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Shooting Arrows Blindfolded: A Modern Knight Describes His Training

An Interview with Felix Idris Baritsch

Satya Inayat Khan

Chivalry Interview with Idris Baritsch

Please describe your formal chivalric training.

In the early 1980s I entered a five-year study of the chivalric arts in France. The first year was an intensive study and training in healing, natural science, dream symbology and heraldry, martial arts and contemplation. It culminated in an exam that was an initiation into the first level of mysteries.

After two weeks of fasting and praying, I dressed in handmade knight’s clothing – regular jeans and t-shirt, but with an overlying cloth portraying my own coat of arms, which had been revealed to me in a dream. This consisted of three golden-white lilies, a sword of golden-green, as well as some other symbols. For combat we used a bamboo sword and shield that had been personalized using breathing exercises, prayer and dream work – we always kept this holy armor with us, even while sleeping.

In the spirit of the unity of different levels of reality, we shot real arrows on real targets – but of course, like in the Zen art of archery, this practice was metaphoric of revealing qualities of inner states of mind. During the first year exam I fought twenty-one other knights who knew my shadows, weak spots and mental patterns. For me it was a question of life and death.

The second year, I studied holy art and scriptures and undertook extensive training in hermetic energy work. At its end there was a similar combat, but blindfolded, followed by a public presentation of music and poetry. The third year of training ended with an alchemist laboratory work of matter transformation. This started with a simple distillation and various processes on plants and metals, then progressed to complex detoxifications of poisons, and ended with transforming body and matter into light similarly to the laboratory accounts of Patanjali, the Tibetan tiglé and rainbow body practices. Finally, there was a performance of distant diagnostic and healing, and a pilgrimage to Santiago during which we performed several tasks at different places.

After successfully passing the tests at the end of the fourth year, I received a mission into the world as my fifth year training. In fact it was the beginning of another four-year cycle in which I had to improve the medical care situation of an Indian reservation in Brazil. During the next four years my wise and compassionate master came three times to visit and to support my progress and the long-term outcome of my project. In that period I co-founded the first peace university in South America and organized the first inter-religious congress in Brasilia with 200 different religious groups participating. At the same time as the opening session of the congress, the wall in Berlin was torn down! Was it more than mere synchronicity? Anyhow it was a happy conclusion of my training mission.

What drew you to undertake training in chivalry?


During my childhood I already loved to play knight with my friends in our four acres of meadows, woods and gardens and my parents’ two-hundred-year-old chateau on the outskirts of Paris. My classmates brought their costumes and musical instruments and we created a better world in our games and fantasy.

Later I was drawn to the chivalric training by its beauty, nobility and grounded-ness. Its visible power of transformation is oriented in a balanced way to the inside as to the outside. Easily accessible, deeply transforming, simple, clear and beneficial in the outcome, as all polarities and dimensions are oriented to find their natural expression in actions in the world rather than in mere words or speculations.

Have you ever experienced a situation in which the limits of your moral code were challenged by your personal beliefs?

Of course! All my moralistic, protestant, family and personal beliefs and preconceptions were constantly challenged and shattered during the training by my teacher, the power of reality, and by life itself. I had had personal issues with money, sexuality and war. Before my training I had judged any seemingly violent action indiscriminately. I had created a duality in my mind between spiritual and worldly activities and did not have enough faith to experience directly the unifying reality that connects and penetrates all opposites. Thankfully I was deeply cured of those limitations during my chivalric education.

I found that the ‘ethics of the absolute’ differ considerably from any single relative vantage point. Whenever I had resistance to letting go of my personal beliefs, I had to die painful deaths in order to integrate higher non-dualistic energies into my system. The chivalric approach accelerated this process immensely.

What do you mean by higher non-dualistic energies?

Well, just as childhood patterns are inadequate or counterproductive for an adult, progress on the spiritual path often means to integrate and unite contradictory and conflicting point of views and energies in one’s own being – just as in the Being of God all opposites come together. You might start embracing at the same time ‘your foe and your friend’ or ‘illness and health’ and reach further until you embrace unwaveringly ‘high and low’, ‘light and dark’, ‘good and bad’ or ‘life and death’.  Every thought and concept is linked to a certain kind of energy; as a result of which any conceptual split or division between body, mind and heart risks enhancing duality in our Being, whereas the whole approach of spiritual chivalry is based on enhancing unity and its energy.

