The extraordinary physical abilities of the Mongols

It has been stated elsewhere on these pages that the Mongols functioned in the physical world in a way that demonstrated their success in breaking out of the adaptive limits within which humans are normally confined. It is on the spiritual/psychological plane the secret to this outcome is to be found, because every physical manifestation is an expression of its fundamental, underlying spiritual principle. Precisely for that reason we can learn much, and find inspiration, from observing what the Chingis-Khanite Mongols managed to accomplish.

Wherein lies the importance of the physical prowess evinced by the Mongols? What lessons do they have to offer here?

Unfortunately, many spiritual seekers and others have traditionally believed that the physical faculties, the bodily abilities and powers are of secondary importance in comparison to the mental and spiritual sides of things. Universe itself does not vindicate this outlook. Everything has originated from the same Source, and granted that Cosmos as a whole is the dwelling-place of immense spiritual powers which have made every manifestation in it, there is no justification for any dichotomy between "physical" and "spiritual." All phenomena have, in the last analysis, the same origin. 

Moreover, we humans should not believe that technology and artificial solutions can make Man happier and more complete in all areas. On the contrary, technology, when applied excessively to areas where bodily activity have been crucial to our evolution, tends to deprive us of invaluable abilities and possibilities. Virtual reality with concomitant stimulation of the brain might be able to simulate participation in sports and other physical activities. Still, without consistent exercise our body will not become strong and trained, hence we will lose the possibility of fully using our physical selves. As a result, we can no longer enjoy the exquisite sensation of possessing and using a powerful body, and we will have deprived us of a whole territory of human ability and knowledge, which is more extended than one might think, since the mind/body unit is indeed a whole. Like the situation in a society of individuals, the capable condition of each of the constituents benefits the whole unity. 

Even the most basic function of reproduction has by some been envisaged eventually to be managed in an artificial way, in order to save humans from the "drudgery" of having to use our physical nature. It is no difficulty stimulating the brain in a way as to simulate sexual contact, even easily provoke sexual release. Again, technological processes do not train our body and its inherent potentials when they supplant our consistent use of them. One might argue that technological advances as applied to numerous areas are creations of our minds, and thus to be considered "natural." The answer must be that if so, it is also perfectly natural to make mistakes, but it is on the other hand recommendable to correct and steer away from them. Failure to do so brings unpleasant and unforeseen results. Some spiritual traditions predict and advocate a withering away of our physical nature. Know this: They are correct. Some members of intelligent species will evidently evolve in such a direction. Others will by conscious desire not do so, and the significant point here is that there are virtually limitless possibilities in Universe, and it is at all times our spiritual aspirations that directly determine our destiny.   Moreover, Universe is non-linear and cyclical in its workings, and what superficially might seem to be a development along a predetermined line, is in fact part of a much larger cycle that is invisible for our daily senses by virtue of its nonthinkable enormousness. Cyclic development, operative in a multitudinous array of Universes, is characterized by a limitless possibility of creation and manifestation. Thus, there is no line of development that is separated from or uninfluenced by our spiritual aims. It is of paramount importance to realize that it is up to us to create our destiny. It is our Spirit that is the continuous Creator of our Path. 

We should be aware that as every new generation is inclined to consider its given environment perfectly natural, it devolves upon those mindful of the above to give this insight further. Each Principle of life, evolution and development in Universe deserves be maintained by our consciousness, and maintenance of the Principles we belong to is important.  The Mongolian spiritual Principles stand for a Life-Force marked by immense vigor as symbolized by the harsh and challenging nature in Siberia as opposed to the dulling of many of the senses and faculties, as symbolized by urbanized life with all its artificialities. It is up to us to include that invigorating Life-Force in our future. 

Why should we maintain an able, powerful body? That is the question implicitly posed by our sedentary culture. We simply have immensely many more possibilities of experience, challenge and learning when an able body is at our disposal. Large numbers of present-day people have been deluded into believing that we do not need a capable body. This is a major, and destructive, self-delusion. To deprive ourselves of a vigorous, competent body is to destroy a very important sphere of human experience and adventure. It is our own choice. We shape our destinies, and consequently we are free to choose to build a human society wherein optimal development of our all faculties: emotional, psychological, spiritual, mental and physical, are encouraged and maintained throughout life. It will be to our advantage if we do so. The Mongols, with their extraordinary physical abilities, give us inspiration and show us the way. 

They were endowed with powers of endurance not seen elsewhere in history. On a minimum of food, they would ride on and on for days and weeks. Under such circumstances, they frequently resorted to drinking the blood of their horses. What they did was to slice open a neck vein, suck the blood, and then carefully sew the vein together again. This was not as cruel towards the horses at it might seem, because the Mongol horsemen took great care not to suck too much. Also, every rider was accompanied by at least three horses in average, meaning that each horse was never taxed more than it could take. Moreover, these horses, which were more or less a tamed variety of the Przjevalski horse, were perfectly capable of foraging under the most trying conditions. As is the case for their riders, their sturdiness, endurance and capability command our awe. 

Nor did the Mongols lack muscular strength. In spite of their being small, Mongol men were in average a little below 170 cm, their bodies were powerful. Their weight was about 70 kg trained muscle. Medieval accounts from Persia and elsewhere testify to their great physical strength, disproportionate to their small frame. Still another indicator of prodigious power is the famous Mongol bow. Recurved and powerful, its draw weight lay around 166 pounds. Most grown men of today will find that a 50-pound bow is about the upper limit of what they can comfortably handle, and modern bows used for competition have draw weights around a mere 30-40 pounds. 

The Mongols could discern smoke from a fire at very great distances, and if weather conditions were favorable, they could even see people and horses at a distance of more than 25 kilometers. Certainly this was the result of the keen physical senses that are trained to their utmost in a life in consistent harmony with Nature, but it was also an expression of the Mongols' highly developed intuition. This example serves to illustrate the fundamental inseparability of spirit and body. 

When humans develop their intuition, they can do things like perceiving whether a house is empty or if someone is hiding inside, whether a person lying down is sleeping or only pretending to sleep. Eventually one becomes able to perceive what feelings and intentions others have towards oneself, and feel the presence of a living being at a great distance. The Mongols had developed all human faculties to an unprecedented degree. Hence it was near to impossible to hide from them for any length of time, let alone escape from them when they pursued somebody or something. Their limitless aspirations in this physical world stemmed from the joyfully curious, energetic and intrepid spirituality which they possessed. 

Any account of the Mongols that fails to mention the coldness of Siberia is deficient, and more often than not, they operated in winter. Winter in Central Asia and Siberia is something entirely different from the "winter" in most other parts of the world. Temperatures down to minus sixty degrees are not uncommon. Subedei, the sagacious leader of the great Mongolian campaign towards Russia and the West 1236-1242, was adamant that the campaign should be opened during winter. Thus, the Mongols are the only ones throughout history who have ever fought a successful winter war in Russia. They were even superior to General Winter. 

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Last Updated September 5, 1999 by Per Inge Oestmoen