“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is
that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary
man takes everything as a blessing or as a curse.”
Don Juan, the Carlos Casteneda series
As a teacher of Level 1, I always welcome my new students by congratulating them for having made it to the first class. They often nod in appreciation; surprised I acknowledge how hard it is to arrive to the threshold of a quest towards self-awareness. But there is a reason that everyone doesn’t choose to pursue a spiritual path in today’s world. They may not be ready or interested, but they may also know that it requires a level of effort and dedication.
The concept of the Spiritual Warrior is not new to the modern-day spiritual seeker. In fact it has been around for thousands of years in martial arts and many ancient traditions. In Buddhism the spiritual warrior fights self-ignorance (avidya), who is the ultimate source of suffering. The Spiritual Warrior acknowledges that the greatest battle is within, be it between good and evil, or simply towards a state of enlightened awareness.
So how is this relevant to our day to day lives? In the West, we rarely place ourselves in cloistered situations, where can we devote our life to spiritual training. And yet if your goal is to live consciously, it is a commitment that must come from your full self, like a noble soldier takes on battlefield.
In my many years of spiritual training, I have learned there are a few traits that make up the Spiritual Warrior’s armory. As you unlock the path for yourselves, here are 5 few keys to consider:
1. It’s all about you.
The Spiritual Warrior fights their battles on the inside first. What are you fighting? Whatever keeps you from your Spiritual connection. Sure, the conflict can appear to be from the outside world: A tyrannical boss, a demanding schedule or overdue bills. But a Spiritual Warrior realizes they are at the center of their reality, so anything that comes at them has to do with what they are putting out there, conscious or not. If you want real change in your life, it has to start with you. The Spiritual warrior is never a victim; they take responsibility for their part in any of life’s dramas and meet it from their spiritual center within.
2. It’s not all about you.
Many spiritual truths are rooted in paradoxes. Once we address our internal battle-field, we realize our external is full of factors that have nothing to do with us. Our relationships, small and large, challenge us to hold our internal love and awareness steady. Yes, we have our part to play in any dynamic, but once we know what that is, the Spiritual Warrior realizes that there is another Warrior on the other side of the table, with their own battle to fight. It is not up to us to save others or take on their negativity. Through forging our own path, we set an example of love and kindness to the self that radiates to others. It would be wrong to do their battle for them, so it is helpful to remember, their struggle is not always your struggle, even if they try to make it that way!
3. Focus, focus, focus.
How can you know if it’s about you/not you without developing an ability to see through the drama of life? When we imagine a true Spiritual Warrior, they stand with some badass weaponry and look sharply ahead, staring their opponent directly in the face. How do they do that? They don’t have superpowers, they have focus. A Spiritual Warrior trains to hone their perception, to see through distraction and deceit so they can know the nature of their battle. Through the internal practice of meditation and building focus, like an internal muscle, you can hold your inner knowledge steady in the storm of life.
The Spiritual Warrior draws their sword and trudges into the unknown of self, for they know that there is no growth in what feels safe and secure. They crave discomfort because through that tension comes triumph over adversity, and the adventure and fulfillment of self-discovery. It takes courage to go into the dark, to face what is ugly and senseless, to look at the trauma and pain and have the strength to reach for the light. The Spiritual Warrior does not function on bravado. True courage comes from the heart and their connection with the Divine Self for which they fight.
5. Discipline of Love
The Spiritual Warrior fights for consciousness, healing, truth and ultimately, Connection to their spirit. This requires a discipline to maintain that divine connection. As discussed in my previous post, Why is Self First so hard? Tending to the Self first is of upmost importance to creating a sustainable spiritual practice. Another aspect of the discipline of love is to know when to ask for help. Sometimes Spiritual Warriors get knocked or wounded on the battle-field and require assistance from their teachers and fellow Warriors. Be humble and know when to reach out for support, your vulnerabilities are part of your strength. When you reach out for others, then they may feel safe reaching out for you next time they need help.
“For the average man, the world is weird because if he’s not
bored with it, he’s at odds with it. For a warrior, the world is
weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, unfathomable.
A warrior must assume responsibility for being here, in this
marvelous world, in this marvelous time.”
Don Juan, Carlos Casteneda series
Go forth and fight the good fight Warriors!
~Level 1 and 2 teacher