More on the Spiritual Warrior and the Healthy Masculine and Feminine

The Jewish mystical work, the Zohar, teaches: “Now since a person’s real work in this world is the work of the Blessed Holy One, one must be as strong as a lion on every side so that the Other Side will not overpower her or be able to seduce him.” 

“Lion of Judah” Painting by suetabulous on Flickr

Many spiritual traditions talk of developing our spiritual warriorhood.  The truth of the spiritual warrior has been misplaced whenever religions have taught their young to kill and coerce, to build empires in the name of the gods instead of wrestling with the demons in self and in social structures.  The changes needed in self and social structures are not possible without a strengthening of our hearts and a deepening of courage, developing the lion side of men and women alike.

Many young people are seeking this whether they have the words for it or not: something to live for, something to give their lives for.  The illusory goals of shopping and making money will not cut it with most young people.  Deep down they resent this trivializing of their existences.  Deep down they know what Thomas Aquinas taught, that we are capax universi, capable of the universe, and they want to know their place in it, their dignity derived from it, and their responsibility to it.  All this is part of the spiritual warrior’s vocation.

Former Navajo Nation Council Delegate (Fort Defiance) and Vietnam combat Veteran, Larry Anderson Sr., gives a moment of silence during Na’Nizhoozhi Center Inc.’s 2012 New Year’s Eve PowWow. Photo by Donovan Shortey on Flickr

A Native American student in our university shared this story with us.  On returning from being a soldier in the Vietnam War, his elders said to him: “You have been a soldier.  Now we will make you a warrior.”  His training to be a warrior took four years. 

I asked him what was at the heart of his training, and he related his story.  The elders taught him to play the flute, which he learned to do very proficiently.  When they felt he was ready to play before the whole tribe, everyone gathered.  As the evening came to an end, and all were touched by his playing, each elder came up to him with a knife in his hand and cut a chunk of wood out of his flute.  At the end of the evening, he had no flute. 

A peaceful warrior: itinerant Quaker tailor, abolitionist, and vegetarian John Woolman (1720-1772) who gave up his shop to travel and preach against slavery and all forms of cruelty. Sepia drawing by Robert Smith III, from Woolman’s Journal and Essays, on Wikimedia Commons.

When I quoted Eckhart to him, “the soul grows by subtraction,” he exclaimed: “That is it!  All my training as a warrior was like that.”  Learning to let go.  Notice that a four year training distinguishes the warrior from the soldier.

Spiritual traditions the world over embrace the archetype of warriorhood, for it takes a stout heart, a determined mind, a focused intention, a very awake person to be a successful warrior.  A warrior defends what he or she cherishes when it is threatened.  A warrior is a lover defending the beloved. 

A prophet is a warrior–the energy of the prophets of Israel was very much a warrior energy.  A warrior responds to moral outrage, feels injustice in the gut like a kick to one’s solar plexus, and responds with ingenuity and creativity and generosity. 

Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 405-407.

Banner Image: Senator Ladda Tammy Duckworth (D.,IL, retired Army National Guard lieutenant colonel) is the first Thai American woman elected to Congress, the first woman with a disability elected to Congress, the first female double amputee in the Senate, and the first senator to give birth while in office. Here, she is being sworn in as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Department of Veterans Affairs photo, Wikimedia Commons

CORRECTIONS: The banner image of Christ as Green Man, on March 14, 2021, was photographed by Daily Meditations visionary Ellen Kennedy. Our apologies for the error and thanks for her contribution!

Is there a lion in you?  How well are you caring for it?  How does it serve your deepest values and deepest hopes?

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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6 thoughts on “More on the Spiritual Warrior and the Healthy Masculine and Feminine”

  1. Avatar
    Marsha Campbell

    I enjoy reading these each day. However the pictures in today’s meditation are a bit confusing. One has the caption from yesterday’s meditation and there is no explanation for the picture of John Woolman in this context.

    1. Phila Hoopes

      Apologies, Marsha. Our email service has a glitch that occasionally rejects new content and keeps the old. The caption has been corrected and the relevance of the John Woolman image has been clarified in a correction just sent out.
      Phila Hoopes
      Blog Coordinator

  2. Avatar

    I always like your queries, they stay some times for days and connect to events that are happening, today I am stuck in the last two, and I think I haven’t think what are really my deepest values and my deepest hopes, putting these two together are shaking my day in a good way.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Well Andrea, in an adaptation of what Bob Dylan once wrote, “The Times They are a Shaking!”

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you for your comment Ron. We need to rethink the relationship of the warrior in relationship to the soldier, and you have seen the key in the idea of bravery. And it takes bravery to do all the inner work that needs to be done.

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