Becoming a Spiritual Warrior

By Suzanne A. Fageol

I want to speak today about one of Orrin’s major soul qualities – the archetype of the warrior and how that was visibly woven into the fabric of his life. Archetypes are a part of the psychic structure of the individual that gives all things about a person’s life their special quality. The warrior was a dominant archetype in Orrin’s psyche.

So what does it mean to carry the archetype of the warrior in one’s psyche? First and foremost, it is spiritual by nature. Mythically, it is initiated through instructions by a mentor and then commissioned by the King who gives the young warrior/knight his instructions for the mission. The warrior serves the King and follows the King’s instructions to the letter. Swearing allegiance to a ruler or just cause, the warrior is an agent of righteousness and justice; the protector of those who are at risk from the dangers of the world.

Historically, the warrior provided for his family, tribe and village and defended them as well. Warriorship was being physically trained and prepared and willing to use force to regulate violence and meet any threat to the safety and well-being of self or loved ones. It was also a commitment to upholding individual values and principles that guided and defined every arena of the warrior’s life.

Psychologically, warriors are reluctantly drawn into their battles when they would prefer to be left alone. However, their strong sense of justice will not allow them to sit idly by if they see wrongdoing happening around them. The warrior archetype is about both empowering one’s own life and protecting and creating a just order on a perilous planet. While capable of killing when necessary, the warrior knows that the real war is within. A warrior draws on enormous resources of focus and self-discipline. This archetype is an energy source that permits one and others to be assertive about life, goals, needs and causes. The warrior gets people moving again after a period of stagnation. He attacks whatever is wounding and damaging, whatever causes despair, depression, injustice, oppression, whatever is cruel or discouraging or makes abusive demands.

The strengths and qualities of the warrior are duty, dedication, honor, loyalty, discipline, the holding of boundaries and justice. The warrior stays true to a goal until the end. Warriors possess the razor-sharp clarity of perception and self-discipline. The warrior is a destroyer; he destroys the enemies of the true Self. This archetype tests the person who carries it and helps determine whether the cause or person one is serving is worthy of one’s loyalty, service and allegiance. 


The tool of the warrior is the sword (or any equivalent weapon of protection and assertion, including, in martial arts, the human body).
 His skills include physical excellence; mental acuity; and command of reconnaissance, strategies and tactics. These skills serve to enhance every aspect of the warrior’s life - not just in physical confrontation.




The responsibilities of the warrior are multi-layered.  Materially, he protects and defends against all foes to overcome any injustice. He fights to defend all that is just and right. Psychologically, he protects emotional boundaries and asserts our needs in the world. Spiritually, his commission - by historical ruler or inner authority - is fueled by the desire to be of service and willingness to sacrifice self for a greater cause. It is about the honoring of a pledge - the commitment to steward this power for the good of an inclusive community, for peace with justice. On all levels the warrior’s mission is to destroy what not needed and clear a space for renewal and a new, more just order.

From the moment he raised his head at birth and looked at Judith this archetype was constellated in Orrin. His commission came from within his soul. His mentors were his parents, his grandfather, and the natural world. He protected all living things, and those in his peer group who were unjustly treated. He lived by the warrior’s code to protect, defend, and to be of service. He was guided by the high principles of truth, honor and loyalty. He also expected it of his family, his friends and the world at large. He preferred to be left alone; however, his strong sense of justice would not allow him to sit idly by if he saw wrongdoing happening around him. His enormous energy for life carried him from the mastery of one skill to another. He had the quickness of mind and self-discipline to master whatever he felt was useful to his growth and development. His tools were play swords, then sling shots, then BB guns and knives, and finally the tools of war. He mastered all of them. He was physically fit. He had the skills to survive in the wild. He had the mental acuity, the command of reconnaissance (which he learned through wolf tracking) and the leadership qualities of strategy and tactics (which he learned from video gaming). People congregated around him, followed him – from preschool on – in play, in theater, in school and in the military.  He thought first of others and their needs. (He got treats for all the others at the VA on his day pass time).

