“The hardest thing in the world is to assume the mood of a warrior.” Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan
As warriors, we want to perfect our spirits, so achieving the mood of a warrior is our top priority.
My bet is that you have learned that our moods are self-generated and that you can choose to live in a splendid mood even when you’re facing challenges.
If so, you have also learned how difficult it is to sustain a splendid mood.
We have a hard time taking responsibility for our moods
The condition of our spirit can be measured by our mood at any particular moment. Many people are not very aware of their moods or the moods of others, and when they are, their measurements are pretty superficial—like, “I’m discouraged,” or “Today has been a pretty good day,” or “‘What’s happened to put you in a bad mood today?”
For many, moods are always caused by external forces or situations. In this view, we have little control over our moods.
When we fall into a morose mood, we are convinced that our mood is telling us some truth about what is going on. I’m sad, say, and then I’m convinced that life is sad or that my situation is sad. But my life is not sad: My mood is sad. I’m pathetic, a leaf at the mercy of the wind.
Negative moods lie. If I feel lonely, I may be convinced that other people are uncaring or difficult, but actually it’s my spirit that is weighed down by my self-pity and my bad explanations about reality.
Most people drift in and out of moods. Moods are often temporary. and we don’t seem to be able to control their coming and going very well. Someone was in a humorous mood a minute ago, but suddenly she is irritated. Yesterday someone was in a generous mood, playful, and warm; today he drifts into a somber and pessimistic mood, convinced that his mood is caused by the horrors of other people’s behavior.
We all get tested
Just when I think I’ve permanently achieved the mood of a warrior, I discover that I’m disgruntled about something. I am often not very self-aware at these moments of negativity but Mary, who is expert on all the nuances of my spirit, holds me accountable and points out my pettiness, especially when it’s aimed at her.
That happened the other day. I don’t like to be late for appointments and tend to be ready to hop in the car before Mary is. We’re 30 minutes from town, so I had told Mary that we would be leaving at 2:00 p.m. to make my eye appointment on time. At 1:55 I was ready to go, standing in the kitchen with car keys in hand, but Mary was still preparing in the bedroom.
Impatient with what I thought was Mary’s piddling—now with four minutes to go—I hollered, “I’m leaving!”
She immediately felt my unfriendly impatience and objected.
In that moment I knew she was right. In the car a few minutes later (2:00 p.m. and on time) I got some more feedback and quickly apologized and then had to struggle for a few minutes to regain my usual buoyant mood.
Most of the time, though, I find it easy to sustain a life-enhancing mood all day, no matter what challenges are presenting themselves. My life is wonderful; how can I be anything but grateful and joyful? And aren’t I a master of poise?
I am able to sustain the mood of a warrior even when something threatens my well being in some way. The other day our handyman scarred our cement patio with a pressure hose he was using to clean it. 750 square feet of cement was permanently defaced as he inadvertently erased all the color that was infused in the cement, leaving black streaks and blotches everywhere. The patio looks terrible, and repairing the problem will cost a lot of money, maybe thousands of dollars.
Discovering the damage, I didn’t drop into a disgruntled mood at all. I asked our handyman to stop. I wasn’t angry at him; he’s a good guy who likes to be of service. He felt bad about the damage and I didn’t want to add to his chagrin. I paid him fully for the hours he had spent on the deck and told him to forget it; I knew he didn’t want to do a bad job. My mood remained poised as this mellow drama unfolded.
Surprisingly, it’s the smallest of provocations that catch me off guard and unaware: Then my pettiness surfaces, surprising even me as I slide unconsciously into impatience or irritation: “Mary, put on your seat belt!” as the insistent dinger rages on now a quarter mile into our journey. The mood of a warrior has flown, pushed out by the ringing in my head and my drift into unconsciousness.
I’m learning, though, and I’ll sustain the mood of a warrior next time: ” Fasten up, lover, I want you protected,”
What is the mood of a warrior?
The mood of a warrior is free of any complaint, free of the emotional ups and downs that most people experience as their lives.
The mood of a warrior is a state of awareness most easily achieved when we’re not thinking. Not thinking, we’re quiet, present in the moment, joyful. Rejecting nothing, we can embrace the full majesty of our lives.
We can sustain the mood of a warrior even if we are thinking, but that may be harder. If we have something to do, we need to engage our brain; we need to think. But our brain, doing its work of problem solving, needn’t be in charge of our lives. Instead, our awareness is guiding our brain and establishing our mood as we pursue our activities.
We can be aware of our brain working away. Ah, there it goes again, rehashing the past, sucking me into the quagmire of past defeats and pulling me into a dangerous mood. Or, there my brain goes, creating beautiful solutions, just when I need them. I can come to understand that I am not my brain. I can use my brain when I want to, and I can shut it off when I want to—put it in neutral while I enjoy this beautiful moment.
Sadhguru says he doesn’t have many thoughts during the day, allowing him to live in a blissful state. His mind is quiet most of the time, not needed for most purposes. Thus, it is not our brain, but our splendid mood that allows access to our full powers.
To achieve the mood of a warrior is to live in a state of awe, a state of ecstasy.
Living full time in the mood of a warrior
I believe that many of us are more and more able to assume the mood of a warrior. As seekers, we want to live in a joyful mood, untroubled, grateful, open, resilient, warm, loving.
We may believe that life’s vicissitudes will inevitably bring pain and suffering to us that is so severe we’ll not be able to sustain the mood of a warrior.
But a warrior frames it differently: all a warrior has are challenges and decisions, and that’s enough. A warrior has the personal power needed to choose the mood of a warrior even when severe challenges present themselves in the moment.
Lately I’ve been re-inspired about this truth. Two people I know are living in hospice, suffering from debilitating physical decline. Their astounding warrior spirits are ever-present. They never complain. They both battle with physical suffering, but conduct their battles with joy and laughter. Even as death moves in closer, they spend much of their energy appreciating their family, their friends, and the people who care for them.
I talk to one of them on the phone frequently. In the last stage of MS, she can no longer move her limbs. A caretaker holds the phone for her while we talk. She asks in every conversation, “How are you and Mary doing?” I don’t want to take our time talking about our easy life, but she’s genuinely interested and listens attentively as I bring her up to date. She ends every call with, “I love you.”
With the mood of a warrior, we can thrive in any circumstance.