Boundaries and Battlegrounds–The Warrior–Walking with Heroes Part 7

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Hi there, fellow traveller – we’re now well on our way on our journey to discover the characters and heroes that thread their way through our lives. I’m sure you’re starting to see where some of the characteristics of the Innocent and the Orphan show up in your life – and you will, I am sure, be able to embrace their strengths and find ways to acknowledge those places where they are not so strong – to look into the shadow and to transcend it.

Remember, last time we looked at the Orphan – and the gift that embracing the archetype of the Orphan brings: an understanding of how we depend on each other, and on the need for true empathy as we reach out to others.

As ever, you may find the stories and character of the heroes we meet speaking to you, and when you do, you’ll also find that you find your place on the story line – understanding where you are in the journey.

The stage of the journey

Again we’re still in Preparation for the journey. And here we move from the passivity and surrender of the Innocent and the Orphan and begin to see an active role where we begin to mould the universe and begin to transform our world. Initially, of course, our actions are clumsy and juvenile – yet as we grow we begin to step into models of power that will stay with us forever.

The first response of those that find themselves helpless and lost is to seek safety again… but when that option is closed to us, then we have to step into new shoes. We have to learn to fight for ourselves – and for others. We have to become someone else – we have to become something else… and we take on the mantle of the Warrior.

The nature of the Warrior

There’s a sense in these enlightened times that the brutishness of the Warrior is a relic of another more primitive world. And yet without the desire to fight for what we want, we lack the driving force and impetus to move forward. Without the Warrior we lack the will to win, to succeed, to triumph. So the Warrior isn’t really about warfare – it’s about the struggle, about the battle. And as we step into life, as we begin to navigate the twists and turns of the world, then we need to start to pursue our own agendas. The Warrior brings the reinforcing of boundaries – the sense that ‘this is what I want’. The Warrior allows us to defend ourselves. And as we grow more all embracing, the Warrior allows us to defend others.

The Warrior is the true hero – the one who steps into the gap and makes things happen. And sometimes, it’s not about brute force and strength – it’s about a quiet inner determination to create change – a demand that things should be different. We often see this in the path of some martial arts. While Karate or Kempo for example can be quite strong and harsh, relying on the power of blocks and counter attacks, many other martial arts like Tai Chi or Aikido focus more on redirection of energy – defeating an opponent without harming them.

In terms of our personal development, the warrior is the hero that helps us make our way in the world – seeking our place, looking to succeed in our careers and in the workplace. Without the warrior we will never step out to conquer Life – and will always seek safety.

I had a very significant confrontation with the power of the warrior – having looked very closely at the strengths of the different heroes operating in my life, it was clear that the warrior was a place that I had found myself weak. Perhaps driven by the Christian mantra of ‘love your enemies’ I had lost sight of the need to succeed, the need to defend, the need to fight for what truly mattered to me. As I listened to the response of two young men, one a Jew, one a Palestinian, as they attempted to make sense of the events of 9/11, I realised that there was a space for the Warrior in my life – a Warrior who would fight for the rights of others – and of myself – a Warrior who would look to create success and victory.

The Goal

Our hero has just been confronted with his or her weakness in the uncovering of the Orphan – suddenly lost, defenceless, alone. The Warrior brings the opportunity to reverse that. Suddenly the goal is to win, to protect, to defend. The Warrior will seek to make a difference, to change the status quo. When combined with the energy of the Caregiver (more spoilers!) the Warrior will stand in the gap for others, defending and fighting for their rights.

The Warrior has a tremendous sense of right and wrong, a well developed awareness of justice. And yet the warrior will always seek to make a difference through struggle – the concept that there is an easier way will often elude him! The Warrior will hack his way through a forest to rescue the princess, or face the dragon.

When Luke Skywalker finds himself lost and alone on Tattooine, his response is to seek revenge on the murderers of his family. It takes a wiser mentor to guide him into a more measured response. The university professor Indiana Jones learns to fight to defend the relics of power from those who would abuse them.

Response to the challenge

No prizes for guessing that the the response to the appearance of the dragon is to strike back and destroy it. More enlightened warriors might seek to convert it rather than destroy it, but always the Warrior will seek to gain control over the situation.

The Warrior response reminds us that through courage, struggle, bravery, determination and sacrifice we can overcome evil and reach our goals.

Sometimes, of course, our response can be inappropriate or self defeating. Shrek finds himself up against a fearsome dragon which he tries to defeat – before realising that the terrifying creature is actually in love with his travelling companion.

Often, as we go through life, we discover others who try to take advantage of us – or who simply ‘push our buttons’ and annoy us. Unchecked, this inability to defend our own personal space can lead to emotional uncertainty and potentially to locking our true selves away to create safety – or often to things like skin conditions (the skin being the physical analogue to the emotional boundary space). We need to find ways of reinforcing our boundaries without counterattack. I find this quite a lot in spiritual seekers, who believe (quite rightly) that love is the answer. Unfortunately, in seeking the path of love they can find themselves put upon or abused – and it’s expected that a loving response will be to ‘turn the other cheek’. Not so – we find that defending our boundaries is the only true loving response – to love ourselves and the other person, and to create a clear statement of ‘this far and no further’.

A Heroic Task

The task of the Warrior is to decide what really matters – rather than defending every situation, to decide which battles to fight, which struggle is important. This is high level assertiveness – to know when to resist and where to let go. We often fall into the trap of believing that the response to attack is always to counter attack. Not so. There is a wonderful story of Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of modern day karate, who encountered a belligerent drunk on a train. The drunk was squaring up to fight, and with his new found skills, Funakoshi prepared to counter. A wiser onlooker took the drunk to one side and simply talked to him – defusing the situation without conflict.

The Warrior will have learn wisdom to decide which battles to fight, and which battles should be surrendered – to decide what is truly important and what can be let go of to conserve energy and resources. Yet if this is a conscious decision, no boundaries are violated. The Ewoks in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ at first seem to flee – only to lead the Empire’s stormtroopers to regret their belief that the cuddly creatures would be easy to defeat.

The Gift

This modern world with its emphasis on success and on courage in the face of defeat finds it easy to recognise the gifts that the warrior brings. Nowadays this archetype, despite its relative immaturity, is the pattern on which modern society is built – a culture of success, of winning at all costs – where our heroes are those who have learnt to fight – Rocky, Rambo, Die Hard’s John MacLaine, or a myriad successful businessmen, or our media stars who have fought to get where they are.

Yet the true gift of the Warrior, the gift of courage, of discipline, of perseverance is a recipe for true power when tempered, as ever, with Love.

And let’s not forget the dedication to the warrior’s skill – hours spent honing their skills. At the point where a black belt receives the belt that they have trained for long long years for, they are reminded that this is the point where learning starts. Luke must spend long and embarrassing hours learning to master the power of ‘The Force’. Rocky spends many bloody hours training to finally defeat his opponent in the ring.

The shadow Warrior

Perhaps the energy of the Warrior leads itself to be more easily sublimated into a shadow side. Perhaps the fact that the Warrior must by necessity walk the fine line between righteousness and evil, continually patrolling that moral neutral ground lays the possibility for the shadow to rise up and consume him.

The shadow Warrior is consumed by a need to win at all costs – to step beyond what is morally right in search of conquest at all costs. The shadow will see threats everywhere around, leading to paranoia and fear – to which the only response can be to attack. There is a danger that the shadow warrior will become ruthless, uncaring and lacking in morality and principle. Peter Parker finds himself consumed with rage over his uncle’s death – and is later consumed by a darker Spiderman, wrestling with himself to overcome it. This is the space of the antihero – ultimately fighting for what’s right, but using questionable means and acting from questionable motives.

Levels of the Warrior

The Warrior is invoked by a challenge, a threat, an obstacle – or perhaps simply a vision of ‘something more’ – a mountain to climb, a wrong to be righted, a place to conquer. The greater the challenge, the bigger the obstacle – the more the Warrior has to reach inside himself to meet the threat. Mulan steps in to protect her father – catapulting her into deception as she seeks to hide the fact that she’s a woman from the other army recruits, while she draws on resources way beyond herself to show that she deserves her place on the battlefield.

Initially, the Warrior, driven by his own needs and fears, will fight for himself. It will take wisdom and insight, the words of a wiser mentor, or a moment where he faces his own weakness for him to learn wisdom. Initially his response will be to win at all costs – an uncontrolled fist fight, wading in without thought consumed by the need to protect – or driven by presumption, bravado, or a lack of forethought. As the Warrior matures, the scars of battle bring with them a new depth of understanding. Rather than rushing in all guns blazing, the enlightened warrior learns to choose his battles, and embraces the rules of competition. Rather than fighting as a response to attack, the enlightened warrior will only act on his or her principles and values.

If a Warrior truly learns to temper winning with peace and co-operation, then they step into a world where the Warrior fights only for what truly matters, for great causes. Diplomacy becomes more the order of the day – yet always backed by the presence of steel, and the certainty that if diplomacy fails, then the Warrior will back his words with decisive action.

The Warrior’s story

The core story of the Warrior is of setting out on a journey, whether prompted by a need for adventure or as a response to a deeper call or necessity, or simply due to the destruction of a previous existence. Along the way, the warrior encounters the dragon – a challenge or obstacle, a barrier to be overcome or an evil to be defeated. By slaying the dragon the warrior releases the princess – or finds the key to unimaginable treasures and power.

Of course, sometimes the military response unleashes a greater threat. Beowulf slays Grendel only to be confronted with the fury of Grendel’s mother. Skywalker looks to avenge his family and discovers the horror of his own ancestry. It will take the wisdom and restraint of higher role models to curb the youthful immaturity and find the keys to harnessing the Warrior’s power.

Exercises and dreaming

Where have you failed to reinforce your boundaries in your life – are there places where you have not defended your own rights – perhaps in the expectation that you should be ‘kind’? What steps can you take to prevent that happening and take back the ground you have lost?

What is your response to confrontation – do you surrender or do you stand and fight? Is there space for a more balanced approach?

Look at some of the movie and story book heroes. Look at how they handle themselves, at their fears – and their determination to overcome. Many of them started out in fear and trembling and yet became great heroes – the stuff of legends.

Next time

In the next part we’re going to look at the balance to the Warrior – the response of love and tenderness through the Caregiver. When these two work together, the foundation of true power is laid…

Until next time – enjoy the journey!

 

 

Find out more at www.timhodgson.org

 

PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS

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