The warrior path can be a means to a (more peaceful) end.
Dear children of the Morrigan, Tyr, Ares, Mars, Montu, Oyá, Kali, Parnashavari, and all other wrathful ancestors: please read this article.
No, I’m not just using the image above for aesthetics. I’m a legit Shaolin practitioner — not a monk, because I’m a woman, but I live by their principles and practice wushu since 2012. I’ve been a lone wolf in this practice for 6 years now, ever since moving to Ireland, as I’m also interested in the philosophy behind it, not just the “badass” physical conditioning (I mean, let’s not call my practice martial arts. I haven’t had a partner for ages lol). Not all warriors are well-versed in the religious part of it, as Ranton very wisely pointed out, but I’m of the opinion they SHOULD be.
In fact, this is not culture-specific. I’m of the opinion EVERY WARRIOR should pursue peaceful practices for balance, with the same eagerness they focus on the wrathful side of things. This is not a moral judgement on my part; instead, it comes from a very essential question you should ask yourself: what do you fight for?
Answer it carefully. If you don’t, your ego will answer it for you.
No, it won’t be an easy question. If you thought of an answer instantly, it’s wrong. Think again. I’m not just saying this to provoke you. Don’t worry. Let me show you why. Let’s take a look at common instant answers to that question, and find out exactly WHY they’re wrong.
Wrong answer #1: to win.
The first answer encapsulates what everyone notices in unhealthy warriors: they’re blood-thirsty and only care about conquering. Think colonisers, invaders, and other kinds of idiots behaving from a psychopathic standpoint. But I hope we all understand that, so let’s skip it. Let’s look into more nuance:
This wrong answer (to win) also includes “competition against yourself”, “improving yourself”, “inner development”. But why, you wonder? Well, it’s wrong because it fails to address the end. Where does it end? What is the objective? Winning is a journey. You can’t forever stay on a journey, although I do commend you for enjoying it.
(Photo of a climber that doesn’t show the top of the mountain)
You see, people who give me THIS answer are surprisingly few and far between. Most people are actually unresilient, and will give up halfway through an objective because all they see is the end result; they’re unable to enjoy the journey. You, warriors, are the opposite. Congratulations. You have enough stamina and persistence, and on top of it all, you also know how to value the steps towards an end result — which undoubtedly keeps you motivated.
The problem is you get lost there and lose sight of the objective itself. I know… #facepalm.
So, we already know you guys are unstoppable. Great. Wait… Is it great, though? Truly? I don’t personally think your inability to stop is a virtue. Are you afraid of being called a “quitter”? Food for thought, perhaps?
Wrong answer #2: to honour [insert god or political leader here].
Whoa, is this answer also wrong? Aye. It’s as wrong as you can be. It is what led Crusaders to act as mercenaries for the rich and powerful (and immoral, let’s not forget). It’s what led Romans to invade most of Europe. It’s what led the Egyptian to imprison and oppress the Hebrew, and it is what still leads imperialists all over the world to cowardly attack those in disadvantage in hopes of “converting” them.
There is a certain obsessive compulsion in wanting to honour something bigger than you regardless of the context, because when you do that, you’re turning a blind eye to the complexity around you. It’s like trying to oversimplify life so that it’ll fit in your wee box, without first taking a look to see if it indeed does fit in there. When you try to force-feed your narrative to others who came from a different context than you and have a different life story than yours, what you’re doing is declaring your inability to learn. It’s like growing up in Greece, moving to Siberia, and mocking Siberians for their inability to grow most vegetables. Well, if you only just STOPPED and OBSERVED local life before making a blanket assumption based on what was true where YOU grew up, you wouldn’t be proselitising.
(We close our eyes in prayer to better connect. It’s NOT an invitation to become blind)
I’m not just being twee, I’m being strategic. How do you hope to get anything… literally ANYTHING… out of a battle, if you refuse to acknowledge the fact you’re UNFAMILIAR with the battlefield? (Out of fear that your god isn’t that all-powerful perhaps? Fear that other cultural truths are also valid and exist for a reason in specific contexts and you can’t eradicate them by force no matter how hard you try?) Dogma is only useful in the comfort of your home. Once you leave home, open your goddamn mind.
You don’t need to compulsively obsess over a god, or a principle, or a human leader, in order to prove you’re on their side. Trust me. There’s no need for this much extremism. Most people in the world are living normal lives, upholding their principles in a more laid-back manner and still getting their point across. Meanwhile, you think you should exaggerate. Yeah, right.
And no, this doesn’t become okay just because you’re “pagan” or other kind of “non-Christian”, kevin. No religion will give you carte blanche for doing things that other religions “can’t”. It’s not the religion, it’s the thing. It’s a wrong thing regardless of who does it. STOP. Now turn around and come back with a better purpose. I’ll wait.
The lesson here isn’t in “touching the wound” I know is hurting and you don’t want me to even see. It’s okay. We don’t need to go there. Let me suggest a solution a lot easier and more painless: practice letting things be. Be less of a fighter and more of a spy. Both are warriors! Have fun.
Wrong answer #3: to show off (aka “to feel empowered in this cruel and judgemental world”)
This is the narcissistic answer. I don’t care if it comes from a vulnerable place; It’s still narcissistic. Stop. Get some help. May I suggest therapy?
You can’t treat the warrior path as an identity because that leads to delusion. You’ll start faking it ’til you make it, if you know what I mean. That’s useful in a lot of paths, but in the warrior path, it won’t fly. The warrior focuses on REAL, PALPABLE development without exception. And above all else, a warrior is supposed to fight. I know it sounds like I’m patronising you because it’s too obvious a thing to say, but sometimes we can’t see the obvious, which is why I’m reminding you of it.
(Nice pose but if I hit you on that vulnerable spot… Ya know the one. Thanks for attacking so high up also leaving no threats on a lower level, it’s like you want me to win lol)
You can’t focus on a battle and look good on a picture all at once. Take it as metaphorically as you wish.
A warrior is supposed to fight. That means the battle isn’t predecided. So you can’t go around pretending you already ARE perfect, already HAVE reached the top of the mountain, already WON. No, you haven’t. You’re fighting TOWARDS that result. Get off the ivory tower.
If you need empowerment, what you should look for is a gentler spiritual path. Try becoming a healer, for example. I’m not saying all healers are insecure, NO. Don’t misconstrue my words. I’m saying their path ALLOWS for it because it will provide you with tools to overcome it. The warrior path DOES NOT. It’ll do you more harm than good if you come from a place of feeling fragile and vulnerable.
This misconception is coming from a well-known and long refuted belief that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Nope. That’s not true. What doesn’t kill you makes you traumatised, that’s what’s up. If you want to be a warrior, a thick skin is a prerequisite. You won’t acquire it from zero along the way. Don’t risk it.
Wrong answer #4: to protect the peace.
Wait, what? Why is this wrong, Meron?
Simple: it’s a double-edged sword. When you vow to protect the peace (whilst failing to finish the sentence with WHOSE peace, WHERE, HOW, and WHEN) you’re at the mercy of whoever is in power. You may ensure the safety of people you deem “good”, but you may as well end up protecting the bad. “Oh but I won’t make that mistake, I’ll only work for THAT leader and not THIS other one” — well in that case, you should re-read #2 above. Sure, if you have that train of thought, you’re not protecting the peace; you’re proselitising in the name of whoever you decided can do no wrong. Just because the shoe doesn’t fit here, it doesn’t mean you aren’t still wrong. It’s just a different kind of wrong.
Warriors who think they should “protect the peace” (regardless of specific context) at all costs are… A bit lazy. Sorry, I needed to say that. I’m not referring to their abilities in battle, either physical or psychic (or both!). I’m sure they’re pretty good. When I say “lazy”, I’m referring to the fact they’ve given up on finding a purpose.
It’s comfortable to choose to protect whoever. You don’t have to think beyond that, you don’t have to ever exercise discernment. Perhaps if you work as a security person, that makes sense; But if you’re on a SPIRITUAL warrior path, it does not.
I mean… I’m not judging, exactly. If this is where you’re at and you don’t feel ready to move on, ok. I’m simply trying to help you think about it. Let me know once we can progress beyond it.
Wrong answer #5: to avenge.
No, don’t look at me like that. I don’t make moral judgements, and I won’t judge you here either. I’m not saying this answer is “immoral” — you do you. I’m saying it’s wrong. Objectively wrong. It’s like shooting your own foot, kind of wrong. We’ve taken a look at 4 kinds of wrong answer so far: the psychopathic, the obsessive-compulsive, the narcissistic, and the lazy. This 5th answer, my friends, comes from a place of stupidity. It is the stupid.
When you dedicate yourself to revenge, even if it’s for a limited period of time (in fact, PLEASE DO make it a limited period of time. It is stupidER to dedicate your entire life to that…), you aren’t actually pursuing justice. I know it feels like it, but it’s not real. That’s for the simple fact you can’t find justice in the past. Justice can only be obtained in the present — or sometimes it can be started in the present, for a near future — but you get what I mean: it’s never in the past.
