Namaste: If Not Now, When? The Warrior’s Path: Begin With Recapitulation

Chapter 7

The Warrior’s Path: Begin With Recapitulation

Stalk your vices as a hunter would stalk its prey. Put your analytical brain to work and ruthlessly list all the mistakes that you’ve made in your life. Ask yourself why you made each mistake and create a new category each time you identify a new reason why you made a mistake. After you complete this process, sort your categories of reasons according to how often you made a mistake for each particular reason. Step outside yourself as though you are an objective third-party observer and see your patterns of behavioral responses. Identify any buttons or unusual sensitivities you have. From the perspective of a detached and objective third-party observer, consider why you have those buttons and sensitivities. Now use your imagination to relive each circumstance when you made a mistake, but delete the mistake and replace it with a Golden Rule response.

The purpose of this inner quest is to train yourself to regularly practice self-reflection and see yourself as a detached and objective person would see you. Retain this perspective of yourself from now on so that you do not repeat your mistakes and slip back into patterns of behavior that sap your energy and vitality. Consult your detached and objective self before you act.

As you self-reflect on your past mistakes, chances are that you will discover that self-importance and self-pity have played a significant role in your pattern of mistakes. Suppose instead that you had followed the Golden Rule. Consider how much energy you wasted due to self-importance and self-pity. Has this exercise changed your opinion of the Golden Rule?

I recall a time many years ago when I was returning to law school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in early January after a yet another stressful holiday break visiting my parents. My mother was an alcoholic who had vicious mood swings when she was drinking, which was most of the time. My father enabled her addiction by making sure the cupboard was well stocked with half gallons of cheap vodka, and when the clock signaled high noon, she poured herself a drink and started in on me entertaining herself by pushing my buttons to provoke an angry response. She was cruel, sadistic and hurtful. I fell for it every time and soon both of us were shouting hurtful insults at each other.

If my father was in the house when one of these storms broke out, he would start slapping me in the face with the back of his hand and blame me for starting the fight. I never hit him back, but on this especially joyful holiday vacation, I did grab him by the shoulders and slam him against the wall. I cocked my fist and was about to hit him when I suddenly turned and ran out of the house. Good thing I did because I certainly would have injured him and maybe even killed him. He never hit me again.

I had a window seat on the flight back to school and spent most of it staring out the window. My mind was blank. I recall suddenly realizing that we were circling O’Hare, where I was scheduled to transfer to my connecting flight to Madison. We were 10, 000 to 15,000 feet above the outer suburbs of Chicago in the late afternoon. I could see Lake Michigan and the grid layout of the streets and houses that seemed to stretch to infinity in every direction from its shoreline, and I started to wonder how many of those houses concealed domestic battlegrounds behind Sunday smiles at church when I suddenly realized how insignificant and pointless all of those battles were. If only they could see what I see I thought, they would realize their games are trivial nonsense against the immensity of the city and the universe above it.

A detached perspective allows you to practice non-judgment, a necessary skill to overcome selfishness and practice the Golden Rule. As you cultivate the art of detachment and non-judgment, others will not have the power to control your emotions and reactions. Ancient Wisdom Schools call this process “losing the human form,” or storing energy instead of wasting it. All warriors spend their lives losing their human form to avoid wasting their energy or power on self-importance, self-pity, and selfishness, or in thoughtless and automatic reactions to selfish and manipulative acts by others.

Anyone can be a warrior. A warrior decides when, where, and how to act. Warriors do not play games; they play for keeps. Win or lose, the warrior does not indulge in celebrations, excuses, or regrets.

Join me. Become a warrior for peace and grace.


Cross-Posted at Firedoglake and Smirking Chimp.

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.

My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.




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