He carried an energy source that permitted his friends and Shelly to be assertive about their life, goals, needs and causes. He got them moving again after periods of stagnation. He attacked whatever was wounding and damaging, whatever caused despair, depression, injustice, oppression, whatever was cruel or discouraging or made abusive demands. This is why Shelly called him her shooting star and why his Vet friends that he called and checked in with everyday despite his own concerns, relied on him. He showed them their true selves.




Part II

Orrin’s sojourn in the military tested his spiritual warrior self sorely. He signed up to protect against all foes and to defend all that is just and right. Yet somewhere along the way, he saw the flaws in the “King’s army.” He saw instances of overly aggressive and indiscriminately violent manouvers, both among the other warriors and against the “enemy.” He found himself in the dilemma of trying to hold on to loyalty, truth and justice in a system and a world that showed him another set of values that did not uphold the warrior’s code of ethic. He saw that there were those among the ranks who held true to defending justice and truth in the midst of a system that did not always honor the the warrior’s oath.

This grieved him, it enraged him, it escalated the aggression and frustration in him – against others as he railed about the injustice of it all and against himself because he could not shake the emotional overwhelm in him to act effectively against such a giant opponent. The world needed projecting and he was unable to stand against the enormity of the situation. Yet still he held firm to his pledge.


In standing firm to this warrior’s oath, a new path began to emerge for Orrin. Slowly, almost imperceptibly it took root in his psyche. Deep in the warrior’s mission is the call to destroy what not needed and clear a space for renewal and a new, more just order. Orrin’s life was about bringing about this part of the mission, in ways small and large. But now, after Afghanistan, here was a new challenge. In the vulnerablilty of his war wounds, where it seemed he had been destroyed, that he could no longer service in the world, a space within him was starting to clear and orders for a new mission began to move from the etheric realm to the physical one. Orrin’s job was to birth a new kind of warriorship. One that was ancient in prophesy, but whose time had come. The Tibetan Buddhists call it the Shambhala warrior.

The Shambhala Warrior is a prophecy that arose in Tibetan Buddhism over twelve centuries ago. Many in that part of the world speak of this ancient prophecy as coming true in our time. The signs it foretold, they said, are recognizable now, in our generation. This version of the prophecy is the one given by Choegyal Rinpoche of the Tashi Jong community in northern India.

There comes a time when all life on earth is in danger. At this time, two great powers have arisen; these are the laloes (the barbarians). One is in the western hemisphere and one in the center of the Eurasian land mass. Although these two powers have spent their wealth in preparations to annihilate each other, they have much in common: weapons of unfathomable death and devastation, and the technologies that lay waste our world. It is in this time, when the whole future of sentient life seems to hang on the frailest of threads that the Kingdom of Shambhala begins to emerge.

Now you can't go there, for it is not a place, it's not a geopolitical entity. It exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala warriors. Nor can you recognize a Shambhala warrior when you see her or him; for they wear no uniform, no insignia, carry no banners. They have no barricades on which to climb to threaten the enemy or behind which they can rest to hide or regroup. They haven't even any home turf; for always they must move on the terrain of the barbarians themselves.

Now the time comes when great courage, moral and physical, is required of the Shambhala warriors, for they must go into the very heart of the barbarian power, into the pits and pockets and citadels where the weapons are kept, to dismantle them. To dismantle weapons, in every sense of the word, they must go into the corridors of power where decisions are made.

Now the Shambhala warriors have the courage to do this because they know that these weapons are manomaya. They are "mind-made." Made by human mind they can be unmade by human mind. The Shambhala warriors know that the dangers that threaten life on earth are not visited upon us by any extraterrestrial powers or any preordained fate, but they arise, rather, from our own choices, our own lifestyles, our own relationships.

So in this time the Shambhala warriors go into training. "How do they train?" They train in the use of two weapons. "What weapons?"  Choegyal Rinpoche held up his hand in the way the lamas hold the ritual objects of bell and dorje in the lama dance.

The weapons are compassion and insight. Both are necessary. You have to have compassion because it gives you the juice, the power, the passion to move; when you open to the pain of the world you move. But that weapon by itself is not enough. It can burn you out, so you need the other. It is insight into the radical interdependence of all things—their inter-connectedness, their deep ecology. With that wisdom you know that it is not a battle between the good guys and the bad guys, but that the line between good and evil runs through the landscape of every human heart. With that insight into our profound interrelatedness you know that actions undertaken with pure intent have repercussions throughout the web of life, beyond what you can measure or discern.

By itself, that insight may appear too cool, too conceptual, to sustain you and keep you moving, so you need the heat of the compassion. Together, within each Shambhala warrior and among the Shambhala warriors themselves, these two can sustain these warriors as agents of global change. They are gifts for us to claim now in the healing of our world.

Orrin was being called to join the Shambhala warriors – a company for which his whole life had prepared him. But there is still one more part of the mission that no one saw coming. New duty orders that would take him into a totally unknown territory where he could serve to his fullest capacity.  I quote now to you from a letter from David Spangler, a mentor of Shambhala warriors in our time, to Judith, Perry and Shelly the morning after Orrin’s death.

 Wednesday morning, May 18, 2010  “I have a sense of two or three very strong and loving men around him who are wearing army uniforms--two are young like him, buddies perhaps from his time in the service who also died?  One, who is older, seems to be an officer or at least a person in command.  There is a strong sense of comradeship and protection, no judgment at all, but help being given to a fallen comrade.  He is in good hands and not alone.


I sense that some part of Orrin, coming out of the pain and horror he has been experiencing, conceived a desire to help others going through similar torment but did not see the possibility of doing that from the physical level.  Part of his act of suicide certainly came out of his despair, but part of it seems to be in response to a kind of calling on the inner to be in a position to help from that side of life other young men going through something similar or worse.  In any event, the clear sense I got from this "commander" was that Orrin was enlisting in a different kind of army--one of Light and healing--and was joining kindred spirits.  He definitely seems in good hands, and I can sense the good that he is going to be able to do once he has his bearings. His own suffering has opened doors for him, both to his own inner resources and to realms where others are trapped but without even the resources he had through your love and wisdom.  In short, he has chosen a new path of work (or perhaps this was his soul's path all along from the beginning--that I don't know), and I feel he will be good at it.


The best response I know in a situation like this is to send Orrin love and calmness, both to him directly and to the allies working with him now to help him and heal him on the inner.  The calmness is to help give a solid, clear, calm center to subtle energies that may be roiled by the emotional turmoil surrounding his death. 


Orrin died as he lived - loyal to his spiritual warrior code of ethics and pledge to defend, protect and heal our planetary community. And in so doing, he is helping to bring about the prophecy of the Shambhala warrior. Even now, especially now, from another place, he wields the the weapons of compassion and insight in mentoring other warriors in a new army helping humanity to fulfill our legacy to steward our energies for the good of an inclusive community, for peace with justice on earth.


Please join me in sending Orrin love and calmness, both to him directly and to the allies working with him now to help him and heal him on the inner.  The calmness is to help give a solid, clear, calm center to subtle energies that may be roiled by the emotional turmoil surrounding his death and to enable him to meet his new mission with a bright heart and a clear countenance and surrounded by love.


A Soldier Fights for Empathy

Article by Nicole Brodeur, Seattle Times, January 2008

The Iraq War came to Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart the other day in the form of a young woman.

 Army Reserve Capt. Ashleigh Fortier visited the Bellevue private school as part of its daylong Senior Seminar, which this year focused on those who come home from the war. Fortier, 36, of Tacoma, spent 14 months in Baqouba, overseeing military police and training Iraqi police officers. It changed her, and made coming home a struggle all its own. 

War and Anarchy: Somalia

A boy drinks at a manmade dam in drought ravaged Somalia
REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

War and anarchy has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people in Somalia, which has been controlled by feuding clans for 15 years. The worst drought in a decade has left around 1.7 million people in need of help.

  • Some 400,000 people are displaced within Somalia, half of them in squatter camps in Mogadishu.
  • Nearly a quarter of children die before their fifth birthday.
  • Clan militias enlist boys to fight.
  • Female genital mutilation is widespread.
  • Children are trafficked to South Africa, Middle East and Europe.
"The frightening fact is that Somalia is officially not even at war. Extreme violence has become a part of daily existence and the effect on the population is catastrophic."

Medecins Sans Frontieres head of mission Colin Mcllreavy quoted on the MSF website

UNICEF TV: Protecting Children's Rights in Somalia

Ongoing Violence: Iraq

A child lies injured in a car bomb attack in Doura
REUTERS/Faleh Kheiber

Iraq's ruinous wars, crippling sanctions and ongoing violence have had a devastating effect on children. Shootings and bombings have killed, injured and orphaned thousands, but the biggest killer is illness transmitted through unclean water and exacerbated by under-nutrition.

  • One in eight children dies before their fifth birthday.
  • Nine percent are acutely malnourished - double the number before the U.S.-led invasion.
  • Hundreds of schools have been attacked and teachers killed.
  • Unexploded ordinance and mines litter the country.
  • Children are injured on dumps looking for metal to sell to help support their families.
"I don't understand why adults do it (wage wars). I would never wish a war upon anyone. I would like to have it that children never have to fear war."

Ali Ismaeel Abbas who lost his parents and both arms in a missile strike in Baghdad.

Suffer the Children: Iraq 

NATO Bombling

NATO bombing of Serbia

After years of hollow threats against Milosevic and years of Milosevic destroying much of Bosnia and part of Croatia, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and responsible for escalating human rights abuses in Kosovo, NATO was finally determined to move ahead. While always hoping that Milosevic would finally back down with the credible threat of force, NATO did not posses much credibility at that decisive moment. On March 24 NATO launched an air campaign against Serb military targets in Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo.

Milosevic's forces responded by an all-out campaign to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of its Albanian population, driving hundreds of thousands across the border into Macedonia, Albania, and Montenegro. Heavily armed Serb paramilitary forces, infamous for their tactics in Croatia and Bosnia, descended on Kosovo. At gunpoint they forced thousands of people from their homes, burning their towns and villages afterward. Many civilians were summarily executed. Most had all their money taken and their documents destroyed. Without any independent journalists and human rights monitors left in the region, it is impossible to tell the full extent of the atrocities though many, including UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, have called it genocide.


The War on Kosovo

During the long years of war in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia, Kosovo remained under the tight control of Milosevic. The Kosovar Albanians responded by setting up a parallel civil adminstration, schools, and healthcare facilities. They also resisted the Milosevic regime with nonviolent, Gandhian tactics under the leadership of Ibrahim Rugova.

All this time, the Kosovar Albanians hoped the international community would recognize their plight and come to their aid. Despite periodic reports by human rights investigators and international diplomats on gross and systematic human rights violations against Kosovar Albanians, the international community did nothing. The final straw for the Kosovar Albanians was Dayton, when the international community had the upper hand with Milosevic yet completely ignored the problem in Kosovo. The Kosovars even attempted to attend Dayton, but were not allowed to leave their plane and were sent back across the Atlantic. This demonstrated to the Kosovars that the international community was not going to come to their support. It also demonstrated that nonviolent tactics were not going to get the world's attention. Only tremendous human rights abuses as suffered by the Bosnian Muslims would force the world to intervene.


Kosovo President, Dr. Ibrahim Rugova

With the situation in Kosovo only getting worse, and tit for tat retaliations by the Serb forces, finally in November 1997, at a funeral for slain Kosovars, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) stood up publicly and asked for support from the Kosovo Albanian community. The response by the crowd was overwhelming support. The familiar Serb response was disproportionate retaliation. If a Serb policeman was shot by the KLA, the Serbs would respond by torching a whole village and killing civilians. The first major massacre occurred in the Drenica region in the spring of 1998 when 51 members of an extended clan were killed by Serb forces in retaliation for a KLA provocation. Again, despite detailed reports of human rights investigators, the international community did nothing other than issue Milosevic an empty warning.

The U.S. has a particularly long history of warning Milosevic over Kosovo. As early as 1992, President Bush had warned Milosevic against a crackdown in Kosovo. Clinton reaffirmed the warning upon assuming the presidency and again at periodic stages during his terms. Throughout 1998 Milosevic increased his troop strength in Kosovo and began a scorched-earth policy of destroying whole villages in his attempt to wipe out the KLA. But for each village destroyed, more KLA members would sprout up in defiance. The Srebrenica of Kosovo occurred in January 1999 when Serb forces killed 41 civilians in the Kosovo village of Racak. While international mediators called it a massacre, Milosevic claimed that the slain villagers were actually KLA terrorists in civilian clothes. International forensic experts were soon to prove this untrue.

Source: Center for Balkan Development


PBS Frontline Report on Kosovo: Fair of Biased?






Massacre in Srebenica

The worst act of the war occurred in the summer of 1995 when the Bosnian town of Srebrenica came under attack by forces commanded by Ratko Mladic. Srebrenica was a UN-declared safe area and guarded by a lightly armed Dutch contingent. This did not deter Mladic, who was intent on taking over the enclave. During a few days in mid-July, more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim males were executed by Mladic's troops. The rest of the town's women and children were driven out to nearby Tuzla.



The Undoing of Yugoslavia

Historical Background

The NATO air strikes against Yugoslavia beginning on March 24, 1999 did not occur in a vacuum but rather followed ten years of regional conflict and aggression inspired and orchestrated by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Until 1991, Yugoslavia was one nation comprised of six republics: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. Serbia was further divided into two autonomous regions; Kosovo and Vojvodina. Each republic and both autonomous provinces in Serbia had a seat on the federal presidency and had a considerable amount of autonomy in local affairs. With one notable exception--Bosnia--each of the republics roughly represents a distinct ethnic group. Today each of the republics of the former Yugoslavia use their own language, but they are all Slavic languages similar to Serbo-Croatian.


The Rise to Power of Slobodan Milosevic

Slobodan Milosevic came to power in 1987 with the rise of Serbian nationalism following the fall of the Berlin Wall and Soviet communism. He became a hero overnight in Serbia when in 1987 he went to Kosovo to qualm the fears of local Serbs amid a strike by Kosovar Albanian miners that was paralyzing the province. In a famous speech televised throughout Serbia, he told the waiting crowd of angry Serbs, "You will not be beaten again." Few Serbs were either beaten or oppressed in Kosovo (a few incidents were blown way out of proportion), but this did not matter to 8 million Serbs who felt deep historical grievances and welcomed a strong figure, such as Milosevic, who might restore their place in history.

By 1989, Milosevic was firmly in control of the Serbian republic and embarked on a campaign to consolidate his power throughout Yugoslavia. On the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, where the medieval Serb kingdom was defeated by Ottoman forces, Milosevic presided over a massive rally attended by more than a million Serbs at Kosovo Polje, the exact location of the historic battle fought on June 28, 1389.

One of his first acts following this historic event was to rescind the autonomy enjoyed by Kosovo and institute draconian martial law in the province. Kosovar Albanians were fired from their jobs, their schools were closed, they were denied access to state-run health care, and they lost administrative control of the province. The situation also effectively gave Milosevic additional votes in the federal legislature.

This ushered in a decade of hell for the south Balkans. Milosevic and other Serb ultra-nationalists embarked on a campaign to create a Greater Serbia, unifying under one nation all areas where Serbs lived and driving out all minorities through a genocidal process euphemistically called œethnic cleansing.”


