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The Warrior's Solution: Passivity and Freedom

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor;
it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

           - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Freedom is not a state; it is a process. It is something you are, not something you have. In freedom, there is a continual releasing of reactive material as it arises in each moment of experience.

The reactive process doesn’t stop by itself. As Gampopa wrote eight hundred years ago in The Jewel Ornament of Liberation: samsara is notorious for being without end. Hence Dr. King’s dictum: you have to demand freedom. It must be your intention.

What is The Warrior’s Solution? It’s a way to be — to be truly present in your daily life and not be run by the expectations of the world or the demands of reactive processes. It consists of a set of power-based methods for presence.

Presence, of course, is the aim of all spiritual practice. But two problems consistently show up:

  1. Passivity in developing the level of attention that makes insight, compassion, and intention possible.

  2. Passivity in cutting through internal and external patterns of conditioning as they arise, in daily life or in meditation.

Power hammers passivity. It has to. The effectiveness of a martial art depends on your ability to be present in intentional action. You can’t be passive when your life is on the line. In spiritual practice, your very being is on the line.

Buddhism has often drawn from this source. Arhat, for instance, is one of the earliest epithets for an awake person. Literally, it means “foe-destroyer,” one who has such a level of attention that reactions are released naturally, as soon as they arise. This is freedom.

Passivity, however, is insidious. It kills your mind (your attention, your intention, and your will) without you knowing it. Internal patterns of reaction (as well as families and institutions) use various mechanisms to keep you asleep. Here, for instance, are six:

  • Marginalization: the belief system makes ideas, perspectives, or insights that threaten it seem unimportant.

  • Framing: the belief system frames your thinking so that nothing that threatens the system can be thought.

  • Seduction: the belief system presents a picture of a world that seems to fulfill your dreams.

  • Alignment: the belief system tells you that, in order to exist, be happy, or have influence, you have to conform to the belief system.

  • Reduction: the belief system freezes you by reducing complex situations to a single emotionally charged issue.

  • Polarization: the belief system limits your ability to choose by presenting issues only in terms of right and wrong, this or that.

Freedom is being awake, and being awake means not being passive with the tendencies that kill attention, intention, or will. What you experience is your life. To be free, meet experience directly, know it completely, and act without hesitation.


Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Ken McLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.