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  • The Spiritual Warrior: Amor Fati

    by Tony Hale, C.A.S.

    Amor Fati translated from Latin means “love of your fate”. It is saying “yes” to life with all its pain and all its joy. It is embracing life with the passion of the spiritual warrior. It is not about being passive toward life consequences, but rather taking on the challenges that this life presents.

    To love one’s fate means to fully affirm one’s life. There can be no resentment for the past, present or future. Nietzsche said, “How could I wish that my life had been anything other than what it was, for I would not be who I am.” This is not the philosophy of a fatalist who is blown here and there like a leaf in the wind, resigned to its fate. This goes beyond acceptance.

    Amor fati is about the struggle. It is not about what happens to us, but what happens as a result of our active participation in the life event. Love of one’s fate is the love of our involvement with life. It is a cause for celebration. Chaos, pain, and defeat are opportunities to gain wisdom, stature and strength and prepare for future victories. One welcomes the battle. Fate is loved when one is consumed by living it.

    Love of your fate, amor fati, is the credo of the spiritual warrior. As long as we are involved in time and space there will be birth and death, joy and pain, and ever-present change. Change is the one constant in life. The Buddhists call it impermanence. But change also brings loss. It could be loss of a relationship, loss because of death, loss of material possessions, loss of our drug of choice, loss of identity. Joseph Campbell, speaking on this subject, said, “Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life.”

    I want to stress: amor fati is not about being passive toward life consequences. It is not about being indifferent. It is active participation in life, fully engaged. It’s letting the tears roll down your face. It’s letting the smiles follow the tears, and the tears follow again. It is being able to merge with your chaos and not be devoured by it. Amor fati is loving what happens to you even when it is something or some event you would rather have passed on. It is paying attention to what is true and instructive for you; what your nature tells you about life.

    You find that more and more lessons and teachings are revealed to you and that you grow as a spiritual being, a spiritual warrior. You find more loving kindness for yourself and in so doing find you have more loving kindness toward others. Amor fati is the sword of the spiritual warrior that cuts away the illusions of the ego and integrates self.

    It is with the “wound” or crisis point that we are given the challenge of the spiritual warrior. It is in our darkest hour that we either accept the call or refuse it. Unlike others in society who set out on a path, our path as people in recovery is one we find ourselves on. It was not chosen. It is one, however, that is most life-affirming if accepted. It was our coming to the abyss that wakened us to the adventure and lay at our feet the treasure. It is often hard for us to realize that we have a hidden treasure in our chaos.

    If we accept the challenge, we accept the principle of amor fati. We say “yes” to life and all it has to offer us. Life does not change, but a resolution, a peace, can be found in the spiritual warrior. The fiery passion for the life experience has been re-ignited. No longer does the warrior look at things as good or bad, or black and white. A transformation has occurred that lets one see these two as one. It is like a coin that has two sides; they both make up a single coin. They both have teachings that are invaluable for the spirit. To accept one without the other is to deny both. The spiritual warrior denies nothing.

    Somewhere along the way, we decided pain would not be a part of our lives. We became extremely sensitive to the pain and sorrow of this life. We refused to participate in life. We refused to get down in the dirt, death and pain of the world. We tried to use drugs and alcohol to soar above it all. Being a spiritual warrior is being a participant in life and realizing the jewel in the waste. Every gardener knows the value of fertilizer. Our wounds, our pain, our chaos, our so-called “dirt’, is the fertilizer needed to grow as spiritual warriors. It is what life is all about. We cannot be happy in life if we deny life in any of its aspects.

    All spiritual paths deal with transformation of consciousness. Transformation of consciousness involves gaining a new perspective, one that opens us up to life. With our crisis point, or “wound”, we are forced to look at our situation and are given the opportunity to bring this transformation about. It is through our trials, our wounds and chaos that revelations present themselves.

    The enlightened spiritual warrior is continually being transformed by life experience, but transformation is never complete. It is like slowly turning up a dimmer on a light switch, rather than suddenly switching on a light. The Sufi mystic poet Rumi was asked when he attained enlightenment. He replied, “I am being enlightened every day”. Bringing love to our life trials brings revelation and that is the essence of amor fati.

    The path is where we find ourselves when crisis brings us to awareness, the crisis or chaos wrought by our alcohol and drug use. The awareness comes in response to a sudden moment when the “wound” can no longer be ignored. This is a moment of transition whether we realize it or not.

    This is an all-important moment, when we are able to see that behind us lays a trail of tall grass worn down by our drunk and drugged footsteps. It is strewn with debris and wreckage of the past. In front of us there is only the tall green grass that is virgin – without a trail, without a path. It gives no clue in what direction one should proceed, and future events are hidden. What lies beyond is a mystery. The moment has arrived; the treasure lies at our feet. This is our cue to take the challenge and forge our own path. We will meet fortune head on, time and time again, as we strengthen our resolve and unfold on the path of the spiritual warrior.

    It is at this point that we journey on through virgin territory to become who we are by active involvement in our world and participation in the struggle. This is a privilege. This is our chance to affirm life with passion and not stagnate in the illusory dream state of alcohol and drugs.

    This is not a story about someone else. This is your story. You are the spiritual warrior. It is you who has suffered the wound. It is you who must find the jewel in the wasteland. It is you who must realize that the reward for living is the act of living itself. It is you, the spiritual warrior, who every moment must affirm life with passion and fearlessly proclaim amor fati – amor fati!

    Reprinted by kind permission of Steps for Recovery.

    About the Authors

    Renascent Alumni
    Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.