusing you to your children, which he has done.

Your estranged husband is attacking you where you are vulnerable, and the automatic response may be to justify yourself, to prove that you are right by proving or demonstrating how wrong he is.

*If * vindicating yourself is motivating you to make a quick peace (and only you can know if it is or is not), then I would urge you not to make the offer, for it means that he is drawing you into the rhythm of his battle. If he senses that he can make you seek to prove yourself so that you are vindicated before your children or before him, then he can perfect that method of continually forcing you to prove yourself. There is always something that this man can accuse you of. If you should defeat him on this one point, he will find another, and another, and another, until all your energy is spent vindicating yourself.

Musashi and Sun Tzu teach that, above all else, your adversary must not know your heart. He must not know your fears, your concerns, or what you will react to. You must provide him no leverage for attack. He must see no opening, no reaction in you.

Remember, to defend against an accusation is to grant it a certain validity and to open up the arena for more fighting about whether or not the accusation is true. Time has a way of assisting the children of divorcing parents to realize what was going on, no matter what accusations fly at you in the heat of the proceedings.

What ever you decide in this matter, know that I am concerned for you. And I will pray for your peace.


"The wisdom and compassion that come from courage
are real wisdom and courage."
-- Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

Envy: "qinah"

Dear Miss Redgrave:

You may recall that when I first started writing to you in 1999, I sent you two essays on envy. When I was writing those essays, I found references that described *what* envy produces in human behavior, but I could not find much on *where* envy comes from. Theft, some people assert, comes from poverty; rape comes from being abused; violent acts come from violent treatment. But envy comes from no where. People who should be happy and calm suffer from it. People who have everything can become envious, as well as people who have nothing.

In the post-trauma stages of traumatic, life-changing events, people sometimes tend to blame themselves for what their attackers did. Maybe not in so many words, but they think, "If I had said this when he'd said that, maybe it would have changed him." Or, "If I had been less this way and more this way, perhaps he would never have been so outrageous."

So if you're going through any kind of mental gymnastics program, wondering what you could have done or said differently, or if the entire cataclysm puzzles you, perhaps a look at the originating point of envy will help you.

Our 20th century conceptualization treats the idea of envy as a series of destructive behaviors stemming from an inferiority-resentment syndrome. But we borrowed some of our ideas from the past. The word "envy" comes from invidere in Latin, "to see into". The word connotes a way of looking at someone else. Some language experts link it to the idea of a skewed vision or the idea of looking askance; perhaps a twisted perspective. Envy is a distorted point of view, according to Latin, an incorrectly aligned way of regarding the envied person.

Next, I consulted the concordances and lexicons of Greek and Hebrew. In the very rational-oriented, classical Greek language of the New Testament, "envy" is rendered pretty much as I described in the first two essays, a jealous drive to gain control of others and deprive them of their "fair share" in life (Greek - "phthonos," which directly translates to English as "envy"; it is derived from the root "phthio" which builds more complex words related to pining, obsessive longing, wasting, or decaying).

But I had a big surprise when I consulted the Old Testament. Old Testament Hebrew (which is a different language from modern Hebrew) is more ancient than either Greek or Latin, less rationalistic in its view of man. OT Hebrew and the Semitic languages similar to it were used by peoples who felt a lot closer to God, gods, and spirits than the Greeks did. The word translated as "envy" from Hebrew is "qinah," and I'll try to give you some sense of the way the Hebrew writers depicted this trait, for "qinah" does not always directly translate to "envy. " Its various ways of being translated may give you some insight from an ancient culture on the nature of why you were so cruelly treated and what was going on in your attacker's heart.

If you ask a student of the Bible a question about envy, he or she would probably default to Proverbs 14:30:

A sound heart is the life of the flesh,
but envy ("qinah") the rottenness of the bones.
(Proverbs 14:30)

"Sound heart" ("marpe leb") is better translated as a heart or mind that is able to be healed; a heart or mind that is "transformable" by friendly persuasion, a teachable, hopeful heart.

The opposite, then, is the word rendered "envy" (qinah). Defined by contrast, it's the heart/mind that refuses transformation, the heart that refuses to be healed or remedied. It kills the person in whom it dwells, like bone cancer would. It causes a slow and agonizing death. But though the contrast to the "sound heart" helps the reader see the danger of envy, the passage does not really discuss where envy comes from or how it takes hold in a person. Solomon seems to prefer defining qinah by what it is *not*, and never really explains what it is---probably because his contemporary readership understood the word and he was merely enlarging upon it. Even so, his proverbs indicate that qinah is a crisis within a person, and is not caused by that which is without. In other words, from what I read of wise Solomon, you could not have caused your ex-husband to become envious, nor could you have stopped his plunge into envy if he was of a mind to yield to it.

Further checking showed me that "qinah" in the Old Testament is given five different meanings---depending on context---when it is translated into English, each use is rather different from the other, but all are united by one common thread:

1) "Qinah" is often used to depict a type of jealous wrathfulness and vengefulness, so "envy" is the closest word to fit an English translation in those passages.

2) "Qinah" is also used to describe a dominating, sexual urge to commit rape.

3) It is also the word for the irrational, jealous rage of a husband who reasonlessly suspects that his wife has been unfaithful. "Qinah" refers to his seething, passionate suspicion and anger.

4) "Qinah" is also used to describe the fever pitch that men must reach before they charge into battle: a mindset of over riding, blind aggression: ready to fight, charged up and about to explode.

5) Most amazingly, it is also the word of choice to refer to God's protective attitude towards His own people when that protectiveness is incited to wrathful zeal (ie, if they are harmed or shamed or their affections for Him stolen). This wrathful, protective zeal can either spring forth from God directly on those who threaten His people, or He directly breathes it into a chosen person. This is the only context in which the word has a favorable connotation: "The zeal ("qinah") of Thy house has eaten me up," David wrote, and this text is quoted in the New Testament and applied to Christ when He zealously protected the poor people by driving out the moneychangers from the temple.

The common thread that unites these different uses of the word "qinah" is the idea of a passionate, seething ardor that is not detected by others until it explodes into sudden action. It continually boils and seethes, and when it explodes, it works destructive changes. This passion takes over the person, controls the person, and "consumes" the person (makes him heedless of his own pain, careless of his own death or the consequences of what he does).

In the only context that treats "qinah" as good, this passionate ardor is breathed into a person by God's presence to equip the person to do some great feat. It results in great deeds of faith and a willingness to die if necessary in order to rescue innocent people, declare the truth in the face of falsehood, or establish justice for the oppressed.

In every other context, "qinah" originates in the depths of the person who suffers from it, and the effect is always viewed as bad, as deadly to innocent people, and as destructive to the person consumed by it. Though it can be manifested as envy, suspicion, hurtful lust, or violence, these are simply outward manifestations of the same thing: this blind passion that takes over a man and sets him on a course of destroying others until he is destroyed as a result of his actions. It's important to recognize that not every individual act of wrong doing in Scripture is associated with this word. Normally, this driving, blind ardor does *not* figure in most narratives about violence, sin, etc. The word "qinah" appears in only 35 short passages in the Old Testament, most of them two verses or fewer in length. But where this "qinah" is man-engendered (not from God), it is always destructive; it is always one-sided (building up within the person, not incited by a second person), and it is never cured.

Ultimately, because qinah that comes from within man is always associated with destroying others through violence, lies, or sexual domination, it is best defined as the blind passion of a person to assert himself over everybody else. It's the drive to be dominant at any expense, to subdue one's environment by making others afraid, or wounding them, or destroying their lives, or forcing sex onto them. Under the control of this blind passion, a man selects specific victims and feels powerful as soon as he dominates them. But nobody is safe from him for very long. "Wrath is cruel," Solomon writes, "and anger is outrageous, but who is able to stand before envy ("qinah")?"

Though a person may rise to some form of temporary power by this ardor, it consumes a human being and robs him of his dignity. It makes him blind to reality. In the end, it destroys him. In fact, of the passages that discuss "qinah" that originates in man (not from God), the weight of the warnings is directed to those who are possessed of this overpowering passion. It's understood that this person will harm others, but the certainty being emphasized is that the person who surrenders to his own overwhelming ardor will be destroyed by it. In other words, the texts warn your ex-husband far more than they warn you, even though you are the person he attacked. And the reason for this is that it is your ex-husband's destruction that is certain. His "qinah" *may* destroy his victims if they do not flee, but it will certainly destroy him. As I mentioned in an earlier essay, you can escape your ex-husband, but your ex-husband cannot escape himself.

These ideas are pretty much in line with what we've already discussed, but our 20th century view usually regards wrongdoing as a rational choice, a weighing out of alternatives in which a person decides that the evil choice will bring him a greater benefit than the righteous choice, and so he consciously chooses to do wrong. In Hebrew, qinah is blind, passionate, and irrational. It springs up from the mysterious depths of a man, from his spirit, and consumes him until it brings about his destruction: A good reminder that man is not always rational, and he can be overwhelmed by his inner passion to dominate.

So if you become tormented and say, "Why did he even do this? What started all of it?" Or if you divide up his actions and think, "Why did he bring our son into this and hurt him? If he wanted to hurt me, why did he have to hurt everybody else as well?" Then from the sacred Scripture, the answer is that there is no answer to be found in rational behavior. We have to look at the mysterious inner nature of man. He was overcome from something that rose up from within himself, a passionate ardor to control you, and as you broke away, to control you harder and with more cruelty. The spirit within him was no longer restrained by conscience or empathy; it broke its boundaries and became a raging thing.

