Onion Skin #3: The Spiritual Warrior

3246829946_f0be6eee34_oIn my previous blog, I outlined my “Call of Duty” in becoming a “citizen soldier” through a personalized socialization process with three guiding core values: Integrity, Excellence and Service. The professional manifestation of integrity through my distinctive career path has already been illustrated; this layer of onion skin titled, “The Spiritual Warrior” will address the significance of excellence and service to my socialization process.

As a “citizen soldier”, with one foot in the Canadian Forces and another in my civilian profession as a CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant), I would go to work at PwC dressed in a business suit and equipped with a laptop slung across my shoulders. After a long day’s work on certain weeknights and almost every second weekend, I would trade the business suit in for combat fatigues and arm myself with a rifle instead of a laptop.

But, in order to successfully assist to my “Call of Duty” as a “citizen soldier”, it was essential that a healthy balance between my professional, as well as, my personal growth be maintained and that the core values of integrity, service and excellence be integrated in all facets of my life. On November 21, 2010, The Globe and Mail published an article titled, “Best companies bridge the generation gap” where I was interviewed on the details surrounding my ‘Call of Duty’ and the work-life balance required in order to pursue both passions. The article ends with the following:

“Mr. Di Carlo, who […] hopes to one day participate in a United Nations mission, says PwC’s flexible work program helped him achieve the right work-life balance, and he won’t give that up. Being in the military complements the values of the firm and of the profession – honesty, integrity and duty to my country. I try to pursue the truth and communicate the truth in both.’”

3246111730_3f6edf8769_oOn a personal level, I made arrangements in order to keep me steadfast on the path and internalize all aspects of the aforementioned core values for assistance in all aspects of my life as a “citizen soldier”. I turned to my foundation in martial arts by view of its maintenance of a system of ethics, honour, as well as, pursuit of excellence in the form of self-mastery through harmonization of mind, body and soul. Throughout the time working out for the physically and mentally demanding Infantry Officer courses, I would train my mind and soul while actively listening to “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu; “The Art of Living” by William Hart (based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha), in addition to, “The Art of Happiness” by the Dalai Lama, off of my smartphone. I would digest and reinterpret the teachings of “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu who, among other things, stated that, “So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.” I once then asked myself, “As a ‘citizen soldier’ who is (are) the enemy(ies) that I must become familiar with? Moreover, what is (are) the weapon(s) of choice that I can use to fight my battles?

Through my Infantry Officer professional courses with the Canadian Forces, I became acquainted with Canada’s traditional enemies and the arsenal the Canadian Army has at its disposition in order to defend itself and its values. But were these the only type of enemies that I was confronted with? Was this all the arsenal that was made available to me?

It was through my study of Buddhism that I encountered the concept of the “spiritual warrior” meaning a person who bravely battles with the universal enemy, self-ignorance; the ultimate source of suffering according to Buddhist philosophy. Their main battle is the mastery of themself in order to overcome personal desire, moral issues, and all weaknesses of character. A “spiritual warrior” is someone who embraces a journey of self-discovery in order to benefit others, as well as, enlighten themself. In essence, it is someone who abides by the mantra “Know thyself”.

Therefore, if we go back to the questions, “Who is the enemy that I must become familiar with according to Sun Tzu?” and “What is the weapon of choice that I use to fight my battles?”, through the eyes of the “spiritual warrior”, the “enemy” is “self-ignorance” and the weapon of choice to battle the “enemy” is to “Know thyself”.

The path of the “spiritual warrior” is one that I have been on since graduating from university throughout my journeys of self-discovery. I physically, emotionally and spiritually travelled into the religious dilemmas of the Middle East; the cultural interconnectedness of the Americas especially witnessed through my travels across the continent of South America; the historical importance of various cities in Western Europe, on top of, the past and present political realities of South Asia. I did not know it at the time but, those trips allowed me to discover new cultures and lands, along with, who I was and my place in my community, my country and the world.

The path of the “spiritual warrior” is a personal one where each person is solely responsible for “walking the path” the way they see fit. I chose a socialization process that craved me to deeply inhale integrity in order to nurture my morally upright life that I desired. It compelled me to perform acts in selfless service while, in turn, pursuing a life of excellence through the bottomless quest into self-mastery.

In the end, the “Call of Duty” that I heeded as a “citizen soldier” was actually the hail to the battle call of becoming a “spiritual warrior” and the commencement of my path towards becoming a UN Peacekeeper. My “path” since its discovery can be summarized in the following quote by Dag Hammarskjöld, United Nations Secretary General who authorized the creation of the first UN Peacekeeping Unit the UNEF,

“But the explanation of how man should live life of active social service in full harmony with himself as a member of the community of spirit, I found in the writings of those great medieval mystics for whom ‘self-surrender’ had been the way to self-realization, and who in ‘singleness of mind’ and ‘inwardness’ had found strength to say yes to every demand which the needs of their neighbours made them face, and to say yes also to every fate life had in store for them when they followed the call of duty as they understood it.”

The final blog will be titled, “The Golden Rule” where the roots of my “Call of Duty” as I understood it, via my core values of integrity, service and excellence, will be traced to my upbringing.