Episode Fifty: The Warrior Going Forward
In today’s episode, we’ll attempt to bring all the threads of this series together — Spartans and Athenians, Alexander the Great, Arjuna and Krishna, the concept of the Inner War, and evolution of the Archetypes.
Don’t worry, there will be more episodes going forward, in which we’ll dig even more deeply into this amazing and fascinating subject.
Thanks for sticking with us!
This is our final episode in our Warrior Archetype series. Let’s see if we can pull all the threads together and make this come to a conclusion that makes sense.
Now, we started with the ancient Spartans at Thermopylae, particularly at Thermopylae, as a representative of the purest expression of the warrior archetype in the sense of a battle that was entirely defensive against overwhelming odds for a noble cause. We moved on from the Spartans and their whole culture of warrior-hood to Alexander and his conquests, and we said that while the Spartans were the supreme example of the collective expression of the warrior archetype, that Alexander was the supreme expression of an individual, warrior, and king.
Then as we got into Alexander’s conquests, we began to enter a kind of a dark area, an area of massacres and depopulations of entire regions and of the conquest of taking over and subjugating people against their will. We began to see that the warrior archetype in and of itself needed something more, a moral dimension. That it could lead to pure evil.
Then we talked about the Bhagavad Gita. We talked about Krishna and the great warrior, Arjuna, and the idea that the warrior virtues of courage, fidelity, obedience patience, love of one’s comrades, the willing embracing of adversity could be used to fight not just against exterior enemies, but to fight the inner war against the enemies inside ourselves.
The enemies of arrogance, greed, and ego, and complacency, and all of those other things that would stop us from evolving to our higher nature. Then we talked about the concept of the archetypes themselves, that this came from Jungian psychology and the idea that our brain when we entered this planet, this material dimension, was not a blank slate, but contained a kind of software. And in that software were these kinds of super personalities that embedded themselves into our consciousness and kind of dominated us from time to time as we evolve.
For instance, starting from youth, the divine child, the youth, the virgin, the wanderer, getting up to the one we’re talking about, the warrior, and moving beyond the warrior archetype to the father, the mentor, the teacher, the artificer and on up to the highest archetypes, the king, the sage and the mystic. What’s interesting to me in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna and Arjuna, was we were talking about two completely different archetypes, Arjuna representing the warrior archetype and Krishna, i.e. God in human form, representing the highest archetype, the divine archetype.
From there, we talked about the way a human being matures from archetype to archetype, according to Jungian psychology, and the idea being that as one archetype succeeds another, we move through those, and that one archetype is higher than another as we evolve. As the king, the sage and the mystic are higher than the warrior and the youth, and the virgin, and the wanderer. We also made the point that the virtues of the lower archetypes, as we evolve beyond it, stay with us and become the foundation for the next archetype.
For instance, the virtues that we talked about that were so positive in the warrior, aggressiveness, fidelity, courage, obedience, the willing embracing of adversity, love for one’s brothers stay with us as we evolve into the teacher, the mentor, the king, the sage and the mystic.
So how can we wrap this whole thing up? What to me becomes the key question in the warrior archetype is what happens when it goes wrong? Because we can see that many of us live in the warrior archetype today. Anybody that’s heavily into fitness, into anything military, first responders, police, anybody that is an individual governed by discipline and aspiration is in the warrior archetype. And this can go definitely wrong when it’s not governed by some kind of moral restraint. For instance, the soldier becomes the stormtrooper and the commander becomes the tyrant or the despot. And how do we control that within the warrior archetype?
I was watching “Game of Thrones” the other night and there’s a wonderful scene towards the end of it, the second to last episode, I think, where Jaime Lannister knights Brienne of Tarth. If you haven’t seen it, I’ll tell you the gist of it. He does that thing with the sword that queen Elizabeth does when she knights somebody where she’s kneeling before him. “Brienne”, he says- and puts the sword on one shoulder, and he says, “May the warrior give you courage.” And he touches her on another shoulder, “May the father give you justice.” And he touches her on the other shoulder and says, “May the mother guide you to protect the innocent.” And what he’s talking about here, those three are archetypes. He’s calling upon these archetypes to integrate a moral dimension, the moral dimension of protecting the innocent, which sounds great.
Unfortunately, we have seen whenever there’s anything like genocide, and when the warrior archetype runs amok, what happens is the people who are being persecuted by this warrior archetype, the Gestapo or the stormtroopers, Stalin’s secret police, you name it, they are not thinking of the people they’re rounding up and sending to extermination camps as the innocent. They’re thinking of their own people as the innocents and those people that they’re rounding up as the devil in some form or another. So, when I think of that in moral terms, I say, how can we get around that? Invoking the archetypes doesn’t seem to work in the warrior situation. So, to me, what gives me hope and what I’m trying to bring this whole series around to, is that when we mature beyond the warrior archetype and we move on to the mentor, the father or mother, the king, the sage, or the mystic, we move to a higher level in terms of inclusiveness.
The warrior archetype by its own is an ego-driven archetype. It’s a tribal archetype. It’s an “us versus them” archetype where we say the bad guys are out there, we’re the good guys, we’re gonna take it to the bad guys. But when we move beyond the warrior archetype, when we mature to the next stages our thinking becomes more inclusive. And we move out of the realm of the ego into the greater Self, with a capital ‘S’, and we begin to be able to see the other, our enemies, our former opponents as human beings like ourselves. And we begin to be inclusive and to have compassion and empathy for those other than ourselves. And hopefully we move beyond just our former enemies into the environment, the planet, the future generations. And in those higher archetypes, we begin to be able to act with true moral virtue, beyond the simple warrior virtue of kicking butt on the enemy.
So that to me is my hope for the future as far as what the warrior archetype can evolve to. But beyond that, I find myself coming back again and again to the Bhagavad Gita and to Krishna’s instruction of Arjuna. Remember, this is the archetype of the warrior being instructed by the archetype of the divine. And what the divine is saying to the warrior is, take these virtues, courage, patience, love for one’s brothers, the willing embracing of adversity and turn them not against external enemies but the enemies inside yourself, the inner wars, what we’re now talking about. And in my own life, I feel I’ve been fighting the inner war for a long time. And I’m thinking of friends of mine right now. People coming back from deployments, people who are stuck evolving from one place to another, and they’re fighting that inner war too against the dark side of themselves, against the side of themselves that wants to be lazy, that wants to be complacent, that’s ego-driven, that wants to take things out on other people, that wants to hate, that wants to be narrow-minded.
And so my hope to myself and to everybody who’s watching this is that we can take the warrior virtues that originally were meant outward and bring them inward to fight the inner war of evolving to our own higher natures. I’ve been sitting here with this, a replica of a Roman Gladius on my lap, and this is really the symbol of the warrior archetype. But a sword can mean a lot of things and metaphorically, it can mean that which cuts between the evil and the good, that which cuts between folly and wisdom, that which cuts between ego-driven and self-driven activity. So my prayer for myself and for all of us is that we as warriors can learn to use this sword to fight the inner war and to fight the war that brings us to our higher nature and out of our lower.
Thank you for participating in this, for sticking with me through all this. We’ll be doing more in other areas, but for now this is our conclusion of the warrior archetype series.