Above: Plain of Jars, Laos, 2006. The most bombed country on earth, in a war that officially never took place.
Instead of writing what I think about warriors and war and power I'll just tell the story, the way my thoughts ran ...and took me to where I am now.
At Aikido last week my teacher said something about "...subtle attacks can be a lot harder to resist, and more dangerous...". She went to say that if someone touches you forcefully in an obvious attack then your whole body becomes aware of this instantly and locks up into fighting mode. If they gently touch your hand without wrapping their fingers around it to hold and force, then you will likely not interpret this as a threat. It is subtle.
That week I read an article about "The way of war - Godnx essence - (the level of war and warrior hood)
One particular passage struck me:
"[ Warriors ]draw from the energies that which must be used to protect the weak, for the protection of the weak is the task of the intuitive warrior. To draw from the energies for any other reason is to give strength unnecessarily, thus creating an overboundedness of energy where it is not meet" - from: The Way of the Ancients, 1998 - Chiron.
...some of the best 'warriors' in the world have never fought another Being - but get on with the task of 'standing firm' - which is virtually what a Warrior is. The one who stands firm against the elements, the dangers to protect others, but not to over whelm them. Merely to stand firm. -Jan.Thomas
This was a different way of warriorhood than what I used to think of as warriors: the image of fighting, and rough, tough, fierce. The image of strength subjugating the weak, the Darwinian survival of the fittest idea. Dog eat dog stuff.
That always felt wrong and brutal.
But this new definition of warriorhood I could accept.
I like it.
I remembered then times in my life when a true warrior had taken me under his or her wing: I knew they were strong and could easily have hurt me, or taken advantage of me, but instead, I felt protected.
I could get on with my life within that circle of protection - it felt really good.
Hm... that is the kind of warriorhood I can accept and can aspire to.
Above: Luang Prabang, former Royal Capital of Laos.
Above: Bombs from the Plain of Jars. Every year ~100 people die from left over unexploded bombs (UXO)
Swordmanship’s first achievement
Is he unity of man and sword.
Once this unity is attained,
Even a blade of grass can be a weapon.
The second achievement is when
The sword exists in one’s heart
When absent from one’s hand,
One can strike an enemy at a 100 paces, even with bare hands.
Swordmanship’s ultimate achievement
Is the absence of the sword in both hand and heart.
The swordsman is at peace with the rest of the world
He vows not to kill,
and to bring peace to mankind
The king of Qin, in “Hero” by Zhang Yimou
Below: Stones Jars in the Plain of Jars, one of the most heavily bombed places in the world, in a war that officially never happened.
It seems to me that in the path of a warrior one needs to experience the negative sides of power, the war, the dog eat dog, the strong taking advantage of the weak, the survival of the fittest and all that brutal stuff. Then when the warrior is sick of that comes the time to learn to use strength to protect the weak:
for the protection of the weak is the task of the intuitive warrior. To draw from the energies for any other reason is to give strength unnecessarily, thus creating an overboundedness of energy where it is not meet
There is a philosophy that says:"The cure for the bite of the dragon is in the dragon's breath"
or in other words: The disease carries the cure, or everything carries within it the seeds of its own birth and its own destruction or everything has its own internal balance inside it.
This fits with the idea of the next stage of warriorhood: the turning of the art of power once used to destroy and subjugate the weak, is then used to "fight fighting" i.e. to balance, to protect the weak (not by more fighting but by meeting equal strength in the middle).
Note: it does not say to weaken the strong ! That way leads to again to war.
The warrior uses the way of war, to contain war. It becomes a way of "fighting the fighting", but not with more fighting, which only makes it worse, but with a different kind of fighting i.e.
with the task of 'standing firm' - which is virtually what a Warrior is. The one who stands firm against the elements, the dangers to protect others, but not to over whelm them. Merely to stand firm.
The key to this is not to overwhelm or to be overwhelmed, but to meet in the middle. Energy to meet the exact amount of energy coming from the other side. To meet in balance, exchange and then move appart again.
Again: I used to avoid ALL kinds of confrontations, because I did not want to overwhelm the other person (or be overwhelmed). I knew I could 'flatten' others if I so chose to, but I was afraid of my own power.
Once I learned about the principle of meeting in the middle, holding the energies in the middle till they dropped of their own accord, I was able to then face my own power and use it.
In Chi-gong we have an exercise where two people face each other. They raise their energy, raise the dragons and meet each other's energy equally, balancing so as to meet exactly what is being pushed by the other person. This is a good way to learn about this balance.
Aikido teaches that there is a way of:
"..... becoming one with your partner. This was described as hoyo doka, an all-embracing acceptance of even the negative feelings of others and the re-integration of that magnanimous attitude back to those who would attack us. Practically speaking this acceptance and re-absorption is the ability to receive your partners energy and unify with it in such a way that his power is reduced to zero. In aikido this is a good explanation of what we call the power of kokyu. To master the spiritual and psychological aspects of this ability was called aiki. - from
Shobu Aikido Aiki News newsletter (May 2001, Vol 2, No. 2) by William Gleason.
There is an energy known by many names "Wind of the Plains", "Spirit of night sky", "Father of the plains", "Coombi". This is the male part of Gaia, the protector of all living things. Coombi transmutes frustrations with man's rules into a force of NOW, for positive purpose. Coombi helps to sort out and deal with the crucial weakness that could bring you down.
Great warriors wounded without spears - they wounded with the mind.
Coombi aids to deal with wounds of thought, wounds of mind directed by thought, because often words and thoughts can go deeper and do subtle damage that bring down the person over time.
(from: "The Essences of the Ancient Civilizations" by Jan Thomas (Trenorden), 2003 )
These ideas about warriors can be applied to one's internal state as well.
What we see in the physical world is a reflection of the internal and vice versa, ie. "As within, so without. "
When I look inside myself I see an internal war - I often judge and despise the weak parts of myself and bash them down, despise them with the powerful parts of myself. I am behaving like a first level warrior, towards my own self.
Thus all the principles of warriorhood that are mentioned above apply to how I treat myself as well. Can I embrace and accept without judging the 'negative' parts of myself and bring a greater unity about ?
One cannot master the outside without the inside and one cannot master the inside without the outside.
Carlos Castaneda, in his books and teachings takes the art of warriorhood many levels deeper, both on the physical world and the internal world.
I'm tempted to summarize and describe his teachings, but better you go and look at the original books and writings.
"There are two ways of facing our being alive. One is to surrender to it, either by acquiescing to its demands or by fighting those demands. The other is by molding our particular life situation to fit our own configurations. One's particular life situation can be molded to fit one's specifications. Dreamers do that."
Don Juan Matus to Carlos Castaneda, The Art of Dreaming
The way Castaneda describes warriors is unique and very beautiful: it is a way of facing the reality of being alive, of existence per se.
Perhaps another blog in the future...?
Carlos Castaneda and warriors:
Some quotes on one of my blogs are on the link below:
William Gleason http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Gleason_%28aikidoka%29