When I hear the word “warrior” I usually think of a fearsome character going off into battle, probably on horse back. Such a person appears to me as an ancient and noble figure, adorned in ornate clothes, and carrying some masterly crafted weaponry.

In this article I’d like to introduce to you to two other types of warrior. One is established and known within some circles. This warrior is motivated by altruism to battle the ignorance and suffering in the world.

The second type of warrior is one who has probably existed for centuries, but who I see emerging and gaining more prominence in this time.

In Mahayana Buddhism there exists the concept of the Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva is one who has the bodhicitta mind. Etymologically bodhicitta is a combination of two Sanskrit words. “Bodhi” means “awakening” and “enlightenment.” “Citta” has the Sanskrit root “cit” which means “that which is conscious.” Bodhicitta is quite often translated as, “mind of enlightenment.” It is also referred to as an unusual mind. Why “unusual” - because very few beings have it. It is a mind that thinks of others before self. For most of us self normally shows up in the picture somewhere. How often do we offer of ourselves with absolutely no wish for anything in return?

The Bodhisattva is sometimes referred to as a warrior. Like other warriors, the Bodhisattva warrior goes into battle. This warrior is fighting against the delusional self-interest that causes so much pain to individuals and nations. To engage in this battle the Bodhisattva carries two weapons, compassion and wisdom. Compassion is that deep wish to see all suffering be removed from the world and to personally engage in the work required to alleviate this suffering. However, compassion alone is not enough. With only compassion there is the danger of burnout. The other weapon is wisdom, the insight to see into the true, interconnected nature of reality. The web of life that binds us all together. This is the root of all suffering. Like compassion, the weapon of wisdom cannot act alone. It is too cool, analytical. It needs the warmth of compassion.

It is with the Bodhisattva in mind that I see the emergence of another warrior in our midst. This warrior has a different, but no less important mission. Their mission is to enrich the world with the qualities that a quiet, but attentive mind offers. In a noisy world, this warrior reminds us of the value of silence, of observing closely, of listening deeply. I call this warrior the Silent Warrior. What weapons might the silent warrior carry? I’d like to suggest a few to you.

  • Patience: The qualities of a quiet mind might take a while to take root in the world. During that time the silent ones might be misunderstood, not heard. The Silent Warrior is not deterred. They know that they have some something of deep value to give to the world and are prepared to wait.
  • Persistence: With their rich inner lives, the silent ones have resources to draw on when the going gets tough.
  • Listening: The Silent Warriors listen deeply, carefully, feeling no need to rush in with their opinions. They take note of what is being said and act accordingly.
  • Relationships: For those with whom they connect, the Silent Warrior will build a close relationship. Not for them to run around and create shallow relationships. They will spend time with you, get to know you and see in what way they might be able to help.
  • Leadership: Feeding off the last two items, as a leader the Silent Warrior will not force their opinion on their team. The Silent Leader will work collaboratively, listening to what others have to say, encouraging team members to offer and synthesize their ideas.

These five weapons are the principle ones that I have identified the Silent Warrior as carrying. Are there others that I have missed? Are you a Silent Warrior, gathering your weapons to bring your quiet presence to the world?