Secret Scrolls of the Warrior Sage
Secret scrolls of the warrior sage are what I set out to find when I left for Japan in 1975 in search of the ninja. As a young man, I longed for contact with the wisdom of the ages. What if there really were special secrets guarded by generations of warriors sworn to the highest of protector ideals?
I had a hopelessly improbable goal in Japan, but I was driven by unstoppable intent. Like some tragic hero in an epic novel, I was ready to give up all in hopes of finding a master teacher who could reforge me into the man I longed to be, and I ended up plummeting through heart-tearing seasons of dark nights on my way to finding brightness.
The warrior can only become a sage in his advanced years, after all the battles have left him with deep insight into the human condition. He has witnessed courage, nobility, and virtue, along with false bravado, arrogance, and cruel righteousness. He has seen true bravely and abject cowardice. He has seen needless battles waged in rage, and he has seen leaders bow to brutes in hopes for peace but only to find slavery. He has, in the words of my own teacher’s teacher, “looked out through a veil of tears” at the horrors of what fighting struggle brings to the ones we love.
Decades earlier in his life, the Warrior Sage was most likely a Cool Young Dude exuberantly in the competition ring, or perhaps a Crisp Young Soldier marching into the field of combat, or perhaps an Intense Young Romantic swept into a rebellion or civil war forced upon him. He may have even relished the idea of testing himself in man to man combat just to see what it felt like to vanquish another in a contest of strength, will, and fighting skill.
It takes more than a life of rough encounters to turn the warrior into a sage, though. One can have much experience and yet still remain ignorant. To become warrior wisdom walking the world, one must thoroughly observe and analyze and transform as a result of the experiences. The sage earns his sagacity by facing the worst and finding the best, immersing in ugliness to learn of beauty, crawling through hell to realize heaven.
When I left America for Japan in the 1970s, I was a disillusioned black belt in my mid-20s. I had grown increasingly restless with the direction I saw martial arts taking in my homeland. Meditation-calmed young monks learning incredibly effective protector fighting skills taunted me from the Kung-Fu television series, but where was that experience in the training halls of an America in which I perceived martial arts growing flashier and shallower and shriller each year. I did not want to study with a martial arts rock star. I was looking for a warrior sage.
What are you looking for in your search for your path? How will you know when you have found the source for the answers to the burning questions churning in your heart? What do you say when others less idealistic than you smirk and ridicule your vision of all you could be? How do you reply when they urge you to sell out and join them in the smallness they live? Take heart. There are indeed some master teachers out there who welcome the intensity of your heart. Do all you can to hold your vision and prepare for just the right moment. The teacher will appear in your life ready to share, if only you stay true to the bigness of your dreams.