The Path of the Sacred Warrior: Where Hero and Healer Converge

“It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.” ~ Zen parable

The garden is a metaphor for the interconnectedness of all things. Most warriors are unaware of this interconnectedness, and thus they are unaware of the garden. A warrior unaware of the garden is merely a brute — all courage, no compassion.

Unfortunately, most warriors fall under this category of unsacred warrior. They have either never become aware of the garden (out of ignorance), or they have repressed or ignored it (out of willful ignorance).

But ignorance does not get them off the hook for being connected to the garden. Everything is connected to the garden.

Sacred warriors, on the other hand, understand that the garden is foremost. They realize that the path began in the garden with birth, health, balance, and discipline; and it will end in the garden with death as compost for future health.

For the sacred warrior, the path is clear. Hero and healer must converge. It begins in the garden of mortality.

The garden of mortality:

“Warriors live with death at their side, and from the knowledge that death is with them, they draw the courage to face anything. The worst that can happen to us is that we have to die, and since that is already our unalterable fate, we are free; those who have lost everything no longer have anything to fear.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

Where the hero gathers courage and fierceness from the ashes of death, the healer gathers health and interconnectedness from the humus of death. Both unite to become the sacred warrior.

The garden of mortality (and really, the overall Garden itself) is always a dance between death and rebirth. Sacred warriors dance the dance well. They respect death. They honor mortality. They pay homage to finitude even as they respect Infinity.

Sacred warriors walk with death at their side. Death teaches them how to live. It gives them perspective. They learn how to live well in order to eventually die well. Death becomes a kind of compass they use to navigate the infinite. Their mortality is self-actualized. They are at peace with the fact that they are going to die. This peace transforms fear into fuel for fearlessness.

The garden of shadows:

“Our imagination flies—we are its shadow on the earth.” ~ Vladimir Nabokov

Where the hero integrates the shadow to transform demons into diamonds, the healer integrates the shadow to transform wounds into wisdom. Both unite to become the sacred warrior.

The garden of shadows is the ultimate existential crossroads. Sacred warriors go here to discover rebirth. It is in the garden of shadows where the all-too-common egocentric warrior dies, and the sacred warrior is born with a soul-centric perspective.

The garden of shadows is different for every warrior, but some flavor of spiritual reckoning or existential cocoon is almost always involved. Dark Nights of the Soul are prevalent. Ego death is common. Annihilation is ubiquitous.

After the cocoon, the shadow forever becomes an ally to the sacred warrior. Death and darkness are honored. Pain and grief are subsumed. Shadow and light blur into each other. Fearlessness and fierceness combine with compassion and openness to create the absolute vulnerability of High Humor.

The garden of detachment:

“Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.” ~ Frank Herbert

Where the hero practices detachment to encourage discipline and tolerance, the healer practices detachment to inspire discipline and open-mindedness. Both unite to become the sacred warrior.

The garden of detachment is a spiritual pivot for higher growth. Sacred warriors go here to learn cultivation, sharpness, and responsibility. Here, discipline is foremost.

The secret to detachment is discipline. And the secret to discipline is practice. More specifically, practice that comes from a healthy routine.

As Andy Andrews advised, “Discipline is the ability to make yourself do something you don’t want to do in order to get a result you really want to get.”

Sacred warriors inspire discipline within the routine of cultivating the garden. This routine creates growth that is detached from itself. It is divorced from the Self. A kind of growth that personifies the garden rather than the ego. This way it does not become self-serving or self-serious, and self-preservation takes a backseat to self-overcoming.

The garden of higher service:

“Strategy is a mental process in which your mind elevates itself above the battlefield. You have a sense of a larger purpose for your life, where you want to be down the road, what you were destined to accomplish. This makes it easier to decide what is truly important, what battles to avoid. You are able to control your emotions, to view the world with a degree of detachment.” ~ Robert Greene

Where the hero becomes one with all things (God) to honor the “tribe” through security and liberty, the healer becomes one with all things to heal the “tribe” through love and service. Both unite to become the sacred warrior.

Armed with Death as a compass, Shadow as an ally, and detachment as a discipline, the sacred warrior discovers the higher purpose of self-as-garden and garden-as-self.

In the garden of higher service, sacred warriors have the courage to ask themselves the difficult questions: “Does your path have heart?” “Are you living your best life?” “Does your life have purpose and meaning?” And then they have the audacity to turn those questions around on the “tribe.”

Sacred warriors both fight for the tribe and heal the tribe through the power of unconditional love. They are foremost a force of nature (the personification of the garden itself). They hold the garden up to the tribe like a mirror, reflecting both the healing and ruthless qualities of the garden. They are social levelling mechanisms of the highest order, teaching how the tribe is sick while also attempting to protect it from further sickness.

Their higher service gives their purpose a clarity that cuts through all things. Their minds are clear. Their souls are sharp. Their hearts are antifragile. With the abyss behind them, the horizon is wide open in front of them. Their love is unconquerable. Their fierceness is unrelenting. The healer waters the roots of the hero. The hero cracks open the third eye of the healer. Together they stand, vigilant in their vital safeguard of the garden.

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Gary Z McGee
Gary Z McGee
Gary 'Z' McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
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