Normally, I allow the Zen or Sufi stories I post to stand alone without commentary. However, I feel the previous Zen story (A Game of Chess) carries with it many important lessons beyond just compassion and concentration. The less obvious lesson that I would like to point out stems from the master’s comment to the prince to “go hug your chess opponent who made [the lessons] possible.”

This comment is so subtle, yet it carries such weight. In its essence, it is a reminder that our “enemies” are our greatest teachers. Merely perceiving another as your enemy creates a sense of separation…a departure from the oneness that is true. And even more basic than that is the reality that an enemy is someone that shows us our own weakness. Learning to have more control over ourselves, and not be swayed and in constant turmoil because of the words and actions of another, is true strength.

We learn what we’re really made of not when everything is going well, but when things are not. Our weakness (lack of self control) is shown in moments of anger and rage…when we allow the words or actions of another to disturb our inner peace. How could we know that we had that within us if not for our opponents? We can measure our growth by our ability to remain calm in the face of those same persons or situations that once caused great internal (and possibly external) disruption. The calm comes not from ignoring what is happening, but from an understanding of what is really important. We learn to ignore the unnecessary drama and focus our attention on actions that must be taken to address real challenges.

So when you are able to infuse concentration and compassion when facing an opponent, your Self has scored a victory over your self. Therefore, I say checkmate!  ;)

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