Freedom and the Warrior's Path
by Charles Mitchley
What does freedom mean to you? Is it a life devoted to leisure a kind of grand retirement? Perhaps it means not having to do a specific thing looking after your parents/children, or working in a particular job, or perhaps not even having to work at all, so that you can concentrate on "living." This is the category into which most people fall, for, when asked, most of us would say that we could be really free "if only we did not have to __________ " or "if only we had _____________."
However, all of these wishes and little escapisms have little to do with real freedom. This is because they leave us "hooked" to a specific outcome, and so we remain trapped until that outcome comes about. Freedom for those wishing to follow the warrior's path is somewhat different, and is described in a series of books by Théun Mares, a Toltec author and teacher.
The warrior knows that life is unpredictable, and therefore the outcome we desire may never materialize, leaving us sad and disillusioned. How many people limp along in their jobs, because they only have five, ten, 15 years to go before their retirement, consoling themselves that they will then be able to do what they've always wanted? Yet, even if our dream does come to fruition, we soon discover that the freedom we have sought still eludes us as most millionaires will readily testify. Even with a million dollars in the bank, even after retirement, we find that we still have the same hang-ups, the same fears, the same relationship problems, the same arguments with our families, and the same deep sense of regret that we could have lived life to the fullest instead of having frittered it away.
The warrior understands so well that, because of the unpredictability of life, not only may future hopes never materialize, but also that he may die at any time. We all like to believe that we are going to be alive next week, next year, or in five years, but not so the warrior. He or she knows that we have no guarantees upon life, and that death can therefore tap us on the shoulder at any moment.
The warrior cultivates a healthy awareness of the presence of death, and uses this to live always on the edge, where life is ever nascent, ever new. Yet, through our social conditioning we have been taught to live for tomorrow, and so most people spend their lives in a kind of limbo, waiting to win the "lottery of life" that is going to transform their lives from a mediocre existence into an exciting adventure.
For the warrior, freedom is not escaping or waiting for life to give you a better break, but is instead an attitude of mind. This attitude will enable you to rise above the belief that you are a victim, and will imbue in you the knowledge and certainty that you can take charge of your life's circumstances.
However, because such an attitude of mind is so contrary to our social conditioning, its cultivation is not only a long journey, but also a journey that is more akin to a constant battle than a stroll through a meadow. In this regard, realize that people normally look upon their birth as having been beyond their control; therefore, they also think about their lives as being the product of their environment, social status, culture, religion, education, etc. In other words, people see themselves as victims of their circumstances.
A warrior is never a victim. By fighting for freedom from the debilitating effects of social conditioning, warriors take full responsibility for their birth, their life, and their death.
It is the bane of our human condition to believe that the problems in our lives stop us from realizing our full potential. The warrior knows that whatever his or her life's circumstances, or whatever problems have arisen, they have not come about as a punishment but as an opportunity for growth. Each and every one is a challenge to enable us to claim our power. We are never given something that we cannot handle, and thus the warrior knows that the greater the challenge, the greater the gifts of power will be at the end of the day.
How else is the warrior expected, in a practical way, to go about achieving freedom? The first three books by Théun Mares lay the foundations for both the concepts, as well as the practical teachings, on this. These are some of the basic tools and techniques that are taught to every apprentice on the path of freedom. Although they may initially seem simple, once they are understood and put into practice, they are not only very powerful, but they also yield to greater and greater depths of complexity and understanding.
Through the process of recapitulation we can learn to come to terms with our past and see our life for what it really is. Apart from the vital importance of gleaning every gift of power from all of our life experiences, unless we can also learn to see the folly in our behavior patterns, we will simply continue to re-enact our folly instead of truly living.
Words are powerful tools for a warrior, for they literally shape our world. We therefore learn how a warrior approaches the correct use of words.
We are all creatures of habit. Therefore, it is often not enough simply to achieve clarity on a particular issue. Only through the technique of "not-doing" can we break those destructive behavior patterns that are ingrained, longstanding, and that always manifest in myriad different, and obscure, guises. Hunters are masters of stalking their prey. Our biggest prey is our self-destructive behavior, and warriors learn first and foremost to stalk their behavior. However, because it is easier to see the faults in other people, we start by learning to stalk the behavior of others.
For the warrior, the whole world is nothing more than a mirror of potential behavior that exists within us, whether this is past, present, or future behavior. Therefore, by using the concept of mirrors, we first learn to recognize, and then we change in ourselves, the damaging behavior we see reflected, for the truth is that we can never change other people, only ourselves. Naturally, with a correct application of this technique, the need to judge others also quickly falls away.
Freedom means many things, but perhaps the essence of freedom is the knowledge that whatever happens to us, we have a choice. Knowing that we have the ability to choose how to respond in any situation is the heart of freedom. Any other way is to leave us dangling like a puppet on the strings that have been set up for us by our parents, friends, and society, and the problem with dangling like a puppet or victim is that we not only debilitate ourselves, but also those around us, for at the end of the day, life is thoroughly interrelated, interdependent and interconnected.
Therefore the star upon which warriors fix their gaze as they battle for freedom carries the legend: "If you uplift yourself, you automatically uplift all those around you, and if you shoot yourself in the foot, you automatically let all those other people down too." Implicit in this motto is another facet of freedom, namely that we cannot force other people to change; we can only change ourselves. But through constantly working to uplift ourselves we can, and do, work miracles in the world around us.
Charles Mitchley is a writer, publisher, and apprentice of Toltec author/warrior Théun Mares, whose third book on the warrior's path, The Mists of Dragon Lore, is now available ($16.95 softcover). The first books in the series are Return of the Warriors ($24.95 clothbound) and Cry of the Eagle ($24.95 clothbound).
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