The Warrior Mindset Part 3: The Warrior’s Obligation

peacetime service warrior

The Peaceful Warrior

When warriors returned home, they were respected for the internal and physical skills they possessed. In return they honed those skills by protecting borders and maintaining peace. The experienced members of warrior tribes trained the younger ones - physically, mentally, and spiritually. As a result, the wisdom traditions of the warriors grew until they became as deep a culture as the societies they lived in.

However, so many combat veterans returning home feel adrift in a society that doesn’t understand them. Their experiences in combat set them apart from others, and the way the military taught them to see the world conflicts with society; mediocrity in health, success, and life. Modern society has distanced itself so far from the harsh reality it asks its warriors to endure.  Unfortunately, this robs many veterans from a chance at re-integration.  Ancient warriors had a religious and community-based support network that encouraged an active view of opportunity.  They taught all members of their tribes to use experiences as tools for growth. This gave ancient warriors a very unique world view, and a very powerful set of skills.

How does a person repay being provided with the skills to protect themselves, their families and community, and the ability to see the world in a way that ensures a truly remarkable life?  The answer is as simple as it is useful - to pay it forward. Enlightened warriors live a life of service. It is their greatest responsibility to their society.

The Call to Serve

Many people know the word ‘Samurai’ (侍) translates as ‘to serve.’  This is not just a cultural statement about loyalty to one’s master or teacher. It is a description of the duty each warrior owes to themselves, their community and the world. Experienced warriors today know and experience this debt in their everyday lives.

Because samurai were a fairly insular warrior culture for hundreds of years, they developed expressions to mirror the parts of their culture unique to a warrior mindset, like the word bushi. For example, the word ‘On’ (恩) describes something each mature warrior felt and carried within. It translates as ‘benevolent obligation,’ and was an internal debt they owed to their teachers, traditions, and society. These warriors understood the blessing of having a rich tradition to draw inspiration from, teachers that gave selflessly for decades to their students, and a worldview that allowed them to look for success instead of failure. Warriors, as we’ve explained in Parts 1 and 2 of this series, have incredible internal power. But, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote in 1945, “... great power involves great responsibility.”

This responsibility to see the world from an active mindset, to live a remarkable life without compromising for mediocrity, and to pass on this worldview to future generations is a self-repeating cycle. To fulfill your warrior calling, you must transmit the same lessons that turned your life around. Youmust teach others, directly or with the quality of your choices (preferably both). And you must continue to live and grow, as a member of your community, protector of your loved ones, and above all, as a warrior.

That image is changing, and the views and lifestyle that come with it are in danger of being lost. However, there is a new vision of what warriorhood means. Modern warriors, like their ancestors, complete their trials of fire. Their spirits and outlooks are tempered in the experiences and training they embraced as opportunities. They train daily in those things that bring them joy, insight and growth. They are fathers, mothers, teachers, and leaders. They are warriors. They can be you.

More articles and resources for training your warrior mindset and living a truly remarkable life are available at

Photo credits: David Paul Ohmer on Flickr