The Old Samurai: How To Respond Adequately To Provocations

The old samurai: how to respond adequately to provocations

Oriental phrases and tales are invaluable sources of wisdom that we could consider classics as they continue to be relevant and pertinent today. Precisely for this reason we dedicate today’s article to  one of these stories, which contains a great life lesson: that of the old samurai.   

One of the many phrases attributed to Buddha says that: “We are in the world to live together in harmony; those who are aware of it do not fight among themselves ”. A wise statement that could be useful to understand how to respond adequately to a provocation. But now let’s discover together the story of the old samurai, whose meaning is very similar to what Buddha said.

The old samurai

Once lived near Tokyo an old samurai who had won many battles, which is  why he was respected by all. However, his time as a fighter was now over.

Nonetheless, all his wisdom and experience were exploited by the young people,  of whom the elder was a teacher. There was, however, a legend about the samurai: it was said that, despite many years having passed, he could have beaten any rival, no matter how formidable he was.

One summer, a famous warrior, known for his brutality, shows up at the old samurai’s abode.  His bold character caused his opponents unease, who let down their guard in anger and attacked blindly. The man, therefore, wanted to beat the old samurai to be remembered by everyone.

This dark arts warrior, however, failed to provoke the elder. The samurai never drew his sword, leading his enemy to give up and feel humiliated.

The pupils of the old samurai felt bothered by what they considered cowardice on the part of their master. They reproached him, urging him to draw his sword, but he replied that when someone offers you something as a gift and you do not accept it, it continues to belong to him; anger, rage and insults, if they are not accepted, belong to those who utter them.

What can we learn from the story of the old samurai?

As you might imagine, we can learn important life lessons from this story of the wise old samurai. Because, in reality, we all bear the burden of dissatisfaction, anger, frustration, guilt and fear. However, this does not mean that we need to spread our frustration to others.

No matter how much we carry around, we will always meet people much more toxic than us. Destructive people who pretend to want to help us and then harm us, generate feelings of guilt, deprive our efforts of value and feed our fears and insecurities.

However, if we are able to respond, but not to react, we will be able to maintain serenity at any time. That is to say that if we do not accept their provocations, their poisoned gifts, responding in a conscious way and avoiding their toxicity, we will avoid being infected by their poison.

We learn to respond consciously

If we learn to respond consciously to provocations, instead of reacting instinctively, it will be more difficult for them to offend us. That way we won’t be helpless, we just won’t feel attacked. For this purpose, it is useful:

  • Finding out what causes us to react negatively and in what situations we lose control. This will allow us to rationalize without losing our temper.
  • Leave the past behind.  What is done is done, but we cannot always live in shame or fear of what has already happened. We learn to prevent mistakes from happening again, because that teaching makes us stronger and makes us feel safe, even if we have been wrong.
  • In this case, controlling emotions will be very helpful. If we get carried away, it’s easy to lose control. If, on the other hand, we use reason, identify what hurts us and think about it, we will be ready to avoid toxicity.

A popular saying goes that it does not hurt those who want, but those who can. It is up to us, as the old samurai did, to accept or reject what others offer us. 

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