So in the last post, I spoke a whole lot about purpose… but what is it really?
Purpose and intent go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other because this duality allows you to simultaneously be yourself and project yourself. But first, you need to define your purpose.
How do you do this?
I ended the first post about balance through awareness by mentioning going to ‘war’, which is where the journey toward purpose begins.
Warrior: someone experienced or engaged in warfare
This word evokes our imaginations and some pretty strong feelings when someone mentions it. Warrior.
You may picture a gigantic man with wild hair, bulging biceps, a huge battle ax, and a kick-ass horned helmet!
Or you might see a slightly more graceful image of the austere samurai with his curved leather armor and bright shining katana slicing sparks into your eyes.
Then, there’s the image of a noble Indigenous man out on the Northern Plains with the wind twirling a feather in his long black hair; an image people in the United States are all too familiar with.
Being a warrior is an archetype that exists in every culture, and is also at the core of what it means to be a complete person in the culture that affected me the most. Niitsitapi have always been a warrior people.
I realized long ago that I must maintain a baseline of humility about this word. It has so many meanings that depend on many things, including; where you come from, what culture shaped you, and what language you speak.
If I don’t maintain humility it’s too easy to let my individual myopia turn into a debilitating dogma. That kind of thing just tends to get in the way of me being me.
So, I do my best to keep a sense of openness to other interpretations of this word… warrior.
In my life, every warrior’s intention is to take care of their loved ones, defend the weak and the poor and the sick, and to never stop trying. But the first and most important war is not against an external foe of any kind.
No, those are only distractions.
Outside forces can only stimulate an internal response, they are not the source of that response. And that is where the war begins.
There’s an old saying that goes, “The true enemy is within.” Now, that saying has been said so many times it’s become a cliche, and cliches are cliche for a reason. They’re pretty close interpretations of the truth.
But cliches aren’t the truth, your self is the truth. Who you think you are, or who other people tell you-you are, is not true. It’s an interpretation of the truth.
Humans are experts at interpreting the truth, and we’ve created a beautiful diversity of languages, cultures, and religions to express that gift. It’s like we’re the unwitting masters of our own perceptions.
Most people go unaware of this ability, which is a tragedy because it is such an extraordinary ability to have.
This ability to mold your reality begins and ends each of the cycle humans go through in order to grow. Awareness, mindfulness, and presence are all expressions of this same reality, which is where our creative genius can truly flourish.
Cultures across the planet have this in common, some kind of awareness practice. Meditation, yoga, Tai-chi, and Kung-fu all teach awareness and bring people into a certain state. Even the ancient Greeks taught things like self-awareness when the Delphic oracle said ‘know thy self’.
It takes awareness to start your journey, and you expand your awareness when you return. And we are masters of creation.
Our creative spirit is what seeded every piece of technology, the art we admire, the literature we study, the religions we believe, philosophies we follow, cultures we practice, languages we speak, games we play, architecture, music, learning, entrepreneurship.
All of it started in awareness, and it’s in awareness where you can find direction and balance with this extraordinary gift.
Without direction and without balance we can all become negative creators, where we only destroy and never build. With the light there is always darkness, with pain there is comfort, fear… love.
Just like everything else in the Universe, there’s an apparent duality to being a master creator, and awareness is where you begin participating in it all.
Awareness gives you the ability to look deep within yourself. You can then decide how you want to look without yourself. Will you spread love, and be a creator of positivity? Or will you spread fear, and create only negativity?
Throughout history, there have been creators of both types, and you can see the results of their creativity in the world. I will tell a story of how being a warrior is much more than just a way of life, it’s an every day, every choice, every moment, every action way of being.
A warrior’s first goal is not to win the wars outside but to always wage battle against the liar inside you that tells you not to be yourself.
Like a parasite, this enemy clings to you and drains away who you could have been, piece by piece. It’s that liar that instills fear and tells you that you aren’t perfect just the way you are…
the little punk inside that tells you things like “you’re out of her league”…
the liar that judges you when you make a mistake and then keeps on reminding you about it well after you’ve made it…
it’s the liar that tries and tries to keep you down so you DON’T express your inner bad-ass.
But guess what?
Warriors don’t let these liars win.
Over 2000 years ago, a book called The Art of War was written on military strategy. Even today, it’s studied by military experts, entrepreneurs, and corporate CEO’s.
In this ancient text, Sun Tzu talked about the importance of knowing yourself and this enemy when he said,
“If you know the enemy and you know yourself you need not fear the results of 100 battles.”
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
Who’s this enemy Sun Tzu speaks of? Or this liar that I’m calling a parasite?
Not that instinctual, knee-jerk reaction you have when there’s danger. You know, the oh-shit-there’s-a-lion-in-the-bushes kind of fear. That’s natural survival instinct.