Would there be anything you would not do if asked within a chivalric context?

In relation to my teacher and in total trust of his wisdom, compassion and skilled means of training and developing my heart and mind, even if I resist his proposition at first, or if it challenges my personal convictions, I would still act according to it and jump off a cliff. Often of course his propositions are subtle hints and not to be taken literally – but you never know until the situation presents itself!

One year I picked up my teacher from Rio de Janeiro airport, and we had an eight-hour drive in order to reach his next seminar location in Brazil. I was tired, as I just had driven ten hours on poor streets to collect him. I had booked a hotel an hour from Rio to rest overnight. My teacher, however, wanted to go on traveling all night in order to arrive before sunrise. I didn’t agree and considering my fatigue and the terrible light and street conditions it was really too risky.

Suddenly he asked me a single question: “Didn’t you say you wanted to know more on the seven-pointed star figures according to Plato?” Surprised and excited I replied “Yes, of course! You want to tell me now?” “Well, he said, it’s easy...just like this...” and he started to explain in precise details the meaning and application of the different seven-pointed stars, catching my full attention. When he finished his last phrase, we were driving into the courtyard of our destination and the sun was about to rise. Seven hours had passed by in less than a glimpse of time and I have no idea how it could be possible we made it. I had no memory of the route, the time that had passed, nor any of his explanations. I wasn’t tired at all and worked for the rest of the day as normal.

The next night I had a dream on how to leave the body, time and space, and understood what had happened the night before. I fit the puzzle together and still use the symbology and power of seven pointed stars in many counseling situations today.

What are some of the challenges of upholding chivalric ideals in a modern society?

One of the challenges is the complexity of society and the speed of its development. Another is the polarization of rich and poor, north and south, healing and destroying, self-interest versus enlightened activity. Although polarization is still getting stronger, the impact of new economic, medical, political and spiritual forms of living is gaining increasingly more terrain. Humanity still needs many more individuals and groups with deep insight and integrated polarities to participate in concrete actions all over the world.

The modern world is definitely at the threshold of a new evolutionary phase. Everywhere I see the spreading of higher levels of consciousness based on new paradigms. Mystic knights participate in that natural event by holding up – or reintroducing, if necessary – the ethics of timeless wisdom in every field of life in order to keep a high level of truth and energy. As in any dawn, the possibilities of co-creating a new world are better than ever.

After the epoch of individuation, the moral code of our time will be more and more rooted in widespread authentic experiences of the Divine beyond concepts or cultural forms and will find expression in the energy of highly motivated groups dedicated to others. They will pacify and integrate by building bridges between opposites, benefiting life, nature, justice and the awakening of human consciousness. The more each conscious group takes specific action in the world according to the new paradigms the stronger the overall effect will be and the easier it will become to install and uphold an adequate ethics for a future world with worthwhile living for all.

Do you think a certain type of person is drawn to chivalry, or does it have a universal appeal?

His Holiness the Dalai Lama says that no one can really work or fight for peace who is not able to raise his sword. In all mystic traditions I see an aspect of chivalric training and whoever is attracted by truth has to pass in one way or another through the chivalric lessons. This is true for everyone, but for many inner and outer reasons only some are attracted to undergo this training and art of living directly. Others prefer the echo of it in other traditions.

Chivalry definitely has an archetypal and universal dimension in resonance with our time and a great potential to benefit the global issues of justice, change and survival of humanity.

Satya Inayat Khan is a freelance web developer, martial artist, and chivalry practitioner. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son. She can be found online at satyakhan.com, or on twitter @satyakhan.


Read more about Satya Inayat Khan

17 October 2008


Tagged Under
chivalry, unity, dreams, prayer, spiritual practice, knighthood, sword, coat of arms, training, energy, archery, interview,
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