Life Lessons for a Modern Peaceful Warrior

Facing Our Inner Battles

The strength to face the challenges in our life always rewards us with a refinement and evolution of our soul regardless if we win or lose the battle.

We all strive to live our soul’s purpose but sometimes our mind conflicts with our feelings and causes confusion. The Bhagavad Gita is an ancient Hindu text that has an important teaching for those of us who experience this internal struggle. In this story, Arjuna the peaceful warrior is faced with a choice to act or not act in what he feels is a no-win situation for himself. If you have ever felt confusion or inner conflict holding you back, then the timeless wisdom in this story can bring clarity and relief.

Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence, which is a fundamental tenet of Hinduism. It is rooted in the belief that all lives, both human and non-human, are sacred. This is why on the eve of a great war, the choice between duty and non-violence leaves Arjuna in a state of inner conflict in this story. Being a peaceful warrior requires you to stand firmly in your spiritual path, dharma, but sometimes we don’t have the clarity to know what the best choice is. This requires an active fearlessness and non-attachment, which is embodied in the famous parable of Arjuna and Krishna’s discussion on the battlefield

Arjuna’s Great Battle

The story begins with a young prince, Arjuna, who realizes that the enemies he’ll be fighting in an upcoming battle are his own relatives, beloved friends, and revered teachers. He turns to his charioteer confessing his conflicting emotions and fears. His charioteer is actually the eternally wise Krishna. Here Arjuna talks to Krishna about his confusion:

… it is not proper for us to kill our own kinsmen, the sons of Dhritarashtra. For how, Krishna, shall we be happy after killing our own relatives? If the sons of Dhritarashtra, weapon in hand, should kill me in battle, me weaponless and not defending myself, that would be better for me. – Bhagavad Gita

As he contemplates no action at all and allowing his enemies to kill him, he hopes to stay true to his dedication to non-violence (ahimsa), but Krishna recognizes this as a cop-out. Compassion is said to come in the form of a lamb and a lion. We must accept that we are not perfect. This humility allows each of us to evolve forward from the place that we stand, rather than jump to absolute ideals.

Though Arjuna has mentally justified that he is being fearless and selfless to let his enemies kill him unarmed, he is actually avoiding his own dharma and here Krishna reminds him of this:

One’s own duty, though defective, is better than another’s duty well performed. – Bhagavad Gita

This is a call to hone one’s own inner voice and stay true to it; trusting that there are no wrong choices, only lessons to be learned. Duty is usually associated with something we don’t want to do but it can feel quite empowering once we accept our role in a situation. When I was in my twenties, I was passionate about the environment and saving the world, but I was broke. I had gone past being able to be picky about a job that would help me pay the bills or feed myself, so I begrudgingly took a job as a landscaper.

Swinging a pick-axe in the hot sun, I was given the task of putting irrigation lines in to grow plants and grass that should not have been planted in the arid climate of Arizona. Non-native, drought-tolerant plants waste precious water in the desert landscape. I was miserable while I worked and felt a bit self-righteous about my sustainability ideals. Angry at the universe that I should have to do such a lowly chore, I put my nose to the grindstone and woke up early every day to make ends meet.

Karma Yoga

If you have ever felt conflicted about your life path then you will understand this feeling. In acceptance of the task at hand comes a certain humility, self-compassion, a sense of service, mental liberation, and even empowerment. This is central to karma yoga, which teaches us not to be attached to the outcome of our work, but to do it as a form of devotion to our own inner evolution.

Your business is with action alone; not by any means with the fruit of action. Let not the fruit of action be your motive to action. Let not your attachment be fixed on inaction.Therefore, always perform action, which must be performed, without attachment. For a man, performing action without attachment attains the Supreme. – Krishna to Arjuna

Even the most mundane actions in our day-to-day life are the result of choices we have made. The parable of Arjuna’s indecision on the battlefield is an extreme expression of this common circumstance and that is why it holds such value for us today. With clarity of mind, or mindfulness, along with personal accountability and non-attachment to outcome, we can have the courage to face any battle. A situation can be terrifying and feel like life or death even if it is not. The strength to face the challenges in our life always rewards us with a refinement and evolution of our soul, regardless if we win or lose the battle.

To one that is born, death is certain; and to one that dies, birth is certain. Therefore, you should not grieve about things that are unavoidable. – Krishna to Arjuna

Embracing the Journey

Sometimes it is the fear itself that dies (or an ego death) on this journey. Each one of us is here at this time for something greater than we can know or understand. The world is filled with terrifying possibilities, and mistakes are easy to come by. Sometimes the fear of making the wrong choice is scarier than the choice itself, yet we are all here to fail as much as we are here to succeed.

Anyone with great success can also boast many failures. In this process, we learn to be more compassionate to ourselves and to those who have wronged us with their own poor behavior. The journey of soul evolution continues regardless. We must always put one foot in front of the other and the path will appear with each step.

