The Warrior Ethos - by Steven Pressfield

The Warrior Ethos embodies certain virtues--courage, honor, loyalty, integrity, selflessness and others--that most warrior societies believe must be inculcated from birth.

The Warrior Ethos recognizes that each of us, as well, has enemies inside himself. Vices and weaknesses like envy and greed, laziness, selfishness, the capacity to lie and cheat and do harm to our brothers. The tenets of the Warrior Ethos, directed inward, inspire us to contend against and defeat those enemies within our own hearts.

Elements of the Warrior Ethos

  • Courage--in particular, stalwartness in the face of death--must be considered the foremost warrior virtue.

  • The group comes before the individual.

  • The willing and eager embracing of adversity.

  • The will to fight, the passion to be great.

  • Brute aggression is tempered by self-restraint and guided by moral principle.

In the Bhagavad-Gita, the warrior Arjuna is commanded to slay the "foes" that constitute his own baser being. That is, to eradicate those vices and inner demons that would sabotage his path to becoming his best and highest self. How is Arjuna instructed to do this? By the practice of self-discipline. In other words, by the interior exercise of his exterior Warrior Ethos. Here is the Warrior Ethos directed inward, employing the same virtues used to overcome external enemies--but enlisting these qualities now in the cause of the inner struggle for integrity, maturity and the honorable life. The Warrior Ethos grounds us, fortifies us and focuses our resolve.

The Warrior Archetype is not the be-all and end-all of life. It is only one identity, one stage on the path to maturity. But it is the greatest stage--and the most powerful. It is the foundation upon which all succeeding stages are laid.