"The warrior's path is a solitary one."
Dark of the Moon
There are millions of paths to choose from during our life. We usually keep changing them. Some paths are light and easy – we feel that we are carried by their currents. Life with them seems pleasant and blissful. Other paths are more difficult – they require more effort and life may seem far more difficult. However, the path we choose, or rather the approach to life we choose, doesn't have to be easy or difficult, pleasant or unpleasant. Whatever path you may take, it will end at the same destination. Remembering that doesn't have to make us depressed or miserable but rather, can motivate us and increase our sense of responsibility. The warrior remembers that but he is neither moved by it nor passive in his actions. His path is not difficult or easy, not pleasant or dreadful. The meaning it holds is for him, and only for him. The warrior’s path, more often than not, is a solitary one.
Why fight, you might ask, if our condition is predetermined? There is no reason other than a healthy compulsion to live to our very best, to give our absolute dedication. For the warrior, something being pleasant or unpleasant doesn't make a difference – each state of being is a challenge. The challenge to not be swallowed up by any particular mental state. To not become distracted, forgetting who he is, what he's doing and where he's going. That is his battle – the battle for his awareness.
“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”
It’s not merely the offensive skills that the warrior must develop, but also the defensive ones - for there are plenty of things to defend against: the insane, the angry, or the predators walking among us; those who aim to exploit or even destroy us. The internal threats also loom. Our primitive, animalistic instincts, often acting against and sabotaging our ability for self-control, seems perpetually there, waiting to subvert our goal of becoming a better person than the one we were yesterday.
To defend doesn't mean to escape or to play the victim. No one cares whether or not you suffer, and the warrior knows this – he knows he stands alone. To defend simply means to strike the opponent with the exact amount of power he strikes with; no more, no less. Provocations mean nothing to the warrior because he is clear about his intent – what there is to defend. Ideals, values, preferences, likes and dislikes – it's all air occupying an empty space, space that doesn't contain anything to defend at all. How can you defend something that does not exist anywhere else apart from your own mind? People who are high in self importance do it, and they carry this burden wherever they go. The creations of their own mind are so important to them that they are willing to kill for them, and this is what ultimately drags them down to the very bottom, where only darkness and pessimism lingers.
The warrior cannot be heavy. He needs to be light – light in his actions and light in his thoughts. This lightness brings the flexibility, spontaneity, and fluidity he needs, because there is no time to think, to analyse what he likes or dislikes, what brings comfort or discomfort. What should he defend, then? Time and awareness, for they are most precious to the path he has chosen. To defend time means to know how to spend it and what attitude serves one best in this task. To defend awareness is to care for one's mind as it is the most sacred temple.
The warrior doesn't get angry, enraged, or sadistically, ignorantly harms others people for the sake of his fight. The warrior remains centered, calm and receptive towards any movement his potential opponent might make, even when it means his opponent is his own self. To be contained and balanced doesn't mean to be passive; rather, it is a conscious act towards the preservation of his energy – energy that must be used wisely, efficiently, with no wasted time.
So, the warrior doesn't hesitate, nor does he have pity for someone or something that is set out to destroy him and throw him out of his path. Don't confuse pity with compassion.
He refuses to act upon the circumstances that don't suit him. All negative influences must be considered an enemy, and a thing or person that yields such an influence should be stripped of their ability to do so, permanently. But to destroy something outside of one’s self is incorrect – it's immoral, unwholesome, and the warrior is simply not responsible for such an action. Remember, he merely responds with an equally appropriate force to both external and internal threats and does not seek out things to destroy. The only thing one can be responsible for is one’s own mind – one’s attitudes, boundaries, and decisions. All one can give is respect, because every living being has its right to live. And the warrior laughs, joyously, because nothing can throw him out of balance anymore.
“To fight and conquer in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy with no fight at all, that’s the highest skill.”
The warrior's battle is his own battle. Other people and what they do do not concern him – everyone chooses their own way of living and must take (or not, and suffer the consequences) responsibility for that. Although it's easy to be ignorant, the warrior must know – develop the awareness to sense – what he should be ignorant of.
There is a thin line between being precisely focused and being ignorant and deluded, one that can be crossed with just a tiny amount of carelessness. But the warrior cannot allow himself to be careless – every action must be calculated and carried with determination and precision, with a deliberate, conscious awareness – a methodical approach. He cannot allow himself to make mistakes because there is no time. But if he does encounter a mistake, all he can do is to reflect and learn new lessons from them. In fact, it’s often the case that mistakes and failures are actually gifts because they force one to correct one’s actions.
However, making the same mistake twice is only for fools who think that they are immortal. The warrior doesn't conform or give way to anything that deviates from his chosen path, for that is the whole aim, to keep walking along his path without distraction. At the same time, the ability to adjust and adapt to the winds that blow against him strengthens him to withstand the worst challenges.
Bend, but never break.
To shift means instability and confusion. For it is very easy to get distracted and shift, to bury all the past effort one has spent. The warrior doesn't waste his efforts, because whatever he does costs energy. Every action he performs, he performs with efficiency, precision, and absolute intensity, because his energy is limited, finite.
Do you realize this, and are you aware of what you are doing right now?
You are spending your vital energy.
If you ask yourself this question each time you perform any activity – whether physical or mental, would you be always satisfied with the way you spend your limited energy?