Saturday, 28 July 2012

Spiritual warfare: 1

The books of Carlos Castaneda were among the first to popularize the concept of the "Warrior Way" in the 1960s. Many modern readers and cinema-goers have also been fascinated by the spirituality of the Japanese Samurai, and the martial arts generally (bushido). George Lucas tried to capture this in his notion of "the Force" in Star Wars. Christianity has its own teachings on spiritual combat, developed most explicitly perhaps in the library of Eastern Christian writings assembled under the title Philokalia ("love of beauty").

The chivalric romances, especially the Grail legends that inspired Francis of Assisi, largely concern the preparation and conduct of the true Knight of the Spirit in the tradition of Western Christendom. Hans Urs von Balthasar dedicated his book Tragedy Under Grace to the "secular institutes" which he regarded as the modern manifestation of Christian knighthood.

Some years ago I prepared a book proposal that never got anywhere. It was for A Little Book of Spiritual Warfare. It was designed for the pocket of the spiritual warrior, and intended to be of practical use as a tool of recollection, for one of the greatest enemies on the Path of the Warrior is distraction or forgetfulness. After a brief introduction to the concept of the book and the history of spiritual combat, each page would have contained a quotation or recollection to recall the Warrior to his or her mission, or to encapsulate one of the lessons to be learnt on the Way.

Spiritual combat takes place in the midst of everyday life. It is a war to defend our interior freedom and personal integrity. We are each fighting for our immortal soul, for the True Self that we have the potential to become, and for the protection of the souls of others. From another point of view, the "war" is a Quest, and the "enemies" we face are the obstacles, challenges, and trials that lie on the path, especially the Monster or Shadow that guards the Self. After sections on the Warrior's arms and training, and on the tactics of the Enemy, the book would focus on the Mission or Quest, concluding with guidance on how to remain faithful to this teaching in everyday life.

The book was not completed, but some notes and fragments may be worth putting on record, and I intend to do this in later posts. It may be regarded as supplementary to the material on Christian spirituality in All Things Made New.

Illustration: Toshiro Mifune as Yojimbo in the movie of that name by Akira Kurosawa.

1 comment:

  1. I have been thinking about this matter too - it seems to be one of the most important omissions from modern Christianity

    I recently posted some of your reflections: