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The Toltec Warrior


   The Toltec warrior does not turn to the battle-field to fight others, but instead, with 'flower and song' as his weapons, battles his own 'small self,' in order to gain transcendence over it and thus reintegrate with the Spirit.

Being a Toltec

For the Toltecs, ‘this is not our real home,’ it is only a step towards ‘eternal life.’

In truth, do we live on Earth?

Not forever on earth: just a short while here.

Even if it be jade, it cracks;

Even if it be gold, it breaks;

Even if it be quetzal plumage, it tears.

Not forever on earth: just a short while here.

(Cantares mexicanos.)1

In Toltec civilization man’s experience was truly spiritual, and on Earth one only operated on a human level. For them, everything was fleeting and trivial compared to the priority of ‘learning’ to influence the Spirit and liberate the divine particle that inhabits us all.

In his most humanized and conceptual appearance, God was considered a divine duality, half female and half male. In the Christian faith this would be the equivalent of Jesus Christ, son of God on Earth. He was also understood to be a fusion of the pair of complimentary opposites with which the ‘world in which we live’ was built. The Ancients referred to this pair as the ‘God of Water’ and the ‘God of Wind.’ The first comprises everything that surrounds us, as by its nature it is made of atoms and is energy ‘condensed and materialized.’ The second includes the ‘other energy’ of which the world is built, the ‘Divine Breath’ which bestows consciousness to the material world. The God of Water was named Tláloc by the Nahuas, and the God of Wind, Quetzalcóatl. The Mayas named this pair Chac and Kukulcán, respectively. Each culture conceived the same pair in a similar way, symbolized under different names, as our ancestors made up one single civilization, despite the diversity of cultures in which such wisdom was expressed.


The Warrior of Blossoming Death


During the peak of Ancient Mexican civilization (200 BC – 850 AD), any adolescent who completed their studies in the ‘telpochcalli‘ and wished to gain a mastery of Toltec knowledge would enrol in a higher education centre knows as a ‘calmécac.’

These young aspirational men and women were called warriors, because they prepared to embark upon the most difficult battle that a human being can undertake: the inner battle to control the ego and thus, with the material world fading away, allow the spirit to blossom.

The warrior’s ferocious inner battle was conducted against one’s own individualist and physical impulses, with a view to defeating the inertia of the material that makes up the body. The battle would take place against the vices and weaknesses that plague an individual through the maelstrom that is the material world and her temptations, plunging him into vacuity. It was without doubt a colossal challenge that in itself strengthened the spirit and purified one’s material self.

This earth is but a fleeting moment.

Is it also like this in the place where we live in a certain way?

Do we enjoy ourselves there?

Is there friendship there?

Or is it only here on earth that we have come to know our true faces?

(Cantares mexicanos.)

In a world in which physical matter is fleeting and ephemeral, and the subsequent reality belongs to the spiritual realm, the conscious human being faces life like a battle, fought in order to move on toward the spiritual plane of immortality of the soul.

The warrior’s iron will and strength of determination was derived directly from the comprehension of his true nature, his mission on this Earth, the unlimited possibilities of the Spirit and of a higher level of consciousness. His resolve was thus known as an ‘abstract projection of life.’

The ‘warrior’ looks upon life as an opportunity – limited in space and time- to purify his energy and expand his consciousness. He knows that his physical body is only a vessel through which he can reach the ultimate end: transcendence of the Spirit. He understands that the material world is virtual and that, being a divine creature, he possesses immeasurable capabilities that are unavailable to most. In essence, the basic instincts and the pull of somatic forces that we share with the animal world and which anchor us to the material world. Nevertheless, we cannot continue to waste our higher potential with impunity. To live for the satiation of these impulses is like attempting to quench a thirst by drinking salty water; the more water we drink, the thirstier we get. Pleasure, power and wealth are the perspectives from which we draw out the vortex of the material world.

The Warrior’s Weapons

Chimalli Azteca

Aztec Chimalli. Mendoza Codex

It was customary of the Ancient Mexicans to expand their knowledge through poetic language. Metaphor was the optimal language at their disposal for transmitting the inexplicable concepts that make up the divine, which is in itself ineffable.

The ‘warrior’s’ weapons were, symbolically, ‘flower and song,’ understanding ‘flower’ to mean beauty and ‘song’ to mean wisdom. Thus philosophers, as well as being great thinkers, were poets. In order to understand the philosophical thinking of the Toltecs, it’s necessary to delve into their metaphoric language:

The sprout like emeralds, your flowers, oh giver of life.

Your songs, I line them up, like emeralds I string them together:

I make a necklace of them:

The gold of each bead is strong:

Adorn yourself with them.

Your richness is borne of the earth!

(Colect. by Huexotzingo.)

For the Toltecs, beauty was inherent in wisdom. For something to carry wisdom, it much contain beauty; such is the means of expression of the Spirit. For this reason art is the language, par excellence, of the Spirit; the nexus between the divine and the worldly, between Heaven and Earth, the abstract and the concrete, the spiritual and the material. Beauty is the garden in which the flowers of the Spirit grow; the songs of the most profound, sensitive, tranquil and brilliant wisdom. So ‘flower and song’ are the mysterious weapons of the ‘warrior of the blossoming death.’

The ‘warrior’s’ strength has its roots in three great virtues: sensitivity, responsibility and discipline.

Sensitivity is characteristic of all living beings. All things are sensitive to their surrounding environment, from the planet itself right down to the bacteria that inhabit it. But human sensitivity is distinguished by consciousness. All humans possess potentially the same sensitivity, but in consciousness lies the fact that some develop it more than others.

Responsibility is an attitude born of the most profound consciousness. In an attempt to explain the ineffable, we could say that consciousness exists on two levels: one which appears through the ‘small self’ and which moves and reacts – nervously, bitterly, ignorantly – to the ups and downs of daily life; and the elevated consciousness or the interior being, whose reality, unlimited and immortal, unites with the Supreme Consciousness of the universe. To continue to try and describe the indescribable, we can say that such a thing is characterized as perennial blessedness, contemplation, government and control in inaction or, to put it another way, in subtle and all-encompassing impulse.

Consciousness is the allied sine qua non of the ‘warrior.’ Taking up temporary dwelling in the body, it’s destined to walk towards the original light and merge with the Supreme Consciousness of the universe. With everything, one of the biggest challenges to a ‘warrior’ is initiating a dialogue between his ‘small self’ and his higher consciousness – both polar aspects of the being – to receive the light of the latter through all of the most important decisions one comes to make in life.

In the beginning the Supreme Consciousness of the universe broke apart in order to take up shelter in every individual and thus initiate the ‘game’ of learning and transcendence. In the wake of this, every individual consciousness is destined to merge once more with it. While wakefulness of the ‘small self’ and the higher consciousness are not founded on one, man will move for a divided life, living the duality of the cosmic game and the transitory contradiction between its individual impulses and its more elevated aspirations.

The difference between a ‘warrior’ and the common man is that the first endeavours to expand his consciousness, while the second attempts to satisfy the desires of the ‘small self’. Each and every one of us identifies with one of these two tenets of the living being. In everything, both are needed to grow: physical health and mental equilibrium depend upon the decisions of the ‘small,’ but healthy, ‘I.’ The development of disinterested love and the persecution of the highest ideals are inspired by a higher consciousness.

The consciousness of man comprises the accumulation of all of humanity’s knowledge and wisdom. The problem is that people never stop to check in with their interior; they no longer pick up the inner call of consciousness or even recognize its existence. Nevertheless, consciousness is the ally that inevitably indicates what to do and what not to do. As consciousness exists eternally and independently of the physical body, upon making contact with each individual body it gives rise to the cosmic game of learning and transcendence. On the other hand, he who directly or indirectly turns all of his efforts towards the satisfaction of the mental and physical ego, loses out on the parameter that distinguishes him from an animal: consciousness. And so, both the ‘small self’ and the potentially all-encompassing consciousness integrate themselves into the duality of a person, without which the projection ‘man’ would not exist.

Discipline is the third element in the ‘warrior’s arsenal. Not the sort of military discipline that blindly obeys others, but rather that which has resulted from a committed, intimate and private decision. The sort of discipline that constitutes a personal achievement, because one thing is knowing what to do and another acquiring the strength of will to actually carry it out. Discipline is an attitude. There are those who prefer that someone sets on them with a whip and takes responsibility for their decisions, and then there are those who don’t allow others to take responsibility for what they need to do. It is from this group of people that ‘warriors’ arise.

Although discipline is an attitude and a personal decision, it needs to be cultivated for it to be strengthened and consolidated. Discipline responds to a premeditated intention, conscious and unceasing, that gradually gains a powerful inner strength which we call ‘will.’ The ‘warrior’ develops an unyielding will to transform himself. As a result, he begins to notice subtle changes in his inner workings and in the world that surrounds him. Without this strength, human beings are no more than dust in the strong winds of the surrounding world.

One of the greatest achievements of our ancestral culture was humility. The Toltecs, in their impressive spiritual development, arrived at the highest point of expansion of consciousness: humility. Humility is derived from wisdom. In his profound understanding of existence and the meaning of individual life, the subject becomes humble; conversely, the greater his ignorance and profound lack of awareness, the more overbearing and arrogant he appears. Humility is as much the result of an inner dedication to self-control as it is the expansion of consciousness and, hence, of understanding.

Indigenous and peasant towns, direct heirs to the wisdom of Ancient Mexico, characterized themselves by maintaining a discrete humility in their outlook on life. Nonetheless, during five hundred years of intense colonization, the commanders and explorers converted this into servitude. In turn, the indigenous people, as a defence and way of cultural resistance, became devious.

The ‘warrior’ is invulnerable because he doesn’t have anything to defend. Arrogance, high-handedness, and self-importance imply the defence of something that one wishes to impose upon others. Humility doesn’t only purify the soul, but also the surroundings in which the individual moves. The ‘warrior’ doesn’t need to feign, defend or strengthen anything on his person. He passes unnoticed amongst the masses. He knows that what he seeks is to be found inside and that he requires much less from the outside world than others.

For the former, the ‘warrior’ doesn’t tire himself in pettiness with his kindred, fighting to increase or enlarge his standing. He knows that life is short, that energy is limited, and that death can spring upon him with the heavy and devastating blow of its scythe.

Another of the ‘warrior’s weapons is to remain centred. All things in the universe, tangible and subtle, possess a vibration and a magnetic field. The planet as much as the mountain or the bacterium is characterised by this determined vibration. It is more intense and defined in the centre of the body, and more broad and diffused in the periphery, far from the centre.

The centre of a human being is his consciousness, and the more alive it appears to be, the more we say that it is ‘in one’s centre.’ The person who doesn’t live in tune with his consciousness is, therefore, ‘unsettled.’ The being that operates from his centre outwardly emits a serene and relaxed vibration, even though the flame of his consciousness burns brightly. The unsettled individual, on the other hand, outwardly emits a disruptive vibration, while on the inside it remains out of focus, dispersed. It goes without saying that the ‘warrior’ orbits around his centre, and therefore doesn’t operate in bursts of euphoria, depression or ire. His style is characterized by fluidity, simplicity and amiability.

The ‘warrior’ does not attempt to be someone he is not. On the contrary, his appearance dissolves him into the crucible of all human beings, in the understanding that all of the material world is mere appearance and transience. On the other hand he fights ‘like a jaguar, like an eagle’ to conquer interior virtue and defend the most noble and just causes in life.

It is hard to express the consciousness of the Spirit in words because it is an attitude, a state of mind, a higher intention – sustained and unyielding -, a way to live and to take on the world; it is above all a way to die. For this, the ‘warrior’ moved unnoticed through the world, respecting its rules without allowing the world, with its whims and confusions, to move through him; he firmly fixed the gaze on his ‘floral contest’ and his effort to ‘allow his heart to blossom.’

As a result of the former, another characteristic of the ‘warrior’ is his silence. The common man spends a lot of his time talking about others and discussing nonsense, because chat and gossip allow him to forget his emptiness. His irresponsible and poisonous thoughts thus become darts. In the meantime the ‘warrior’ contemplates his outward transformation in silence, realising the depth of life and in contact with the outer being, which he has made his ally. The ‘warrior’ is distinct for his discrete, silent and humble attitude. In attempting to feign these characteristics, the imposter and the trickster would fail.

A powerful weapon at the ‘warrior’s disposal is his understanding of the difficulty of leaving his ‘floral contest’ victorious. What makes him a ‘warrior’ is not his perfection but precisely his imperfection which, as the greatest teacher, forces him to keep fighting in order to polish his uneven edges, which generate his pain and exhaustion. The change is extremely difficult and occurs generally as a result of a great pain that, on impact, gives rise to restructuring. For this reason, if he fails, the ‘warrior’ doesn’t lose hope, let alone abandon the fight. Patience is an invaluable principle in his endeavour; without fear of failure, he attempts self-improvement as many times as is necessary.

Another of the ‘warrior’s powerful tools is his detachment. Attachment to people, ideas, memories and objects makes humans extremely vulnerable and weak, as it restricts their decisions and limits their field of action. The desire to possess, that in some way is natural, has been severely exacerbated and reinforced by trade, managing to get people to attempt to fill the existential emptiness by buying and acquiring things. The ‘warrior,’ on the other hand, trains himself in his capacity to become detached from what he owns, making him a truly free being, invulnerable and powerful. By yearning for nothing, he can manage without anything. Thus, his manner is neither voracious nor abusive, but rather light and playful. By not getting bogged down in the snares of pleasure, he loves and pays attention to everybody equally. He doesn’t have anything, but neither does he need anything. He enjoys the world without mistreating or defacing it, he gives the best he can, and continues on his journey.

Finally, to abandon the fear of death is the greatest achievement a ‘warrior’ can attain. Since the dawn of time, the Ancient Mexicans have maintained a very broad relationship with death. One cannot attain thorough consciousness of life without also taking in death. In short, by merely pondering death and all her splendour and mystery, one can acquire the right balance in life. Physical death is nothing more than the beginning of an incorporeal experience on the astral plane. All living beings must die. In truth, there is nothing more terrifying and painful than to not have lived a life with intensity and full consciousness of the opportunity that is represented.

The ‘warrior’ understands that he fights tirelessly to liberate the being from the inertia of the material world, the ‘creatures of the night’ that threaten to put the light of the spirit out. He knows that at any given moment he could be forced to leave without any warning from death, and he awaits the grandiose moment fully prepared. Furthermore, in the hope of understanding the plenitude of his spirit, he fights every day to achieve it. The ‘floral contest battle’ makes his life grand, generous and transcendent.

Quetzalcóatl – the feathered serpent- is the symbol of the material world as well as the spirit world. The serpent slithers upon the earth, the dust of the world, interacting with it, learning about it. The quetzal spreads out its wings to break through the clouds in search of its origins. The warrior assumed the same path as the ‘feathered serpent’ and would find transcendence in his ‘floral contest’. The end result doesn’t worry him; he already lives it by virtue of being a ‘warrior’. He walks towards the horizon of the ‘blossoming death’ fearlessly and without motive, in compliance with his destination. It would be hard to find a better way to live.

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