Ronin & The Honor Quest
The ronin, or man who has betrayed the honor code of his people and honor role he was expected to fulfill for his people, may now be “free,” but only superficially so. Affecting his inner guidance will naturally be the shame, fear, guilt and doubt that is natural when one betrays the honor code, the honor role, the culture he once embraced and followed and the people who were his people.
He no longer has a clear answer to the fundamental questions,
- Who am I?
- Who are my people?
- and Who am I for my people?
Intellectual answers to such questions are never sufficient. He must have a bodily and heart-centered knowing.
This is a spiritual kind of crisis, or what I call an Honor Crisis, when one has such a knowing. No matter what path a man chooses, without such a knowing, he will suffer. And the suffering will act itself out in ways that hurt him and his people.
Such crises are worse for those men who were brought up with rites of passage that gave them a clear place among their people, an inner heart-centered knowing of who they were for their people which makes sacrificing for their people feel natural, right and sometimes even filled with a sense of exaltation. In other words such rites of passage give the young man a deep feeling of honor, and the path before him is clear–moreover it feels clear. But to have had that and lost it is typically far more challenging than to never have had it at all. And many men in todays world have never had it in depth.
Vision Quests were/are a ritual undertaken by young men of some First Nations people. Wikipedia:
During this time, the young person prays and cries out to the spirits that they may have a vision, one that will help them find their purpose in life, their role in community, and how they may best serve the People. Dreams or visions may involve natural symbolism – such as animals or forces of nature – that require interpretation by Elders. After their passage into adulthood, and guided by this experience, the young person may then become an apprentice or student of an adult who has mastered this role.
If the ronin seeks out in earnest the question of who he is for his people, he may arrive at an answer which yields both 1) a profound sense of inner guidance grounded in his heart, what I call honor, and 2) visions. I feel it helps to give a name to such a quest, no matter how it is undertaken. One could use the term, Vision Quest, however as it could be easily confused with the ritual of First Nations people. Right now I prefer the term Honor Quest. Whatever one calls it, suffering marks the path of the ronin who is wandering lost without the natural guidance of honor and vision.
To find ones way again–a new way–tends to feel like a rebirth. And in fact one is grounded in a new heart-resonant identity with a deep inner answer to Who am I for my people. The Honor Work I have spent so many years developing, co-developing, experimenting is grounded in this return to the authority of one’s heart, in a sense a remembering, and holding a holding such remembrance sacred.
The adventures I am planning for men into places like Brazil are intended to be part Honor Quest, and more generally a return to discovering and embracing one’s natural sense of belonging and one’s natural authority on this Earth.