There is a saying among soldiers:
I dare not make the first move
but would rather play the guest;
I dare not advance an inch
but would rather withdraw a foot.
This is called
going forward without advancing,
pushing back without using weapons.
There is no greater misfortune
than feeling “I have an enemy”;
for when “I” and “enemy” exist together,
there is no room left for my treasure.
Thus, when two opponents meet,
the one without an enemy
will surely triumph.
When armies are evenly matched,
the one with compassion wins.
When I read this verse of the Tao Te Ching I imagine an internal battle. Some would call it the enemy within. In this verse Lao Tzu speaks of “when two opponents meet, the one without the enemy will surely triumph”. This couldn’t be more true when we look at self-doubt and self-criticism.
This self-criticism comes about from how you view yourself and how you react to others. If you are feeling that you are not worthy or that you are being judged by another, that is the enemy within. To be at odds with oneself creates the battle of who you really are vs who your ego tries to convince you that you’re not.
“When armies are evenly matched, the one with compassion wins”. This line is powerful in that it shows you the path to confront this internal struggle. When you are feeling self-doubt, judgement, uncertainty go to place of opposite feeling to confront this struggle. Compassion for yourself which is self-love will bring you back in sync with who you are.
Self-love allows you to do as he describes – “going forward without advancing, pushing back without using weapons”. Self-love is the treaty to end the battle we struggle with internally.