People ask me why I believe in sin, and one of my answers is that sometimes, the only answer that works is "sin. " When all the analyzing, all the comparing of philosophies, all the backtracking, is over, God's warning to Caine still holds true: sin crouches at the door, ready to spring out. It takes hold of and devours the person who is heedless of it. When I consider this, I am sorry for him.

When I consider what he has put you through, I am sorry for what you have suffered. But I can insist that you didn't deserve his cruelty. I see that he meant to demean you, and even if you felt diminished or humiliated by what he did, your value as a human being wasn't diminished. All along you've been a gracious, beautiful, intelligent person, with a lot to offer. You have great heart and great spirit. All the creation is written into the stars, and you are recorded there, too, and your ex-husband was not able to move one cosmic particle out of place in God's declaration of you.

Back to "qinah": You have the right to decide for yourself what to believe. But if the hyper-rationalistic approach of the 20th century does not explain it, you can look back to centuries of experience and wisdom, when it was accepted that all people play a role in the forces of good and evil, and the forces of good and evil play their roles in us, and overt actions are the manifestation of inner, spiritual forces. I continue to keep you in my prayers.

Best wishes,

"A person of little merit is not at peace
but walks about making trouble and is in conflict with all."
-- Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

Those years were not wasted

Dear Miss Redgrave:

You wrote that the hardest part of your recovery from the whole ordeal has been that your decades of marriage to him was based on lies.

We all live our lives based on lies, Miss Redgrave. Every last one of us. The big lie is that we are immortal, which we all walk around believing until a train hits us. Or it hits our best friend. Or we watch a plane slam into the World Trade Center, and see poor 23 and 24 year old office workers hang out of windows and make the desperate choice to die by jumping rather than to die by being incinerated. The first true thing that a lot of us say is "That could have been me."

The next big lie is that we actually are the person that others say we are. It's not suitable for me to criticize people that you love. But perhaps someday you will re-evaluate a lot of things from when you were a teenager and a 20-something. You have achieved your professional success because you accepted constructive criticism, made yourself learn how to do things better, and applied your heart, mind, and spirit to your work. You have demonstrated a spirit that is beautiful, sensitive, and enduring. I know very little about you, but I do know from a few things written about you that early, harsh criticism of you from one parent may have skewed your vision of yourself and perhaps even opened the door for a man who knew how to make you dependent on him when you were too young to know what he intended. I don't know enough to say all this as a sure thing, but I hope you will consider these ideas. You have worth because you are made in the image of God, and He designed you.

And the next big lie is that we think we are the people we expect ourselves to be. Judas Iscariot didn't set out to betray Jesus Christ to His death. Simon Peter didn't set out to deny Christ in public. Both men were taken by surprise by their own actions. One hanged himself, and the other humbled himself and found the never ending grace of God poured out to him. I don't think Your ex-husband set out to destroy you when he married you. But surely marriage forced him to either confront himself, repent, and change; or else keep deceiving himself and you.

Certainly your marriage is none of my business. So as usual, I'll talk about it. Your ex-husband may have appealed to what you now consider the "worst" or "weakest" in you to win your love---your lack of confidence, your naivete, your desire to be led by somebody who appeared to be sophisticated and worldly wise. But I'm sure that he also picked you because of some very good qualities that he could use to flatter himself. In one of Jane Austen's novels, one of the women characters realizes that a very bad rich man courted her so carefully because he knew that he would be happier and more prosperous with a good woman as a wife than a bad one. He knew that as long as he held out hope to her that she might reform him, he could deceive her forever, keep her enslaved, and do exactly as he liked.

Bad men, the smart ones, don't choose bad wives. Quite the opposite. A dishonest man chooses an honest woman because she will not think to double-check his lies. A man who wants everything for himself marries a woman who gives of herself and works hard.

Early in the course of letters about Musashi, we covered the idea of changing circumstances and how nothing holds still. I pointed out that when you were married, you had many things but not the truth. And then when you were given the truth, it was like a gold coin straight from the fire, dropped into your hand. Too hot to hold, but still a gold coin. That gold coin is still there---truths that you have been willing to confront, even when they burn you. Don't let them go. They are the price of the married years of your life.

I know that you want to recover, and I want you to be happy. But I don't want you to recover so much that you lose what you gained in suffering. Life itself is struggle. Doing good is a war--always.

The last big lie is that when there is no activity, we have attained enlightenment. Ridiculous. When there is no activity, we are dead. Be ready, at every moment, to seize your own suffering, wrestle with it, and tear victory from it. *That's* enlightenment.

Best wishes to you, as well, in 2002.

"It is not that we don't know that we are going to die,
but we grasp at straws." -- Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

The General who Crosses Open Terrain

Dear Miss Redgrave:

The general who must travel through open country has to know the terrain. Every escape route has to be known. Every point of potential danger has to be assessed and recognized.

Now that you are back in the limelight and continue to see growing success in your professional life, your ex-husband will surely be determined to harass or humiliate you in some way. I write to you in terms of the next several weeks being a time of likely "attack". Neither of us can know if he will simply ridicule you, or resort to something more foolish and disastrous. You are the general who is crossing open terrain, and there are rules of strategy and martial enlightenment to help you cross safely.

Beware of illusions. Open terrain is a place where illusions abound. What looks level and clear is NOT level and clear. People who are good at harming others rely on moments when the target feels safe or is less aware than usual. You're far more likely to be lured into a trap by a woman who leans out of a restroom and desperately whispers, "Ohmigosh! Have you got a tampon in your purse?" than by three or four beefy guys suddenly appearing under street lights. The ten seconds in which a woman steps into a restroom doorway and looks down into her purse are ample time for an opportunistic attacker to snatch her, pull her in, do what he likes, and leave. And the terrain would seem undisturbed.

Beware of having your "army" scattered. The most difficult thing about personal safety is that it requires a "me first" attitude if you want to stay safe. You simply never let another person lure you away from your plan or your route. Tricksters rely on victims recognizing typical "unforeseen events" and believing in them. *That* is how a marked target enters a trap---willingly. Victims are detoured, not forced, into danger. You've got to be hard nosed and avoid the pull of very human situations that tug at your sense of compassion or your sense of "normalcy"--even your sense of convenience.

You meet an unknown danger by being so highly organized that you can afford to be flexible and make instant changes in order to enhance your safety. But when you make changes, those changes have to be focused on getting out of a situation, not on doing the will of another person who shows up right at the moment.

Beware of the allies in the shade. When I studied rape cases, I learned---like most women learn---that victims are raped by men they know. But further reading showed me that victims are actually raped by men the women *barely* knew. Not usually husbands or brothers or fiancées, but those men who the victims knew only by sight and had seen around and had spoken to a few times in passing. These were not good friends. In fact, they were hardly acquaintances. I'm not talking about rape with you, but the same principle applies. Beware of people you assume are "acquaintances" who are actually strangers. A seasoned predator makes himself familiar enough to his victims so that they drop their guard. They get in the car with him, or they open the door to him, or they go with him to an isolated place. And the truth is, they do not know this man well enough to put their lives in his hands. But he smoothly convinces them that they do. As long as he's "in the shade" he looks like an ally.

Keep the best weapons at hand. As you know, the only weapon you can truly possess is your spirit. But there are weapons you can pick up. And the first weapon to take up in open terrain is Knowledge. Learn your terrain well, because if you have an enemy nearby who wants to attack, *he* will know your terrain. The second weapon is Preparation. If you know your terrain, you can use it to ensure your own safety. You can plant things in the terrain that the enemy does not see, and these can be planted to assist you in danger. And this is what you can plant to keep yourself safe:

The best scenario is one in which you have hired a security staff to protect you, and they keep you in sight at all times while you're onstage, and they keep the stage area rigorously secure.

With or without that "best case" scenario of professional security coverage, you can still enhance your protection by knowledge and preparation. What follows are suggestions for your personal safety. They are written as imperatives, but I'm not trying to sound dictatorial. I'm suggesting strategies to you:

Create a safety plan for every different terrain you are in: your residence, the theater, and your car. Figure out what to do to escape or, failing that, to barricade yourself in. Know every exit in that theater. If I were you, I'd drive if that's what you like, but always have a back up car (and a back up key) that is less well known, parked nearby but not right next to your own car, so you can exit quickly in that.

Get a small, plain card case and put a spare car key in it, a phone card, and two 10 dollar bills. Keep that card case with you, on your person, at all times. Even on stage. If anything happens, you can whisk yourself away and make contact with "safe" people.

Vary your routine each day, and vary your sub routines at work and at your point of residence.

Keep your schedule absolutely private. That will be difficult with scheduled performances, but as little as possible should be known to others about your arrival and departure times. One trusted person should know where you are and when you will arrive at the next destination. (It doesn't always have to be the same trusted person.) Let that person know when you are leaving and when you've arrived. The idea of "checking in" appeals to people, but it really has only limited value. That "Trusted Person" has to be prepared to go find you immediately if you don't call in. It's not enough for him or her to sit around and worry. There has to be a plan in place, so that if you're a no-show, he or she immediately contacts the police (who will probably not do anything at first) and then sets out to trace your route. Like every other aspect of crossing dangerous terrain, there has to be a plan of proper action to implement if you fail to show up on schedule. That plan has to be put into action right away.

Avoid public restrooms. Have somebody go with you at least as far as the door of the rest room in any building that is not your point of residence or the home of a trusted person. Even in the theater or in an expensive restaurant or in an exclusive four-star hotel lobby or lounge, though it feels like a familiar and safe place for you, don't let yourself be isolated in the rest room.

Do not get into enclosed places like stairways or elevators with people you don't know.

