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Cutting Through the Confusion of Life

“Half-hearted training will never do;

Half-baked philosophy is of no value;

Be sincere and creative in all you attempt;

Establish yourself physically and spiritually.”

~Awa Kenzo (d. 1939) Zen Archery Master

These words of great wisdom don’t come from an armchair philosopher. They are the fruit of sweat and blood – that’s why they have deep meaning. Their author was a true warrior. Not a soldier; a warrior seeking to perfect his own life.

What does it mean, “Half-hearted training will never do”? What do you do half-heartedly? Learning the skills you need, your workout at the gym, your spiritual life, your family relationships…?

In the mind of the man who wrote these words, every moment of your life is training… because your every thought and act conditions you to get certain results. If you give more to everything you do, you WILL get more back – more energy, better results and more satisfaction. Your cannot advance your own life or the lives of those you love by doing the minimum. And when you start to train whole heartedly, always stay focused, seeking to know yourself, to build harmony and balance into your life.

The man who wrote these words is Awa Kenzo (d. 1939), the Zen Archery master who taught professor Eugen Herrigel (author of the very popular “Zen in the Art of Archery”). You may remember Herrigel and his master from my best-seller, The 5 Pillars of Life. Kenzo was a typical warrior – he never did anything half way. Find someone who’s really happy and successful at anything, and you’ll notice the same trait. Might there be a lesson here…..?

Now let’s have a look at the rest of the passage…


You may be thinking, “Philosophy is for geeks. What’s this got to do with me or my life?”

What if “philosophy” here is a metaphor for your entire belief system, for that invisible “software” you use to run your life? Do you suppose if that software were wrong, your life could go off the rails?

The fact is, your results in life are largely governed by your beliefs, and most people’s belief systems are a conglomeration of unproven assumptions they’ve uncritically absorbed from their parents, teachers, the media and their society in general. What kind of a basis for personal success or happiness is that????

These hidden assumptions are all around you. They apply to politics, religion, health, money, moral values, what it means to be human and to the very nature of reality itself. My parent’s generation believed that all the food at the grocery store was either good for you, or at least not dangerous. Millions of them paid with their lives for that false assumption. Many a soldier has paid the same price for assuming his political and military leadership is both intelligent and honest. I’ve seen many a martial artist put on his ass because he assumed his martial art gave him an accurate paradigm about how real combat works.

Real life has a way of trashing our assumptions. And if we survive the fallout, we owe it to ourselves to ask some hard questions. When we teach people the ancient art and science of Warriorship, we show them they have a choice. They can build their life on a web of a thousand unexamined assumptions about life (most of which are plain wrong), or they can DECIDE what “software” or “philosophy” will run their life. Since the state of your health, the quality of your relationships, the size or your bank balance and your overall happiness are hemmed in by your belief system, do you suppose you should reexamine yours from time to time? How many unexamined assumptions about every area of life can you spot today? In yourself? In the media? From people around you?

Master Kenzo had no room in his life for unexamined assumptions. What about you?


We live in an age of unprecedented confusion. Some would say it’s a spiritual confusion. Really, it’s a confusion about who the human person is and how he/she is put together.

Kenzo wasn’t confused. Nor were other ancient traditions. They knew that training the mind begins with the body. Do you want to make meaningful changes to your mindset? Then train your body. Get in shape. Look after your health. Your most direct access to your mind and consciousness is through your magnificent physical form. What? It doesn’t seem so magnificent when you look in the mirror? That’s largely within your power to change.

And establish yourself spiritually. That, too, is within your power. Know the principles you stand for. Make sure they are noble, time-tested, spiritual principles that go beyond you and beyond your earthly life. Refuse to beat yourself up for your failings, but at the same time be definite and decisive with everything in your life. Be strict with yourself and indulgent toward others. Train your body and mind rigorously if you want to know inner peace and real happiness.

Do this, and you will understand the essence of Warriorship, the fastest route to personal RESILIENCE and astonishing results ever discovered.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂

Identifying "Spiritual Life Gone Wrong"

Today we begin a two-part series on something at the very heart of the issues of our time all over the world: what happens when religion goes wrong…

In its most extreme forms, we see the results worldwide every day – radical evangelicals preaching violence against gays, a papacy in deep denial over the scale of sexual abuse in its midst, mass rioting and random killings throughout the Muslim world at the mere rumor of an anti-Islamic publication in the West, and the list goes on and on.

