From my understandings of the teachings of Shambhala Buddhism, the essence of warriorship or the essence of human bravery is refusing to give up on anyone or anything. The warrior rests in the state of warriorship, rather than struggling to go to the next step. The warrior experiences a sense of relaxing in his unconditional confidence. This describes my son.
My sailor son has been home for three days now, and leaves in five days. I am trying hard to be in the moment with him, hold him when I can and not allow that deep soft part of my heart trigger the tears that flowed uncontrollably when he got off that plane. Not now, save them for when he's gone again. Having him home with our entire family has reminded me of that place of bitter/sweet tenderness. That place some Buddhists call the genuine heart of sadness.
"By simply letting yourself be as you are, you develop sympathy toward yourself, awakening this genuine heart within yourself. ... Your entire being is exposed - to yourself, first of all but to others as well. ... If you search for awakened heart, if you put your hand through your rib cage and feel for it, there is nothing there except for tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of the world, you feel tremendous sadness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others."
Now as his welcome home sign crafted by his little sister sits on our porch and we send out the evites to his farewell party my heart pulls and that deep untouchable place is prodded again.
My eldest son, he has been in the US Navy now for two a half years. He left a pretty cushy situation as a sophomore at ASU in Tempe AZ after one of his writing assignments in a class was something of the nature of "what do you want to do with your life, what do you want on your epitaph?" He choose to serve his country, as odd as that can sound in these times, and especially from a child born and raised in Boulder CO, raised on all organic foods and taken to nuclear plant protests throughout his childhood by his "hippie" mom.
Off he went into the Navy SEAL program. He didn't complete the incredibly difficult training of SEALS before he was hospitalized with pneumonia. He has since been on his first deployment of 11 months in Guam. Grateful it wasn't to somewhere much more dangerous (anyplace that begins with a vowel.) It has difficult having him so far away for so long and I've practiced with my warriorship, meditation, bravery, *Vira I and Vira II yoga poses and the occasional margarita, to get me through the tougher times, i.e. Christmas, birthdays, earthquakes/tsunamis....
And yet, with all my practice and preparedness I still find my mind drifting to the questions. When will I see him next? Will he be deployed to one of those places beginning with a vowel? Will he come home whole, body, mind and spirit? Will he come home with another tattoo or with a wife? Only time will tell and in that time it is my time to learn again how to surf through the days without him close by. I will certainly be found often in my many variations of Virabhadrasana, including my favorite, crumbled on the floor exposing my genuine heart of sadness.
As he told me when he first went into the military, we both want peace in the world, we are just coming at the same goal from different angles. Maybe between his service in the military and my working in a community of yogis, Buddhists, and mala lovers it can actually be attained. It may just take a bit of both. It is a centuries old idea, to save the world you have to serve it.
Warrior in the world mala part of our new sri collectionMy warrior wears a special mala designed by Soma for him, the one personal item he choose to keep with him throughout his trainings.
*Virabhadra is the name of a fierce warrior, an incarnation of Shiva, described as having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet, wielding a thousand clubs, and wearing a tiger's skin. Or military fatigues...