What Is a Spiritual Warrior?

Published June 22, 2022 by tindertender

By Richard John

In the Buddhist tradition, a spiritual warrior is someone who longs to attain complete spiritual realization so they can help others do the same and in so doing bring an end to all their suffering, and indeed, to all the suffering in this world.
This is profound love and compassion steeped in wisdom, the kind of compassion that includes, but goes beyond good acts alone.

Some people feel averse to the word “warrior,” including me. But it has a precise meaning in this context: It means to courageously confront and overcome negative thoughts, emotions, and actions as well as misplaced notions about reality. It means to train in altruism, until it comes naturally for whomever you meet.

As a spiritual warrior, we vow to meet our own habits, patterns, and demons in a vigorous and determined way, as if we are doing battle with them. This doesn’t mean we’re hostile or violent. I always encourage people to be gentle with themselves. But it is a dedicated effort to consistently confront and address our own faults, remember our inherent goodness, and express our love and compassion to others.

These are some ways a spiritual warrior thinks and acts:

A spiritual warrior understands that we all want and deserve happiness and at the same time, no one wants to suffer. But often our actions are contrary to our aims. We go about trying to achieve happiness in confused and superficial ways, like accumulating excessive amounts of material possessions, which often leads to dissatisfaction instead of the happiness we seek.

A spiritual warrior trains in awakening profound compassion and living from that heart-centered place in their thoughts, words, and actions. At first, her sense of compassion might be just a tiny seed. That’s okay. She gradually waters and nourishes the seed until she’s able to extend her compassion to a wider and wider circle, not just her friends.

A spiritual warrior centers her action in the knowledge that the world and its inhabits actually are impermanent, interdependent, and subject to cause and effect (karma).

A spiritual warrior is centered in her highest self. She goes out of her way to help others however she can, but also uses discernment so her efforts aren’t ineffective, inappropriate, or ill-advised.

A spiritual warrior understands the need to eradicate self-cherishing, the feeling that she is more important than anyone else, in order to dismantle the false sense of a permanent self. It’s the clinging to a sense of permanent self and all the likes and dislikes that bring unnecessary suffering into your life. Helping others is one of the best ways to gradually dissolve an over focus on the self.

A spiritual warrior helps without expecting reward, praise, or acknowledgement.

A spiritual warrior helps even when it’s hard. For example, it may not be your first choice to sit and talk with a lonely, elderly relative, but you’re willing to give of yourself to bring a glimmer of joy or connection into someone else’s life. This isn’t martyrdom if it’s centered in the bigger perspective.

A spiritual warrior doesn’t act out of guilt, shame, or a desperate need to be loved, but from a profound understanding of the interconnectedness of all life.

A spiritual warrior focuses on both the inner and outer dimensions. She works with her own mind to change unhealthy patterns, transform negative emotions, and dismantle false beliefs about herself and the world. She also practices positive emotions like love and compassion to relieve the suffering of others and help them realize their full spiritual potential, as best she can.


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