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Each adversary and judge are potential hurdles and allies, battle powerfully and calmly

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Each adversary and judge are potential hurdles and allies. This concept was underlined when an opposing civil lawyer for whom I was not initially fond at the beginning eighteen years ago, ended up showing his better side when we jointly collaborated in representing a mutual client. He again showed his fangs when we opposed each other once again. By this time, I knew him as valuable when on my side, and someone to learn from all the more when my opponent.

When I later told this sometimes adversary that I was becoming my own boss, he said my clients would be served well. We knew by then that we were worthy adversaries.

A woman bought a dog at a pet store, and later testified that the dog would be the sweetest animal at one moment, and be sinking its teeth into her thigh at the next moment.

A black and white movie whose title I forget shows two armies killing each other’s soldiers on a beach in one moment, and running to hug one another after a ceasefire is called, at the next moment. Good relations and bad among people are fluid. All this helps illustrate that we waste energy trying to figure out who are our allies and who are our foes.

Consequently, when in court recently, I did the best I could to erase an "aw sh*t" reaction to learning that both my opposing prosecutor and judge were from the bottom of the barrel among their peers in that county. The reality was that these two were my prosecutor and judge for the day, and I would have to make the best of it. Moreover, I know from experience that I sometimes have gotten good things for my clients even from this prosecutor and judge.

My focus on trial battle must remain about harmonizing imbalanced situations for my client as best I can. If I can do so with a minor adjustment, great. If I can only do so by causing major damage to the opponent, so be it, so long as I do so within the bounds of the law and governing rules of professional responsibility.

Plenty of lawyers and others feel queasy to say the least about going into the trial and litigation battle arenas, because they do not like inflicting or incurring damage, do not like dealing with the underhanded shenanigans of so many adversaries, do not like dealing with judges who flagrantly violate their oaths of office, or a combination of the three. I look at trial and litigation battle as doing whatever is necessary to serve my clients’ benefit.

If we all are connected, does that make me hesitate to inflict harm on my adversaries? No. Just as we sometimes need chemotherapy to cure cancer, tough medicine against opponents often is needed for me to defend clients.

Going to trial and litigation battle does not require posturing, baring fangs, nor glinting swords in the sun. Certainly, I need the litigation strength, and the proverbial sharp fangs and lethal swords, but they are there to be used and sheathed when needed, rather than merely put on a May Day display.

Those averse to full-scale battle need to stay out of the battle. As much as I have the deepest respect and gratefulness to my key spiritual teacher Jun Yasuda, she is a full pacifist, when I believe that warfare has its place at the appropriate times, although warfare happens all too often.

In Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness Ringu Tulku says (pp. 84-85) that as an angry preincarnation of one of the historical Buddha’s first disciples (Kaundinya) fatally cut a preincarnation (Drangsong Zopa Mawa) of the Buddha into pieces, Drangsong Zopa Mawa proclaimed that once enlightened "I pray to be the first person to cut [Kaundinya’s] ignorance, all his misunderstandings and problems, just as he cuts me now." Drangsong Zopa Mawa had no clients to defend, so was entitled not to pull a sword back on Kaundinya. While I defend clients, I must always have my proverbial sword with me, know how and when to unsheathe it and keep it sheathed, and know how to handle my sword.

An essential part of the fight is overcoming one’s fears, starting with overcoming our fear of death, as excellently exemplified both by the Tea Master who is at first freaked out at being challenged to a swordfight, but then convinces his opponent to sheath his sword by the tea master’s being as powerfully calm with his sword as when at one with the tea ceremony. As a swordmaster is said to have proclaimed: "The ultimate secrets of swordsmanship also lie in being released from the thought of death.

There is no out there for the mind. My success in court and other battles depends first and foremost on me, not in wasting energy over disappointment about who my judge or adversaries may be.

Each new hurdle is an opportunity to practice taijiquan battle. As the late taijiquan teacher Robert W. Smith reminded us: Relax & sink, "not resisting and always remaining gently attached to the opponent."

In addition to relaxing and sinking, good humor, personability and compassion are vital to successful trial battle.

Each adversary and judge are potential hurdles and allies. Battle powerfully and calmly.