The khandro-pawo / khandropa-pamo principle is an expression of the non-duality of emptiness (khandro, female, wisdom) and form (pawo, male, method). Khandroma and khandropa refer to wisdom activity. Pamo and pawo refer to method activity. A pamo is a female who has realised her inner male qualities and manifests external method activity. Thus the male warrior is pawo and the female warrior is pamo.
Warriors abide in the space of as it is. The warrior knows as unlearned awareness that his or her existence is an opportunity, that death and birth flow continually, that perception and response rely on view, and that satisfaction is non-dual view. Warrior activity manifests without concepts of success or failure – the warrior is not constricted by fear of failure or burdened with hope of success. To have endeavoured wholeheartedly for a righteous cause is sufficient – whatever the outcome.
Precious moments of kindness and openness can be seen every day. When we notice such moments it is important to appreciate them and to inwardly rejoice. Awareness of others’ kindness develops our own capacity. If we feel jealous of kind acts and wish we had thought of them first… or think that the kind act was futile because it passed unappreciated or unobserved… or think others ridiculous for compromising their own comfort… we make our world a little narrower and colder.
However, if we notice that a young person has stood up on a bus to let an older person sit down and we feel warm towards them… if we applaud and support people who engage in voluntary work… if we are surprised to find ourselves moved to tears by appreciation of the many little acts of kind intent that have raised millions of pounds to help others… we allow our glow of warm appreciation to feed ourselves, our environment and our capacity for kindness.
We can rejoice in moments of expansive kindness and ensure that we demonstrate our appreciation. We can refrain from delighting in the cruel wit of someone’s clever, hurtful retort. We can avoid gloating over someone’s failure or loss. We can stand by someone rather than enjoying their humiliation. We can go to someone’s aid instead of sneaking away to safety and anonymity. We can be warriors in many little ways every day.
Warriors do not concern themselves with peer pressure, peer approbation, or being socially accepted. Warriors make their own decisions about the needs of a situation based in awareness and kindness. Warriors do not feel the need to always do what everyone else is doing. Warriors do not wait for others to take the initiative or let the opportunity to help pass by because of a fear of making the first move. Warriors do not fail to practise the wholesome deed because nobody will see it. Warriors always have the energy to bother. They do not indulge indifference just because their lack of involvement does not appear to matter.
The warrior is a familiar iconographic figure in all cultures. He could be a knight of mediæval Britain, a North American Indian brave, a samurai – or she could be an Amazon, or a warrior queen like Boadicea. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche also cites the legendary King Arthur, and King David of the Old Testament.4 Warriors are brave, fearless people whose fearlessness is rooted in the knowledge that they may die performing their duties. They know that there is nothing to fear if they remain true to their honour.
Honourable conduct and view is the lifeblood of the warrior, and this approach to life is as valuable and relevant today as it has been in any period of history.
Heroes and heroines are an important part of the literature of every culture. They often combine steely bravery, acute perception, and uncommon kindness. Real heroes and heroines have a combination of ferocity and gentleness; power and softness; severity and kindness. If we look at a well-known fictional hero of today—Superman—we can see that he possesses superhuman powers which can defeat the most valiant enemy. He has the potential to dominate humanity, to be as rich and powerful as he might desire; yet he is kind and gentle. The purpose of his self-made mission is to save people from suffering.
4. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche was the first Lama to teach Western people about warriorship, see Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala: the Sacred Path of the Warrior (Bantam Books, 1986).