If phones go dead or something breaks down in your point of residence, office, or work space, check the photo ID of any repair or service people. I'm sure you have a personal staff of some kind. The safest thing you can do is arrange for repairs to be carried out when you are not at the scene.

On your route to and from your point of residence, pick out the "danger zones" where you could be run off the road and trapped. Be ready to use a cell phone for help. Don't let anybody drive up alongside you on isolated stretches. Abruptly cut your speed rather than speed up if somebody tries to cruise parallel with you. If you use a driver, make sure you have a driver that knows how to drive to protect you.

Never sit and wait in your car, no matter what the time of day. If you have a driver, make sure it is clear that the driver is never to gas up the car while you are in the car. If you like coffee on the drive in, have the driver bring it to you when the driver picks you up. A person sitting in an unmoving car is an incredibly helpless target. So if you're in the car, the car needs to be moving.

Keep a flashlight with new batteries, an envelope with a few fives in it, a change of clothes, a pair of broken-in walking shoes, and a lightweight slicker in your car. Keep these bundled together on the floor of the back seat, rather than in the trunk. Keep a cell phone with you in the car.

Lock the right-hand doors of your car at all times---ATMs, service stations, tool booths, etc. When you're in the car, keep all the doors locked, of course.

Keep the gas tank of your car half full.

Don't give directions to people on the street; don't talk to strangers, no matter how desperate their plight seems. Call for help for them, but do not stop.

Never park next to a van or high topped vehicle. If such a vehicle parks next to your car, have an attendant or male worker move your car for you. You should know where your car is at all times. Your car should never be in such a position that the view of you from the nearest building or the street is obscured when you get into your car. Never walk to your car alone. Always check the back seat of your car before you get into it. *ALWAYS* Never get into the front seat of your car "blindly", even if another person who you know and trust is already in the front seat. That person may not have checked the back.

When you were still getting to your feet after your husband's first attacks I encouraged you because I knew you were courageous and brave. Now I'm warning you because I know that he's fallen and outraged. You are ready to move on, but your ex-husband will never get out of the cycle of misery where he's locked himself. The only thing he *can* do is attempt to make you miserable.

You're in my prayers, especially now.

Best wishes,

"If one hasn't previously mastered his mind and his body,
he will not defeat the enemy."
-- Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

Taking Away the Sword

Dear Miss Redgrave:

Ieyasu Tokugawa subdued the rival, ruling dynasty and established the Tokugawa Shogunate that maintained an iron rule over Japan for 250 years. Tokugawa succeeded because he was brilliant and completely ruthless. His cruelty to those who opposed him was legendary.

During his rise to power, he requested a locally famous samurai to put on a demonstration for him and his retainers. This took place in a very rural part of Japan, where the feudal lords were considered politically unimportant, their fiefs and standing armies too small to count for much. But this one rural samurai, Muneyoshi Yagyu, was known in the local area for his incredible skill in swordsmanship. A banquet was held, and he and his sons and other students demonstrated their dangerous and perfectly timed sword kata to the admiring Tokugawa. All the hard bitten samurai who watched had to agree that there was perfection in what these country swordsmen did. They slashed at each other with their sharp swords--using full strength--turned, sidestepped, deflected, slashed again, with no interruption of their incredible speed and strength. The timing was perfect. The onlookers were impressed and appreciative of this display.

Still, Ieyasu Tokugawa observed, when all was finished, all this skill and speed would do a man no good if he were unarmed and had to face a man who was armed with a sword. The true problem of battle was not how to defeat an equally armed opponent, but how to defeat a better armed opponent who carries an unmistakable superiority in weaponry. And Ieyasu had reason to comment on this, for at that time in his struggle to win control of Japan, he was greatly outnumbered, and all of the most powerful families and their armies were aligned against him. He was like an unarmed man fighting a fully armed opponent.

The man demonstrating his skills, Muneyoshi Yagyu, respectfully replied that in any battle where the master is unarmed, as long as his opponent has a sword, then the master has a sword as well. For the Master can use his opponent's sword to kill his opponent.

Tokugawa was incredulous. Of course he knew that a skillful samurai, unarmed, could disarm an untrained foot soldier with very little trouble. But to say that a samurai could be disarmed and killed with his own sword was surely a gross exaggeration. Every samurai was a master of the sword. But Muneyoshi calmly replied that when a man *truly* masters the sword, he is master of any sword, including the sword in his opponent's hands.

Yagyu then offered to demonstrate on Tokugawa, and the great general at once consented. This was no demonstration like we see today. The samurai "demonstrated" at full speed and power. Ieyasu Tokugawa was ready at the invitation to split Muneyoshi down (or across) the middle. The skills of war were the lifeblood of all of them, and they would test every theory with their own lives.

Tokugawa came down to the floor from the dias, took up his stance, sword ready, and Muneyoshi faced him, empty handed, standing in the ready stance with his hands open and poised as though he actually held a sword.

With the deft speed of a lifetime's accumulated battle wisdom, Tokugawa closed the distance with his smooth stride and cut hard and fast with a side strike. Right before he would have landed the blow, it looked to him like Muneyoshi had disappeared. The next thing he knew, he somersaulted through the air and landed on his back on the tatami covered floor.

All of the people in the room gasped. Muneyoshi had closed with Tokugawa faster than Tokugawa had closed with him, simply sidestepping with a brave audacity and yet a serene calmness that none of them had ever seen. Even as Tokugawa had been lifting the sword to strike, Muneyoshi's hands had been closing around his hands and the hilt, moving in a perfect blend and using the circular motion of swinging the sword to wrist-throw the general.

The dazed Tokugawa, too stunned to move, looked up and saw that his sword was in Muneyoshi's hands. The Master could have killed him easily. Nobody dared to breathe at the sight of the great and fierce general flat on his back. And then Tokugawa grinned and exclaimed, "Suki desu!" ("I liked it!")

When Tokugawa rose to the position of Shogun, he made the Yagyu family and Muneyoshi's heirs the official teachers of sword skills to his own family and chief retainers. This method of drawing close and moving in perfect time with the opponent was called the "Shadow" school of swordsmanship, and it exists today by the same name in Japanese, Shinkage Ryu.

And the maxim of Muneyoshi remains well known: "If you are unarmed and your opponent has a sword, then you are armed with your opponent's sword." You must defeat him with his own weapon. This is called "taking away the sword."

So now your ex-husband slanders you again. And maybe you think, well there's no way to stop him. In truth, you may no longer care, as his facade has slipped, and he has lost that jolly demeanor. Where once he laughed at you in public and bragged about his adulterous exploits, now he rages and he whines and he feels sorry for himself in public. His behavior is a tremendous indictment of his mindset of envy and narcissism. But since he is attacking you as cruelly as he can contrive to do, maybe you do feel concern about blunting this attack or deflecting it.

You have the ability to take away the sword and defeat your ex-husband. If you cannot stop the slander, then you can use his slander against you to defeat him further.

Do you remember the idea of samurai "rectitude"? In every moment, there is one right action, and every other action is therefore less right. The one right action demanded by the current situation leads to success, and every other action either postpones success or else leads to failure.

Rectitude is a moral construct, but it's also a concept about timing your actions in order to win a victory. You pare down all the alternatives until you get the one course of action that wins the current battle.

Rectitude requires that you form your goals into a hierarchy. In this strategic way of thinking, there can be only one ultimate or highest goal that defines your success. And every other goal that you have then becomes subservient to that highest goal.

I believe that your ex-husband will never stop attacking you as long as he is alive. He will sacrifice anything and anybody to create misery for you. If he is not defeated now, and if he finds you have made yourself impervious to the claims he makes, he will start attacking your children or your family members in order to make you suffer. There is nothing beneath him, and nothing is out of his bounds. So my assessment would be that he must be defeated, and every other goal must be subservient to that goal.

Other goals may prompt you to just sidestep his attacks rather than take the sword away; that is, let the slander go.

But if you think, yes, he has to be defeated, then you use the slander to demonstrate that he has fallen into envy and narcissism, thus discrediting him and making him look pathetic. That is defeat for him. Rather than being feared and dreaded, or even despised and hated, he becomes merely pathetic.

You could do this by becoming a spokes woman on behalf of abused and controlled women. I know that you support charities already. And I see from having done my research that you are discreet and private about your support of charities. I am suggesting a more open and public approach, even though being public about doing good may offend your sense of propriety. I realize that--overall--it is better to be private about doing good works. On the other hand, there's no harm in letting your good works speak for you when somebody is berating you. If you become known for helping people in these situations, then your ex-husband's envy will prompt his actions to identify himself as a narcissistic bully. He will vindicate you by the very things he does to ridicule you.

In order to help others, you'd only have to publicly talk about controlling behaviors and obsessive people and how to break away from them. If that's too big a task for your schedule, you could publish a pamphlet of resources that women can use if they are trying to get away from abusive situations. Donate some money (publicly) to a woman's shelter. Publicize and recommend information of that phenomenon known as "The Serial Bully" so that people can identify their tormentors and learn to successfully confront them. You could even specifically talk about how adult bullies frighten their victims by different manipulative tactics, and discuss the common tactics, including threats to misrepresent them to others. But you'd never have to mention names.

The slander against you then becomes YOUR weapon, for every time he slanders you, your ex-husband demonstrates the behavior of an abusive and narcissistic bully. His weapon becomes an item of power that you use to bring about your own ends. He will fully demonstrate that he is a vindictive and narcissistic person intent upon absolute control at any cost to others.

