It takes the seriousness and attentiveness of a warrior to withstand the battles in life. Battles suggest struggles and fighting. It’s important to understand how we relate to such struggles so we know how to fight well.
In A Separate Reality, don Juan tells Carlos about the warrior’s spirit:
“A warrior should be prepared only to battle. His spirit is not geared to indulging and complaining, nor is it geared to winning or losing. The spirit of a warrior is geared only to struggle, and every struggle is a warrior’s last battle on earth. Thus the outcome matters very little to him. In his last battle on earth a warrior lets his spirit flow free and clear.
“The difficulty is that the mirror of self-reflection is extremely powerful and only lets its victims go after a ferocious struggle. For warrior-travelers, there is only struggle, and it is a struggle with no end.”
We can pull four important points from this:
- The struggle, the process, the journey is what’s most important, not the end result. If we value the fight itself, rather than what we’ll achieve from the fight, then we’ll be present for it and enjoy it more.
- Each struggle is our last battle on earth. Here he brings up death. By realizing and accepting that we could die during each battle, we value our struggle even more. From a mental training perspective, this means we pay more attention to the struggle. Death brings a degree of seriousness and intentionality to our fighting.
- The struggle is ferocious. We’re all rife with limitations that are constantly self-reflected to us. We need vigilance, awareness, and commitment to our fighting to loosen its grip. Therefore, we value work. We observe the mind rebel against work.
- There is only struggle with no end. This means that there really isn’t a place in the future where we arrive. We struggle moment to moment and immerse ourselves completely in it. This moment is all that ever exists. An achievement, comfort-based motivation poison our ability to keep our attention on the struggle. This tendency originates from the mind, which sees the struggle as only a means to an end. Rather, a struggle with no end changes how we use our attention. The means of the struggle is an end in itself. We fight not because it’s good for us; we fight because it gives us a feeling of being alive.
Engage the present moment as if it’s the only thing that does exist.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with setting goals. However, if we consider that there is an innate desire to grow within each of us, to actualize ourselves as human beings, then the goal is self-evident. Just as a tree naturally grows to actualize itself, human beings grow to actualize themselves. What’s important is aligning our attention so we can realize that potential. Everything happens in the present moment. Therefore, we engage the present moment as if it’s the only thing that does exist. This aligns our attention to fight the battles of life and to enjoy them for their own sake.
Warriors are “prepared only to battle,” as don Juan says, and nothing else. Aligning ourselves this way “let’s our spirit flow free and clear,” unimpeded by distracted attention toward results.
What don Juan describes is what we now call the flow state. We flow better with struggles because we actually want to be present for them. What a wonderful image that is.