Justice always focuses on reparation for the people who have been wronged; it’s not about punishing the wrongdoer in a way that will make them “feel what the victim felt”. Punishment is indeed a common thing, in every culture you can think of, all around the globe… But it’s not an-eye-for-an-eye. The main focus is in correcting a bad behaviour and preventing its reincidence.
So when you say “I’ll make them pay”, what you’re essentially saying is, for some reason, you regret not being able to react when this person (or group of people) wronged you. And now you wish you could time travel back to that very moment, but you can’t, so you just keep trying to recreate the same scenario here and now — with inverted roles. It’s like reminiscing on the past instead of, ya know, living life in the present. Nothing useful will come out of it, and even if you’re successful (most vengeful people DO NOT FEEL successful to the extent they wanted), you’ll find it was a massive waste of time.
THIS IS a massive waste of time. By being vengeful, you’re not only wasting precious time and resources which could have been used in a more productive way (to build a better life for yourself and others, for example), but you’re also giving away your power. You’re letting the enemy decide the course of your life. You’re like a wee puppy, eagerly waiting for them to throw the ball so that you can catch it. “Come on, give me what you’ve got; I’ll give it back to you”… Your life is in THEIR hands.
It’s a massive win FOR THE ENEMY, not for you. So, let’s maybe rethink it. By all means, fight and defend yourself during battle; But don’t try to recreate the same battle later on just ’cause you weren’t badass enough. For goodness’ sake, we’re adults. Move on.
The warrior path is one valid way to grow up.
This comes with the uncomfortable realisation that if you’re on it, you’re still not fully mature. I don’t mean to stigmatise any spiritual path, don’t get me wrong. I find the warrior path very necessary, and think more people should give it a go. There are paths that require a certain level of maturity for newcomers, and they don’t always deliver on that prerequisite because they haven’t had a chance to first try a maturity-building path… Such as being a warrior.
Sure, it’s not the only one. I’m assuming the path of the bard has a similar purpose (among other unrelated objectives), for example. As I said above, not everyone is going to thrive as a warrior; for some people, it’s actually detrimental, because it can traumatise them, and that’s not ideal — it’s meant to build useful life skills, not trauma, in ideal conditions. But I’m merely arguing in favour of seeing the good AND the bad in each path, not just one or the other.
A lot of people run away from anything and everything that is even remotely connected to war, and that’s naive. We need this kind of energy every now and then. It’s no coincidence that there are war gods/spirits/saints and “dragon-slaying” stories in every culture: it’s a necessary part of life. You can’t just cling to sugar and spice and all things nice, and hope to have dignity on planet Earth. It won’t happen. Sometimes, you’ll have to defend you and yours. Sometimes, you’ll have to stand up for what you believe in, and it won’t be by means of throwing glitter and confetti at the enemy.
Sometimes, you’ll have to withstand the uncomfortable, the unasked for, and the unknown. You’ll be forced to face your fears head-on, and how on earth will you do that if you haven’t ever explored your limits in a more controlled environment?
This is why warriors are important, have always existed and will always exist. The only problem in deciding to follow this path is if you’re unclear on WHAT IT IS YOU FIGHT FOR.
Above, I’ve given you a series of wrong answers. I don’t believe the list is exhaustive, it’s just showing you the most common ones. What do they all have in common, though?
Well, they all come from a place of egotism. There’s a lot of ego in them. I’m not here to judge “people who have egos”, because I sure as hell have one too. I’m just saying that although you have an ego, and it’s okay to have it, you shouldn’t WORSHIP it. Don’t let it control your life. You control it instead. Take back your power.
When you do that, you’ll realise that the question I initially asked you, “what do you fight for”, is impossible to answer with a blanket statement. It’s not something you can decide on right off the bat, and let it dictate your life hence. No. Forget that.
It takes mental work. It takes discernment, and that’s constant. You can’t run away from discernment by setting your main objective in stone and leaving it there to rot while you navigate life in autopilot. It can AND SHOULD change and adapt at every new “phase” you go through. If it doesn’t, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
The best things one can take away from the warrior path are not praise and prestige; these are easy to obtain, even by cheating.
Instead, things like “maturity”, “discipline”, “resilience”, “persistence”, “self-reliance”, “giving zero fucks to what others think” are what you should be focusing on. THESE are more impressive.