The Four Dignities of a Warrior-Writer

four dignities of a warrior-writer by Melanie LamagaI’ve been working overtime launching The Evolution of Reptilian Handbags and Other Stories and keeping various other businesses afloat, while writing a new novel, all of which necessitated organizing my files, because my head hurts from all the different hats piled on it, like so many mattresses atop the pea, and I needed a better system.

In the process of imparting order to my computer/brain, I came across this brilliant excerpt from Rob Brezsny’s book PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA.

“In Tibetan Buddhism’s “Four Dignities of the Warrior’s Path,” courage and ferocity are absent. In fact, the qualities regarded as essential for being a warrior have nothing in common with the training regimens of Marines or football players or lobbyists.

The first dignity is often translated in English as meekness, but that word doesn’t convey its full meaning. “Relaxed confidence” is a more precise formulation — a humble feeling of being at home in one’s body.

Perkiness, or irrepressible joy, is the second dignity. To develop it, a warrior cultivates the habit of seeing the best in everything and works diligently to avoid the self-indulgence of cynicism.

The third is outrageousness. The warrior who embodies this dignity loves to experiment, is not addicted to strategies that have been successful in the past, and has a passionate objectivity that’s free of the irrelevant emotions of hope and fear.

The fourth dignity is inscrutability, or a skill at evading the pigeonholes and simplistic definitions that might limit the warrior’s inventiveness while fighting for his or her moral vision.”

This pretty much sums up my approach to life these days except that I find I need courage from time to time, especially when that little voice of doubt whispers, Who do you think YOU are?

I’ve learned to mostly ignore that voice, which is neither nice, nor helpful. But if I was to answer it, I would say: I am just a person, not particularly better or worse than others, but I’m here to do a job and I refuse to give up, especially not out of fear of embarrassment.” Because that’s what voice is really about, isn’t it? It’s our negative social conditioning, the voice of the herd, saying, don’t stand out, you might get eaten! Those fears aren’t always rational, but many people shy away from pursuing their dreams because they listen.

If you’re living in a (relatively) free society, be grateful. In some parts of the world people are dying for speaking out and standing out. But for the rest of us, usually the worst that will happen is that people will scoff (oh the horror). Some of them may decide not to be your friend any more. Let them. In my experience, outrageous, joyful, relaxed, confident, difficult to pigeonhole, truth-living warrior-types attract a much better class of friends.

As always, faithful readers, my advice is to calculate your odds, not only cost of any risks you may take, but the cost of NOT trying – the cost of living in fear, of living inauthentically. That to me, is the biggest risk of all.

2 Responses to “The Four Dignities of a Warrior-Writer”

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  1. Thora says:

    Great stuff, Melanie. Just what I needed this morning….some thought provoking ideas (and confirmations) on a true warrior-like approach to my life and work.

  2. Thanks, Thora. Glad it was helpful. My favorite part: “(the warrior has) a passionate objectivity that’s free of the irrelevant emotions of hope and fear.” We just need to keep doing what we know is right, and let the parts that are out of our control take care of themselves.