September 24, 2010

The Craft of the Warrior

The Craft of the Warrior by Robert L. Spencer took me a long time to read.  It was boring.  It was pedantic.  It was analytic.  There were also nuggets of great stuff every so often.

Having just finished it, the great bit at the front of my mind is the very last two pages, where Spencer discusses how to know if you've found a good teacher for yourself in your Warrior journey.  It's a beautiful description of what to look out for, and what to look for, and how to know when to stick with a teacher despite feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  Therefore, it's also a good description of what not to be, and what to be, and how to stay present for a student who is overwhelmed and anxious.

I wavered back and forth in this reading between thinking, "but I don't want to be a warrior - this isn't my path!" and "so much of the warrior's path is part of the recovery and spiritual paths I've taken in my life so far, isn't that cool!"  There is much that honestly doesn't appeal to me about the language and paradigm of warriorship.  I am not attracted at all to altered states of consciousness, "personal power", "freedom", etc.  But it's not the actuality of these things that isn't attractive - it's the . . . marketing of them.  When I read carefully and try to understand the essence of these aspects of warriorship, that essence is something that I seek and value, in slightly different ways (mostly) than any of the warrior paths Spencer is describing.  I seek serenity.  I seek awareness, acceptance, the ability to act.  I seek a path with heart.

I don't tend to seek "a mentor" much of the time.  Rather, I tend to seek a community qua mentor; a circle of elders or peers who have walked or are walking the path I've been set on, to guide me as a collective.  I wonder if this is a more feminine form of discipleship than the male teachers and authors Spencer is digesting describe.  I wonder what a consciously feminist description of warriorship would read like.  I am aware that quite a lot of what Spencer describes seems to me like it would work quite well for the men and boys in my life - the appealing aspects of warriorship as he describes them are things that I do think would appeal quite well to the masculine mindset of the males I know best.

Favorite quote (actually from Nelson Zink):  "You see, when you don't do what somebody wants you to do, that's rebellin'.  But if you do what you want to do then that's revoltin, and Boondoglgle is a revoltin' kind of mule.  He don't care so much what you think is right as he does about what he thinks is right.  Rebellin' is when you want to hurt somebody and revoltin' is when you want to help yourself.  So in a funny way, rebellin' is when you say 'no' and revoltin' is when you say 'yes.'  Rebellin' is when you fail at revoltin'.  Mules are famous critters for rebellin', but Boondoggle is famous because he's a choice-makin' mule."