The Warrior, The Monk, and The Lover
I just finished the book The Compleat Gentleman by Brad Miner. The Compleat Gentleman is a very good book on chivalry, the history of the gentleman, and manliness.
The book is not entirely made for “man” though. That is far from how I see it. This book perfectly explains the gentleman, and a woman can be a gentle-“man” too, because as Miner often repeats, the gentleman is: a warrior, a monk, and a lover. I can’t see any reason why a woman shouldn’t be able to acquire these traits. A term more familiar may be “noblewoman” or something along those lines.
The Compleat Gentleman was a read that closed one loop for me. The one that goes from far-east Buddhism and martial arts back to our western culture in terms of religion and fighting.
Our european culture doesn’t have monks that are nearly as cool as Buddhist monks. They don’t use weapons very artistically and living an abstinent life doesn’t sound very appealing. But sheer Son Goku-like powers, laser-sharp focus, and living a life of purpose sounds really cool.
While the eastern Buddhist sounds attractive, we, or rather I, often forget about the fact that our culture has monks too. They may not be using weaponry but they live a life of purpose, though their religion is different from Buddhism. Religions have a lot of common ground. Religions are about spirituality — your mind. Religion is about what we think. Controlling our thoughts.
We also control how we deal with certain situations with our head. If we get offended by a stranger at night, we can decide how we want to handle things. If you are aware of the situation, mindful, and present, you have the choice to not be offended, make a remark, or raise your fists. This differentiates the gentleman from other man. A gentleman is present in the moment. The buddhist monk and, for sake of easier argumentation, the western monk are really not that different.
Warriors are a thing we are much more common with. The military campaigns from medieval times. A time where warriors were needed to safe innocent civilians from hostile enemies.
Later when these rough times evolved into a time where the warrior didn’t solve so much purpose anymore, the western martial artist also had to evolve to survive. Knights fought against each other. They still served the civilians, though their focus was not entirely on fighting anymore. The knight was a more elaborate version of the coarse, rough, warrior.
Even further in the future, when monarchism was replaced by democracy, knights evolved into the gentleman. A man more noble than a civilian, but of lesser nobility than a monarch.
A gentleman was a man who thought about his steps. A man who didn’t just react. A man who practiced his skills for years and years, making him a monk in his field. The gentleman was, or is, a person who knows his stuff. The gentleman is a man who has acquired skills through learning and practicing over and over and over again. This is as true today, as it used to be.
The gentleman is a person, including women, who never stops to learn what is important. Today it is not so important anymore to be able to use sheer violence to get forward in life. Other skills are more useful:
- Problem solving
It becomes clear that the gentleman is not an old outdated version of the knight. It is the best version of the ninja our western culture has to offer. A gentleman is as knowledgable in spirituality, as he is in science.
This is probably going to be hardest to explain. A lover is not Mr. Multi-Macho. A lover is someone who loves. Love doesn’t begin, or stop, with the love to another human being. Love is for things too. We love the world around us. We love to be able to wake up every morning and breath. It is love when you hold on for a moment and admire the beautiful world around yourself. When you see the good in the world. But you also see the bad. You see the things that are not so nice, the things that are not so full of love and not in mutual agreement. It is the person who sees these things that also has the might to decide whether it is more appropriate to use the monk or the warrior skills.
A lover is a person who takes care, someone who doesn’t hurt or shame unnecessarily. We do not hurt, we agree to relationships, and we do not ignore decisions being made in that relationship. I am against saying that love only exists in a one-man-one-woman relationship. It doesn’t matter if you, or I, or any other person, decides to live in a multi-relationship or a same-sex-relationship as long as the relationship is based on respect, mutual agreement, and love.
The Warrior, the Monk, and the Lover
The gentleman is, in this sense, your own truest form. It will be your life goal to perfect your skills and learn new ones. Every day you will have to get out and fight for yourself and what is holy to you. Sometimes you will have to be aggressive, sometimes you will have to be tender. Don’t forget to connect with yourself to reach your life’s goal.