The following fourteen points comprise what we call ‘the Code of the Conscious Warrior’. It’s a given that one could find more than fourteen salient points for such an outline. In the interest of conciseness, we’ve kept it to fourteen. These points are sufficiently strong and inclusive that we believe they comprise a list that is complete unto itself.
MAKE YOUR WORD GOOD
Say what you mean and mean what you say. In many wisdom traditions the ‘word’ is regarded as sacred and all-powerful. Many forms of mysticism, from the highest types of meditation and prayer, to the lower forms of elemental magic, rely on focused usage of sacred words. In the New Testament, John’s gospel makes direct reference to the power of the ‘Word’ in the ultimate spiritual sense. Psychologically, good communication in life is essential for success and well-being. That does not mean that we mechanically ‘tell the truth’ in all circumstances in life. Some circumstances may require us to be the ‘Sly Man’. But as a general rule of thumb, truthfulness in life accords with living a life of power and integrity. A man who habitually speaks out of both sides of his mouth is rarely trustworthy. The most recommended mode of communication for men—especially with other men—is straight and direct. Bluntness, without being gratuitously rude, is also masculine and when tinged with good will or humor can be very effective. Men do not need to excessively take care of each other’s feelings. Direct communication, the vast majority of times, is more helpful for others—and ourselves—than is avoidance, triangulation (going through someone else), or sugar-coating. More to the point, make your own word in life count. Do not commit to something unless you are reasonably sure about your decision, but when you do, make your commitment count.
Be mindful. Explore your darker depths. Have a sadhana, some sort of discipline of working on yourself (meditation, psychotherapy, etc.). Here again, balance is necessary. While a common problem with men from the earlier generations (born roughly before 1935) was resistance to looking at themselves (it was thought strange, or even unmanly, to undergo psychotherapy), a more common problem for modern men involved in transformational work is over-processing; that is to say, excessive focus on feelings at the expense of taking action in life. So while it is recommended, and even necessary, for any conscious man to do his therapy, this needs to be balanced with a pro-active attitude toward life.
In addition to psychotherapy, meditation is a very good tool for the Conscious Warrior. There are many varieties of meditation, but the most basic is mindfulness—the practice of being directly aware of whatever it is that you are experiencing in the moment. A Conscious Warrior sustains (and builds) energy by not wasting it in excessive and pointless inner dialogue. Meditation trains the mind to become more present and less inclined to drifting off into disconnected fantasies or daydreams.
TRAIN YOUR BODY
Martial arts, a regular gym regiment, yoga, and so forth. A weak physical body, provided you’re not dealing with a particular medical issue, is usually a symptom of laziness and fear of life. A conscious warrior is not a lazy man. He may have off days and brief lazy periods, but he is never ruled by laziness. A trained and healthy body is a superb ally in life. The ‘hard’ martial arts—karate, tae kwon do, Muay Thai, kick-boxing—are very good for younger men who are aggressive by nature. The ‘middling’ martial arts—such as wushu (kung fu)—are good for most kinds of men. The ‘soft’ (or inner) martial arts (tai chi, qi gong), are good for middle-aged or older men, or men who are not in rugged condition.
“Say what you mean and mean what you say.”
FIND YOUR TRUE CALLING
Discover your highest purpose in life—your work. But not just any work. The task is to do the work you are most passionate about. For a man, work is crucial, but even more crucial is discovering your True Calling. In life, your TC is #1, everything else is #2. (You may have more than one True Calling in life, but these generally unfold one at a time. Avoid attempting to explore too many ‘True Callings’ at once, else you remain a jack of all trades and master of none). Working toward your TC does not mean that you neglect your survival needs. Move toward your TC responsibly.
DO NOT FIGHT DOWN
Be honorable. Do not abuse your powers and strengths by gratuitously dominating lesser men or women. When appropriate, protect those weaker than yourself. In particular, avoid ‘keeping score’ battles with women. In addition, avoid picking fights with men (or women) you deem stronger or more advanced than yourself merely as a way of proving yourself. It’s a bad policy that rarely works out. (It only ‘works out’ when the ‘stronger’ person is obviously corrupt. But even there, caution is recommended and rash actions are not—it’s usually wiser to just turn away and leave).
In general, face into the fires of life (except when it is clearly wiser to turn away). Do not avoid life.
Avoid being overly reactive in life. This especially applies to your relationships with women. Listen and be patient, strong, and resolute, and practice not taking things personally, again, particularly with women. Space is a crucial element in relationship—it can be understood as the natural counterpart to passionate expression. The latter is needed for closeness and intimacy, but it is space that allows for individual development and the ability of two people to enjoy both connectedness and individuality at the same time. For a conscious warrior space is important because it is what allows for his deeper connection to the cosmos outside of his own egocentricity. To ‘hold space’ may sound odd—how does one ‘hold’ something that is nothing? In this context ‘holding space’ refers to not just the art of letting go with correct timing, but also a sensitive attuning to the realities of another person.
BE PASSIONATE AND COMPASSIONATE
Learn to distinguish between the two. They are like fire and water—perfect compliments, but if mixed indiscriminately, they amount only to steam (hot air). A man who drowns his passion with excessive compassion is usually ineffectual (too much of a nice guy). Likewise, a man who exercises passion but is weak in compassion becomes too self-centered and arrogant and sooner or later suffers accordingly when his pride gets busted by life. Mastering the balance between passion and compassion is the secret alchemy of true masculinity.
LEARN, STUDY, TRAIN
Never rest on your laurels. Study the deepest thinkers from history. Capacity to reason clearly is a masculine trait, and works best when supported by the humility and curiosity to learn from those great minds that came before you. To quote Isaac Newton, stand on the shoulders of giants, instead of trying to prematurely become a giant yourself. Learn from older role model figures. (A ‘role model’ need not be perfect—some of their flaws may even be obvious to you—but the idea is to learn from them the trade they are good at. Gurdjieff, who was a master of many things, once spent an afternoon patiently and respectfully studying and watching an old man who was fashioning a carpet with a particular tool. He wanted to learn the secret of the tool, so for that period of time the old carpet maker was his ‘master’ and Gurdjieff’s attitude was one of a polite and humble student).
“Never rest on your laurels”
SERVE A CAUSE GREATER THAN YOURSELF
You will always be able to find one. When you yourself become that cause, the universe will support you by sending you worthy lieutenants. If it doesn’t, it means you are not yet ready.
PENETRATE LIFE WITH YOUR SOLAR ENERGY
Be decisive, pro-active, take initiatives, get off your lazy butt. Masculine energy is Solar Energy—at its best, it radiates and generates productive energy. Move out into life with confidence and boldness. Move beyond the fear of penetration while keeping your heart open. Cultivate a passionate and healthy work ethic.
BE IN INTEGRITY
Be honorable in your business dealings.
Do not avoid relationships. Stay connected to the important people in your life, and to the World at large. Include your physical body in this. Online connecting, while useful in many ways, is no substitute for embodied interrelating. Get together with people. Failing that, talk to them. Practice being present when relating. The greatest gift an older man can give a younger man is to demonstrate active curiosity or interest in him. Practice this ‘older man’ attentiveness even if you are a young man.
BE RESPONSIBLE TO YOUR FAMILY
Be a responsible son, parent, grandparent, brother, uncle, husband, boyfriend, grandson, cousin, brother-in-law. Be good to family members and stay in relationship with them if at all possible. You were not born accidentally into your family, and your children were not born accidentally to you. In many ways family are your deepest mirrors and among the most significant lessons in your life. And you will never be able to trade them in like a used car or a short-term lover, so get used to them.