The War of Life and Spirit


Often, people describe their participation in life’s processes as war-like. They are fighting for survival, fighting for a relationship, fighting for success. Combat is such an ingrained part of the cultures and lives of so many that it seems to be an automatic stance when dealing with experience. What is not usually considered in this unconscious formulation is that fighting implies winning and losing.

There are no winners and losers in life. Everyone lives exactly the life they choose. Our choices determine our experience as our perspectives determine their quality. To view life as a war is dichotomize what is essential formless experience, contextualized by belief. Everything is a belief, there are few hard and solid truths. Our interpretations of the things we see, feel, hear, touch and taste are based upon prior experiences and conditioning. To take a combative stance toward life is to choose to see enemies and friends, to consider black different from white, to define good as opposed to evil.

Being purely practical, to do so is in large part unavoidable. But there are strategies that can be deployed individually in order to moderate this penchant. Holistic and comprehensive thinking sums them up. Not all bad things are bad. Some lead to good things as good things lead to bad. Koan-like in nature, this understanding of the chaotic nature of experience and the lack of deeper insight into ourselves penetrates the obscuring veil and brings greater clarity to life.

To tell ourselves we are fighting for survival is to awaken all of the lower instincts of the body and mind. Fight or flight supports continuance of the biological organism but is not necessarily the highest way to chart one’s course through life. Especially as we age, it becomes necessary to choose methods other than mental, vocal or physical violence in order to solve our dilemmas. Discovering one’s own penchant for this type of violent characterization is getting to know one’s self.

In thought, language and action, studied introspection provides clarity and gnosis to the deeper seeker. At a certain point, some battles, and the very idea of lifelong warfare become conscious considerations as the fruit of those seeds settle like dusty, broken weapons around the clay feet of the aged. The subtleties of life as lived and the necessity of constant reevaluation of internal processes make conscious living mandatory in order to ensure personal growth.

Winning the War of Life is losing the War of Spirit. Often, losses are instructive. Humility, gratitude and love lie beneath the facade of egotistical arrogance and the unconsidered passage through life. The pride, arrogance and dominance required to project a constantly aggressive attitude associated with winning subsumes the oppositional qualities that create a balanced perspective on the living process. Finding the pathway between the two extremes is the challenge. We rise and fall dependent upon our choices and, if we remain diligent, we find that instead of two choices, there are really three. Both extremes, and the path between them.

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