He Who Conquers Himself is the Greatest Warrior


There’s an old saying of The Buddha abour “he who conquers himself”. I was aware of the saying and enjoyed it. However, I recently bumped into it again and saw it in a new light. Obviously, the saying requires translation into English. Hence, there are different versions floating around. Desmond Biddulph translates it as follows.

Though one man conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, he who conquers himself is the greatest warrior.

The Dhammapada

For some strange reason this got me thinking about the Hawthorne Effect. For the uninitiated, this came from a series of experiments done on factory workers in Cicero Illinois. Here are the basics.

Workers were informed they would be observed. Moreover, their perfomance would be graded through a series of changes. Most of the changes were subtle. Dimming or brightening of the lights. However, they also altered the length and frequency of breaks and workdays.

What they found was surprising. In nearly every change, performance improved compared to the control group. Moreover, they even saw improvements in performance when changing the altered state back to the original.

There were different ways of viewing the results. However, it was generally agreed that researchers should be careful when observing subjects who know that they are being observed.

Most religions are based on a similar ideology. Someone is observing you. Be it divine or human, an observer is grading your performance. You will be judged on the results.

He who conquers himself.

He who conquers himself is the greatest warrior.

If you’re a religious person, perhaps you can testify to the effectiveness of this in bringing about positive change in your life. However, I’m not very religious. What is a guy like myself to do?

I can be my own observer. What changes do I wish to see in my own life? By altering my thoughts or behavior, and monitoring the results daily, I can “be the change I wish to see in the world”. HT to Ghandi. Which leads me to this point for those without a religious background.

You’re at an advantage here. However, you must seize it. Don’t hesitate to read sacred texts. The Bhagavad Gita is full of great stuff. So are the teachings of Buddha. Moreover, the New Testament is full of wisdom from Jesus.

One doesn’t have to subscribe to a religion to benefit from that religion’s teachings. Hence, use them to your advantage. Take what you need, leave what you don’t. In the end, it can help you conquer yourself and be the best version of you possible.

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