In this path to final emancipation, nothing that is commenced becomes wasted effort; no obstacles exist; and even a little of this form of sacred duty protects one from great danger. – Krishna to Arjuna

Knowing that we are in line with our dharma, and on the path (not the right path or the wrong path, just on the path), we begin to liberate and empower ourselves. These ancient parables, like the one told in the Bhagavad Gita, are meant to remind us of the eternal challenges that humans face and how to conquer our demons, even if we’d rather do nothing. Arjuna contemplates not taking up arms in battle but after speaking with Krishna he follows his dharma and fights.

Being a peaceful warrior does not mean that you should be without your sword, as you never know when you might be called to unsheathe it. You can stand fearlessly in whatever circumstance you may face, knowing that you are not alone on the journey to personal evolution.


What is evoked in you upon hearing this story and dilemma? Can you see ways that this tale correlates with conflicts in your own life? We would love to hear your thoughts, feelings and insights in the comments below.

With love and compassion to each of you on your individual paths


BY Jacob Devaney



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Christopher Her
3 years ago

Last night I prayed to the universe, asking to show me the way because I don’t have a sense of direction in my life anymore. I asked it to show me and when it does, give me an obvious sign that it’s where I should go. I made a choice today and lo and behold, I am reading this article and it clicked in my head.

Heather Scherger
3 years ago

Thank-you for your articles. They are a ray of light in these often dark times.
I have a copy of the Bhagvad Gita, but have never read it all the way through. Thank-you for your explanations. I will now read it again.

3 years ago

This article gave me courage to take that first step

4 years ago

The decision to act could also spring from inability to face the consequences of not fighting, and could equally be a cop out from the highest level of non violence

4 years ago

Very profound..I am only realising slowly my dharma in this birth. Sometimes I cry with sadness for past then I rejoice my awakening. Your article inspires me to be in my truth. Namaste

Jyotika Haynes
4 years ago

I have always loved the story of Lord Krishna and Arjuna Om Namo Nara Yani when we let go of the ego and surrender everything to a greater power we empower ourselves.
Om shanti, Jyotika

4 years ago

This really was the right time to read this inner conflict with Arjuna.I’m constantly thinking I’m not doing anything worth while for society – a feeling of helpless constantly analyzing what I should do and getting nowhere? This reading helps you to keep going no matter your perception of what is the right path.
Thank you

4 years ago

I an so glad I took the time to read this. I can relate an it put me at ease with so many situations in my life.
Thank you.

Wasiu Bakare
5 years ago

Wow! This is the bitter truth about our existence

Radhicka Ribadia
5 years ago

This was empowering. And again very true to its core. It surely is relatable to everyone on this planet. But what’s the relief for the mind who’s conflict is between dharma (duty towards self or the other) Vs life path (the one which brings internal fulfillment) which one to chose? It might require sacrificing one for the other most often than not. Any thoughts on this?

Dennis Gaudreau
6 years ago

I’m actually in the middle of a fight against my workplace as there was a sexual molester they tried to hide and I was denoncing it because one of my employee has been a victim… No need to tell you the rest, but sometimes I get afraid for my family if I do lose my job and everything in reprisal… Here’s stand my Dharma !

6 years ago

everything sounds so nice and easy in these articles. I feel like this bad phase is taking forever and it doesn’t matter what I do. I don’t get on the path again. Even though I take many steps.

6 years ago

Understanding the essence of Bhagavad Gita can inspire children and help them cultivate good values. Here’s a list of ten timeless principles that children can learn from the Gita.

Gai Waterlow
7 years ago

Such beautiful truths. Having attended two Vispassna Courses in my 20s I have only touched on these truths and I listen to my Soul for guidance daily. We recently had to go to court asking for help with ongoing abuse from our neighbours. I faced my deepest darkest horrors. Horrors that were formed before I was six weeks old because of this powerfully positioned Woman and Her blatant lies. We were facing criminal court and jail yet her malice was unrelenting. They lawyered up. We walked in alone, with humility and asked for mediation. We had to wait five days. Then we were told by the court We Won. The Judge basically told her She could lose this and still she wouldn’t back down. So he stopped her malicious behaviour there on that day in court and now We are getting help. I just kept asking for a Judge that could SEE the truth. It was epic and my body is still recovering from the unfair assaults and I’m surrendering to a much more beautiful energy surrounding the safe haven of our sacred life here at Lands End. I did feel like the peaceful warrior because I ran all my thoughts and behaviours through my heart before I chose an action. It was truly remarkable. So thank you for this wonderful article–it certainly is accurate. If only everyone understood? Love and Harmony to All.

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Take 5 Deep Breaths

1. Feel your body.

2. Relax your shoulders.

3. Choose a word that makes you feel peaceful, such as om, peace, or love.

4. Inhale slowly while mentally saying the word you chose. Pause before starting the exhalation.

5. Exhale slowly while mentally saying 1 with the first breath. Exhale saying 2 with the second breath, up to 5 or more.

Feel Your Body

Relax your body, and just be aware of how your body feels. Without changing anything, notice what you are feeling, and where you are feeling things in your body.  If your body wants to adjust a little, let it. Be curious how it feels as your body relaxes. (Resist any temptation to analyze or think.)

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