Saturday, 19 May 2007

The Warrior Manager (2)

Many Westerners think they are very well traveled, and know a lot about other lands and peoples. Just think of the hundreds of thousands of them who come to our shores each year. Many will have been to other countries already, apart from ours. But does this really qualify them as experts in other people’s cultures?

Experience and immersion are two very different things. To experience something is to witness things and events from one’s own point of view. But to be immersed, on the other hand, is a whole different story. It is a deeper and more meaningful experience, because it is done through the point of view of that which is being observed. As the old Indian saying goes – “to understand me is to walk a mile in my moccasins.” Experiencing is walking that mile in Nike sneakers, immersion is doing the same thing in authentic Indian moccasins.

Pinoy Votes: Sun.Star Election 2007

Most tourists merely experience the world. That’s why they usually come away with casual observations like “India is poor,” “Jakarta is so crowded,” and “Filipinos are very hospitable.” These comments are based on the relative situations in their home countries, and the places they visit. They see the world, but with their own cultural blinders on.

This to me is the reason why books on Musashi and Sun Tzu can never be fully understood by many of us who read them. One problem, especially with Western management thought, is that it forces its paradigms on situations where these same paradigms either don’t work, or do not exist. Nothing can be more contrary to the ways of the warrior, which we are trying to emulate, by studying the masters. “Enter through form, and exit from form” is how the venerable aikido founder O-sensei Morihei Ueshiba articulated martial arts learning should be. Begin with a paradigm, but then discard it as you learn new things, is perhaps the best way of describing it from a management perspective.

Let’s turn once again to what T.K Chiba Shihan, one of aikido’s most respected instructors today, has to say on the subject of total martial arts immersion.

“…if we can shift our perception into the objective situation of the world we live in today, it is not too difficult to recognize the situation as being very martial, as everyday life is full of many different forms of violence and threats - both visible and invisible. Examples are the spreading of incurable diseases; countless outbreaks of man-made disasters which take may human lives in one fell swoop, as well as natural disasters which highly advanced modern scientific technology often fails to prevent; the prevalence of organized and unorganized violent crime; increasing occurrences of local wars derived from nationalism, racism, and religious fundamentalism; and increasing ecological imbalance and poisoning on a global scale that mankind has never experienced before. Instead of limiting our perceptions inside of the Dojo training, it would be wise to expand our awareness into the bigger realm of everyday affairs where countless potential threats to our very existence are evident. In substance, it is a situation where we are forced to return to facing the basic question of who we really are, in our true face, thereby enabling us to face potential crises, which may become reality at any given moment, with the three principles of martial awareness: when, where, and with what - without being defensive or obsessed but with a free and open mind.”

Final installment next week.

ANNOUNCEMENT: It is with deep sorrow that I announce the passing of my great grandmother-in-law, Emma Lina Araneta del Castillo vda de Arguelles, of Bacolod City, who joined our Lord on the 4th of May 2007, at the age of 101. May we kindly request our readers to please say a prayer for her eternal repose.

Published in the Sun Star Daily, Saturday, May 19, 2007 (

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