Warrior Girl seeks Yoda for Moonlight Walks

I always loved Ben Obi Wan Kenobi, even as a little girl.  Only later would I understand Leia's attraction to Han Solo, because Yoda and Ben were my inspiration.  The way of the Jedi, the tao of the Peaceful Warrior, the path of the aikido practitioner, always appealed to me even when I didn't know there was a way, a tao, a path.  

Today I watched (again) the movie, Peaceful Warrior, based on the autobiography of Dan Millman.  The book was good, and I passed it along to others who I felt might benefit from its wisdom.  Earlier, my sweetie was watching Return of the Jedi, and I realize how much these movies have in common.  Now, years after first seeing these movies, new layers show themselves to me.  My hours of dharma talks, my years of pursuing a path, showed themselves simply.  I liked the movie better the second time.   The first time I felt a little pushed out by the masculine themes.  The second time I didn't care that I wasn't a college age gymnast, but instead a survivor of a different kind.  I had since lived through bone crushing injury, and had to let go of it all to get anything back together.  I had to become the hero in my own story. 

The hero's journey is the universal theme of these movies.   I have many more hours ahead of me, reading Joseph Campbell or watching documentaries of his work in the realm of mythos and human archetype.  Sometimes, I wonder what or where is the hero's journey for girls.  Certainly, we have our plucky heroines sprinkled through, often mirroring the ferocity of their male counterparts.  Still, outside of the path of wife/mother, the wise crone and warrior woman has not had the same celebration.  And I do find Buffy the Vampire Slayer a little cloying with the smart aleck remarks and cute outfits.  

I've recently been busting my workout to the minutes of Xena, Warrior Princess.  I loved the show when it came out some years ago, and still find it innovative and refreshing.  Admittedly, I am more a Gabrielle than a Xena.  Or maybe another kind of heroine that just wasn't really in the show.   The wisdom of the ages is flipped through their dialogue, much the way Mr Miyagi and Socrates toss their spiritual gems to the Karate Kid and Dan Millman, Yoda to an ego bound Luke.  Again and again, it is about the journey, not the goal.  Happiness is not something we acquire externally, living in the present is where it is at, all the wisdom of the universe may be found within us at any given moment if only we'd shut our chatty mind and get out of our own way.  Yada yoda yoda. 

I struggle with identifying as a warrior, yet I suppose I have always been one.  I gladly would accept identity as healer, or educator, but suppose they do not have to diminish my warrior status.  I believe in pacifism, and propose non violence, suggest mediation, and look for the middle way.  I have to periodically trip up my own ego to make sure I don't block my ability to learn, to see, to listen, to move past understanding and into living.  I receive these inputs when and how I can, and yet am the one who must set the bar for my own self guidance.  Still, I need my own Yoda.     

The wisdom of the universe- its themes and plots and mysteries- lays about in dust motes and cats' eyes and clouds alike.  It is always there to see, and yet sometimes I still get stuck in searching mode.  My journey needn't be a striving for, but a moving through.  We can only be here, now.  Repeat. 

May you find the Force within you.   


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Comment by Christopher S. Dunn on July 1, 2012 at 7:25am

I cannot tell you how many times I reference Yoda's Taoist wisdom in everyday speaking.  People will ask my opinion on the outcome of things and I'll scrunch down, purse my lips, hands together and say, "Hm.  Difficult to see.  Always in motion is the future." (I do a decent Yoda, btw)

Other times I'll hear someone say, "Well, I'll try."  And I'll rudely stop them in their tracks and blurt, "No!  There is no try.  Either do -- or do not."

I have always been combatively defensive of my self.  Being a small kid in school gives you two basic options: be mild, meek and completely at the mercy of your tormentors, or stand and swing.  I always chose to stand and swing.

I don't like to fight.  I hate it, in fact.  I hate more, however, being pushed around and bullied.  Does this make me a warrior?  Maybe.

In my studies of history, the way of the warrior was, in almost all cultures, the reticent duty of those trained in the martial arts.  A Knight was supposed to be a defender of the weak, serve truth, honor and justice, even above the commands of his king.  They were expected to be well read, intelligent, sing and recite poetry, as well as able to craft with their hands at least one thing that had no military value.

