The Five Warrior Syllables: Understanding with Your Heart

DOMAGICK CHALLENGE DAY 12

The Five Warrior Syllables workshop ended just over four hours ago, and I feel like any attempt to summarize what I learned there into a single, cohesive entry will do the Geshela’s teachings a disservice. I could list the Five Warrior Syllables and their various correspondences, and I could even explain how to chant them, but that isn’t the same as being there and doing the work. More importantly, there are books and videos available that outline the practice better than I ever could, including those of Geshela Yongdong himself as well as those of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. I highly recommend the work of both individuals, not to mention researching the Bon tradition. In the meantime, I can speak for what I experienced participating in the workshop itself.

First, I was able to watch two excellent teachers in action. As someone easing their way into a leadership role, I felt blessed to observe these two religious elders not only at work but at play, and seeing their faces light up around each other made my heart swell with happiness. Truly, these two were old friends; I could believe they had known each other for many lifetimes. Witnessing their love for one another made me feel grateful not only for those I hold dear but simply glad to share in their friendship at a distance. Because I am polyamorous, I normally would describe this feeling as compersion, but the Geshela called this the third type of giving: the joy we experience when someone receives a gift from another. I had no problem understanding this concept, thanks to their recent exchanges.

I wasn’t always completely at ease during the workshop, of course. It was a social situation to some extent, with approximately 20 people mingling during breaks. This always made the critical voice in the back of my head speak up. For example, since the highest teachings of the Bon concern being your authentic self, it seemed fitting that I introduce myself with my preferred name rather than my legal one, regardless of how vulnerable doing so might make me feel. People frequently responded with “What?” or “I’ve never heard that name before!” Whenever they did, I immediately wanted to explain my name away, but only did once—when someone else brought up their own desire to change names.

I’ve come to realize art makes me feel similarly exposed. I’m not as skilled at art as I am with writing, so I cannot hide my true self behind clever techniques when I make it. All viewers see in my art is me, warts and all. That terrifies me. For one thing, I was taught as a child to never expose my weaknesses. Worse yet, my faults and gaps in skill are magnified in my eyes, so I worry they will seem just as big to everyone else.

Perhaps they will. In reality, there is nothing I can do to control their reactions. If I become hung up on their reactions, I will never produce any art, either. One bad picture is better than no picture at all, just like reciting a mantra once with good intentions and messing it up is better than saying it perfectly ten times for the wrong reasons.

According to the Geshela, we can’t practice with the Five Warrior Syllables incorrectly as long as we are doing so from the heart. We can dance the syllables, or paint them, or hang them as prayer flags and watch them blow in the wind. The technique is remarkably flexible in this way, with intention remaining more important than perfection. While I plan to focus on using sound over the rest of the Domagick Challenge, Geshela Yongdong taught us the Tibetan symbols that go along with each seed syllable too, so I can also use this time to practice my calligraphy. Typography is one of my greatest loves, and my partners have urged me to pick up a set of pens; now I have no excuse not to do so. I believe this will get me back into the habit of writing prayers by hand again, something of which I’m sorely out of practice.

The chants themselves were powerfully transformative. The five warrior syllables are primarily protective in nature and are meant to ward off physical and emotional negativity. I admit I have often been skeptical of such claims. However, after chanting the syllables and moving energy through my chakras, the pain I’d felt in my back and chest muscles disappeared. I managed to lay my palms flat on the floor afterward, which even my brother said it was unusual for me. My body just doesn’t do that. The proof is in the pudding—this stuff works. I’d be foolish not to keep doing it for that reason alone.

Just as importantly, I felt no anxiety when I was chanting. That’s typical for me, but the burst of energy I felt while doing so was not, nor was the swell of love. I feel that only when connected to Source, to Satan. That’s what I tapped into here, though I doubt either teacher would have described it as such.

The group promised to get together later this month to practice without the Geshela. I’ll be starting on my own tomorrow. I can’t wait to expand on what I learned through reading and experience.

(One thing I already figured out is that the five elements of Bon are not the same as those of Daemonolatry; the four main ones are analogous, but Space and Spirit do not directly correspond. In Bon, Space is a distinct element, although cosmologically it was the first from which all others arose. In my tradition, on the other hand, all the elements combine and balance in Spirit, for the All is One. This means that the symbolism I put into my art piece for the Geshela wasn’t quite right, but I trust he enjoyed it anyway. After all, it’s the thought that counts!)