To make it more general: Anything that is in your ex-husband's hands has to become your weapons----his anger, his pomposity, his grandiose view of himself, his willingness to go into debt in order to hurt you. The enlightened warrior recognizes the darts in the enemy's belt, plucks them out during the struggle, and sinks them more deeply into the opponent. Use what he is and what he relies upon to defeat him.


"The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit; the second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are." - Marcus Aurelius

At This Tree Shall Pang Chun Die; Lord Kira and the 47 Ronin

Dear Miss Redgrave:

In China in 341 B.C., the general P`ang Chuan, a commander of the Wei province, was an egotistical leader, a racist, and an envious and deadly personal enemy of the great general Sun, who commanded the forces of the Chi province.

Pang Chun had devised many excellent reasons that the men born in the Chi province were inferior to his own men. The men of Chi were mentally deficient; they were cowardly; they were not patriotic. Certainly, their morals were drastically inferior to the enlightened warriors of Wei. He promoted these ideas and of course had many instances of proof to back them up. Because of his efforts to discredit the men of Chi, the cowardice of the Chi forces was widely believed. Their faint heartedness was sung in wine house songs, and it was touted in proverbs of the day.

General Sun, at the head of the despised Chi forces, used this racism as an opportunity for a quick and total victory. He boldly crossed right into Pang Chun's cherished Wei province, at the head of a huge army of Chi men. The Chi entered into hilly and steep terrain, but they made no secret of their presence. At night, they lit 100,000 fires. News of an enormous invading army of over 100,000 men quickly reached the military. Within a day or two, Pang Chun was closing in pursuit of him.

As soon as Pang Chun was close enough, Sun retreated. He ordered the men to light only 50,000 fires at night. Therefore Wei scouts reported back to Pang Chun that Sun's army was in retreat, and now only 50,000 fires were in camp at night. Sun continued to flee from his pursuer, and on the next night his camp showed only 20,000 fires.

Pang Chun was delighted. The men of Chi were proving his assumptions and predictions true. They were cowards. They were deserting Sun, he thought, and racing back to the safety of their homeland under cover of darkness. So he increased his pace, and the pursuit became hot.

Late the next day, with Pang Chun only a few hours behind, Sun led his men to a very narrow ravine, and most of them passed through it and were told to take cover in the far end and the valley beyond. But he gave orders that a group of archers stay behind in ambush. And then he felled a large tree into the ravine, had it stripped of its bark and branches, and on it he frescoed the words: "At this tree shall Pang Chun die." Then he ordered the archers to shoot at anything that gave them light.

Several hours after dark, Pang Chun raced for the pass on horseback, under the light of the moon. His army was now stretched out behind him, not well organized to defend itself because the task of chasing the cowardly enemy was more urgent than maintaining a disciplined formation. In the narrowest part of the dark ravine, as his men picked their way down with care, Pang Chun stopped at the tree and saw that something was inscribed on it. He struck a light and was shot full of arrows in front of his officers as he read the inscription. The men of Chi poured back through the ravine, threw rocks down from above, and routed the unprepared Wei forces. Thus by one man's prejudice and from the strength of his own propaganda campaign, the "cowards" of Chi killed him and won a decisive victory.

In feudal Japan, avenging one's lord and pursuing vendettas were accepted as morally correct and commendable behavior. This led to many confrontations whenever the samurai lords (daimyos) met each other at the Shogun's palace during formal convocations. Full scale rioting would break out when so many men, each intent upon winning glory or restoring honor, were jammed together at close quarters. And so, to preserve order, it was decreed on pain of death that no violence could be committed within the Shogun's palaces.

There was an older man named Lord Kira who held a high station in the palace, and part of his duties included instructing the less urbane lords in the manners that were observed at court. Lord Kira used his position to extract bribes from the visiting daimyos. Nothing was as important to a samurai as his honor and dignity, and so Kira's position actually gave him quite a bit of power over his wealthy visitors, and they usually coughed up the koku upon request, rather than disgrace themselves by clumsy manners at court.

But Lord Asano, a young and powerful daimyo from the furthest reaches of the kingdom, displeased Lord Kira by not providing enough in the bribe. And so Kira only half taught him and allowed him to make a fool of himself before others. Asano, who hated bribery and quickly realized that he also hated court life, tried to control his anger. But the snubs from Lord Kira continued, and Asano continued to appear foolish as he blundered his way through each day, until finally the young daimyo lost control of himself.

After a final snub from Kira, Asano drew his short sword and ran after him to stab him to death and then commit suicide himself (rather than suffer the Shogun's punishment). He stabbed Kira once, but Kira was only injured and got away, and another samurai fell on top of Lord Asano to stop him. Asano was quickly arrested.

Sympathy among the samurai was with Lord Asano. But he had violated a cardinal rule of the court, one that reflected directly on the honor due to the Shogun, and so before the day was out he was ordered to commit disembowelment (seppuku). He did. After Asano's death, the Shogun decreed that Lord Kira had behaved well and was vindicated.

When word reached Asano's castle, his samurai retainers met to decide what to do. There were over 200 of them, and they were now unemployed, masterless samurai, called ronin. Many of them would have committed suicide to join their lord in death, but this traditional response to the death of one's master was now expressly forbidden by the Tokugawa Shogunate, and a man's family name would be dishonored if he disobeyed. So they considered their options. Many voted to storm Lord Kira's castle right away to get revenge or die in the attempt. But the chief retainer, Oisuke, said that the point was to get the revenge, not to die trying, and a hasty response would surely be repelled. Lord Kira's men would surely be prepared for them. After a night of conferring, about half of them made a commitment to avenge Asano and kill Lord Kira. They put themselves under the command of the chief retainer, Oisuke.

Oisuke commanded that all should disperse across the countryside. They set a date to reconvene in a year, after the furor was over. Oisuke himself pretended to become a drunk. He left his family, took a prostitute, and actually got to the point where he lay drunk in the gutter by day and did nothing as commoners passing by spit on him and berated him for his bad behavior. The spies employed by Kira reported that Oisuke was dishonored and a broken man.

The following year, when Asano's samurai met on the appointed day, their numbers were reduced to 47. A few of them had actually gotten employment in Lord Kira's service. Others were retainers for other lords, and some had taken up the crafts of artisans. But most were ronin. They took it in turns to spy on Lord Kira's household for a few days. Finally, they took bows and arrows as well as swords and attacked Lord Kira's house in the middle of the night. Assisted by those few who were "inside men," they gained entry quickly.

Kira's retainers were taken by surprise, and those who stayed to fight were killed. Kira's adopted son was grievously wounded as he tried to defend his father. But at last, the 47 samurai took control of the house and went in search of their enemy. Kira was found hiding in a closet. Oisuke dragged him out, handed him a knife, and ordered him to commit seppuku. But Kira would not, and so Oisuke killed him.

They beheaded him and brought his head to the temple grounds where Lord Asano was buried, and left it there. They then surrendered themselves to the legal authorities and told their story of revenge.

Instantly, the men became heroes of the nation, and many people (including some in the Shogun's family) begged for them to receive leniency because they had demonstrated such devotion to their dead lord. The Shogun took nearly a year to decide final judgement, but at last it was ordered that the samurai commit seppuku. They had killed a lord of the court, and one whom the Shogun had declared innocent of any wrong doing. But in an age and a nation where entire families were usually punished for capital crimes, the families of the 47 samurai were all spared or pardoned. The men themselves were actually honored by being allowed to kill themselves rather than suffer hanging, beheading, or crucifixion. Further, they unanimously requested that their ashes be buried near their lord, and this was granted to them. They all committed suicide and were interred near Lord Asano's remains. Kira's adopted son was placed under house arrest for failing to die to protect his father. And Kira's lands were confiscated from his family and given to a different lord.

Kira's fatal error in judgement was that he assumed that he had defeated Lord Asano and had nothing left to fear from the scattered retainers. Similar to Pang Chun, he did not recognize that his own mindset stopped him from being able to see the mindset of others. The idea that a samurai would spend a year "in the gutter" being spit upon by commoners, all in order to avenge his lord would never have occurred to Kira. Similarly, the vain Pang Chun could not imagine that a man and his entire army would willingly "play the coward" as a part of strategy. That type of thinking was outside his comprehension.

When General Sun ran, Pang Chun was a man so enslaved to his own condition of mind that he *had* to pursue. When Asano died and his retainers seemed scattered, Lord Kira was a man so enslaved to his own grandiosity and luxury that he *had* to believe the retainers had lost their integrity. Neither man could envision life operating any other way than by the parameters by which they themselves operated.

If you rise, your ex-husband *has* to seek your misery. If you extend kindness to others, he *has* to ridicule you and humiliate you. By his actions, he can be made to denounce himself.


"To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of
defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself." - Sun Tzu

Excellence; the white peony; "immovable mind"

Dear Miss Redgrave:

These essays are focused on the mind and the sword, which encompasses the idea of "taking away the sword," as well as "immovable mind" and "victory is in the scabbard." I don't want to force my religious ideas onto you impolitely, but it's impossible to separate out the ultimate ideas of sword enlightenment from concepts about God and absolute truth. Munenori, Soho, and Musashi all link sword enlightenment to eternal truths and the perfection of godhood, eventually. As always, I'll leave it to you to sift out what you do believe from what you don't believe.

Muneyoshi Yagyu advanced the school of Shinkage Ryu swordsmanship. He was probably a better swordsman than Miyamoto Musashi, the samurai who wrote BOOK OF FIVE RINGS. Yagyu's son, Munenori Yagyu, took over the school when the elder Yagyu retired to pursue Buddhism. And the son surpassed the father in skill and committed the principles of the Shinkage style into writing.