The Disintegration of Yugoslavia

By 1991, the republics of Yugoslavia began clamoring for independence, inspired partly by watching Milosevic's grab for power in the federal capital of Belgrade and also by their own historic desires for independence.

Slovenia--the republic closest to central Europe--was the first to go in the summer of 1991. With almost no Serbian minority, Belgrade put up only brief resistance before backing off after a six-day war and allowing Slovenia to secede from the federal structure.

Unfortunately, this was not the case with Croatia. While 79% of the republic was Croatian, 12% was Serb and this group was not ready to become a minority. The Croatian Serbs had legitimate concerns, especially in light of the Croatian leaders using inflammatory nationalist rhetoric. The Serbs of Croatia suffered terribly during WWII, and for every contemporary provocation by the Croat nationalists, the Serbs saw unreconstructed Ustashe (Croatian fascists allied with the Nazi occupiers during WW II).

The Serbs responded in a manner that was to become commonplace during the next eight years. Their response was completely disproportionate to the problem. In Croatia, they declared their own mini-state and began a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Most infamous was the siege of Vukovar, where more than 10,000 civilians were killed and the first major war crime of the ensuing wars was committed. Serb paramilitaries emptied the Vukovar hospital of Croatian patients and executed them in a nearby field.


Ruins of Turani, a small village south of Karlovac, 1994.  The village was a first line of defense for both sides.

With a cease-fire negotiated in the fall of 1991 by U.S. diplomat Cyrus Vance, the Serb forces partially pulled out of Croatia and began repositioning their troops and heavy weapons in neighboring Bosnia. While the Serbs refused to abide by the terms of the cease-fire in Croatia and return territory, they simultaneously embarked on the most bitter assault to gain control of Bosnia.

As noted earlier, Bosnia has a sizable (31%) Serb minority with close ties to Belgrade. Milosevic by this time was in firm control of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA), the fourth largest military in Europe. He also supported a UN-engineered arms embargo on the region, preventing the newly formed governments of Bosnia and Croatia to procure weapons, while Milosevic had complete control of the arsenals of the former Yugoslavia.

On April 6, 1992, the Bosnian Serbs launched a campaign of aggression against Bosnia with the siege of Sarajevo and the ethnic cleansing of the Drina River valley and the Bosnian Krajina (north and northwest parts of the country). The Bosnian government, headed by Alija Izetbegovic, was ill prepared to defend the country with no army and only a poorly equipped territorial defense force.

During the next three and a half years, Bosnian Serb forces, with the support of Milosevic in Belgrade, laid waste to large parts of Bosnia, killing more than 200,000 civilians and forcing half the population, two million people, to flee their homes. Tens of thousands of women were systematically raped. Concentration camps were set up in Prijedor, Omarska, Trnopolje, and other areas. Civilians were shot by snipers on a daily basis in Sarajevo, a city left without heat, electricity, or water.


Victims of War in Bosnia, 1994

Radovan Karadzic, a psychiatrist and poet originally from Montenegro, became president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, with Ratko Mladic as his military commander. Both have since been twice indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for their command role in genocide.

At the height of their power, the Bosnian Serbs controlled more than 70% of Bosnian territory. The failure of the UN to stop the killing in Bosnia seriously compromised its credibility as it neared its 50th anniversary in 1995. The UN already had UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force) troops in Sarajevo at the outset of the war because it was their base of operation for the UN mission in Croatia. The UN hoped that their presence would discourage the spread of the conflict to Bosnia. But when Sarajevo came under attack in 1992, the UN forces pulled out to avoid casualties, leaving behind only a small and lightly armed contingent of peacekeepers.” As the situation deteriorated, the UN struck a deal with the Serbs, allowing them to control the Sarajevo airport. In reality, the Serbs allowed the UN to use the airport under de facto Serb control. During the next three years the airport was the scene of hundreds of casualties. UN humanitarian flights were repeatedly fired upon and Bosnian civilians were killed by sniper fire as they attempted to escape across the tarmac.

Source: Center for Balkan Development