Rise of the Warrior Monk

Men dissatisfied with society drop out of it -- but may discover something surprising about themselves in the process.

As social-justice ideology casts its unintegrated shadow over every aspect of public life, it’s no surprise not every man is eager to pledge his allegiance to the new orthodoxy. But nor is every old-soul malcontent willing to stand athwart the wrong side of history yelling stop at an online outrage mob.

Some are just saying to hell with it, and so the universal law of cause and effect has brought us the growing phenomenon of “men going their own way,” or mentally dropping out of society — particularly the mating game. Whether these men are middle-aged and embittered from divorce or lifelong rejection, or in the prime of life but prematurely disillusioned, these male dropouts share the view that contemporary society is soulless and effeminate, increasingly demonizing men for all of their natural instincts. They have been disillusioned by the new economics of the online-dating game. And they crow that what women demand for their sociopolitical advancement is often at odds with their biological imperatives: The average woman doesn’t want the average man, they suspect. She wants what her mating instincts have always wanted: the above-average man. That leaves many average and below men believing their prospect of finding a mate is a few notches above a miracle.

But there’s another universal law in play here: that every truth is but half-truth, one side of a two-sided coin. If the mainstream media constantly demonizes traditional masculinity, then pop culture counters with endless fodder for rupturing the unconscious fault lines of the male psyches and dislodging fossilized masculine archetypes. Such as the kind of man desirable to women but devoted to a higher calling. There are the wifeless wall guards in Game of Thrones and the chaste Templars of History Channel’s “Knightfall,” and then all the bold, free men in countless cinematic depictions of Arthurian legend, Greek battle, and the two world wars.

These heroes of the eras, as Alexander Dumas put it, “when life was life and men were men,” have all the requisite alpha-male qualities from strength to bravery and even rugged good looks. But their life is devoted to something higher than using their high status to procreate. That’s because the whole notion of sex as the primary preoccupation of a man’s energies is but a recent blip on the timeline of evolution, a product of the 1970s, as it was only then — thanks to birth control and the Sexual Revolution — that it was made possible for men to ape the exploits of Jacques Casanova. In the heroic annals of history, manhood was not formed by languishing in perfumed sheets, but was forged like a sword by other men. In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio tries to set lovestruck Romeo’s priorities straight when he essentially says: “Why are you so into this woman when you could be practicing your fencing?”

So what are today’s lone wolves doing when they “go their own way”? Many are gathering around online channels devoted to weightlifting and martial arts on the one hand, and spiritual matters on the other. And in doing so they are reviving a long-lost archetype, the warrior monk.

Surrounded by the shopping-and-social-justice zombie apocalypse in real life, warrior-monks huddle around YouTube channels that discourse on weightlifting (now considered by the Left a major right-wing red flag), kickboxing, and the collapse of Western Civilization — often all in a single five-minute video. There are self-published (obviously) books encouraging men to view American society as a decadent empire to be pillaged like a barbarian. Picture a cross, with the short end running parallel to the earth along the socio-political plane, and the long end running hierarchical on a psychological-spiritual axis, starting from a pair of dumbbells on a gym floor and running up through Jordan Peterson and Carl Jung straight up to God.

If I’ve noticed the “warrior monk” archetype emerging in society, that’s because I’ve noticed it emerging in myself. Yet nothing is quite so disillusioning as vowing to drop out of society only to find that it is actually a trend, and thus simply another aspect of society. After all, as the Victorian novelist George Moore put it, “No man is greater than the age he lives in.”

Gender roles have been in a state of confusion for some time, and we‘ve been down this primordial path before. During the ‘90s drum-beating, group-hugging “men’s movement,” Jungian analyst Robert Moore and mythologist Douglas Gillette published a still-widely-admired tome called King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering The Archetypes Of The Mature Masculine. In the bearded duo’s chapter on the warrior, they write how channeling this archetype makes personal relationships assume secondary importance to a man’s spiritual path. “The psyche of the man who is adequately accessing the Warrior is organized around his central commitment,” they write. “This commitment eliminates a great deal of human pettiness. Living in the light of lofty ideals and spiritual realities such as God . . . so alters the focus of a man’s life that petty squabbling and personal Ego concerns no longer matter much.”

With healthy diets, strong bodies, and vital energy retained via abstention from pornography, as well as higher consciousness honed through meditation, ritual, and perhaps even old-fashioned Christianity, what might be the character arc of these manly social dropouts?

Life has a way of being unpredictable. So does Divine Grace. Which is why these warrior-monks may eventually come to a most unexpected discovery. In entering the castle of the mind and probing its hidden recesses, they may eventually stumble upon an unexplored chamber where lies a slumbering princess. For these men are not as solitary as they think. Nor, even in the company of a band of brothers, is their life quite so devoid of feminine energy as they may wish — or fear — to believe. For as sure as their heart beats there courses within them the anima, the feminine fount, the receptive antenna tuned to the spirit signal. As Aldous Huxley writes in his great study of the world’s religions, “In every exposition of the Perennial Philosophy the human soul is regarded as feminine.” He goes on to quote Lao Tzu:

The Valley Spirit never dies.

It is called the Mysterious Female.

And the doorway of the Mysterious Female

Is the base from which Heaven and Earth spring.

It is there within us all the time.

Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.

Played out with the logic of the cosmic code, today’s warrior-monks might very well end up discovering their feminine side — albeit the archetypal version, not the feminist-approved, socio-political kind.

Men gone your own way, lone wolves cursing fate for being born at the wrong time and in the wrong place, within you lies the potential for a sacred marriage of the sun and moon. You already possess a companion who will love you unconditionally and never desert you, for your long-sought soulmate is none other than your very own soul. And how mysterious, indeed, are the workings of grace.

Something to Consider

If you enjoyed this article, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS. Members get all of our content (including the magazine), no paywalls or content meters, an advertising-minimal experience, and unique access to our writers and editors (through conference calls, social media groups, and more). And importantly, NRPLUS members help keep NR going.

If you enjoyed this article and want to see more content like this, we have a proposition for you: Join NRPLUS.


Join Now


The Latest