Amazingly, considering how ardently Musashi sought to prove his "Way," he never dueled with either of the Yagyu sword masters though he was their contemporary. Proponents of Musashi insist that this was because their paths never crossed, but most people assume that Musashi knew he could not defeat either man. Musashi's game plan relied on "seeing through" the opponent or causing the opponent's mind to falter at the crucial point. But both Muneyoshi and Munenori were beyond Musashi in sword enlightenment. Their hearts were like polished steel, and so they were immune to Musashi's stratagems. Neither of the Yagyu men could be startled, intimidated, psyched out, or shaken in his resolve during battle.

This is the ideal of martial enlightenment, to have the heart of the focused, determined, detached warrior in all things. My first Tae kwon do teacher hit us --hard--with paddles and boards as we trained, shouting praise and encouragement to us as he did so (rather than berating). It was common for the white belts to faint in class, and I did my share of that the first few weeks. But it was amazing how quickly new students hardened into people who were ready to get down to intense training and work hard. I made a mistake early in my black belt career when I assumed that the excellence with which I applied myself to martial training stopped at the doorway of the training hall. Then I saw my error.

The real dangers for which martial artists train may not begin until they walk out the door. Deceit, envy, intrigue, and dishonesty are more real outside a good martial arts school than inside. And people who seek power at the expense of others are more numerous even in church than in a good training hall.

In a good training hall, advancement comes by sincere endeavor, profound suffering, diligent patience, and transparent humility. But everywhere else in the world, advancement usually comes by self promotion and "one-upmanship".

So I carried the training hall spirit into my workplace--work hard at my tasks, speak directly, be courteous, help others, and refuse to back down from intimidation. The results were very surprising. I cannot say I was popular, but people wanted to hear what I had to say. Especially at employment interviews, I was included because my evaluations had insight. I also firmly confronted intimidation from people on power trips.

And then I carried these principles into my church life. The behavior of martial integrity, direct and polite speech, and firm resolve has certainly excluded me from politics within the church, and I am not a part of any inner circles. But nobody questions my integrity nor the sincerity of my faith, and I am not dragged into conflicts.

Muneyoshi Yagyu gave up dueling. He still wore his swords, but he adopted a life of retreat and peace. He put the enlightenment of the sword to work in the art of gardening. He planted flower gardens, studied the way that flowers are nurtured and gardens tended, and became famous for the beautiful gardens he designed as well as for the lovely flowers that he grew.

One day a samurai inquired at his gates, wanting a duel. The house servant replied that the Master was now old and no longer dueled. His son had taken over the Shinkage school, far away in Edo, and his son would accept the challenge. The servant directed the samurai to go to Edo to duel.

But the visiting samurai was persistent. Everybody knew that the Master still practiced, and it was said that his skill was even greater than it had been when he had been a public figure. Finally, the house servant told him to wait. A little later, the servant returned with a white scroll rolled around a white flower that had been cut from the garden. The samurai read the note, which said words to this effect:

"I am an old man, and I carry my sword only to tend flowers in my gardens.
There is no honor to be gained if you should kill me or if I should kill you.
You can see by this white peony that I have sent you, how I have applied the
wisdom of the sword to the beauty of the flower blossoms. I have cut this
perfect flower blossom for you as a testament of my poor skill in my garden."

A samurai was always interested in anything that had been *cut*. And this young warrior understood the hint in the message. He looked at the stem of the flower and saw that Muneyoshi's sword had cut the stem with a perfectly even cut. The flower was of a variety with an incredibly fibrous stem, and yet there was no raggedness nor stray "thread" to show any imperfection in the sword swipe that had severed the stem.

The young samurai went back to his inn, found a bed of flowers of the same variety, and began to practice cutting them singly. No matter how he applied himself, he could not make a clean, perfect cut through the fibrous stalks. If he struck with his greatest speed, the resonance of the blow shook off several petals and ruined the blossom, and more often than not the resilient and lightweight stem would not be cut completely through. If he held the top of the stalk with one hand and cut with the other, he could sever the stem completely, but the line of the cut was ragged because holding the fibrous stem to keep it steady stretched it as the sword passed through and caused the line of the cut to be rippled.

He realized that the hand that could move a sword so deftly that it severed the stem without a trace of raggedness and without harming the blossom was a hand too swift, accurate, and focused for him to defeat. So he went away and never bothered to challenge the younger Yagyu at the school in Edo. So you see, Muneyoshi won the duel simply by cutting a flower with perfection.

There is only one sword, as Muneyoshi demonstrated: the inner sword. It can be manifest in dueling or in gardening, in the work place, in church, on the stage, or in the back stage area.

The heart of the seasoned warrior is able to strike, prepared to strike, ready to strike, even when unwilling to strike. Transfer this to every facet of life to gain by it. Be always ready, always able, always prepared, even when you choose not to go to war. When you are on stage, I know that your perfection of heart---your inner sword--- will be evident in your performance. But even when you step off-stage, let your perfection of heart be evident in your demeanor. And if you have to evade trouble, have a perfect and ready mind as you do so. And if you have to confront trouble, have the same resolution and perfection of mind. Evade or confront from a perfection of mind that chooses its own time to act---a mind that knows its purposes and fulfills them. If you have the inner sword always polished and ready, then anybody who comes to duel with you---emotionally or physically--- may be persuaded otherwise simply by your demeanor and your calm, focused "readiness" in the face of an emotional storm.

It is possible by demeanor alone to back down an aggressive person, and this is not by a fierce demeanor, but simply by the evidence of "immovable mind," as the Japanese call it. I'll explain more of this later, but---simply put---"immovable mind" is a mind of decision and fortitude, a mind developed to seek excellence in itself. The term "immovable" doesn't mean rigid or fixed in place. People with "immovable mind" are flexible and adaptable, but they are not easily shaken. It is the undaunted mind.

Certainly you have been hit with as hard a blow as any person has ever received. This sets you apart. You have been marked by suffering. You're not what you were before you discovered your ex-husband's heartlessness. You've been given the power to "move up," to grow, to transcend. But you cannot go back.

This is a good thing. There's something you are now that nobody can be born into, nor can they buy it, nor can they even learn it through study. The only way you get it is by being hit so hard that you lose everything in your whole world---at least for an instant---and you go down to what you are at the core. Everything deserts you, even if only momentarily. And then you come back, and you get up, and you go on.

Not everybody gets up and goes on. In fact, most people stay down. You didn't stay down. You took on your dignity by strength of will alone when your heart was broken. And you made yourself be what you knew you could be, even when you felt abandoned and humiliated and all the rest. I realize that you are still working through grief and pain. I pray for you to get through it well. But if people urge you to return to what you once were, that's an illusion.
I pray for you to come to resolution of all that you've been through. But every step of that journey is meaningful. Every step is what the heavens have declared for you when you were pushed into a type of suffering you didn't choose. It all means something. Don't let the world urge the "narcotics of the soul" onto you. Meet your suffering with a dauntless mind. It's a painful and wonderful way to live. We don't have meaningless days.

All the same, a deadly enemy will seek to overload you with your suffering. And he's not concerned about meaning. He just wants to destroy you. So please carefully look after yourself. Keep yourself safe.


"A man who has attained mastery of an art reveals it in every action" - Samurai maxim

The struggle to be made pure; the love of God; the struggle to know

Dear Miss Redgrave:

The quest for perfection in the sword eventually leads to a quest for the ultimate perfection. The person who sheds human blood enters a sacred transaction---in the worst possible way. Corruption clings to him because he has forcibly returned a life to its Maker. Many historians agree that the reason that the samurai developed their own distinct version of zen was because they had to live with the deaths they had caused. And the fact that suicide was such a major part of their lifestyle was probably a symptom of class-wide guilt, even though seppuku was dressed up as a noble act to maintain honor.

Most Westerners do not realize how incredibly pervasive suicide was in the samurai culture. They killed themselves like lemmings going over a cliff. One daimyo would die or be dishonored, and anywhere from 30 to 200 samurai would commit suicide in response. And many of them would kill their own children and wives before taking their own lives. Stories of samurai life that are translated without commentary into English are horrific and bizarre because the Western mind---even the martial artist--cannot comprehend their frenzy to spill out their bowels. [The most modern example is Mori Ogai's historical account entitled "The Abe Family", about an extended samurai family that massacred its own children and then fought its neighbors to the death. It was published early in the 20th century as a glorification of the old samurai ethic. But to Westerners, the story is incoherent and runs like the disjointed pieces of an illogical dream. There is no apparent connection between the early events of the story and the blood bath that follows.]

Ultimately, the Tokugawa Shogunate had to ban suicide because the samurai were decimating their own ranks and destabilizing the fiefs. Frenzied rituals of seppuku during conflict caused enough losses to pose a danger to the infrastructure of the government.

Miyamoto Musashi set out in life to kill as many men as needed to validate himself as being enlightened. Then he stopped killing and didn't duel even when challenged. He died of an ulcer, and witnesses to the end of his life say his final illness was caused by his inner agony at not knowing if he had achieved enlightenment or not. Munenori Yagyu obediently participated in the slaughter of the samurai Christians. Under orders from the Shogun, he killed unarmed warriors, women, and children by the score in order to purge out this foreign religion that emphasized the individual conscience. Later in his life, he said that he'd had to learn compassion (ie, that it had not sprung up naturally within himself), and learning compassion had taught him the real meaningfulness of being a warrior. He wrote the most coherently that the sword that killed had to be transformed into the sword that gave life. And Takuaun Soho wrote that only when a man is humble before the gods and longs to be merciful as the gods are, will he understand godhood at all.

