As author Laurence G. Boldt explains in “Zen and the Art of Making a Living,” aggressiveness is the assertion of power, the use of power.
Aggression can be used for good or ill, and people who achieve the Holy Grails of their lives are masters of aggressive energy.
“Concentration is the assertion of a single idea, image, or train of thought to the exclusion of all else,” Boldt says “That exclusion is aggressive. Great artists are known for aggressive concentration on their work. One had better not interrupt Beethoven while he is composing, or Michaelangelo while he is carving.”
To hammer home the point, Boldt gives examples of how five famously nonviolent people used aggression:
Jesus was aggressive while confronting the money changers in the temple. Elsewhere, Jesus called men vipers, hypocrites, and serpents — aggressive terms, indeed.
Gandhi’s use of fasting was an aggressive act. He held his body hostage and threatened to destroy it unless changes he wanted were made.
Mother Teresa was aggressive in fighting for those in her care and in the demands she made upon the sisters in her order. If Mother Teresa’s followers couldn’t cheerfully accept the discipline she imposed, she dropped them.
Zen masters are extremely aggressive in their teaching of techniques: hitting, kicking, spitting, throwing things — shocking students out of their slumber.
Martin Luther King’s March on Washington was an aggressive act.
The examples illustrate that aggression is necessary for positive, creative action, and aggression is not necessarily violent.
So assert your power. Be aggressive.