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Ben Nadel at NCDevCon 2016 (Raleigh, NC) with: Dan Wilson
Ben Nadel at NCDevCon 2016 (Raleigh, NC) with: Dan Wilson ( @DanWilson )

Way Of The Warrior: What Is A Warrior?

Published in , Comments (27)

The human mind is fraught with emotional parasites. We are not always aware of it, but these parasites have a detrimental affect on how we feel both about ourselves and about the people around us. They fill us with uncertainty, self-doubt, fear, anger, and feelings of inadequacy; they makes us dismiss, diminish, and hurt the people we care about. These emotions are a parasite that creates for us, our own personal hell. A "Warrior" is anyone who battles against these parasites. A "Warrior" is anyone who seeks to elevate their consciousness such that they may transcend the misery of hell and live without pain.

I want to follow the way of the warrior; but this requires a strong will and a lot of practice! As part of that practice, I need to regularly reflect upon my own thoughts and actions and evaluate them in the context of this journey. To help me do so, I wanted to start a "Way Of The Warrior" blog series in which I could share my thoughts as well as critique my own behavior and create a road map for self-improvement.

As my good friend, Clark Valberg, once told me, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." With these blog entries, I hope not only to think deeply about myself and my own actions but to have some great conversations such that we can learn from each other.

Reader Comments


I like these non coding blog posts. Really.

We'll make Hatebreed music be our soundtrack to your European trip to come, sounds like it will fit your feelings ;-)


And just for proper credit, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." comes from Proverbs 27:17. And the book containing that proverb has a pretty good road map for self-improvement of its own.



Yeah, definitely. But in fairness, I did hear it from Clark before I ever looked it up. And just to be clear, I was not trying to say Clark authored this quote.


I still think the term "warrior" has too many negative connotations, but then again calling it the "Peaceful Antipathogen" is a lot less catchy. ;)

I'll be very interested to hear what *everyone* has to say on these fascinating subjects, and it'll be nice to actually read your blog when I can understand it!



I am not sure that Warrior *does* have a negative connotation. Honestly, the term doesn't get used a whole lot, but when it does, I think it usually in a nice way.

For example, a good movie from the other side of the world, "Once Were Warriors", has the following line, as spoken from a wife to her abusive husband:

Our people once were warriors, but not like you, Jake. They were a people with mana*, pride. People with spirit.

To me, the term Warrior most often denotes people of a higher purpose.

* Mana is a traditional term and a concept among the speakers of Oceanic languages, including Melanesians, Polynesians and M?ori. It is an impersonal force or quality said to reside in people, animals and inanimate objects which provide an observer with a sense of wonder or respect (


@Ben Nadel, I see what you're saying, and I really like that quote (I saw that movie a while ago, I believe). But the association I make with the term "warrior"- one who goes to war- is still a negative one for me because the notion of war is negative. I am not saying that what the Peaceful Warrior (or you, for that matter) does is bad or wrong or negative, just that to me the concepts of "peace" and "warrior" are at odds with each other.


"Too much weights, not enough speedwork" - Jake the Muss.

The nature of man is combative, hence the ethos of the warrior found throughout most cultures. This is neither positive or negative, it just is. So ask yourself, what is it you fight for? And what do you fight against? And more importantly, why? Or even who?

As usual, it is the question, not the answer, which is most revealing.

What habits and actions would demonstrate both your capacity and willingness to fight for what you believe in? For surely the true measure of a warrior is what he does, not what he says (or blogs) about.

Also you talk about strong will, as if following the path of a warrior goes against natural inclinations. Maybe this is true, I prefer to think this indicates you are walking the wrong path (for you).

As in programming, if the way ahead is clear, no willpower is needed. Recognise the difference between the release of energy vs the exertion of energy?

I also think you are more than a warrior. Warriors stand alone, their power comes from within. You are a leader, a conduit. Emersom says we can no more take credit for our success than a water pipe can for being hollow. Indeed - your many great posts on ColdFusion and JQuery have only revealed what was already there.

Your power comes from all around you. LIKE THE FORCE!

As you can see I could go on for hours. Basically I think there should be more leaders and less warriors.

my 2p.


Interesting idea. You're gonna expose yourself to public shame to self-improvement. I'm not talking this is bad: it's brave.

Only a true warrior faces the shame and split in its face.

Keep writing :)



Well, in all fairness, it is "war". We are warring against the harmful feelings in our head. It is not head - it is a battle. I suppose it's not different than any war except for that "we" are on both sides.


I think you are absolutely right that the fact that the "will power" needed to walk the "right" path does indicate that I am on the wrong path. 100% agreed. That is why I am trying to get back on the right path. And, once I am on the right path, I think it will take much less will power (if any) to stay on the right path.

Right now, the challenge is breaking all of the poor tendencies that I have developed that keep on the wrong path. It's like being stuck in mud. It's not walking on the pavement that requires work - it's the getting out of the mud and back onto the pavement that requires work.

As far as getting help from others, I have no problem with that. Ultimately, change has to come from within - but I think we can use those around us as instruments of reflection.


Hopefully no one will shame me too much :D I think this will be interesting. Plus, it's nice to take a break from programming sometimes ;)


Several weeks ago I went to Cuba for a 2 week vacation to see in-laws there. I didn't realize it until I came back to work but I shed a lot of parasites in Cuba and I definitely didn't bring Che or Fidel back with me.

