The Tender Warrior

“For the warrior, the experience of sad and tender heart is what gives birth to fearlessness. Conventionally, being fearless means that you are not afraid or that if someone hits you, you will hit him back. However, we are not talking about that street-fighter level of fearlessness. Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness.”
–Chogyam Trungpa

Most of us ask only one organ–our brain–to carry the full weight of the decisions and issues of our lives. But it is the tender voice of the heart that can bring us the peace and clarity we yearn for. Opening to the liquid gold of our feeling heart is the way, not only of liberation, but of the fearless tender warrior.

Read what Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the world-famous Omega Institute, learned about the first sign of true fearlessness, here:

Sitting on the beach with her two sons playing nearby, Lesser was reading a book by the great Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, when she found this life-changing paragraph:

“Going beyond fear begins when we examine our fear: our anxiety, nervousness, concern, and restlessness. If we look into our fear, if we look beneath the veneer, the first thing we find is sadness, beneath the nervousness. Nervousness is cranking up, vibrating all the time. When we slow down, when we relax with our fear, we find sadness, which is calm and gentle. Sadness hits you in your heart, and your body produces a tear. Before you cry, there is a feeling in your chest and then, after that, you produce tears in your eyes. You are about to produce rain or a waterfall in your eyes and you feel sad and lonely and perhaps romantic at the same time. That is the first tip of fearlessness, and the first sign of real warriorship. You might think that, when you experience fearlessness, you will hear the opening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony or see a great explosion in the sky, but it doesn’t happen that way. Discovering fearlessness comes from working with the softness of the human heart.”

Lesser writes: “I sat on the beach with those words resonating throughout my body. Reading them was like looking into a mirror and loving my face for the first time. Was he saying that the peace and clarity I had been searching for was already within me, waiting in the liquid gold of my feeling heart? That I had been repressing the very parts of myself that would liberate me? . . . How many times had I felt a mysterious link between my small, tender heart and the vast spirit of the universe? How many times had genuine tears of sadness made me feel strangely bold and alive? How many times had I almost awakened from dullness and self-doubt while in the chambers of beauty and love? Trungpa was telling me to trust what I already knew, to dignify the longings of the human heart, and to respect its romantic, quixotic nature. . . The way of the heart–that inner instinct that draws us creatively into the chaos of life–is, ironically, also the way out of confusion, anxiety, and suffering.”

Inspired by Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser (Villard, 2005).


Lynn C.
Lynn C6 years ago

This was such a beautiful gift this morning. Because the world is tugging at my sleeve now, I will save this to reread and savor while alone. Thank you Annie. You always have wonderful things to give!

Beverly L.
Beverly L7 years ago

Lovely article!