I worship a God who commands me to turn the other cheek, but I study hand-to-hand combat. As a woman I am singled out for a meek and submissive role in Christianity, but I prepare myself to be a powerful agency within any group. The only enlightenment I can explain to you is my own, and my struggle to live by the zen of struggle while in faith worshipping the God I believe is the sovereign over the universe.

Jehovah says that we should draw close to Him, that we should ask Him for wisdom, that we should desire to trust Him. So I spent several years of my life asking for "spiritual" things in my prayers--greater faith, more sincere love for God, joy and happiness in Him. And it seemed they were never given to me. In fact, I met one calamity after another. Some situations were my own fault, and some occurred because predatory people saw my sincerity and took advantage of me.

So when I finally looked back on my life and saw that I had struggled to live by faith and gained nothing, I felt tricked. It was like being slapped in the face---because I had asked for the things He had commanded me to ask.

It seemed that God wants to be known as a Father to His children. But I told Him, finally, that if I were a father and did to my child one tenth of the things that God has done to me or others who try to trust Him, God Himself would strike me with lightning for being such a bad father.

My argument was not that God is evil. I study human violence. Nobody has to prove to me that we humans are sinners. I believe it very well. God gave us the earth and commanded against these things, but Mankind has created war and murder and rape and the rest. I recognize that if God wants to, He has a right to afflict each of us---especially me because I know His Word and yet I sin. The love of God---as far as I understand my experience of it---is similar to the love of a porcupine. It's sincere, but it's going to hurt. And the closer you try to get to Him, the more it hurts.

So I told Him I couldn't buy the "God loves me" agenda because that's not love---not the way humans define it and not the way He orders us to exercise Love. God wants us to see that we depend on Him for everything we have. And, quite frankly, I was tired of being forced to look at this truth that I already believed in. So I told Him that I can't stop His afflictions, but I'm not cooperating with the process any more, not any more than I have to.

This stalemate lasted for two years. My Christian friends considered it a tremendous setback. Some were very concerned and supportive, and some abandoned me. I let them choose either course and didn't argue. During this estrangement from God, I often sat by the bedside of a dying friend---my own age---who died of cancer ten months after being diagnosed. I stopped giving money to the church and gave it to her instead as she was dying, so she could keep her house during her illness. I often visited another friend who had cancer and saw her recover. I started drinking a beer after my workouts. I visited several churches and if the pastor said really stupid things that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Bible and the doctrines of Christianity, I knocked his church off my list. Eventually, I stopped going to church. I told God if He wanted me in church so badly, He could find me one that has not degenerated into a right-wing political action group or a bastion for social climbers. But I wasn't going to make myself miserable for two hours a week just to say I'd gone to church. And this continued for months. I still believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died for my sins and rose and all the rest. It wasn't my intent to dive into sin or be self destructive. But a lot of modern Christianity is like a game, and I wasn't playing any more.

But over time, freed of expecting what God was supposed to be, I gained a greater appreciation of what He truly is. I picked up what so many Christians dismiss or explain away---the fear of God, the respect of His power and sovereignty. And this was true of samurai zen as well. The truest, most incisive aspects of martial arts brought me back to the Bible. And furthermore, the Bible illuminated the truths that exist in zen. I realized that by giving up what was shallow and stupid, I came back to a more profound belief in the exact same truths. And certainly, this had been part of God's design for me. (But I haven't thanked Him for it, because whatever He gives me today, He's just as likely to take away tomorrow. So I try not to count on anything.) After a couple years, I resumed attending church, one that remains doctrinal and not political.

But a lot has not changed in my outlook. There's not a doubt in my mind that God will pick me up and break me across His omnipotent knee if it suits His purpose. Today maybe He will give me understanding of all Truth, and tomorrow He may give me Alzheimer's Disease. I don't even bother with my religion's old standby's of asking "What is His purpose in my life" and "What is the Lord trying to show me?" when I suffer. I really *don't* care any more. Whatever He shows me, it doesn't change what I am. However well He convinces my mind that I am dependent on Him, all my nature is still geared towards sinning against Him and my fellow human beings. I am helpless against what I, myself, am. This realization made me truly wish I could be good just to be good, but it also made me stop caring what God was showing me by afflicting me, because the best I can attain is mental assent, and that's not worth very much. I was born a sinner; I will die a sinner. I understand why Musashi died of an ulcer. No matter what a person achieves in the way of enlightenment, it doesn't change what a person *is.*

But as I understood my stalemate with God, the death of Christ on my behalf began to mean more to me. And it became more of a fixed boundary that even God can not break down. He did love me enough to dwell on earth and fulfill the Law perfectly in order to die for me, to hide my life in Him and raise me in the power of His resurrection. He made Himself suffer His own severities, brought upon Himself by His own will. And doing this, He brought Himself under the curse of sin and death. So, when it suited Him, God also broke Himself across His omnipotent knee. A sword thrust into the earth takes the shape of the cross. The cross of Christ is like God's sword, thrust into the earth to declare a certain peace with those He loves, impaling God Himself from head to foot. When I realized that He hung Himself on His own sword, I had to be silent in my complaint.

The Love of God---to me---is still a grim and terrifying thing. It doesn't feel like Love. But it operates according to the rules of Love---freeing a person, educating a person, bettering the condition of a person.

"Smile, God Loves You," is what some people say. I say, "God Loves You, so pay up your insurance and study martial arts. You're in for the ride of a lifetime, and probably several of your bones will be broken by the end." But you'll be free of what locks down, restrains, imprisons, and drives other people mad. My earthly condition has not changed. I can still commit any sin ever committed on the face of the earth. And yet, I see a change in my life from the angry, fretful, vengeful person I was. These things are still in me, but the knowledge of God is in itself a third party intervention that blocks me from what I am and what I would do naturally. His salvation continues to work in me, the evidence that He has not forsaken me, even when I really wished He would forsake me and just let me have a happy life.

You have commented twice that it is difficult for you to accept that you lived for so many years with your ex-husband, and it is difficult for you to realize now what your children suffered. Few people would dare to say this in the face of your grief: but it all happened, every moment of anguish, because God loves you. And all of this that I explain to you is to explain what it means to be loved of God. He ruthlessly strips away the facades and illusions of this world and ruthlessly replaces them with the true things of the universe. And He doesn't stop until His purposes are complete. He overcomes everything in us, and He works things out according to His purposes---all our reasonings and objections and plans not withstanding. And He does this to the people that He loves. It doesn't feel like love as we experience it. But later, when He has caused us to surrender to His cause, we see in all of it a love that didn't desert us even when we felt deserted, a love that wasn't rejecting us even when we felt rejected, a love that had a purpose for our lives even when we honestly concluded that all of life had been lived in vain. The choices for anybody, as far as I can see, are 1) either resist Him and be destroyed, or 2) go along with Him and be destroyed, and then be rebuilt along His lines.

My own conversion experience prompts me to believe in Christ whole heartedly, and yet I struggle. I don't really trust God; not in that blithe, happy way I see in other Christians. I don't even like Him a lot of the time. But I've seen His wonders unfold, and so I believe in Him, And I see that He is wise. I fear Him enough to be profoundly in awe of Him when I see how humbly He can stoop to assist those who struggle. But I don't count on Him to act as I think He should act.

But I hope to persuade those who struggle to address all of the "hard" questions forthrightly to God and to keep asking Him. No matter how outrageous the question, no matter how simple or repetitive it may seem. Or even if it seems profane and irreligious. For as long as you suffer grief, loss, guilt, fear, confusion, sorrow, reproach, ask and demand of heaven, because this is the role that's been assigned to mankind.

Jacob wasn't blessed until He wrestled with God. The encounter crippled him for the rest of his life, but He saw God face to face, and his prayers were answered. Job was a man so good that even God said he was perfect. And then God afflicted him more and more terribly to force Job to keep crying after God, all so that God could appear to him in person and show Job the wisdom that made all things.

For as long as you struggle, I want to help you see all sides and possibilities, because I struggle too. The Christian and the warrior have the same role, to keep a stainless mind and reflect their struggles as honestly as possible to others so that others may advance.


God weakens my heart's firmness.
And the Almighty troubleth me,
because I was not destroyed in the face of the catastrophic darkness;
yet neither has He protected my face from seeing catastrophic darkness.
Job 23:16-17 (paraphrased)

Sun Tzu and the five dangers to the general

Dear Miss Redgrave:

Sun Tzu's taught that the best war is one that is never fought. He recognized that bloodshed between sovereigns or within a country is, in itself, a sign of collapse and weakness. Operating on the premise that all war is a form of breakdown, he formulated the science of winning. His strategies are based on the frailties, inconsistencies, and moral strengths or weaknesses of the generals that lead armies. Many a war can be won simply by recognizing that every person is a slave to his own mindset.

If you know the other person's mindset, you can then know what the person MUST do in any situation, for nobody can act contrary to his own point of view. And the way he looks at a situation will be a function of what he is at heart. A greedy and lascivious man will not be naive about the motives of others, but he can be seduced to his downfall. A proud and arrogant man will not be intimidated into backing down, but he can be spurred into hasty action. An innocent, naive man may recognize all field strategies, yet be taken by surprise with treachery from his openly ambitious peers. Each will fall according to his own mindset.

Therefore the general who is ultimately successful is one who raises his own mind to be morally strong and pure. He must carry no illusions about himself, and he must be a leader of great personal integrity and magnanimity. And on top of all of that, he must be smart and well educated in how to fight.

