Training for Warriors

I’m fond of the Zen proverb, “The obstacle is the path.”  When something blocks my way, it’s an indicator of what my next steps should be. The obstacle is the teacher—the guidepost. Repeatedly encountering the same obstacle bears significance.

In Paulo Coelho’s book, The Warrior of Light, he writes:

A Warrior of the Light knows that certain moments repeat themselves.

He often finds himself faced by the same problems and situations, and seeing these difficult situations return, he grows depressed, thinking that he is incapable of making any progress in life.

“I’ve been through all this before,” he says to his heart.

“Yes, you have been through all this before,” replies his heart. “But you have never been beyond it.”

Then the Warrior realizes that these repeated experiences have but one aim:  to teach him what he does not want to learn.

What do you not want to learn?


61 thoughts on “Training for Warriors

  1. Just yesterday I read in Dani Shapiro’s new book a quote from Wendell Berry, “The impeded stream is the one that sings.” And then . . . “when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey.”

    I can’t answer your question “What do you NOT want to learn?” But I can tell you this, I do want to learn the lessons set before me, so I don’t have to repeat the cycle. Provocative post, Laurie!

    • Marian — Ohhhhh, I love the quote you shared: “When we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey.” Thank you!

      Dani Shapiro was mentioned multiple times at the Vortext Writers Retreat I just returned from at Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island.

  2. Great post! Perplexing – Do we repeatedly face the same obstacle because the lesson has not been learned OR is the shift to move beyond that place to difficult or vast to comprehend it’s possibilities? Life lesson for sure !

  3. Very deep and meaningful words, Laurie. I suppose some people keep making the same mistakes in life, like failing marriages: Why do some people keep getting married when this is obviously not their calling? In teaching, you encounter that often, the same response to children who exhibit a similar pattern of bad behaviour. The lesson to teachers is that if children cannot learn they way you teach then you have to change your teaching to something more likely to bring in good results. One requires a lot of flexibility and imagination and a tremendous sense of humour.

  4. “Then the Warrior realizes that these repeated experiences have but one aim: to teach him what he does not want to learn.

    Wonderful post, Laurie. I truly believe he is right.

  5. Words to chew on. Obstacles are the crux of any great story. The protagonist must overcome them, as they become more and more challenging. Life is a series of obstacles. We simply have to learn to overcome-and must raise our children to overcome – not to make life obstacle-free for them. That makes dysfunctional & depressed adults. I want to learn most everything. Don’t want to learn what it’s like to lose a child.

  6. Hmmm….what a thought provoking question! I suppose there are many more things I have no interest in learning about than I can enumerate. Things that are good for you to know are often not the quickest or easiest to learn. It’s certainly one thing to know a solution theoretically, quite another to have the practical, hands-on experience. I know how to tell someone how to change a tire on my truck. However, I am not qualified to even find the jack, I would have to call one of my daughters for advice – or better yet, call AAA.

    • Sandi — I resonate with your observation, “Things that are good for you to know are often not the quickest or easiest to learn.”

      I can change a tire (because my dad made us learn). I haven’t had to do it in ages, and I hope to never have to cross that bridge again.

  7. So true! The first lesson, as your post points out, is to recognize the obstacle as the opportunity. This is usually easier now for me. Finding/choosing the path (what am I not noticing?, what do I need to learn?, which way should I take?) takes persistence, patience, possibilities exploration! My greatest life lesson when encountering an obstacle has been to ask for help. My independent self can now see guides are always nearby. So, Audrey, I say, ask for directions and support. Ironic, that as a coach for others, it took me so long (fortunately decades ago now) to learn that lesson. Finally, reframing obstacles as adventures and opportunities for learning shrinks the size of the obstacle and makes it less insurmountable. Thanks, Laurie, for provoking this reflection.

    • Audrey — There’s so much wisdom in what you’ve shared here. I love “recognize the obstacle as the opportunity” (that could be a bumper sticker).

      And we also see eye to eye that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

  8. This is certainly a challenging and uncomfortable question, isn’t, Laurie? But a necessary one. And I am so honest that I cannot step back on this, since I have some experience in not wanting to learn something. What I do not want to learn is to love myself more. I always helped others and let myself behind and never did big progress in life. If at all. Only now I’m starting to take some distance from people and watch more into myself, to discover my next step.
    That Paulo Coelho’s book is full of truths of life.

  9. Your post resonates in my life, Laurie.

    I have a tendency to (try to) keep myself small so that I don’t stand out so that I can fit in. This often involves downplaying what I hold dear. But this isn’t helpful for me or others. I need to find a new path. But when you’re lost in the woods and you only see one path it’s tempting to keep taking it even though you know it will only take you further into the woods.

  10. Well Laurie, another great request for musing on! I am not sure what I do not learn at the moment. I do know that there has been a lot of learning in the air for months! Just now a very few minutes ago I have released a post introducing the The Beauty of Oils Class of 2017 Art Show. I am sure that this moment these budding painters would have a quick and easy answer for you 😉

  11. My therapist has gone on at length about how a person gravitates toward the temple of their familiar. To me that is a mother who has never been fully present in my life (let alone her own). So what did I do? I spent half a lifetime married to a similar sort of person. When he hit the road, I gained much perspective on this. Yet, I am still drawn to that familiar “absent person” in more ways than one as I forge a new path in life. At least I am aware of that now, which is often half the battle to understanding what it is I don’t want to learn in this life.