I suppose spending some real time in any "communist" or "socialist" Military Dictatorship would have had a similar effect but it didn't hurt being around family who live there and the rest of the incredibly friendly and hospitable locals we encountered.

Al diablo con la Revolución de Fidel!


@Ben >>>Plus, it's nice to take a break from programming sometimes ;)<<<

I will remind you of this. ;)

You know what? You're right... it IS a war, albeit an internal one, and as such "we" are warriors. I guess it's a matter of applying the positive aspects of the concept of "warring" to my/one's struggle to be the best human I/one can be.

@Darren - So you're saying, "Don't talk the talk unless you gonna walk the walk," eh? :) But I do think that initially the recognition that one has a battle to fight, one that requires strong will and the ability to resist the negative/destructive impulses is the hallmark of a true warrior. If there were no struggle to be had, the spoils of the victory would not be as great.

(yes, @Ben, I'm stuck on this concept today!ha ha)



May I offer a subtle adjustment to your thinking?

You say "We are warring against the harmful feelings in our head". Actually the feelings are your best friend because they alert you to the fact that your thinking about an event in your life might be unhelpful. ie Feeling is the response to thinking and the thoughts are the "enemy" - if you need an enemy, that is.

Neuroscience tells us that the brain rewires depending upon what we think about. The more focus you give something (whether "good" or "bad") the more likely you are to program yourself for that very thing.

So, if you want to change your behaviour in some way, use your feelings as the "alert" to ask "What am I thinking in order to have this feeling?", "What did I actually see/hear/smell/touch that led to the thoughts that led to this specific feeling?".

ie put a breakpoint on the function that generates the emotion then check the stack - how did I get here?

The true "warrior" in this sense masters their thinking, not their feeling (emotions). ie go to the root, not the rustling leaves.

Go well on your journey.




It's very interesting that you bring up the concept of the wiring of the brain. Right now, I am reading the book, "Talent Is Overrated." In the vein of Malcolm Gladwell's, "Outliers," it talks about what truly makes people successful (hint: it is NOT natural ability).

Anyway, in the Talent Is Overrated book, author Geoff Colvin talked briefly about brain wiring. And, he talks about how repetition and deliberate practice actually re-write the brain, augmenting the amount of myelin on given neurons, re-enforcing the neural pathways that are being used over and over again. Apparently, research in this area is very very young, but they are starting to think that this neural alteration is perhaps the most fundamental part of what differentiates truly gifted performers.

That said, I really appreciate this clarification:

The true "warrior" in this sense masters their thinking, not their feeling (emotions). ie go to the root, not the rustling leaves.

I agree completely. I think over time, the mastery over your thinking can have an effect on your emotions; but, what is key is control the way you think about your emotions - not necessarily the emotions themselves.

In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz teaches us that the "Warrior" does not "repress" his emotions - rather, he expresses them only when and how they are appropriate. I think goes along quite nicely with what you are saying; our emotions tell us things - it is then up to use to react to those messages in the most appropriate way.


Two books on brain rewiring that are very interesting:

The Brain that changes itself - Norman Doige
Mindsight - Daniel J Siegal

Yes, attention and intention create new neurons and new synaptic connections. Think of it like a muscle - the more exercise it gets the stronger it gets. If you dont exercise it, it weakens. This is a useful metaphor for our thinking.

Therefore, think about what you want MORE of and try not to think too much about what you want less of. That way, you will wire more strongly for what you do want and what you dont want is likely to drop away (in terms of behaviour).

The key is to ask questions of yourself. That shifts you to the position of the observor of your thinking and self awareness is the first step towards thinking differently.




Sounds like interesting books - I'll be sure to check them out. I like the idea of concentrating more on what you want; just seems like a pleasing way to go about augmenting your neural architecture.

I am definitely trying to be more questioning of myself; in fact, that is, in a big way, what a lot of these posts will be helping me to do - question the way I think.

In the book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle talks a lot about being an observer of your thinking. From what I remember (I read it a while back), he was saying that you should see the thoughts enter your head, and simply acknowledge that they are there - you don't have to have any emotion about them at all.

I took an intro to medication class one time and the teacher was very much about this concept as well. She had us try to meditate and she said as thoughts enter your head, just acknowledge that they are there and then move them out of your head.

This idea of being an observer of your own thoughts is very nice; but, I think it will take me a lot of practice to get there. Hopefully, as I practice more, the easier it will get.


Also, from what I remember of my 1980's education, to become a warrior you need two things, a Mentor (Mr Miyagi) and a Nemesis (The blond guy who is a bully and is trying to steal your girlfiend. grrrr).

Only then can your training begin.


@Katrina- OMG, that sounds AMAZING! But dude- it's nearly $6k for a few days! I wonder if they give scholarships/teacher discounts...


I don't know if they will give the discount over the phone (you could try)...but if you go to their intro seminar they give an at-seminar special which should be about half.

And their days...go ALL day, 8 AM (ish) - 11 PM (ish).

I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in human rights. I believe that we can afford to give more of these gifts to the world around us because it costs us nothing to be decent and kind and understanding. And, I want you to know that when you land on this site, you are accepted for who you are, no matter how you identify, what truths you live, or whatever kind of goofy shit makes you feel alive! Rock on with your bad self!
Ben Nadel