The Spiritual Ingredient of the Developing Warrior
In last week’s blog, we began to discuss the magnitude and import of climbing the Kokoro Mountain, a ceaseless journey rife with challenge and solitude. Faced with exhaustion and even despair, how do you keep moving? Where does the energy come from to continue the upward slog?
If you stay focused on the path and not the destination, you will acquire glimpses of new plateaus and gain enlightening insights to guide future steps. Day-by-day, step-by-step, the divine heart of your inner warrior, your spirit and the witness of your life will begin to merge with your physical heart. You will be absorbed with the Courage Wolf. Positivity will be your constant companion as you encounter and experience ever-expanding waves of truth, wisdom and love. Your thoughts and actions will be filled with passion, directed toward purpose, guided by worthy principles and backed by your stand. You will move as fast as the wind, as quiet as the forest, as daring as fire and as immovable as the mountain itself.
Before we progress any further, I think it may be interesting to question just what it means to be human. Is this experience we call life nothing more than the sizzle of electrical impulses in our brain and hormones triggered by them? Is life random or is there some intelligent design to it? Do we have a unique soul and purpose for being here? Is God a “who” or a “what?” Is what happens to us ordained by a loving or fierce God, an impartial Gaia, or the karmic blowback from our thoughts and actions?
What is the meaning of it all? Can we separate our notion of spirit from our notion of religion? Can we develop our connection to spirit and soul? These are weighty questions that are very personal and consume our “I” space. Philosophers have debated questions like these through the ages and religions have grown up, collided and fought to the death with the intent that their meaning would be dominant in man’s hearts and minds. Let’s be open minded about this and accept that spiritual development is healthy and desirable, and can (should!) co-exist with any religious beliefs you have.
Regardless, when we experience peak moments of radical connection with the universe and all beings, or attain second tier (spiritual – integral) stages of consciousness, we are so awestruck and transformed that we feel driven to develop this spiritual side of ourselves; to uncover our authentic self (what my friend and author Marc Gafni calls the “Unique Self”) and to experience life as Grace and Love.
But understanding what spirit is, what soul is, and how to go about developing these domains gets tricky. There are differences in how these terms are used in religion and spiritual practices. I will provide my perspective and let you define for yourself. Spirit can be viewed as the Universal Intelligence energy that enlivens our very being. In Christian terms this would be the Holy Ghost. In the native tradition it is the spirit that runs through all things, including you and I. Although it’s this energy that animates us, like electricity animates your Iphone, it is beyond the concept of Prana, or life force, in that it is infused with intelligence.
The soul can be viewed as an emotional and mental causal imprint that gives us our unique personality. The soul is held by some spiritual traditions to be the link between the spirit and God, and the thread that links us between lifetimes. Of course how the soul comes to inhabit the mind and then the body is a source of great wonder and speculation. These are fascinating subjects, and I readily recognize that you may have a viewpoint based on your experience or upbringing that doesn’t jibe. Or you just aren’t going there because you have no scientific proof of soul or spirit. So be it…to each his own.
Back to the practical matter of mastering the self so we can serve others. Regardless of whether you believe in God, reincarnation, karma, or are a complete atheist, the study of warrior development practices leads us to consider that there are forceful spiritual aspects to their training. Warriors are very pragmatic and don’t have time or energy to argue about philosophy and semantics. As Stoics they will study human nature, philosophy and matters of the spirit for personal development—and let experience be their guide. Their mission depends upon them tapping into Kokoro and learning to work with “the force,” to act in a present-moment flow state (note the similarities to the Eastern concept of the Tao). The urgency to develop these qualities leads warriors onto a very spiritual path, toward enlightenment and emancipation from Earthly attachment, desires and suffering. A deep connection to nature and to all of humanity ensues. I believe that these qualities of spiritual consciousness are desirable for all of us. So let’s develop them together.
Train hard, stay focused and Hooyah!