We no longer need to use knives and swords to defend land and fight men from faraway kingdoms. The enemy is within.
For many, like myself, it is the dark, chaotic struggle and fight that shines light on the path of the warrior. Be-ing with what is, combating what Buddhist philosophy calls avidya, the universal enemy of self-knowledge, the source of suffering.
Ego, mind, pain, illusion.
Compassionately guiding others towards wisdom, spiritual warriors can be found in any community in the world, in many different forms. They share their wisdom, compassion and courage with their communities. It is in deep pain that I have begun to taste the way of the modern warrior, meeting many others as I journey.
A massive wave of transition six years ago ignited the flame. Historically, my pattern was to succumb to stressful external upheaval with recurring physical manifestations of an autoimmune disease flare-up, a part of my karmic path since the age of one. At the time, my five year relationship, the backbone of support through soul and spirit awakening, had disintegrated. The home and partner I knew so well quickly became distant memories.
A tidal wave crashed down, sweeping away my relationship, stable career, seven day-a-week yoga practice and leaving me crumpled in a puddle, body temperature over 103 degrees for days on end. My ego freaked out, now in unknown territory: the space for me where the stress-disease reaction tends to blossom. The unknown is a powerful catalyst for anyone learning a warrior’s ways: me, myself, and a high fever left alone to meditate on life’s purpose, fighting to maintain calm inside darkness and pain.
Back then, having had some, but not enough of my own experience, I picked up Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart, and devoured every word, every syllable. For many years now I have turned to Pema Chodron, Bodhisatta; her wisdom and basic Zen philosophies pacifying me in the most chaotic of times.
It was about all I could do: there is not much that can shift the pain of lifelong, recurring high fevers. Her words soothed me. When the temperature is relieved only momentarily with medicine, hot water, cold water, music, and TV, true escape is not an option. Having experienced this severe, unforgivable pain since my youth, Chodron’s peaceful warrior struggle and story offered me an entry into the world of mindfulness, lovingkindness, compassion and acceptance.
Like Pema Chodron, I find it is in the deepest, darkest moment that I am able to let go and accept what is without judgment.
During that time of profound change I stepped onto the path of a modern day warrior, a spiritual warrior—perhaps working towards becoming a Bodhisattva, though clarification is not important. No doubt, though: a seeker on the spiritual path.
Anyone with enough self-awareness and willingness to face their ego and self-ignorance is on the path. There is space to release the need to control the world around us, our egos, our expectations in times of struggle. We are allowed to observe the world as it is rather than as we have filtered it.
The struggle of facing self-ignorance during times of chaos, change and pain will inevitably lead to warrior ways. In other words, go with the flow because according to the Buddhists, change and struggle are an inevitable part of life. Remain aware because there are lessons to be gained in every moment. Walk the path of least resistance with courage, intention, truth, purpose and strength. This is the path of the modern day warrior.
A fellow warrior serendipitously crossed my path, a person living in tune with Universal flow, in a community permaculture farm owned by monks. When we met, Killian—a modern warrior who would never consider himself one—shifted my world-perception, solidifying overarching ideas about life, Universal energies and the ways of modern warriors.
Wearing pants held together by safety pins, an authentic, rugged farm-living/L.A.-hipster style, Killian is from Germany. Not that you would ever know: he speaks Portuguese, French, English, Spanish, the language of the love, fractal math and Universe. He spars with strong opinions that are backed by impenetrable esoteric knowledge and wisdom, steeped in scientific research. His words flow with an eclectic accent and tone that is simultaneously strong-willed and openhearted. He is brilliant.
Killian’s definition of a warrior, spiritual or otherwise, is someone who fights with fire, a fierce external struggle inherent in the definition. Modern spirituality’s perspective is softer, filled with heart and compassion.
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Sanskrit: बोधिसत्त्व bodhisattva; Pali: बोधिसत्त bodhisattva) is often interchanged with the term warrior. Bodhi means enlightenment; sattva means enlightenment-being; and satva can be translated as heroic-minded one. The term Spiritual Warrior is derived from Buddhist philosophy.
As global consciousness is on the rise, spiritual warriors are popping up in every corner of the Earth. Be on the lookout: they are here to guide us, share some wisdom, a heart-felt smile, even a momentary, compassionate, soulful gaze.
A warrior’s struggle doesn’t end once on the path. There are hours or days I still experience pain and have fevers. The shift is that I am more conscious within the struggle. I am more aware of how I can transform my journey into wisdom for others on their own journey.
Nowadays, pain is infrequent, but when it does arise, I enjoy everything around me. Moreover, I relish moments as beautiful blessings. Modern day warriors fight self-ignorance with love, gratitude and a drop of wisdom. Remember that each and every one of us have warrior potential within.
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Assist Ed: Katherine Spano/Ed: Sara Crolick