In the east, the Master of the martial skills was expected, likewise, to be schooled in diplomacy, poetry, music, writing and oftentimes were accomplished painters or gardeners.

Two vastly different cultures, both with warriors of prowess in combat, who were taught to restrain their combative skills and embrace the peaceful whenever possible.  Fighting was not glory, it was duty.  Duty to protect those who could not protect themselves from others who did not honor life, who did not respect restraint, or who thought that battle was the penultimate calling of their training.

"Yes, yes, you see now," I can hear Yoda saying.

The "Star Wars Films" (At least the first three made) were very zen-tao throughout and, given their very simple good/evil premise, didn't allow much in the way of deeper philosophical truths as hidden pearls.  Even so, however, the more experienced one grows through life, the more those pearls manifest themselves and bubble to the surface.  It cannot be helped whenever those issues are explored, no matter how lightly or deeply, because they are archetypical in and of themselves.

I do believe that you can be a Warrior and never strike a physical blow.  I believe you can be a Healer, an Educator and a Sage and still also be a Warrior.  As an example, my all time favorite band, the Moody Blues, I call Warriors Without Weapons.  They combat evil and despair through music, love and understanding.

I, too, was handed a copy of "The Peaceful Warrior," and, as instructed by he who handed it to me, gave it to someone else I deemed ready to pierce the veil of wisdom it contained.  As an aside, the man who gave it to me served in Viet Nam (and other places nearby) as a Special Forces veteran who did things he'd rather not remember as a nineteen year old kid "in country."

Somewhere, in all that, I hear the voice of Yoda, telling us all that the Force surrounds us...

Comment by Oryoki Bowl on July 1, 2012 at 11:24am

What a great reply, and yes, the warrior has many duties- it is not the drudge of soldiery or the currently and sadly celebrated butchering our young men expect to do.  The book is a bit deeper, and a recommended read for any young man at that cross roads in life . I think the way things are now, we can pretty much see a generation of young men brought up on video game fighting/obliteration, very little exposure in the way of classical education- the mythology, as well as the arts, sciences and philosophies, and almost no hope for identifying in the future.  Perhaps now would be a great time to get copies of the book and/or movie into their hands.  I would say the same for girls, but truly, most girls are not having the same sense of despair because they don't have the same warrior/hero theme to find within or to look up to.  Some of us were just born with that in there, anyhow. 

Comment by Christopher S. Dunn on July 1, 2012 at 2:28pm

Thanks Oryoki.  I think that women have sold themselves short, in the main on the score of having heroes and heroines (I hate the sexification of the distinction, but when in Rome, I must be able to speak latin to the masses) or the lack of same.  In this I mean that the entire last two to three generations of citizenry, worldwide in undustrialized nations, have been progressively anesthitized to caring, been fed a steady diet of physicality as beautiful looks, the latest fashion (which keeps changing to keep them spending) and gossip, which focuses on self as supreme.

I grant that not every child bends to this domnination, but many who do not, instead of rebelling by seeking out the other side of the coin of materialism's face, turn instead to more self destructive pursuits.  Women, especially, require a champion in this day and age.  A new Bodicea, Jon' d'Arc or Rosa Parks, who will not simply meekly submit to unwise rule for no other reason than someone else tells them to.

Perhaps one of the best and wisest things we can do is push more copies of the book and the movie the Peaceful Warrior out to those who are at least seeking more than what our corporatized commercialized citizenry are doing?  We, I firmly believe, can change the world with our actions.  I don't believe it normally changes in a single lifetime, though I do believe that, over time, we -- you, I and others of the same desires -- may be at that "crossroads" of the results of that change.

And mark me well: Women are looking just as hard for this champion, this guide to honor, integrity and strength of character as are men today.  Irrespective of whether that champion will be male or female, they are certainly looking.

Comment by koshersalaami on June 30, 2015 at 11:31pm

Regarding some of the subject matter of this post, I once studied Aikido all day every day for about a week, and the guy who managed the program and assisted the teacher was Dan Millman. I've never seen his movie. I liked his wife, though I forget her name, it's been too many years. This was in the early seventies. Either Dan or his wife, I think his wife actually, was the house director of the dorm I lived in at Oberlin my sophomore year. I knew he was an eminent gymnast but that's about it. 


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