Another important archetype for recovering the Sacred Masculine is that of the Spiritual Warrior.  To be a soldier is to be a warrior, and vice versa…right? Wrong.  Military marketing and lazy journalism notwithstanding, the two are very different and every indigenous society I have studied teaches that. 

For example, a man named Broken Walk, a Vietnam veteran, describes this eloquently:

“There’s a difference between being a soldier and being a warrior. Don’t ever get these two confused. When I was in the army I was a soldier. I was a puppet doing whatever anybody told me to do, even if it meant going against what my heart told me was right. I didn’t know nothing about being a warrior until I hit the streets and marched alongside my brothers for something I really believed in. When I found something I believed in, a higher power found me. That’s it. That’s the story.”

Broken Walk quit being a soldier and became a warrior when he followed his soul’s orders, not his officer’s: in his case, this meant protesting war and going to jail for it.

A Native American student of mine told me how when he returned from serving in Viet Nam his elders said to him: “You have been a soldier.  Now we will make you a warrior.”  The time of training was four years!  The first task was to learn to play the flute.  On mastering the flute and playing it beautifully for his tribe one night each elder came up with a knife and cut off a piece of the flute so at the end he had no flute.  Much like Meister Eckhart says: “The soul grows by subtraction, not by addition.”

The Sufi mystic Hafiz knew the difference between soldier and warrior when he exclaimed in one of his poems that soldiers “were dying all around him in excruciating pain”–for that is what a soldier does, deliver or receive death or excruciating pain.  At the same time, Hafiz declares, “You can become a horseman carrying your heart through the world like a life-giving sun, but only if you and God become sweet lovers.” 

The warrior, unlike the soldier, is a lover.  The warrior is so much in touch with his heart that he can give it to the world.  The warrior loves not only his nearest kin and mate but also the world and God.  The warrior relates to God as a lover.

See Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors To Awaken the Sacred Masculine, 78-103.

Queries for Contemplation

In prayerful meditation, sit with the following questions: what are the insights that they open within you?

  • Are you a spiritual warrior?
  • In what sense and to what degree?
  • How do you nurture the spiritual warrior in you?
  • How can you become involved with various forms of justice-making?

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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2 thoughts on “The Spiritual Warrior”

  1. Avatar
    Billie Sargent

    What a beautiful meditation! I have often been put-off by the words soldier and warrior — war in general, actually — and this meditation gave a whole new — and so important meaning to these words. Thank you, Matthew, for giving our “warriors” and “soldiers” these options for peace in these violent times. Billie

    1. Gail Ransom

      Dear Billie,
      Thank you for writing. Now that you have read the distinction between soldier and warrior, we encourage you to nurture that spiritual warrior inside of you. In this time of crisis, we need noble warriors.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Team

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