I’m talking about the crippling state you put yourself in when your mind has attached itself to something in such a powerful way that you tell yourself lies to avoid the truth that’s right in front of you.
It’s the state of mind and body that you’re in when you worry about the future, or about something that doesn’t even exist yet.
It’s that thing inside you that stops you from talking to that cute guy or girl you have a crush on.
It’s where you find yourself when rage takes over after you’ve made up a story about someone else, without ever asking them about the assumptions that created that story.
These reactions are rooted in fear, and it is toxic
If left unchecked, it can infect your entire existence. Eventually, this fear can take over so completely that the person is gone and only the fear remains.
The liar wins the war.
But how do you fight back? How do you win the war?
How can a person possibly know the self?
The answer is simple, but it’s not easy. It’s action.
Another ancient Chinese proverb goes like this, “A journey of 1000 leagues begins with one step.”
You just have to DO something, but what you do and how you do it depends on your intent.
Always remember your awareness. It brings you back to balance and helps you connect with your intention… how you project yourself into the world.
As you wage this internal war you will begin to ask more and more questions. How you fight this war depends on where you focus your intention, and this is impossible to participate in without awareness.
But it doesn’t really matter who your fighting or what the battleground is like unless you know why you’re at war in the first place.
Every war is about freedom.
The city of Rome started countless wars, justified in the name of defending their republic. Napoleon Bonaparte began his conquests among the flames of Revolutionary France, using that fire to spark chaos across Europe to lay the road for his unprecedented military campaigns that followed. Then, over a century later, Nazi Germany used the idea of a superior race to justify mass genocide.
All of these wars were extremely violent but were also about freedom.
Rome wanted to take other people’s freedom to ‘protect’ its own. Napoleon used the ideals of freedom to justify his wars in Italy and to gain the fervent following of his people. Hitler used American eugenic policies in order to justify murdering millions of people so he could ‘free’ the Aryan race.
Wars of freedom have taken many forms over the ages and were not always so destructive or violent to the people involved.
The radical changes that Mahatma Gandhi brought to the world toppled the largest empire the planet had ever seen in order to free his people. Although violence did occur, the revolution in India came from a baseline of non-violence.
Martin Luther King Jr went to war against an establishment centuries in the making to bring freedom to an entire population of people. He lead a movement that freed people in their hearts and minds, as well as socially and politically.
The Serbian youth movement Otpor! helped bring the genocidal dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic to an end through non-violent protests and by using humor as a fundamental principle of the movement.
All of these revolutions succeeded in establishing some form of freedom by using non-violence instead of violence. Light instead of dark… Life over death.
But, there’s a tragic story that seems to repeat itself throughout history.
It’s the story that plays itself out in the form of revolutions that fail after violence takes over.
Although it officially started in the 60s, the American Indian Movement (AIM) is a struggle that can trace its history back hundreds of years to the first contact between Europeans and Indigenous peoples. The conflict between the colonial powers of Europe and the hundreds of different peoples throughout the Americas created a social and political context that screamed loudly for change. When it all came to its violent climax at Wounded Knee, South Dakota in February of 1973, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was in an armed standoff with indigenous activists who were fighting for religious, social, and political freedom.
Meanwhile, people in the United States had begun to forget about the ‘American Indian’, while Hollywood continued to portray an entire continent of peoples in whatever way was popular.
During all of this, a young indigenous woman stood up at the 1973 Academy Awards Ceremony and spoke briefly about the fight for freedom that was happening at Wounded Knee as they all sat there receiving awards.
She shocked the nation with her speech and touched many hearts.
Unfortunately, the movement fell apart. Not because it lacked merit or wasn’t just, but because it turned violent.
Using fear is a lose-lose scenario. It always comes back to bite you in the end.
After the stand-off concluded, the violence only escalated. The murder rate in the area increased to double that of Detroit, the so-called “Murder Capital of America”.
Indigenous peoples in the United States would eventually see more social and religious freedom, but due to the efforts of non-violent activists, scholars, philosophers, and leaders. The violent aspects of the American Indian Movement resulted in more violence.
No matter what war it was, it can always be traced back to the fight for freedom.
But again, what is freedom?
It’s up to you to discover the principles that are specific to your life, and it is your responsibility to interpret them for the sake of your own clarity.
There are concepts that I’ve discovered on my own journey, and I offer them to you as guideposts.
First, there are 5 principles that must be addressed.
Awareness, balance, purpose, intent, and action are the fundamental Principles of Clarity. Upon these fundamentals, there are values that help support the entire foundation of human experience. The first value is also the first question on a warrior’s path… freedom.
For my next blog post, I’ll introduce freedom and just how valuable it is to gaining clarity.
Stay Strong Everyone