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Not by accident has the expression "Pyrrhic Victory" become so deeply entrenched in the study of history. A deep tragedy was contained in the fact that King Pyrrhus, after a seemingly brilliant victory over powerful Rome, was compelled to exclaim, "One more such victory and we are undone."

On the lips of a conqueror such an avowal about the depletion of forces sounds particularly tragic. And other, similar victories are known in various epochs of humanity. They are known in the history of governments and in public and private life as well. One can vividly picture the situation of an army commander who has defeated the enemy and cannot move forward because his own army has disappeared. Translated into contemporary language, a factory owner can defeat all his competitors by great efforts, and at the end discover that he has no means left to keep on running his machines. Such cases are easy to find in contemporary life. True, the modern army leaders may look for vindication in the fact that even the powerful King Pyrrhus could not foresee the amount of strength he might need for a victory over an enemy. But nevertheless, after the battle, in the quiet of his tent King Pyrrhus himself was probably tormented by the thought that he did not provide for more reserves which could have been used in urgency.

This all relates to mundane Pyrrhic victories; yet Pyrrhic victories are also possible in spirit. A doer intensifies all his inner strength to conquer dark obstacles. An extreme tension is achieved. The enemy is repulsed. But after the victory it is suddenly revealed that the inner forces are entirely spent. This might present one of the greatest tragedies.

Of course, you will answer to this. How could the spiritual forces be expended when the inexhaustibility of this source has been declared so many times? True, the source of the spirit is inexhaustible, but it becomes inexhaustible when realized. The eternal, never outworn, never dissipated spirit nurtures all energies. But again, for this action the spirit must be cognized. Psychic energy must be preserved as the greatest healing expedient.

When would a doer feel himself depleted? Only when he did not previously take cognizance of his spirit. Spirit always vitalizes the body; but in order to acknowledge it one must turn to it, and while expending it in struggle its inexhaustibility should at the same time be known without any doubt.

He who makes his spiritual life an immutable basis of his existence, will never, in a spiritual sense, find himself in the position of Pyrrhus the conqueror. Such a spiritual leader, first of all, will know that the battle he began is but a starting point and will be only a link in an endless necklace of spiritual battles.

With such a realization, at the beginning of each battle the warrior will give thought beforehand to the great reserve of strength needed by him at the completion of the battle. He will realize that the end of this one battle only means the beginning of a new one. This future, undeferrable beginning of a new battle will be welcomed by the warrior as one more possibility sent to him.

He will once again realize more clearly to what an extent the dark enemies are unavoidable, and also to what extent it is equally unavoidable to have precisely them as one's own enemies. From the very beginning of existence these enemies were actually formed with all the fury of ignorance. After all, the fury of ignorance is always the most violent. An ignoramus, in spite of all, is somehow tortured by his ignorance. He does not wish to recognize knowledge, because then he stands the chance of losing his dark service. Yet, even in the most darkened heart stirs the most bitter feeling of something unrealized.

He who battles for the light of truth, for enlightenment, cannot be aggravated by the evidence of dark adversaries. If those dark ones would not attack him, it would mean that he was not acknowledged by them as an enemy. This would signify that darkness did not consider him as one of the workers and warriors of Light. This would be truly distressing.

It is easy to observe various strata of consciousness. An inexperienced worker without sufficient depth of consciousness at times feels self-pity, perceiving an endless battle. But a deep consciousness, trained by the heart, rejoices at being called to an honorable battle.

Then, a Pyrrhic victory will not take place, but instead a true victory is destined, in which incalculable forces and possibilities are disclosed.

We had a chance to see such true creative workers, who, seemingly, at the most difficult moment for them exclaimed, 'This is fine! This is truly useful!" Later, when circumstances became favorable to them and a former situation proved to be useful, they were asked, "At that time when it seemed hopelessly difficult, how could you know that this difficulty would give rise to a possibility of victory? At that moment when you humanly exclaimed about usefulness, could you have already known the flow of all subsequent conditions?"

The worker smiled and replied: "Perhaps my mind could not perceive the order of future circumstances, but my heart with all its straight-knowledge affirmed the final victory. When I spoke with such conviction about the usefulness of the situation, it was not sending an invocation into space; my heart not only knew, but affirmed the future."

Indeed one should distinguish between conjurations of despair and the straight-knowledge of the heart. All strength may be spent in despair, whereas straight-knowledge with all solicitude will safeguard the reserves needed for the future.

In the expression "Pyrrhic Victory" there is great irony. Truly, of what worth is such victory, which has prepared only the most terrible defeat? The defeat of Pyrrhus began with this victory, which means that defeat was already there while the victorious trumpets were sounding. Napoleon marching upon Moscow was already defeated, and the retreating Kutuzov was already victorious. Napoleon spent his forces because, owing to his well known error of judgment, he lost spiritual guidance. At the same time Kutuzov wisely calculated his entire strength and piled up his future victories. Moscow was burning and the reflected glow of its fire illumined the defeat of "ten and two tongues."1 Such an event demanded vast bonfires.

But it is instructive to recall how many ignoramuses condemned the actions of Kutuzov! How many madmen and traitors demanded that he use up the entire army, thus creating future calamity. But the old commander simulating an appearance of the drowsiness of old age knew his path, and his unfading laurel wreath of a conqueror will remain forever a true lesson.

Amidst the lessons of life, amidst the studies of living ethics, let .those who guide and those who are guided discern where is a true defeat, and where a real victory is preserved.

Tzagan Kure

April 20, 1935

1 A well known historic saying in Russia meaning that the army of Napoleon included representatives of a number of European nations.

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