Those extreme forms are just symptoms, though.  They’re symptoms whose causes remain largely hidden from us as a civilization because we no longer understand a fundamental truth – not everything that passes itself off as “spiritual” is good, healthy and beneficial.  Far from it…

In fact, as a civilization we’ve become so divorced from real spiritual life that our ability to sort out false spiritual paths from healthy ones is marginal at best.  We no longer know the distinguishing criteria of each, the questions to ask or the tell-tale signs of each.  

In reality, asking most people today to distinguish real spiritual paths from false ones is about as useful as asking a Kalahari bushman for advice on your next family car.  

The Vital Importance of Spiritual Resilience

To get anywhere close to figuring out what spiritual resilience means, we first have to define the word “spiritual”, which is no simple task.  

So let’s put it this way: just as resilience itself is a path toward maximizing your potential on all levels (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual), spiritual resilience is the act of opening yourself to the deepest truths of your existence in this universe so that you can become everything you’re meant to be. 

Not surprisingly, you can never become truly resilient and fulfilled as a human person if you ignore your own spiritual dimension, since that is, in reality, the deepest layer of your own being.

What I’ve called “authentic ancient traditions” in my bestseller, The 5 Pillars of Life*, are ancient, tried and proven approaches for doing exactly this.  And, contrary to what we assume, they have a boatload of evidence to back up the authenticity of their discoveries.  

Religion vs. Authentic Ancient Traditions

Here’s a short excerpt from The 5 Pillars of Life* to help you wrap your head around the differences between what we usually call “religions” and something much deeper:


All fantasies, especially that of religion, are caused by a short-circuit at the centre of the human personality.  This short-circuit, which exists between the heart which pumps blood (the circulatory system) and the spinal cord which circulates spinal fluid (the nervous system) is only repaired by ceaseless prayer in the heart.  It is only when the short-circuit is repaired that you begin to be liberated from the realm of fantasy.
– Rev. Dr. John Romanides in “Religion as a Neurobiological Illness”[i]
Startling, isn’t it?  – A world-renowned Orthodox priest and theologian calling religion a “neurobiological illness”!  But he’s right – Orthodox Christianity is not a religion in the conventional Western sense of that word.  And for that matter, neither are other authentic ancient traditions.  What Westerners conventionally call “religion” is a term that applies almost exclusively to their own approach to life as it has developed historically over the last thousand years or so.
“Religion” in the Western sense the word has a number of particular traits.  And generally speaking these traits apply to the vast majority of Western people who “practice their religion”:
  1. Religious teachings are ideological statements divorced from real life and which people subscribe to based on emotional considerations.  Teachings of authentic traditions are based on an experience of true life, and practitioners adhere to them based on observable verification.  
  1. Religion provides psychological comfort and self justification in the face of its failure to cure psycho-spiritual (noetic) illness.  Authentic traditions take you from sickness to health; religions tell you your sickness is health.
  1. Religion shifts the blame for good and evil, and for the final outcome of life, onto a deity or process (saying, for example, that illness is a punishment from God or that God decides whether to forgive you and send you to heaven or to damn you to hell).  Authentic traditions know that the Absolute Reality never does harm and that the only real danger to us in this world or hereafter comes from ourselves.
  1. Religions and authentic traditions both have a ceremonial aspect or some collective manifestation, but the religious version exists to provide psychological comfort or aesthetic pleasure, whereas the authentic version is there to lead you to self-transformation.
  1. Religion is always reduced to a compartment of life, whereas training in any authentic tradition involves every moment of life.
  1. Religion’s “transformation” of human life is limited to the superficial aspects of the personality, is often based on a tedious list of prohibitions and is geared toward social acceptability.  Religion produces nice people; authentic traditions produce extraordinary ones.
  1. Real self-transformation is not a goal of religion; the knowledge and methods required for self-transformation are absent and there is no access to a lineage of transformed people.  Life degenerates into “salvation by association” (I’m saved because I’m part of the group) and “salvation by conviction” (I’m saved because I hold a particular opinion).
  1. Religion is ignorant of the technical terminology of self-transformation and interprets it in a general and nebulous way.  The religious version of a tradition will seldom have any real idea what the authentic version is talking about, even if they use the same language.   
  1. Religion is comfort-loving and presents no real challenge to its adherents, whereas authentic traditions take you beyond your comfort zone and into realms that religion knows nothing of. 
  1.  Religion abhors mystery and tries to explain everything with concepts.  These concepts can be controlled and manipulated by a cadre of “experts” for the good of the institution, whereas transformed people – saints, immortals or bodhisattvas – are notoriously hard to control.
Given these traits of religion, it is not too surprising that Father Romanides classifies religion as a “neurobiological illness”.  What this means is that religion has its origin in the fallen state – where the neurobiological malfunction characteristic of life in the fallen world has not been healed – and that it perpetuates this unhealed state as if it were normal.  So it is not surprising that religion prevents countless millions of people from finding true fulfillment and happiness.  And like all illness, it leads to untold suffering and misery.