  12. Laurie, Your posts have stopped coming into my email box along with Wonders in the Dark???? But I am getting lots of email from publishers sending me the Google Docs virus…I have not opened it? I can not figure out why I am getting 500 junk emails in my patriciaswisdom inbox and now about 10 a day in my personal email….. IS THIS THE LESSON I am not Learning? It is getting so time consuming and troubling. Who else has dropped out of my inbox? And then….I get a thank you for tweeting your post…..from you before I can even get here to comment.

    I thought it was something I was doing about not turning the corner on the healing that I need to do NOW? Today I am thinking I need to figure out this email problem in order to move on….
    I did put this on FB and twitter now…but not earlier? I think the computer just did it?

    Oh and Terrill’s email is gone now too…Debbie from England? where have they gone. This has been building since July????

    I feel confused

  13. The new book Option B talks about some of the hardest obstacles any person ever has to face. And how to build resilience before, during, and after a time of loss. My mother lost a baby after 39 days and could have given up on life. Instead, she poured herself into her living children and living faith. She showed me how to live with tragedy.

    • Shirley — Thank you for sharing about your mother’s story and the positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing influence she had on her children.

      Thank you, too, for referencing “Option B” — I’ve just added it to my reading list.

  14. I don’t want to learn ‘To Keep It buttoned’ I am told by the ‘Wrong .People ‘ to think first and speak later . My first thoughts are always the best I have so I speak them …like it or lump it 🤣

  15. Two thoughts come to mind withbyour provocative post today, Laurie. I think of the quote attributed to Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I also thought of the tenet we follow in Gestalt therapy, “respect the resistance.” It is indeed a teacher. Thank you so much for another post I can chew on.

  16. Nice post, Laurie! Shared and tweeted!

    *Michelle Cox* *Author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series * *Web:* Michellecoxwrite (dot) com | *Tweet:* @michellecox33 |* FB: *Michelle Cox Writes

    On Tue, May 9, 2017 at 3:03 AM, Tuesdays with Laurie wrote:

    > Laurie Buchanan posted: “I’m fond of the Zen proverb, “The obstacle is the > path.” When something blocks my way, it’s an indicator of what my next > steps should be. The obstacle is the teacher—the guidepost. Repeatedly > encountering the same obstacle bears significance. In Paulo” >

  17. You do like to ask difficult questions Laurie 😉

    I keep on getting involved in politics, standing for parliament, and not getting elected.
    Sometimes I wonder if I am wasting time. Sometimes I am just clear that elections are a time when many people are listening, and people are more likely to begin to engage in conversations about ideas that are profoundly new, and challenge many accepted truths.

    Sometimes I wonder if I am being too lazy, in not working 20 hours a day, as I see some doing. Yet at other times I know that I need space, that my ability to create demands me creating emptiness.

    Sometimes I wonder if I might have achieved more had I focused more on making money, and less on questioning everything? And I could not be where I am now without the experience and questioning I have done.

    I saw a clip from George Soros recently, stating the key is asking the most appropriate question.

    So many questions seem important.

    Why are we talking to entities far more evolved than ourselves?

    Why do we allow cheating strategies to dominate our political and economic systems?

    Why are we not all more interested in our own long term interests?

    And evolution seems to supply some aspects of those answers, and leaves others open.

    I am not sure what I do not want to learn.

    I am confident that I do not want to accept any answer that degrades to value of individual human beings generally, and that seems to be most answers peddled by various dominant sets of dogma.

    What I am seeking is a safe path that delivers security and freedom to all, within constraints that ensure social and ecological sustainability.

    I am now confident beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that it means that we must cease creating money as debt.
    If money is to remain a useful tool, then most of it has to be distributed equally, to essentially give everyone a reasonable “vote” (with their money) as to what is most important to them (beyond mere survival).
    It means having real monetary reward for creating systems and processes that deliver greater benefit with less environmental impact (looked at over the entire lifespan of the process in question).

    I know that we cannot survive allowing money to dominate our planning processes, but that money may remain a useful tool in terms of organising distribution.

    I know the idea that people operating purely to make profit will deliver societal benefit is a logical nonsense.

    How to structure all these ideas in a way that others can get easily – that is the bit I haven’t yet learned.
    Might be just a matter of persistence.
    Might be something deeper.

    • Ted — I love when you said, “I know that I need space, that my ability to create demands me creating emptiness.” I can relate.

      And it’s precisely in that space that you’ll find the answers (and knowing you, create solutions)…

  18. That’s a hard one.

    I think I keep trying to learn what not to eat and why I shouldn’t. At some level, I know. At another level, I’ve not yet convinced myself.

    I hope I move beyond that one soon !!

  19. Oh, Laurie. I find this the most difficult question you’ve asked so far in your blog – and I’ve followed you for several years! Okay, let me try this: perhaps the obstacle in my path is to not be ‘too successful.’ Does that sound odd? But any time I come close to letting go with my writing/books, I hold back and say “NO.” It’s too scary to be successful. I’m not sure if the lesson I don’t want to learn is finding my way to grand success, or to learn to not live with grand success. But I feel so successful in every aspect of my life; why do I need to ‘make money’ and go further? See? ;-0

    • Pam — No. It doesn’t sound odd at all. I know several people who “sabotage” (pretty rough word) personal success.

      “Success” is subjective. Many people define “success” in monetary terms; many people do not. My personal definition is fulfillment.

      I love differences; they’re what make the world go round. 🙂

  20. Definitely thought provoking. I believe we all pre chose our life lessons to accomplish in this life, if we don’t, we’ll come back again until we learn.

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