Mysticism · Spirituality

Mystic Warrior Practice – Introduction

The Mystic Warrior Practice is a comprehensive plan to transform every area of my life. If you read my last rambling post, you’ll know I reacted badly to a shadow eruption that almost derailed my spiritual practice. Thankfully, I was able see through the ruse and I’m now in the process of sorting myself out and getting back on track. It’s a big job and it could take a while, but it’s worth doing – even if I fail in the long-run.

But this isn’t about winning or losing. As I said last time, this is an opportunity to renew my commitment to my spiritual practice and gather together everything I’ve learnt over the years and share it with you. Although I’m not setting it up as a teaching for others to follow, I do hope it will be of benefit.

The plan involves assessing where I’m at and what I need do to improve my spiritual practice. I’ll be looking at each area of my life, seeing what I’ve learned and the mistakes or misunderstandings I’ve fallen into. And then exploring what practices I can do to deepen my understanding and ground my practice in my body.

You’re welcome to follow along and apply the same techniques to your life and spiritual practice and perhaps we can help each other out!

The plan is called Mystic Warrior because it incorporates both love and will – or contemplation and action – which you need if you want to make progress in your spiritual practice. You can’t just sit on your arse and contemplate eternity, smiling beatifically. You have to put the truth you see into action too.

So what is a mystic warrior?

The word ‘warrior’ tends to be associated with war and fighting, but it’s also connected with wisdom in many traditions, such as the samurai, and the legend of King Arthur. I explored this in another post when I was given a gold helmet in a guided meditation – by a raven! It took me a while to understand what the gift meant, but perhaps this project was what my deeper Self had in mind. You can read that post here: An Unexpected Gift.

Anyway, Matthew Fox says we need to reclaim the word ‘warrior’ and calls it a spiritual archetype. In Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-warrior for Our Times, he explains that a warrior isn’t a soldier, but a mystic:

“It takes a warrior to become a mystic, for the mystic cannot survive in denial; the mystic hunts everywhere in search of his or her beloved.”

The beloved being God. The mystic path is about seeing Reality directly, but this knowledge comes at a price. So the path to enlightenment requires great self-discipline and courage. It requires the spirit of a warrior.

There are multiple references to swords and warriors in spiritual literature. For example, in Buddhism, the bodhisattva is a spiritual warrior who forgoes their own liberation to save others from suffering. They represent the path of compassion and fearlessness in overcoming the ignorance that stops you from seeing your true nature.

In Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chögyam Trungpa says the key to being a warrior is not being afraid of who you are. This doesn’t mean the ego, but the true Self or Buddha nature. The ego is based on fear, but the true Self is fearless. He explains:

“…the word ‘warrior’ is taken from the Tibetan pawo, which literally means ‘one who is brave’. Warriorship in this context is…the tradition of fearlessness.”

The Buddha himself came from the warrior caste and used a lot of military language in his teachings despite the path being about embracing non-violence. To attain enlightenment, the Buddha battled the demon hordes of Mara’s army – Mara being a symbol of illusion and evil. You can read an account of the battle on Wild Mind here.

Buddha tells Mara to go boil his head…

Many people see mystics as being out of touch with reality, but this path isn’t about transcending the body and the world and zoning out. It’s about being fully grounded and present in the body and in life – and that’s where the challenge comes from. It’s easy to float off in a bubble and hang out with angels. It’s much harder to deal with the mess of day-to-day life at the same time as remembering who you really are.

This is an important point because the difficulty of the path often makes people look for shortcuts. The ego decides that awakening should be done fast or on a schedule and goes looking for ways to skip to the end of the process without doing the work. This might involve using psychedelics, for example, which can help when used in the right context but it’s easy to get sidetracked if you don’t have a competent guide.

Mysticism also isn’t occultism. It’s not about paranormal experiences, visions and trances, getting off your face on drugs, levitating or producing other powers known as siddhi. You might experience these things, but you’re advised to steer clear of them and not to encourage them if they do happen. This is because they can trap you on the psychic level where it’s easy to fool yourself and to be fooled. Some mystics never experience these things and you don’t need to in order to awaken.

Mystics want to know God. Anything else is just a sideshow – a distraction.

To be a mystic you have to be brutally honest with yourself and willing to go where God, or Spirit, leads you. It can be a tough and lonely path to follow. Breakthroughs usually come after long periods of struggle and sometimes intense suffering. In fact, it can be a period like this that places you on the path in the first place.

This is what happened to me. I didn’t choose to become a mystic; I got plunged into it by life and had to figure it out as I went. I was profoundly resistant at first – hence my novel Addled: Adventures of a Reluctant Mystic. I’m still learning about the path and what it means – hence this practice plan.

