Here’s two connected quotes from Gladwell’s David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
- Much of what we consider valuable in our world arises out of (these) one-sided conflicts. Because the act of facing overwhelming odds, produces greatness and beauty.
- The very thing that gave the giant his size was also the source of his greatest weakness…The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem.
We remark in our Buddhism chapter how the murals of Sinxay and Nyak Koumphan in Huaphan Province seem to emphasize the David vs. Goliath nature of their battle. It’s little Sinxay with his diminutive arrow pointing at great hulk of an ogre, Nyak Koumphan wielding his club. Superficially it looks like Sinxay doesn’t stand a chance, but as we find out in the story, the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance are no match for the Sinxay’s arrow, once it is launched like a sword, it is able to cut through all illusions and wrong thought to reveal the inner truth in all things.”
In the first quote Gladwell writes that “the act of facing overwhelming odds, produces greatness and beauty.” This can be seen in the featured image above and in the image below. There is a grace to Sinxay as he shoots he arrow, and this elegance is emphasized by Pangkham in the original Sang Sinxay, which we too include in our retelling. This elegance is often see exhibited in viriya parami, which is the parami most informants thought Sinxay was working on, Dales S. Wright writes about viriya parami in The Six Perfections: Buddhism and the Cultivationof Character,saying,
“The successful combination of bodily and mental energy is aesthetically pleasing to observe. Highly energized people are often beautiful, especially so when their enormous energy reserves are focused on something admirable.”
You can see the elegance of Sinxay as he elegantly cuts off the head of Nyak Valounna in the mural detail below.