“The warrior’s approach is to say ‘yes’ to life: ‘yea’ to it all.”
In Part 1 of this series, “What is Inner Peace?,” we learned that inner peace is revealed when we receive all of our experience without resistance. The path to peace is actually quite radical. It means turning our attention inward to become conscious of everything that arises – thoughts, physical sensations, emotions. It is the end of unconscious habits and unexamined belief systems. It is a ruthless longing to know the deepest truth about everything, to question, to investigate, and to persevere until we are no longer affected by anything that arises. No more clinging or avoiding, we are free of attachments to situations, people, even life itself. And in this process, triggers naturally release and emotional knots unravel. Life flows with whatever happens, and we are free.
Realizing peace requires a commitment beyond all commitments – wanting to know the truth so completely that we take the risk of losing everything. This is not a journey for the lackadaisical or those willing to accept the status quo. It is a journey into the unknown where everything we take to be true is up for grabs. It requires the qualities of the warrior.
Willingness means we are ready, available, and open. It exemplifies the tenacity of the warrior. As we investigate all our stories and emotional and thought patterns, we invariably come up against strong conditioning. Like a train barreling down the tracks, our habits take control, driven by forces we are unaware of.
We need to be so willing to investigate everything, to want to see these patterns and drill down to the essential truth, that our conditioning cannot continue. Investigating deeply held habits is not about fighting with them. It is about wanting to know them so much that the clenched fist of the habit begins to relax. This is the power of the truth.
Courage is the warrior’s ability to face difficulty despite the presence of fear. At bottom, fear fuels all of our conditioned tendencies that take us away from peace. We’re afraid of succeeding or of failing. We fear committing to a relationship or being alone. We have addictions which are motivated by fear of what we will discover if the addictive behavior should cease. We fear death, weakness, the unknown, emptiness, loss. And each of these fears instigate strategies and manipulations so we can keep ourselves feeling safe.
True peace comes only when these deepest fears are brought out from the shadows and welcomed into the light of awareness. And this requires courage: the ability to turn our attention directly to that which we most wish to avoid, to know fear intimately – its nuanced manifestation in our thoughts and bodies – and to welcome it in the most loving embrace.
Warriors don’t blame, accuse, or identify themselves as a victim. They take responsibility by seeing all their reactions as an opportunity to know themselves more deeply. There is no focus on what the other should have done or what should have happened as, frankly, this is a waste of time. Warriors teach us to take things are they are and accept them as is.
When a situation arises that brings about an inner reaction, taking responsibility means bringing our attention directly to it and welcoming it with tenderness and compassion. Say you feel stressed. Investigate what that experience of stress is like, what it is made up of, and allow each component to be as it is. You might notice bodily sensations such as tension, vibration, tingling. Meet them as if for the first time and be curious to know them more fully. Putting your attention here opens up the pathless path, the way to peace that is never not here.
Warriors stay with it until the job is done. They don’t give in to their urges to give up or complain that it’s too painful. On the journey to discovering peace, we commonly wake up to notice that we have been lost in a conditioned pattern and all our good intentions to be aware have fallen by the wayside. This is a key moment, a choice point, with the choices being: demean yourself and create a story about how you will never “get it” – or take a breath, reconnect with your true heart’s desire, and welcome in your experience in this moment. The decision is ours, always available to us.
Warriors sacrifice themselves for a greater purpose. Sacrifice means to surrender, give up, or let go of something we desire or love. This ruthless path to peace asks us to let go of our individual wants, including our strategies, defenses, and expectations. We try to preserve a sense of control by wanting what we want out of other people, situations, even ourselves. Have you noticed that what we desire can bear little resemblance to what we actually get?
On this journey, we recognize the futility of holding on to our personal desires and the way in which they distance us from peace. For peace is not to be attained at some future time. It is revealed as eternally present, here right now, once our attention moves away from reinforcing personal habits and needs. It has nothing to do with any effort to sustain ourselves. Peace comes with the end of all strategies – letting go of the need for security, belonging, power, connection – and surrendering into the flow of life, being, which can be completely trusted to provide us with exactly what we need.
Living in the Unknown
Just as a warrior charges into battle not knowing what the outcome will be, when we live in surrender to life, we live in the unknown. The activities of the mind – categorizing, planning, predicting, imagining – attempt to structure reality so we think we know what to expect. Our minds partake in all sorts of mental gymnastics with the goal of quelling our most fundamental fear – the fear of dissolution, of death.
Meeting the fear of death directly, of losing everything including our own lives, reveals silence, peace, the essence of life itself. Our personal lives are seen as manifestations of the whole, like a wave emerging from the ocean. Life as the impersonal flow takes us where it will. Our fear-based efforts have very little to do with what it offers us. When we surrender into the unknown, every single arising is seen as so very precious and everything is received as is. Love is. Truth is. And peace beyond peace is revealed.