Being a mystic is a vocation. You don’t follow this path as a lifestyle choice or because you fancy having a go at being mysterious and pious. If you’re a mystic, you’ll know because you’re called to it. But you don’t have to become a monk or nun or live like a hermit, unless you want to! Some monks are mystics, but most probably aren’t. In fact, mystics within spiritual institutions have a reputation for freaking out the other monks with their extreme experiences, as Caroline Myss explains in Anatomy of the Spirit,

“Observers, even those inside the monasteries, kept their distance from some of these mystics, lest the ‘eye of the Divine’ blink in their direction. It was well known that few could endure ‘direct contact’ with heaven.”

Now there are loads of what Myss calls “mystics without monasteries” running around in the world – on the loose! – freaking out their family and friends and random passing strangers. Perhaps you’re one of them. There’s a good list of ways to know if you’re a mystic on Mummy Mystic here.

No one gets left behind! – bodhisattva Ksitigarbha shares the dharma with demons in the hell realm

So being a mystic is about seeking union with God, but you’re not really separate from God in the first place. The mystic knows there’s nothing outside of God – everything is held within His embrace. Even the ego.

This is what makes the process of awakening so fiendishly difficult. The paradox can really mess with your head and lead to misunderstandings and detours down dead-ends.

You’re not separate from God so to awaken you don’t have to become someone else. You just need to be what you already are, or remember your original face before you were born. This means the process of awakening involves stripping away anything that isn’t the real Self – anything that stops you from remembering or prevents conscious union with God.

The warrior side of the path comes into play here because it means cutting away extraneous desires, attachments, ideas, and identities. At some point the ego realises it’s being eroded and starts to resist. At the start of the process the ego is often on board because it sees the path as a way to achieve something or get something it doesn’t have, i.e. enlightenment.

But you already are the awakened mind – you don’t need to become it. Besides which, the ego can’t become enlightened.

So at some point on the path you have to make a choice between the ego and the Soul. This is when the ego really starts to kick up a stink and fight for its ‘life’.

And this is when you need to be a real warrior.

You have to choose to awaken. You have to say yes to the Soul, to God, and no to the ego and lower drives, anything that keeps you circling through desires that can never be fulfilled. But the fact that you have to choose to awaken doesn’t mean you can control the process or dictate how and when things should happen. This is the paradox of choosing to surrender.

On the other hand, you can’t really choose to become enlightened. You don’t even know what it is because you can’t imagine it from the level of ego. So most people have a lot of fantasies about enlightenment – what it means and how it will affect your life. All of those fantasies will be stripped away by the process, as well as your ideas about God and reality in general.

To be a mystic you have to question everything – even your desire to awaken.

Am I doing this for the right reason? What does my Soul need? What is God asking of me? These aren’t easy questions to answer, and the immediate, glib response is usually wrong – probably the ego trying hijack the situation for its own nefarious ends.

This process isn’t about becoming someone better. It’s not about fixing yourself or being perfect. It’s not another ego trip or hero’s journey to a golden land of happiness. I don’t want to rebuild my life only to watch it collapse again because I’ve built it on false ideas made of ego sand.

The Mystic Warrior practice is about removing resistance to Reality and getting out of my own way. It’s about saying YES! to being alive and accepting the truth present in every moment.

It’s about remembering that everything is in God, even the shitty stuff, even the pain and the darkness. This sounds crazy, but if you could see Reality as it is, you would see what the mystic sees – that there’s nothing but God.

“Take courage. The human race is divine.” – Pythagoras

Next time, we’ll explore the inspiration behind the Mystic Warrior Practice

More on Mysticism:

Images: Woman; Ksitigarbha

17 thoughts on “Mystic Warrior Practice – Introduction

  1. I was/am a warrior protecting my wife with PTSD and rape trauma.

    You wanna get all semantic with life and spirituality, obviously hasn’t cut you down to size yet.

    Jessica, we all have our roads, I understand the fight part of life, others think this love and light stuff works. It’s a delusion and escape, just like em drugs.

    When serious work is done on this plane it involves suffering, pain and blood. This is the spiritual warrior, devoting their life to another because they KNOW it’s the right thing to do.

    Reading comments over the year or so on this site gives me hope there are still those that realize, you don’t get even a fraction of “it” in one life.

    My Pluto / Saturn pancake is right square on my 21 Aries Sun, yeehaw!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. On reflection, I’ll leave your comments up for context. There’s a lot of shadow stuff flying around and it might be instructive…

          Not sure why anyone cares so much about what I think 😞

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        2. I’ve deleted 2 comments: one from TeotiGraphix and another from cabrogal, because this has now descended into unnecessary mudslinging.

          It’s interesting that this has happened on a post about ‘not fighting’ but I can’t allow negativity to pollute this space any longer. Just for the record, here are my guidelines for etiquette in the comments: https://jessicadavidson.co.uk/about/etiquette/

          Any further comments in a similar vein on this or any other posts will also be deleted.

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  2. Hi Jessica,
    This was a good reminder of where I am in my journey, which began 26 years ago at the age of 15. I thought I would suggest a direction for you as it was very profound for me. Of course, this direction could have only been meant for me, so feel free to take it or leave it.

    Seek out the Goddess. In seeking out the Goddess, I found a new understanding of God. She goes by many names, but I recommend starting with Sophia because so much has been written about her under that name.