[i] Pages 1-3.  The order of the elements in this quotation has been slightly rearranged for the sake of clarity.  Several Orthodox writers of the twentieth century noted that the word “religion” as commonly used among peoples of  European ethnic origin does not correspond to Orthodox Christianity. 
*The 5 Pillars of Life is available on the website or through

Next time, we’ll talk about some of the real “dark side” of the religion and spirituality that’s out there now – how to identify it and avoid it.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 

Resilience Tip: The Lessons of AVATAR

Just saw the movie Avatar again on the weekend – every bit as good the second time around.  If you haven’t seen it, you need to – it’s a visual masterpiece. 

I can’t get over people who complain that Avatar’s plot “isn’t very original”.  No it’s not, although it’s still very engaging.  However, Avatar as a movie isn’t about the plot.  The plot is just a vehicle to bring up some incredibly important themes and deliver some hard hitting messages.

The primary message is that how we perceive the world, including our own bodies and minds, and how we act is all taught to us by our culture.  We’ve all been brainwashed at the deepest possible level.  Compared to that brainwashing, all the political and religious differences we have here in the Western world are largely superficial. 

If you want to become a more resilient person, if you want to develop your full potential as a human being, then do what Jake does in Avatar – go native.  I don’t mean you have to join a native American tribe or go into a sweat lodge.  “Going native” here just means using whatever avenues you can to reconnect first with your own body, then with the natural world around you and finally with others on a far deeper level.

To do this you absolutely must get help.  No one can enter into a different way of looking at the world without guidance.  And that’s the great advantage of experiencing life within an “Authentic Ancient Tradition”, as I’ve called them in The 5 Pillars of Life, whether that tradition is ancient Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism, a native American path or something else that offers genuine wisdom and experience. 

The world around you is wondrous and mysterious.  It’s only your cultural brainwashing and the mindset you’ve developed to cope with daily life that prevent you from seeing the fulness of what’s really around you.  How do you overcome this?  Here’s your first clue…

Start with your body – learn to breathe properly, learn to stretch, learn to meditate…

Reintegrate your mind and body – refine your mind, eliminate your internal dialogue, learn to perceive the world around you through your body, without the “static” of linear thinking

And that’s just the beginning of the adventure… 🙂

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Welcome to Our New WARRIORSHIP Blog

Hi and welcome to our new Warriorship Blog!

This will give us a chance to communicate in a more relaxed way than email usually allows, since you’ll be able to post YOUR thoughts here too.

And it will give you a bit more insight into what I’m up to from week to week.

At the moment I’m away on a very special course that has a definite “warrior’s edge” to it. I’m learning to run an operations center to handle disasters on the scale of a 9/11 or a Katrina.

It’s fun, I admit, but it’s a real challenge too. Tomorrow the real fun begins as our group of 50 or so students starts to run simulated disasters. We’re all given specific roles to play and tough decisions to make, often with too little time and too little information – distressingly like what happens in real life incidents.

It’s great information and a surprising amount of it can be directly applied to anyone’s daily life – all the decision-making and communication skills, the planning methods, preparedness training and much more.

Next week we have a special event coming up, and I’ll tell you more about that later.

Meantime, if you haven’t already had a chance, go take advantage of our free Warrior Assessment Tool to help you get a handle on where your life is at and what you most want to achieve. You can find it at:

Gotta get some sleep… after spending all day on this course, I’m beat!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger