THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR
A warrior lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting.
Whenever a warrior decides to do something, he must go all the way. But, he must take responsibility for what he does. No matter what he does, he must know first why he is doing it, and then he must proceed with his actions without having doubts or remorse about them. A warrior takes responsibility for his acts; for the most trivial of his acts. An average man acts out his thoughts and never takes responsibility for what he does. There is no emptiness in the life of a warrior. Everything is filled to the brim. Everything is filled to the brim and everything is equal. A warrior goes to knowledge as he goes to war; wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute-assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it might never live to regret it. —- When a man has fulfilled all four of these requisites – to be awake, to have fear, respect, and absolute-assurance – there are no mistakes for which he will have to account, under such conditions his actions lose the blundering quality of the acts of a fool. If such a man fails, or suffers defeat, he will have only lost a battle, and there will be no pitiful regrets over that. Dwelling upon the self too much produces a terrible fatigue. A man in that position is deaf and blind to everything else. The fatigue, itself, makes him cease to see the marvels all around him. To be angry at people means that one considers their acts to be (too) important. It is imperative to cease to feel that way. The acts of men cannot be important enough to offset our only viable alternative: our unchangeable encounter with infinity. The things that people do cannot, under any conditions, be more important than what they are or more important than the world. And thus, a warrior treats the world and people as an endless mystery; and what people do as an endless folly. Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore, a warrior must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if he feels that he should not follow it, he must not stay with it under any conditions. His decision to keep on that path or to leave must be free of fear or ambition. He must look at every path closely and deliberately. There is a question that a warrior must ask, mandatorily: Does this path have a heart? – All paths are the same; they lead to now’here. However, a path without heart is never enjoyable, nor can it prepare one for the encounter with infinity. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy – it does make a warrior work with all his might, but it does not make a warrior work a liking it. It makes for a joyful journey; and as long as a man follows it, he is one with it. There is world of happiness where there is no difference between things because there is no one to ask about the difference. But, that is not the world of men. Some men have the vanity to believe that they live in two worlds, but it is only their vanity. There is but one single world for us. We are men, and must follow, for now, the world of men contentedly. A man has four natural enemies; fear, clarity, power, and old age. Fear, clarity, and power can be overcome, but not old age. Its effects can be postponed, but it can never be overcome. A warrior knows that he is only a man. His only regret is that his life is so short that he can’t grab onto all the things that he would like to. But for him, this is not an issue; it is only a pity. Feeling important makes one heavy, clumsy, and vain. To be a warrior, one needs to be light and fluid. The most effective way to live is as a warrior. A warrior may worry and think before making a decision, but once he makes it, he goes on his way; free from worries or thoughts. There will be a million other decisions still awaiting him. That is the warrior’s way. A warrior thinks of his death when things become unclear. The idea of death is the only thing that tempers our spirit. A warrior must know that his acts are useless, and yet, he must proceed as if he didn’t know it. This is a warrior’s controlled folly. [Like Solomon’s vanity] The average man is either victorious or defeated and, depending on that, he becomes a persecutor or a victim. These two conditions are prevalent as long as one does not “see”. Seeing dispels the illusion of victory, defeat, or suffering. When a man embarks on the warriors’ path, he becomes aware, in a gradual manner, that ordinary life has been left forever behind. The means of the ordinary world are no longer a buffer for him; and he must adopt a new way of life if he is going to survive. Only the idea of death makes a warrior sufficiently detached so that he is capable of abandoning himself to anything. He knows his death is stalking him and won’t give him time to cling to anything. So he tries, without craving, all of everything. The spirit of a warrior is not geared to indulging and complaining, nor is it geared to winning or losing. The spirit of a warrior is geared only to struggle, and every struggle is a warrior’s last battle on earth. Thus the outcome matters there little to him. In his last battle on earth, a warrior lets his spirit flow free and clear. And as he wages battle, knowing that his intent is impeccable, the warrior laughs and laughs. When nothing is for sure, we remain alert, perennially on our toes. It is more exciting not to know which bush the rabbit is hiding behind, than to behave as though we know everything. Other than his death, the warrior knows that nothing on this earth is for sure. Every time a man sets himself to learn, he has to labor as hard as anyone can. The limits of his learning are determined by his own nature. Fear of knowledge is natural; all of us experience it, and there is nothing we can do about it. But no matter how frightening learning is, it is more terrible to think of a man without knowledge. We hardly realize that we can cut anything out of our lives; anytime; in the blink of an eye. As long as a man feels that he is the most important thing in the world, he cannot appreciate the world around him. He is like a horse with blinders; all he sees is himself and he is apart from everything else. In a world where death is the hunter, there is not time for regrets or doubts. There is only time for decisions. It doesn’t matter what the decisions are. Nothing could be more or less serious than anything else. In a world where death is the hunter, there are no small or big decisions. There are only decisions that a warrior makes in the face of his inevitable death. Once a man worries, he clings to anything out of desperation; and once he clings, he is bound to get exhausted or to exhaust whomever or whatever he is clinging to. For an average man, the world is weird because if he is not bored with it; he is at odds with it. For a warrior, the world is weird because it is stupendous, awesome, mysterious, and unfathomable. A warrior must assume responsibility for being here; in this marvelous place, in this marvelous time. A warrior must focus his attention on the link between himself and his death. Without remorse, sadness or worrying. He must focus his attention on the fact that he does not have time and let his acts flow accordingly. He must let each of his acts be his last battle on earth. Only under these conditions will his acts have their rightful power. Otherwise all actions will be, for as long as a man lives, the acts of a fool. A man; any man, deserves everything that is a man’s lot – joy, pain, sadness, and struggle. The nature of his acts is unimportant as long as he acts as a warrior. — If his spirit is distorted he should simply fix it – purge it, make it perfect – because there is no other task in our entire lives, which is more worthwhile. Not to fix the spirit is to seek death, and that is the same thing as to seek nothing, since death is going to overtake us regardless of anything. To seek to perfection of the warrior’s spirit is the only task worthy of our temporariness and our manhood. The hardest thing in the world is to assume the mood of a warrior. It is of no use to be sad and complain and feel justified in doing so, believing that someone is always doing something to us. Nobody is doing anything to anyone, much less to a warrior. A warrior is a hunter. He calculates everything. That’s control. Once his calculations are over, he acts. He lets go. That’s abandon. A warrior is not a leaf at the mercy of the wind. No one can push him; no one can make him do things against himself or against his better judgment. A warrior is tuned to survive; and he survives in the best of all possible fashions. A warrior is only a man, a humble man. He cannot change the designs of his death. But, his impeccable spirit, which has stored power after stupendous hardships, can certainly hold his death for a moment; a moment long enough to let him rejoice for the last time in recalling his power. We may say that this is a gesture which death has with those who have an impeccable spirit. A warrior doesn’t hold to remorse or place unwarranted importance on the self or too much emphasis on his acts. The trick is what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same. The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks impeccability and calls that humbleness. The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity. The internal dialogue is what grounds people is their daily world. The world is such and such, or so and so; only because we talk to ourselves about its being such and such, or so and so. The passageway into the world of the warrior opens up after a man has learned to shut off his internal dialogue. Whenever the warrior learns to stop the internal dialogue, everything becomes possible; the most far-fetched schemes become attainable. The humbleness of a warrior is not the humbleness of a beggar. The warrior lowers his head to no one, but at the same time, he doesn’t permit anyone to lower his head to him. The beggar, on the other hand, falls to his knees at the drop of a hat and scrapes the floor for anyone he deems to be higher; but at the same time, he demands that someone lower than him, scrape the floor for him. The flaw with words is that they always make us feel enlightened, but when we turn and face the world, they always fail us and we end up facing the world as we always have, without enlightenment. For this reason a warrior seeks to act rather than to talk, and to this effect, he gets a new description of the world—a new description where talking is not that important and where new acts have new reflections. Knowledge is a most peculiar affair, especially for a warrior. Knowledge for a warrior is something that comes at once, engulfs him and passes on. Knowledge comes to a warrior, floating; like the dust that cover the wings of a moth. So, for a warrior, knowledge is like taking a shower, or being rained on by specks of gold dust. The world is unfathomable. And so are we, and so is every being that exists in this world. A warrior must cultivate the feeling that he has everything needed for the extravagant journey that is his life. What counts for a warrior is being alive. Life in itself is sufficient, self-explanatory and complete. Therefore, one may say without being presumptuous that the experience of experiences is being alive. Warriors do not win victories by beating their heads against walls, but overtaking the walls. Warriors jump over walls; they do not demolish them. An average man thinks that indulging in doubts and tribulations is the sign of sensitivity and spirituality. The truth of the matter is that the average man is the farthest thing imaginable from being sensitive or spiritual. His puny reason deliberately makes itself into a monster or a saint, but he is truthfully too small for such a big monster or saint role. To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior; in exactly the same way that nobody is born an average man. We make ourselves into one or the other. Human beings are perceivers, but the world that they perceive is an illusion; an illusion created by the description that was told to them from the moment that they were born. In essence, the world that their reason wants to sustain is the world created by a description and it dogmatic and inviolable rules… which their reason learns to accept and defend. Their reason makes them forget that a description is only a description, and before they realize it, human beings have entrapped the totality of themselves in a vicious circle from which they rarely emerge in their lifetimes. Only as a warrior can one withstand the path of knowledge. A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges. The basic difference between a warrior and an ordinary man is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an average man takes everything as a blessing or a curse. When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous. We are timid only when there is something we can still cling to. Any habit needs all of its parts in order to function. If some parts are missing, the habit is disassembled. Human beings love to be told what to do, but they love even more to fight and not to do what they are told, and thus they get entangled in hating the one who told them in the first place. The warrior’s way offers a man a new life and that life has to be completely new. He can’t bring to that life his ugly old ways. The only freedom that warriors have is to behave impeccably. Not only does impeccability carry with it freedom; it is the only way to straighten out the human form. People’s actions no longer affect a warrior when he has no more expectations of any kind. A strange peace becomes the ruling force of his life. The course of a warrior’s destiny is unalterable. The challenge is how far he can go and how impeccable he can be within those rigid bounds. A warrior’s ultimate accomplishment is to enjoy the joy of infinity. A warrior is never under siege. To be under siege implies that one has personal possessions that could be blockaded. A warrior has nothing in the world except his impeccability;… and impeccability cannot be threatened. A chief principle of the warrior’s art is the principle that a warrior always chooses his battleground. A warrior never goes into battle without knowing what the surroundings are. A warrior relaxes and abandons himself, he fears nothing. Only then will the power that is available to guide him open the road for the warrior and aid him. Only then. Warriors compress time; this is another principle of the warrior’s art. Even an instant counts. In a battle for your life, a second is an eternity, an eternity that may decide the outcome. Warriors aim at succeeding, therefore they compress time. Warriors don’t waste an instant. Applying all the principles of the warrior’s art brings about three results. The first is that warriors learn never to take themselves seriously; they learn to laugh at themselves. If they are not afraid of being a fool, they can fool anyone. The second is that warriors learn to have endless patience. Warriors are never in a hurry; they never fret. And the third is that warriors learn to have an endless capacity to improvise.