    I’ve privately called myself the Warrior Queen for many years — my south node is in Aries. Now I’m learning to integrate the feminine principle into that of the warrior and I’m now coming to understand humanity on a very different level.

    Good luck on your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. BTW, my family has been locked in intergenerational struggle with the Salvation Army for over as century now, with each generation opening new fronts (my contribution included drug and sex work policy but mostly it’s been more personal and vicious than that). That’s the sort of crap warrior spirituality leads you into Jess.

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  4. I dunno Jess. This ‘warrior as spiritual path’ stuff has never worked for me, whether it’s Buddhist metaphors, the Gita, the reveling in slaughter of the OT, the calls to arms of the NT, the path of the samurai and warrior priests, the nationalist warrior spirituality promoted by Leni Riefenstahl and modern Hollywood or the strong military traditions on both sides of my own family (interestingly, though my Indigenous family history and tribal tradition is full of warrior militarism it’s notably absent from our Dreaming stories). Yeah, my family has a lot of those sorts of stories, though we don’t like to tell them. They generally don’t end well.

    Don’t get me wrong. I consider myself kshatriya and I’m not denying my dharma; sometimes I revel in it. Yeah, if you see the world through warrior’s eyes you’re on a warrior path – at least at the time. Maybe you have to ‘accept’ it, but it’s not something to choose or promote Jess (even when it’s not in a form that muddies the notion of anatta, as the Tibetans seem so fond of doing).

    Think of it as like writing. If you’re doing it because you choose to you’re probably debasing it and yourself. You do it because you don’t have a choice. If it doesn’t hurt you’re not doing it at all.

    I doubt I’ve learned anything from my spiritual path(s) and I doubt they have a point, but if there’s a goal to being a warrior I reckon it must be to stop being one. Wasn’t his caste the first thing the Buddha renounced? It must be nice to be able to discard the raft after crossing the river, but how much better to be able to finally lay down the sword?

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    1. It should be obvious I’m not talking about literal fighting – I said as much. An inability to think symbolically and dragging everything down to a literal level is an unskillful way of carrying on. That kind of relentless tit for tat, eye for eye bullshit has been driving humanity crazy for centuries. So I agree with you, cabrogal. But you do seem to have missed the point of what I’m talking about.

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      1. Well, Jess, if symbols matter I’d have thought I bit more discretion about romanticising The Warrior might have been in order on Remembrance Day. Dunno about you, but the first three letters of ‘Warrior’ sure symbolises something to me.

        Symbols get polluted too you know. I like to imagine I have deep affinity and respect for Hinduism, but you won’t catch me running a swastika up the flagpole.

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      2. On reflection I think you’re right. I’m just too literal minded. I can’t look at a sword and think of clarity, insight, change, power, conflict and a new beginning without also thinking about how it would feel stuck through my guts. Or sticking it through someone else’s guts. Maybe that’s why I just can’t get with the war on terror or the war on drugs or the war on want or the war on wrinkles. There’s just something about them that keeps reminding me of war.

        Heck, now I’ve even learned you can be a warrior against PTSD. Now there’s some symbolism to conjure with. I must tell my sister.

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  5. Thank you for a moving post, Jessica. Your words resonate so beautifully with how I’m experiencing my warrior journey, and I send you blessings for your journey.

    “You’re not separate from God so to awaken you don’t have to become someone else. You just need to be what you already are, or remember your original face before you were born.” I love Dane Rudhyar’s complete reframe of Saturn, which represents “your original face” before accommodations to one’s environment started. This is why I build my chart interpretations around Saturn for clients who are committed to awareness. [http://www.khaldea.com/rudhyar/astroarticles/meditationsonsaturn.php]

    I think that letting go of accommodations is one of the scariest actions one can take. As animals, we are more likely to replace or exchange, but letting go without getting anything in exchange goes against our animal instincts. And it’s easy to see how this whole accommodation process unfolds: one begins changing one’s original face as an infant, so these accommodations are very deep. I think that’s why I focus on the journey; I see no destination for me. But it also means loving myself when I lapse.

    One of the simplest guidebooks to the mystic warrior practice I know is Ruiz’s Four Agreements. It’s the best introduction I know because it’s profound without being unduly complicated. For example, I love his simple description of “domestication” (his word for accommodation). Similarly, Krishnamurti’s description of “conditioning.”

    As you say, I don’t think one “chooses” a mystic warrior path; one is called to it. I do not experience it as a mental thing; it is outside the mind. Krishnamurti minces no words about the mind ;^).

    Thanks again for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jessica, I’ve been a fan for a LONG time, but never felt the need to comment until today! This post is so timely and SO True! I’m on this very same journey and have just been thru ‘another’ journey through the valley of the shadow of death! I’ve finally gotten serious and have decided to listen to the Voice I heard in my own personal ‘burning bush’ 25 years ago! Many blessings to you on this amazing path…which has chosen us! Be well, Colin

    Like

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