The following section applies to any two generals who oppose each other, though I've inserted commentary to apply the dangers to your specific strategy:

From "Various Tactics", a subsection of THE ART OF WAR, by Sun Tzu:

There are five dangerous errors which may affect
a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads
to destruction;

The word for "Recklessness" has no direct translation into English. One Chinese military commentator translates it as "bravery without forethought." Students of Shotokan Karate define the same flaw as "impetuous courage," and they take a daily oath to refrain from it. A British translator offers our term "foolhardiness," as the best meaning: ie, a tendency to rush in blindly. The Chinese general Ts'ao Kung lamented that too often, generals were chosen for "mere courage.". Too much aggression, and too much ferocity are characteristics of drunks and generals, one person wrote. Such reckless courage, Ts`ao Kung warns, prompts a person to be foolishly aggressive, "like a mad bull." Another general has observed that such ferocity is easily defeated. He advises that if you face such an opponent, you must never meet him with force against force, for it will be too costly to you to do so. But a recklessly brave attacker can easily be lured into ambush and defeated.

Your ex-husband is an enemy with whom you cannot struggle directly. He's too savage. But the counsel of the generals through the centuries is that, once you appreciate that he is as much enslaved to his own furious aggression as any of his intended victims, then you know that you can direct him into defeat.

He can plot against you and devise new ways to hurt you. But he cannot truly think. He cannot take a broad view. And you can. The mad bull must act, and he always acts according to his appetites. So the mad bull cannot choose beyond one or two alternatives. The thinking person can choose from a multitude of responses and find ways to direct the mad bull.

The opponent's aggression can be made to work for you if you accommodate to it and allow him to use up his energy and strength. Your ex-husband seems inexhaustible, and it is true that he has great energy. But like a mad dog that will run itself to death in its fury, or a wild horse that will buck a tenacious rider until it is dead, Your ex-husband can be allowed to frantically run himself into exhaustion and collapse.

And now, the second dangerous fault:
(2) timidity, which leads to capture;

Sun Tzu is not talking about personal cowardice. Rather, he is describing a commander who lets favorable opportunities to do battle slip by. One of the commentators says this passage is about a general who halts from "advancing to seize an advantage." It is a mistake to wait until there is no chance at all to be defeated, for that moment will never come. The general who waits will be captured, snared, entangled, over run.

I see only one or two facets of your war, and you see all facets. So it's difficult to say to you, "NOW you must do this to win," because I don't know the other risks and cost factors. But this much is true: if you sidestep his attacks, you must sidestep with a view to defeating him. If you "take away the sword" from him, then you must take the sword away with a view to defeating him.

So if you investigate your situation and decide that an advantage cannot be seized at this time, be confident not to seize an advantage. If an advantage can be seized, decisively seize it. Whether you stop or whether you go, use rectitude: *know* that the time is right for whatever course you take. Beware of merely "hanging back," without having a clear reason to do so, because Your ex-husband expects you to be indecisive, and he will use any indecision from you to "capture" you in a net of misery. He will entangle and ensnare you if you do not act with purpose either to evade him or counter him.

The third and fourth dangerous faults are related:
(3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
(4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame;

Now you may think---oh, not my ex-husband. He has no shame, and he is immune to the insults of others who berate him for his bad actions. But he *is* over sensitive to what you do, and the praise that is given to you, and to the happiness that comes your way. The smallest, slighting praise to you still infuriates him. He takes all praise to you as insults to himself.

He is a man strapped to dynamite (his anger). If your timing is quick and your hand steady, you can detonate the fuse and get out of range as he blows himself up. I believe that the more you are praised and honored, and the more plainly your happiness is made known, then the more in danger you are of real physical attack from him or his agents. Yet at the same time, if you want to end this war and see this man defeat himself, then the surest way to cause him to spend up strength, energy, and money, is to provoke him by making your happiness well known, by emerging from your years of troubles and sorrow as a renewed person, by being praised and honored. The surest route to victory for you is also the most dangerous, which is why I urge you to have a heart and mind fully prepared and ready before you follow any course of action, even the course of evading or retreating.

And the fifth danger may surprise you:

(5) over-solicitude for his men, which
exposes him to worry and trouble.

The atrocities of war include the torture of captured soldiers on hilltops so that their brothers at arms will see them and hear their agony and rush to rescue them. The result is more men killed as the would-be rescuers try to charge uphill against an entrenched foe. And for you, this is indeed a problem.

In war, a general has to let any of his soldiers die, even by torture, if saving them would cost too many lives. Yet you don't have that choice. You have three well loved soldiers who are not soldiers; they are your children. They have to be protected and---if Your ex-husband snares them in suffering---they have to be rescued.

Almost certainly, Your ex-husband will hurt you through your family if he cannot hurt you any other way. And your children, even though they are adults now, are more vulnerable and suggestible than your siblings. I'm sure he will deliberately hurt your children if it furthers his plans.

Keeping them out of harm's way, of course, is the best plan, but only temporary, as your ex-husband will know how to make contact with them through a variety of ways. Being patient, open, forgiving, and wise with them is the next way to protect them, and it will be difficult if your ex-husband is good at manipulating them from a distance. Be prepared to be amazed at his skill in cruelty. In whatever way your children react if he gets access to their minds, whatever they say, whatever anger pops up, or resentment against you (even if it's unjust), be loving, be open, be patient. If there is any possible way for him to divide you from your children, he'll probably try.

So I'm going to write this paragraph in terms of your ex-husband figuring out the way to agitate the emotional needs of your children. He's already got a wedge because children are the least impartial when it comes to their parents. And I'm pretty sure that it may stun you that just when any one of your children seems most angry at your ex-husband, that child will be the one who is most likely to listen to him. Every child needs to be loved by his or her parents, and the rational knowledge that a parent does not love a child will be fought at every level of that person's being, even when the child is trying to accept it. That's true even for adult children. And even when the person rages against an unloving parent for not having loved him or her, an unconscious and powerful drive is kicking in to find a way to feel loved or be loved by that parent.

The only thing a loving parent can do as her children struggle with their own pain is be supportive and patient. Fear and their own struggles may prompt them to give your ex-husband a greater credibility than he deserves.

Remember, what we fear causes us to be pulled into another person's rhythm. It takes a pretty adroit fighter to resist being "pulled in" by outrageous attacks. One or more of your children may not have the emotional or strategic finesse to see through any ruses used by their father. Their own insecurities will betray them, and your ex-husband knows their insecurities. In time, they can get it all in perspective. If, through their struggle, you can be patient and kind hearted with them, not defending yourself quickly or vehemently if they suddenly---and inexplicably--- become angry with you (which may happen), but being quick to affirm that you love them, then over the long term, they will probably calm down and take a more objective, detached view of things.

You are a general before your children, especially in Sun Tzu's sense of the word. When his men were tortured, if the general were tortured with them, he remained calm and resolute through the pain, and he encouraged them. If he were on a distant hill, he stayed and watched them die and shouted encouragement to them so that they knew he understood their sacrifice. But either way, as long as his men suffered, he didn't give in to grief or pain, not before his men, no matter what he suffered himself. He knew that if he collapsed, they would collapse. If he gave in to his own sorrow in a situation where they were being put through the fire, their misery would be far worse. They had to lean on his strength, and so he was strong for them.

When I learned of your sorrow two years ago, I was quite shocked, and I was even embarrassed by some of what I'd read about what your ex-husband had done to you. But when I first addressed you, I emphasized that I was confident in your spirit, that I knew there was a way forward for you.

This articulate confidence in you was what your heart latched on to; this was what you needed, much more so than an outpouring of sympathy. It's the same with your children. Find their strengths when they suffer, and say their strengths back to them, even when they're at their weakest, and encourage them, and offer to help them find their way. Keep them moving forward, and go with them as much as you can. You're such a forward moving person, that you surely can keep pushing them in the right direction.

The real crisis point is that if you do not stand up to any threats from your ex-husband to hurt or involve those you love, then all is lost, and he will hurt your loved ones just the same. Dismiss any notion of him playing by the rules or giving fair treatment or keeping his word. Any person, ever, in any situation, who tries to emotionally blackmail you by threatening "to tell on you" to those you love, will never let it go, even if you acquiesce. A person who would use a threat does not have the capacity to honor a guarantee. At the same time, refusing calmly to give in to threats of emotional blackmail will immediately reduce the likelihood of the threat being carried out. It doesn't completely negate it, but a calm refusal to be afraid makes an emotional blackmailer feel much less powerful.


"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."
--Sun Tzu, ART OF WAR, "Attack by Stratagem"

The sword and the mind;Out of stories!;The real you

Dear Miss Redgrave:

"Victory is gained without stirring from where you are."

"Victory is in the scabbard."
-- samurai proverb

Your ex-husband is already defeated. And furthermore, Your ex-husband is dead. It's not prophecy that makes me so sure, but the mere gift of sight. He is dancing out the end of his foregone life on puppet strings, and he has no more power to raise himself from the dead than the dog whose corpse lies by the side of the highway.

When my father was still alive, he stalked me, and he frightened me. And then I enrolled myself in a Christian college that was hedged in and guarded like Fort Knox, and he *couldn't* frighten me any more. So he said {via mail} and did things to hurt me and to make me keenly feel that he had never loved me, and that I was not worth any father's love. When I was a senior in college and was very sad and distraught about one of his latest cruel letters one day, a godly woman from my church told me that God was using my father in my life to achieve God's purposes. And when God was finished with him, God would remove him.

