This article is about the Buddhist philosophical concept. For the concept of fighting evil spirits, see Spiritual warfare.

The term spiritual warrior is used in Buddhism for one who combats the universal enemy: self-ignorance (avidya), the ultimate source of suffering according to Buddhist philosophy.[1] Different from other paths, which focus on individual salvation, the spiritual warrior's only complete and right practice is that which compassionately helps other beings with wisdom. This is the Bodhisattva ideal (the "Buddha-in-waiting"), the spiritual warrior who resolves to attain buddhahood in order to liberate others.[2][3] The term is also used generically in esotericism and self-help literature.[4]

Shakyamuni Buddha

The Agganna Sutta elaborates a history of the world in which the Buddha's monks and nuns, and the warrior caste from which the Buddha came, are superior to brahmins, who were known for class discrimination. The Buddha's Shakyan clan context was for warrior-like assembly for brahmins-bashing at that time.

The Shakyans maybe considered a warrior-dominated republican federation, called the "sangha", with an aristocratic democratic tradition comparable to the Greeks. The Buddha's father was the Speaker of their Congress. In the Buddha's day, this government system was being culturally displaced by the brahminic caste and their religious ideology. Spreading imperial monarchies were destroying the Shakyans with their military power.

The Buddha pioneered the establishment of democratic procedures for the monastic sangha, such as regular meetings with secret ballots, subcommittees and minority group rights to schism. He attempted to preserve his Shakyan clan's tradition, which was ideal for human liberation achievement. In the Agganna, the Buddha says that the monks and nuns have become "children of the Shakyans", the Enlightened One's sons and daughters, and children of the truth. The monastic Sangha was a spiritual warriors society, within a historic conflict of the brahmins struggle. They were heirs to the Buddha's warrior caste's aristocratic virtues which are related democratic progress.[5]

Tibetan origins

Tibetan monastic rule derived from a feudal warrior clan society, which was transformed into a spiritual warrior society. While the rest of the world followed feudalistic warrior development during the medieval period throughout Europe and Asia, Tibet uniquely established Lamaism. This was centered around a Buddhist social revolution originating distinctly from India's Hinduism and finding root in Tibet. The Lama (teacher) is a living Buddha for Tibetans who provides a powerful bridge between real and imaginary consciousness worlds, where the self is methodically dissolved into the whole's benefit by tantra practice.

Tibetans imported this order to help change their society to one based on education, social welfare, peaceful progress, with a self renouncing monastic class of rulers. The monastic sanga (community) were supported and organized like a military; however, they were set on a self-discovery yogic mission for reconnaissance to perfect and develop methods in eliminating ego suffering.

Tibetan Buddhists advanced a form of non-hereditary succession of title and land based on reincarnation, which presented living proof that their methods succeeded by extraordinary means. It also ensured that young leaders were well-trained in the monastic canon and it avoided deadly heir feuds seen in the heritable practices within feudalism. Tibetan monastics eschewed materialistic and economic progress for want of virtual visualizations. Monastic warriors were focused on accepting and perpetuating life in contrast to defending or attacking it.

In a highly celebrated and unique victory, Tibetan monastic warriors overcame the native Bon practices which then encompassed services for all of life's needs (birth, marriage, healthcare, death and spirit exorcism) by incorporating them into their own practices. New Buddhist spiritual technology was integrated with the existing Bon methods, as contrasted with oppression methods seen in other warrior techniques. Transformation and re-purposing of military-warrior symbolism and strategy into new codified tactics within Buddhist practice was a recurring metaphorical theme.

The society flourished to produce one of the best assemblies of peaceful enlightened self-knowledge known to human kind. When modern Chinese communist military economic industrial forces swept into dismantle and uproot it based on monarchic upheaval, this caused a spread of the seeds of this spiritual warrior way throughout the rest of world, which are now taking root in new democratic forms. Displaced Tibetans tend to remain loyal to their exiled leaders and lineage of teachers.[6]

Chogyam Trungpa

Chogyam Trungpa teaches the way of the spiritual warrior.[7] In 1976, Trungpa established the Shambhala Training program on spiritual warrior-ship grounded in sitting meditation practice. The Sacred Path of the Warrior is Trungpa's book which embodies the practice.[8]

“Warrior-ship here does not refer to making war on others. Aggression is the source of our problems, not the solution. Here the word “warrior” is taken from the Tibetan “pawo,” which literally means, “one who is brave.” ... "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."

The spiritual warrior archetype helps to constructively answer questions about aggression and competition with a healthy direction. Unlike the soldier character, the spiritual warrior is in touch with the joy, the sadness, the expansiveness in their heart; able to share and give it to others. The warrior knows about death and seizes the day. They have learned to let go with forgiveness and avoids chasing others in revenge. The warrior commits to growing the heart and soul in becoming a creative being. The warrior serves in love of strangers and gives generously while giving to themselves. The spiritual warrior seeks to change others with rational and compassionate decision-making in service of a higher goal.[9]

See also


  1. Pine, Red (2002), "The Diamond Sutra" Counterpoint, p. 404, ISBN 978-1582432564
  2. Murdock, Maureen (1990), "The Heroine's Journey", Shambhala, June 23, 1990, p11, ISBN 0-87773-485-2
  3. Novic, Rebecca (2012), "Fundamentals of Tibetan Buddhism", Random House Digital, Inc., Feb 15, 2012. "The Bodhisattva ... Tibetans regard this figures as a cosmic spiritual warrior." ISBN 978-0-307-81397-8
  4. Oddo, Richard J ('A spiritual warrior') (1990), "Sharing of The Heart", Self-Published, 1989, ISBN 0-945637-02-0
  5. Huges, J."Beginnings and Endings: The Buddhist Mythos of the Arising and Passing Away of the World" in Buddhist Perceptions of Desirable Societies in the Future eds. Sulak Sivaraksa. IRCD: Bangkok, Thailand. 1993 [1]
  6. Thurman, Robert AF, "Essential Tibetan Buddhism", Castle Books, 1997, pp 1-46 ISBN 0-7858-0872-8
  7. Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann, Spiritually and Practice Book Review on Trungpa, Chogyam, "Smiling at Fear", Shambhala, November 2009, ISBN 978-1-59030-696-3 [2]
  8. Trungpa, Chogyam, "True Perception: The Path of Dharma Art", Shambhala, November 11, 2008, ISBN 1-59030-588-4 [3]
  9. Fox, Matthew (2008), "The hidden spirituality of men" Ode Magazine, October 2008, [4]

Further reading

  • "Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior" by Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala, March 12, 1988, ISBN 0-87773-264-7
  • "The Spiritual Warrior: An Interdimensional Technique Manual" by Shakura Rei, Rodney Charles, Sunstar Publishing Ltd., August 1, 1998, ISBN 188747228
  • "Spiritual Warrior: The Art of Spiritual Living" by John-Roger, Mandeville Press, December 1, 1997, ISBN 0-914829-36-X
  • "Everyday Enlightenment: How to Be a Spiritual Warrior at the Kitchen Sink" by Venerable Yeshe Chodron, Harper Collins Publishers PTY Limited, September 1, 2006, ISBN 0-7322-7607-1

External links

  • Rosen, Richard, "The Diamond Sutra: The Perfection of Wisdom by Red Pine", Yoga Journal [5]
  • Grant, Kara-Leah (2009), "How yoga has the power to transform and release avidya (self-ignorance)", The Yoga Lunch Box, October 13, 2009 [6]

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