Excerpt from The Spirit of Quest by D.M. Dooling,
We spend our lives fighting them, overcoming them, getting around
them, or making excuses for being stopped by them. How much of all
this energy is spent tilting at windmills? Something, certainly,
stops us from attaining what we wish and being what we could be;
but is it whator wherewe think it is?
and challenge from the outside evidently stimulate us to do battle,
exercise and train us, develop our muscles and our patience. But
there is something inside everyone that resists helpa coward
shadow that dogs the heels of our potential hero. This is the real
obstacle, and it is very close to home; we have met the enemy, and
he is us.
many years I have been drawn to the question and extraordinary potential
of obstacles. Hindrance and possibility, force and resistance, I
cannot and I would, are what we are made of, from little boys or
girls to big ones. And the capacity to reconcile that inner conflictover
and over again, perhaps, in a gradual process of creating a more
mature and balanced wholeis the exclusively human characteristic;
it is what differentiates us from the animals. We know in our bones
that the final glory, the ultimate achievement, of the human being
is to master himself. This does not have to mean that he is successful
in "overcoming" all those outer barriers, nor that he
becomes a saint who eliminates every trace of the natural mortal.
One who masters himself is in charge of what he is. He has brought
about a relation between the animal and the divine in him, through
which the animal is cared for and the divine is served. And this
means, sometimes, the apparent absence of struggle: the huge, often
invisible effort of acceptance of what one cannot change. No aspect
of the battle for self-mastery is harder than this one of renouncing
one's natural "rights" and desires, to find what lies
beyond them, an inner peace. For when the higher will conquers the
lower, the result appears to be a joyful freedom from both victory
and defeat. "To be victorious and to be defeated are equal,"
says don Juan. "Everything is filled to the brim and everything
is equal and my struggle was worth my while."
freedom must be costly and painful to acquire, and we put off the
attempt to gain it as long as possibleusually until it is
too late. But we know it is our real destiny, and that we are capable
of achieving it. ("You could free me if you would," says
the enchanted princess to the man in the fairy tale.) And when we
are aware of someone else engaged in this struggle, we recognize
it with a kind of leap of the heart. Another person fights our battle
with us and for us; we are allies.
matter how bravely one may face the outer foe, the true nobility
of the warrior is in how he faces himself. Any animal will fight
for its physical life and need, but only a human being can fight
for his soul.