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What is Warriorship Really? Part 2

We continue with Part 2 of our series on warriorship. Today, we use the great classic film Kung Fu and its follow-on series to explore the paradoxes of spiritual warriorship. In order to use the warrior mentality for our benefit in personal development, it is essential to understand that the key to this mindset is in understanding its apparent contradictions.

 

1. Waging Peace

Asoka Maurya, one of the greatest emperors in Indian history, after waging a bloody war of conquest against the state of Kalinga, stood on the battlefield and was sickened by what he saw. The words attributed to him have great meaning for warriors in all eras:

“What have I done? If this is a victory, what’s a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Did I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other’s kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant…. What’s this debris of the corpses? Are these the marks of victory or defeat?”

It is the mark of a true warrior to avoid unnecessary and unproductive contention. A warrior shows compassion even for enemies, and like the bodhisattvas of Buddhism, dedicates himself to the liberation of all beings, friends and enemies, from suffering. In order to wage peace in this way, a warrior must truly believe that the only obstacles to peace are those that come from our own thoughts and emotions, our own views of the world. This is not to say that a warrior never stands up for his principles, but that he does so intelligently, that he uses coercive force only as a last resort, when the alternative is worse, and that he regards even the need to use such force as a failure. As Sun Tzu wrote, “To win without fighting is the essence of skill.”

At the heart of this approach is what Taoism calls wu wei. It is an approach that seeks to neutralize contention by going along with the force of the opponent and turning it against him. This approach presents no target, no point of resistance to attack. The Tao Teh Ching likens it to water:

“Nothing in the world is softer or weaker than water
Yet nothing is better at overcoming the hard and strong
This is because nothing can replace it.

“The highest goodness resembles water.
Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention.
It stays in places that people dislike.
Therefore it comes near the Tao…
Because it does not contend, it is therefore beyond reproach.”

Today, we can demonstrate conclusively the power of water to overcome the toughest materials on Earth, by using high-pressure water to cut tough alloys that would wear out traditional machine tools.

 

2. Casting Out Fear

 

The big catch with warriorship is that it must never give in to fear, especially in the most dire situations. The essence of warriorship is to refuse to give in to fear, and that requires above all that we reject the logic of fear in favour of the logic of courage.

Our media is saturated with the idea that “desperate times call for desperate measures,” that “tough choices” have to be made, even if it means sacrificing principle. Although often cast as part of this culture’s idea of a warrior mentality, this springs from the logic of fear. The logic of fear is part and parcel of the Newtonian Worldview and its consequent mindset, Survival Mode. It searches constantly for security, for control, for some way to make sure that whatever it fears this week doesn’t happen.

The logic of courage takes the opposite approach. It says, “I stand for the principles I have chosen, come what may, live or die.” Fear has the property of bypassing reason and provoking action – after all, the fight-or-flight response exists for situations in which there is no time to think. The logic of fear promotes an existence of reaction and malice. The logic of courage moves forward without wasting energy on the fear of anything that is not at hand, and actually relishes uncertainty, knowing that it will be victorious. The warrior recognizes that he cannot control the choices of others, that the only thing he can control is his own choice. His business is to live and die as the person he aspires to be. This is why it is impossible to have integrity without embracing the logic of courage.

 

3. Sublimating the Ego

A cornerstone of all warriorship is to divest yourself of ego. This does not mean trying to force a false humility on yourself, but finding a genuine one which proceeds from a clear understanding of your own being. This process relies on the methods of self-cultivation, standing apart from the rational mind in silent awareness and consciously modifying your thoughts, emotions and lifestyle in accordance with the principles on which you want to build your life. But it is not easy. As you begin to consciously remake your life in this way, all kinds of doubts, intrusive thoughts and emotional baggage will be dredged up, and you will have to face whatever you’re carrying and sort through it. When you realise you can’t, you’ll have to surrender it to the Absolute. In that surrender lies the beginning of humility.

As long as the defensive ego is protecting itself, we cannot follow the principle of the Tao described in the video above.

 

4. Conscious Self-Cultivation

Warriorship is fundamentally a path of conscious self-cultivation, grounded in universal principles, stabilized by inner work and discipline, and marked by a courageous and compassionate approach to life. The essential distinction between warriors and ordinary people is not about seeking conflict, but about refusing to be conditioned by either internal or external forces harmful to the goal of a principled life and the quest for self-transformation. A warrior does not conform to the outside world, nor is he a victim of his own passions. He knows what he is seeking, and the principles of life that will get him there.

Conclusion

Spiritual warriorship in the sense meant by Authentic Ancient Traditions is a powerful approach to self-transformation. In its paradoxical nature lies its power. It takes the name of war, but seeks peace. It advocates courage, but without ego. It stands on principle, but does not seek to contend with others. It refuses to be conditioned by harmful influences, not being swept up by the passions and thoughts of its circumstances and fighting an intense inner battle to become what it sets out to be, and yet it approaches the world with humility and compassion. Warriorship is in fact the mindset that was developed to stabilize seekers on the path of self-transformation.

 

~Dr Symeon Rodger

 




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