being a warrior

Shantideva was a Tibetan Buddhist monk in the 8th century, and he was and still is reknowned for his multiple writings and treatises on living as a Boddhisatva; a spiritual warrior.


The word warrior probably doesn’t immediately make you think of spiritually-related pursuits, nor of someone who works compassionately towards the healing and well-being (and eventual enlightenment) of all beings. It’s a warlike term, forceful and overtly masculine, and highly charged with a feeling of aggression, not peace.


But the declared definition of a warrior goes two ways. It can be a word to refer to those who are engaged in warlike actions, as we would normally assume, or it can be speaking of someone who shows immense courage and strength when faced with adversity, committed to their cause no matter how difficult or futile it may seem. In this definition, therefore, it may refer to any person dedicated to any work, warlike or not. 


In this quote Shantideva is articulating the mindset of a spiritual warrior, someone who commits with bravery and wholeheartedness to the assistance, healing and enlightenment of all beings, for their entire life (or lives, if you swing that way..). The bravery here is in not falling into the mindset of our contemporary society--a way of being that so often rewards selfishness and greed and dishonesty--and keeping yourself committed to seeing the connection you share with all that is. The courage here is in trusting your life so completely that you serve for love and evolution instead of money and prestige, knowing that those things are fleeting and inconsequential when offered the true happiness and understanding of a life lived in connection. The strength here is in doing this every day, for the rest of your life. 


I love this quote. I love it because I am a spiritual warrior (though I can be such a shit some days, as we all can), and took my bodhisattva oath several years ago to say that out loud to the world, as well as to commit it firmly to myself. But I also love it because it offers us all, buddhist or not, the possibility of declaring our firm commitment to all beings, not just to ourselves. It allows for the potential of dissolving the boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’ so that we can understand that when anyone in the world is suffering, be they human or otherwise, we suffer as well. And not only to we come to understand this, but we declare that we will spend the rest of our lives working towards assisting and healing them, in whatever way we can.


What if we all did this? What if we walked out the door tomorrow morning and sought not to gain for our own benefit, or to heal and improve just our own lives, but desired to be of benefit and assistance to all beings? The reality is that we would be healed as well, receiving what we wanted and yet could never fully receive when thinking only of ourselves, and the world as a whole would be completely healed. What would our world look like if that was the way we all operated?