In his book, “The Warrior Ethos,” author Steven Pressfield explores the philosophy of being a warrior. Of course, these days, outside of those who volunteer for military experience, most people do not actively seek out life-or-death combat. In fact, as Pressfield points out in his book, in the civilian world a most people can get arrested for fighting, and often times face criminal charges, and often times do.
But Pressfield’s book is part history, part philosophy.
The author reminds us of the great military cultures of the ancient world: Sparta, the Romans, the Macedonians, Persians, and the Mongols. He also cites examples of warrior cultures outside of the Western warrior tradition, including the Apache and Sioux, Masai and the samurai. These examples serve to remind his readership that human history is obvious not very peaceful.
Yet, rather than producing cultures or warriors, in the modern era, it may be useful, as Pressfield suggests, to develop a warrior ethos, and turn it inward with the aim of self-development.
“Directed inward, the Warrior Ethos grounds us, fortifies us and forces our resolve,” Pressfield writes. “The Warrior Ethos,” he continues, “embodies certain virtues—courage, honor, loyalty, [and] integrity. . .” In other words, the Warrior Ethos can be a useful life philosophy, if applied inward and to oneself. Rather than the enemy being a nation-state, maybe an enemy can be defined personally, such as conquering anxiety or depression or substance abuse, for example.
And why not?
As Pressfield writes: “Let us be, then, warriors of the heart, and enlist in our inner cause.”
Perhaps a person’s inner cause may be building better habits, becoming more organized or disciplined, committing to a fitness regimen, or, simply, declaring that you want to change a specific area of your life. It doesn’t seem unfair to interrupt the Warrior Ethos as a personal or moral code, and use it as a framework to better one’s life in some way. In fact, the author does this by discussing the Bhagavad-Gita – the ancient Hindu religious text.
“The Bhagavad-Gita,” Pressfield writes, “takes the Warrior Ethos and elevates it to a loftier and nobler plane of the individual’s inner life, to his struggle to align himself with this own higher nature.”
Finally, discover and cultivate your own Warrior Ethos. Use the values of courage, honor, loyalty, and integrity to add something to your own life.
Pressfield, S. (2011). The warrior ethos. Black Irish Entertainment. New York, NY.