This little old lady had never studied martial arts in her life, but she told me that he was already defeated in his purpose to lock down my life. All that remained was for me to learn more of Christ. I didn't see how she could know this, but I limped on as best as I could. I was about to become a graduate assistant: I had students to think of, and I was aware of my responsibilities to God for them. So I was studying prayer to be able to pray for my students, and I was studying what we call "the Doctrines of Grace" so that I could help my students. That year and the next, prayer and grace revolutionized my life to the point that I stopped dreading my father. I realized that I had to stop wishing he loved me and just put him in my past, do my best to sidestep anything he did from malice, and live my life as fully as I could because God gave me my life. Just as I was getting hold of these truths for myself, my father died, a few months short of his 65th birthday. I was always sad that he didn't love me, but I purposefully focused on living a full and happy life.

But how did that little old lady know? Every time I asked her, she answered to the effect that it was amazing that I could *not* know and still didn't understand.

Later, while studying Japanese sword, I was dismayed because my teacher always defeated me. He told me I was losing the fight the moment he put his hand on the hilt of his sword (and my sword was already drawn). I couldn't believe this. I didn't understand.

To teach me that I was losing from the beginning, he had me take my ready stance, sword out, and then he would move further and further away before we would start, and then he would tell me the moment I had lost the encounter. He got as far away as going outside the room, and I would lose the moment he opened the door to enter. And he would tell me the moment I'd lost mentally, and then we would engage, and I would lose.

I got to the point where I felt my own mind recognize that he would defeat me. For this, he never got angry, but he told me I had come to the ultimate stopping point for the martial artist. Because I recognized and respected his ability with the sword, my mind stopped on it. I could not believe that I would defeat him. He told me I would not defeat him, no matter how good my technical skill, until I lost concern about winning or losing and lost awareness of his skill. I must only be aware of the present moment, and I must be receptive and possess good kamae so that I could respond to each sword strike with skill and sureness.

I regret that I moved away before I ever advanced. I was only with him for about 10 weeks, and this was 15 years ago.

But it was not the teacher who was defeating me. I was defeating myself. I chose loss because I so strongly believed that loss was thrust upon me.

Last year I took grappling and boxing lessons from a successful fighter. We boxed three rounds at the end of each lesson. He always won, but this didn't bother me because I was still learning. Boxing is very different from Asian martial arts, and I wanted to incorporate the footwork into my taekwon do. I was so interested in the art of footwork that I was not worried about losing to him. I just wanted to know what I did wrong so that I could correct my rhythm. My mind was filled with the patterns of motion from our drill work.

Then one day as we boxed, he suddenly stepped in a diagonal line as though he would go past me (trying to get an opening to hit me). I had no thought, no fear, no hope, no word in my head. I just popped him with a right jab as he moved, halting his motion, and then I hit him with a left cross. It was so fast---pop-pop! And then I stopped, amazed. He was thrilled. He danced back, of course, but he told me that this was great progress--just reacting without thought. From then on we boxed at a faster pace, and there were several times when I "nailed" him. No-thought (Munen Muso), rhythm, and the habit of training would take over.

Takuaun Soho warned his readers that if they looked at the enemy's sword and focused on it in battle, they would be cut down because their minds would "stop" on the sword and therefore take too long to react with their own swords as they tried to respond to a cut or strike. If they focused on their own sword tips, then they would not see the strikes coming at them in time to react properly, even if they reacted with speed. Sooner or later they would misjudge an incoming blow and be cut down.

To use the sword properly, the fighter must know where to put his mind, his mental focus. This problem has been addressed by Munenori, Soho, and Musashi.

Takuaun Soho gets into such a chopping of words and mincing of logic that his conclusion is almost incomprehensible. Essentially, I think he is saying that the mind must be free to move anywhere, and then it is "immovable" because it can move freely. The "immovable mind" is the mind that cannot be deterred from achieving its purpose. Being immovable is not the same as being rigid or fixed. To be immovable is to be flexible yet unshakable, adaptable yet unchanging in resolve. Soho defines it well but never gives a coherent answer on what the fighter must do with his mind in a fight.

Munenori Yagyu advocates that the mind must not be heeded over much. The fighter must not be self conscious or worry about the mind. Then the mind will go where it needs to, all through the body, and the fighter will move more quickly and surely. The mind must be let go, released.

Musashi emphasized that the skillful fighter must stay alert, aware, and receptive. He also warned fighters not to worry about the mind. But if they were having difficulty, they should focus on the opponent's heart. But to see the opponent's heart, he wrote, the fighter must recognize the rightness of the "Way", that is, heiho: enlightenment. Fight with your mind set on the truth.

The enlightened fighter rests the mind on the truths that rule sword battle. Knowing that every sword fighter can move only in obedience to the laws of motion, and knowing that his mind will act according to the laws of ego and psychology, they knew that, therefore, the attacker will commit his own errors that permit his defeat. His actual motion of attack contains the elements of his defeat. So Munenori and Musashi could rest, relaxed in a fight, letting their years of repetitive training take over so that they reacted intuitively to the errors of the attacker and defeated him. From that bit of enlightenment, it was only one step further to intuitively see the errors of stance, balance, and hand position in one who stood to defend, and thus defeat him with a perfect attack.

Therefore, the immovable mind rests in the truths that govern the battle. When first I wrote to you, you commented that it was amazing that I had so much insight on your ex-husband and what he would do. But every time he opened his mouth, I could see his heart and will. I heeded his words and looked inward, at myself: one depraved sinner serves as the reflector for another. Tell me his words, and my answer about his state of mind will be based on how well I truly know myself and my own sinful heart. The kyudo master's arrow finds the target in a dark room because the kyudo master is really shooting at himself. By the same principle, I can see an enemy. I know I am made of the same thing as your ex-husband. This is truth, and if the mind finds it, the mind gains insight on the opponent.

I understand enough truth to let my mind rest in universal truth as I perceive him. So I can say that he is defeated, and he is dead. We are all sinners, but when there is *only* the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life coming through a person, the soul is dead and will not return to being a soul again. That's the condition of qinah when it takes over. It's only an ego now, tied to an animated body. And now I know what the little old lady knew. The only reason your ex-husband has any power at all is because God is giving it to him to use him for some purpose that is the Lord's. And when that purpose is accomplished, the puppet will be cast aside. My tone with this matter is as sure as when I told you he is afflicted with envy.

If he defeats you, your ex-husband is still defeated and destroyed. There's no victory for him, even though there may be defeat for you. You've resisted wisely, but your war is not over. Resist according to Truth. If you think, "There's no such thing as real truth or absolute truth," it may be time to reconsider, before the real truth of the horror of your ex-husband overtakes you. There is at least ONE absolute truth that you know for sure: When a human mind falls into envy, it does not rise out of it again. You know and I know that he's lost in his sin and does not have the power to set himself right. He cannot perceive goodness as goodness, nor can he appreciate the qualities of mercy, kindness, and generosity, any more. And if you think, "All right, granted: there ARE some absolute truths. But I don't have the truth," then you can set out to find it. It's in the heavens all around us, staring down at us each night. It's in the Bible, written in simple terms. You can't pick up a sword or hit a heavy bag without Truth being evident.

Find the Truth and use the Truth truthfully, and your ex-husband will crumble before your eyes. When the Truth works on your behalf, he will be wiped away like a stain. I feel pretty sure of this because my tormentor of many years was taken away by that means.

Do you remember the concept of "Hsu" from the I-Ching? It translates as "Waiting (Eating) in the Face of Danger". It is an allegorical way of saying that a victorious general is victorious because he is righteous and rests in righteousness. God prepares a table for him in the presence of his enemies. He sits and eats in confidence because he has found his resting place. The banquet of truth, goodness, mercy, and service is spread before you. Sit and eat your fill while the ogre who wants to eat you dies of his starvation and envy. This is how you win without drawing the sword.

This e-mail is the last of this set of essays. I think I've run out of samurai stories! You're never far from my prayers or my best wishes for your peace and happiness.

A parting suggestion: It's apparent that you've been put on a journey of transformation, and that your beliefs are undergoing re-evaluation and change. I urge you to undertake a quest to re-evaluate yourself, apart from the way you were raised to think about yourself. Of course I think we are all sinners, but that doesn't negate an equally strong belief I have that we are all God's workmanship. *You're* God's workmanship, and the fires of your suffering have only evidenced that fact. Your suffering has never diminished you; it has only served to bring the real you more to light. Strategically, I think you remain vulnerable to unhappiness until the matter of your value is more clear to you.

Forgive my directness, but I think that you realized long ago it was false to be valued as a celebrity, and then instead concluded that you had value because of how you conveyed yourself, what you did, and what you achieved. But that is equally false.

I don't think anybody can tell you why or how you're valuable because of something in you that exists apart from your success and achievement. You would have to find it out for yourself, though you could bounce ideas off of trusted friends. But I don't think you'll reach full resolution in understanding your life until you get clear on how valuable the innate, vulnerable, "core" version of the real you always has been. I think that you were under valued as a young person, and I think you still under value your true self. The real person that you are is far more lovable and valuable than the external version. But she has to be measured apart from this world's illusions, seen through the eyes of respecting God's sovereignty over all that He creates. Yes, we're all sinners in need of grace. But grace has also been abundantly poured out to all of us, and sometimes this world's illusions hide from us the treasures we have been given in the talents and traits that this world ignores, and the treasures that we actually are.


"I have no armor: I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle: I make immovable mind my castle.
I have no sword: I make absence of self my sword."
- from a fourteenth century samurai

Letters to Lynn Redgrave Volume II
Property Of Jeri Massi. Do not photocopy, distribute, or reproduce this material. It is copyright protected.

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