|Change the Paradigm|
What is a Spiritual Warrior?
According to the Random House Dictionary, the term "warrior" has two meanings. The first refers to "a man engaged or experienced in warfare." The second refers to "a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics." The term "warrior" is often associated with images of power, confidence, accomplishment, integrity, chivalry, honor and integrity.
Given the darker, survival driven side of human nature, it has and still is common practice for some individuals, tribes, cultures, corporations and nations to use raiding, theft, looting and plunder as a means of gaining wealth, power or even survival. It is also intrinsically true that those from whom they take do not give voluntarily. Thus, some cultures have a warrior class that act as raiders while others have a warrior class that acts as defenders or protectors. In fact, the warrior class often serves both roles, sort of like taking turns. It may, in some cases, even become a sport of sorts even developing an ad-hoc set of rules. Regardless, the strongest and boldest warriors are generally admired and enjoy an assortment of privileges within their own group.
In our culture we think of medieval knights as generally being honorable and noble (except for the black knight, of course). The truth is somewhat less romantic.
Regardless of the moral or political correctness of a warrior; all warriors have a few basic things in common:
All of these traits apply to the Spiritual warrior as well … and for the same reason.
There is a difference between a warrior and a soldier. A soldier is trained to follow orders, to respect authority, and to subjugate their individual thinking process and will to the command hierarchy. A warrior, in contrast, is more autonomous and independent. A warrior engages in battle out of personal choice rather than because of obedience to orders. A warrior is capable of making moral judgments and acting accordingly. A warrior is flexible and adaptable; able to act independently as well as be a team player. A warrior takes responsibility for his or her choices and actions. A warrior is a person of compassion who understands pain and the consequences of action. A warrior understands the horror of war and does not seek it. A warrior understands that glory is only for fools who bask in their own illusions. A warrior, however, when engaged in a righteous cause, fights with such skill, passion, intensity, and brilliance that victory is assured.
Victory and defeat are a matter of Spirit more than of body. One is never defeated as long as his Spirit is not defeated or broken. When a warrior falls in battle without surrendering or giving up, his Spirit grows stronger. When a warrior survives the battle without surrendering or giving up, his Spirit grows stronger. Of course, most warriors prefer surviving.
War is a terrible wasteful folly in which there are no true winners. War brings out the best and worst in all of the players. The only ones who can be said to be winners are those who have strengthened their Spirits by overcoming adversity through will, sacrifice, and self awareness. Those who find courage in the face of extreme danger can be said to be winners. Those who face impossible situations and survive through the supreme application of will, keen focus, and Divine inspiration can be said to be winners.
Many are damaged by trauma. They lose parts of themselves by compromising their principles and morals or by facing situations too terrible to be acceptable or through fear. War is very messy and often morally ambiguous. The winners and the damaged often turn out to be the same people. A few rare individuals, through training, accomplishment and enlightenment develop the inner strength to face danger and horror without becoming damaged, cynical or crazy. These few have earned the right to be called warriors.
The term "Spiritual warrior" has been used in a variety of contexts and has been adopted by a variety of individuals who may not share a common understanding of the term. In general, a "Spiritual warrior" is someone who embraces the more noble personal attributes and strengths associated with warriors in general. In general, a "Spiritual warrior" is someone who masters him or her self, and overcomes personal desire, moral issues, and all weaknesses of character. In general, a "Spiritual warrior" is someone who embraces a journey of self discovery in order to benefit others as well as enlighten him or her self.
Some martial arts traditions maintain a system of ethics and honor and pursue a path of self mastery. Others emphasize combat, competition and fighting. Being a fighter does not make one a Spiritual warrior.
Some military organizations have a creed of honor and service as their core guiding principles. In the fog of actual warfare these may become lost, ignored or forgotten. Being a soldier does not make one a Spiritual warrior.
Being a Spiritual warrior has nothing to do with physical battle, making war, fighting or being mean and tough. The battle of the Spiritual warrior is the mastery of one's self.
Being a "Spiritual warrior" means a life commitment. It means the embrace of discipline, study and long intense training sometimes at the sacrifice of comfort and convenience. Being a Spiritual warrior also means understanding your principles and not compromising them. It is easier said than done.