Thomas Berry talks about “the Great Work” that is calling all of us today. What is this Great Work? It is “the task of moving modern industrial civilization from its present devastating influence on the Earth, to a more benign mode of presence.” 

Photo of Fr. Thomas Berry, “Geologian” taken from his website.

It requires real warriors who steer moral outrage and powers of aggression and competition into more positive directions.

As Berry put it, the Great Work is “not a role that we have chosen. It is a role given to us.” That is, to a generation that is waking up to the destruction we have been doing to the Earth. He warns that “the nobility of our lives, however, depends upon” how we respond to this call.

The archetype of the spiritual warrior helps us to steer our aggression and competition into healthy directions. Aggression is in all of us, whether athlete or preacher, business person or taxi driver, including notions of “I can’t win unless you lose” and more. 

A man finds strength in the power of a waterfall. Photo by Lance Reis on Unsplash.

How do we turn aggression into nobility, to use Berry’s term?

To me, the key is understanding the distinction between a warrior and a solider. They are not the same, as I have learned from indigenous people I have known. 

Broken Walk is a veteran who went to the Vietnam war at seventeen. Says he: 

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 solder. I was a puppet doing whatever anybody told me to do, even if it means going against what my heart told me was right. 

A PBS special spotlights Native American service in the armed forces during the Vietnam War. Video by KARE 11.

I didn’t know nothing about being a warrior, until I hit the streets and marched alongside my brothers for something I really believe in. When I found something I believe in, a higher power found me. That’s it. That’s the story.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 77f.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE

Banner Image: On Grand Canyon Native American Heritage Day in 2010, the Dishchii’ Bikoh’ Apache Group from Cibecue, Arizona, demonstrates the Apache Crown Dance. Photo by Grand Canyon National Park. Wikimedia Commons.



Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that spiritual warriorhood is needed to bring about deep transformation in oneself and in society? And that this is very different from soldierhood, and has a lot to do with listening to the heart?


Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

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.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God


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3 thoughts on “The Archetype of the Spiritual Warrior”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you Mathew, for your absolutely beautiful video and your teaching stories on being a spiritual warrior. I pray that more brothers will hear this message, and the truth it conveys, for it is so needed to be understood and embraced in this world; especially with all the wars going on. The end of war, begins within oneself. I pray that every veteran of war finds a way to this healing truth of spiritual warriorhood… transforming their pain, releasing them from the trauma that they have been exposed to.

    Has your book, “The Hidden Spirituality of Men”, ever been considered in assisting our veteran brothers, in any counselling made available to them through social services? Perhaps donating some copies of your book, might be something to consider?

    Once again, thank you for the beauty shared today!

  2. Avatar

    Yes!Yes! I have not read that particular chapter, “Spiritual Warriors”, yet in your book, “The Hidden Spirituality of Men,” but I did read “Masculine Sexuality, Numinous Sexuality,” and found it very helpful in another confusing area for many men in understanding our relationships with the inner and outer Feminine.
    It does take courage and LOVE/Faith/Wisdom to examine Truthfully our inner lives (especially the shadow areas) on our spiritual journeys because it will have profound effects not only on Our inner eternally evolving spiritual lives/SOULS, but also on Our intimate relationships with Our sisters and brothers, Our intimate relationships with Sacred Mother Earth/Nature, and Our intimate relationships with Our Sacred multidimensional-multiverse LOVING Evolving Diverse Wholeness~ONENESS COSMOS….

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