Respond to effort with patience and more effort


This week has been marked: 1) mainly by an intense effort in giving classes and in organizing (plus in addition working for the municipal elections on Sunday). And 2) on a minor scale, by playing a few games of chess.

I am quite fascinated by chess, as it is a very warrior-like game (some chess players were even labeled as “fighters” for their tenacity). Also, it contains myriad possibilities. A game of chess may start the exact same way as so many games played already a thousand years ago, but the ending is never the same. I guess it is the same with our lives. That is what makes me like chess. It is a microcosm of our lives.

The great indian epic The Mahabharata is very much depicted as a game of chess: In the beginning pieces are being developed. Midgame is marked by the making of strategies and the capturing of pieces. And it ends up with just a few of the very best warriors remaining, victorious in the battlefield of life – all to end with a handshake in heaven when the game/battle/life is finally over. (optional: Mahabharata resources)

This month has been great. I have felt satisfied and happy as I haven´t for a long time. But yesterday and also today my mind feels particularly restless. By that I mean that I am happy, satisfied on the inside, but just the way I behave outwardly is quite clumsy and ineffective. The cause: I have been worrying too much and probably taking too much responsibility for things to do in a short period of time. Plus, I know that the soonest scheduled respite from these many projects will be only in around 2 months from now, if nothing new comes up.

All this made its impression on the mind. In order to deal with that, I have since lunch time adhered to a policy, which I hope will carry me through this day as well as possible. In chess, I personally call it “responding to an attack with an attack”. In one situation, if you threaten my knight with your pawn, I can retreat my knight to safety and not lose that minor piece. However, you have gained ground by advancing your pawn. But, I might instead ignore the threat on the knight and use my bishop to threathen your other knight on the other side of the board. If you take my knight, I take your knight. This is specially good if the bishop at the same time can have secondary objectives, like attacking an important pawn or position related to the king. So the move brings both, an equalization of material loss/gain, plus a possible strategic gain. In a much more gentlemanly and philosophical wording, I think I might start calling it “responding to effort with patience and more effort”.

As is Britain’s “Keep calm and carry on” policy, I guess.

For me personally, the natural course today would be just to wait for the day to end and hope that tomorrow everything will be better. Retreating the knight. But I am writing, and I am happy – I love writing, and by writing this my mind just went back in order. And we have this text completed in the same chess move. Life is short (some people say), and there are so many beautiful things to do, so why not just keep calm and carry on?


Nothing To Lose

Nothing to lose but the ignorance In your life.

Nothing to lose but the fear In your heart.

Nothing to lose but the doubt In your mind.

Nothing to lose but the imperfection

In your world. - Sri Chinmoy, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, part 96, #9573.


Endnote: can you find more chess strategies applicable to life?