What is courage a critical component of living a life well?  What role does courage play in walking a spiritual path?  What is courage after all?

Please share with the group both your thoughts and your favorite quotes on the subject.  We will collect salient quotations shared by the group and post them on the Universal Theosophy Site here: www.universaltheosophy.com/art-of-living/courage/

Here is one from Winston Churchill found on the site, please share your favorites:

"Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others." 

 

Try out the accordion at the bottom of the page where various quotes are stored by different authors.

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Courage is learning how to be content with failure. That's what a professor at ASU taught in a leadership course and I think the same applies to a spiritual path. If one can learn to be content after failing, they then can self-correct and try again without fears or uncertainties.

Good question!

here's a try - Courage would be to act with a willingness to incur whatever results, in spite of fear.  It would not expect a particular result.

The courageous act is one which pushes past self-concern.     

 

Very good start Don! Close to Loren's approach.

Kind of a similar approach by Krishna in the BG II:16

"Let, then, the motive for action be in the action itself, and not in the event. Do not be incited to actions by the hope of their reward, nor let thy life be spent in inaction. Firmly persisting in Yoga, perform thy duty, O Dhananjaya,* and laying aside all desire for any benefit to thyself from action, make the event equal to thee, whether it be success or failure. Equal-mindedness is called Yoga."

Although not as strong as the word courage, perhaps 'persisting in Yoga' and 'equal-mindedness' could be akin to courage?

 'persisting in Yoga' and 'equal-mindedness' could be akin to courage?

I suppose so, and just fishing here...  The word 'courageous' implies vigor, energy, even resistance (to fear), while equal-mindedness implies a more passive activity. 

When I think of courage, I think of an act which is forced and even violent - as if one were warring against oneself.  The cause behind 'courage' is something higher (higher manas/buddhic) than 'fear' which is lower (lower manas/kama) in our constitution.  It's as if the higher is taking violent control over the lower. 

I think at it's core, the higher mind is equal-minded, yogic, but it's expression on the lower plane could appear 'courageous', as we compare it against it's foe - fear. 

 

Nice reply Don,
if 'courageous' implies vigor and energy, then we can connect it back to Jon's question, "Is there correlation between Courage and Virya (of the Paramitas)?"
And the answer from the Voice (p. 52) seems to confirm this:

"VIRYA, the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial."

I heard in a high school commencement speech today the idea that the greatest achievements and the greatest joys occur when we move outside of our comfort zone.  That appears to say something about the importance of courage.

Along the same lines, it seems that courage is something that is only really revealed when we are tested. It may be impossible to predict, from outward appearances, who will "step up to the plate" when circumstances demand courage.

What I like about this most is the "in spite of fear" part. I think many people can fall under the illusion that courageous people don't feel fear, when the truth of the matter is that they're simply better at dealing with it, and less likely to be shaken off course by it.

I'm afraid that these quotes are kind of superfluous (whether by Churchill or anyone else), although I like quotes :-) But by the same token I can replace the word 'courage' in that quote by many others, for instance patience. Nobody develops courage without first having patience. And some might say, well, you need courage in order to develop patience, yadda, yadda, yadda. And then we're running in circles.

Equally so, "what is happiness", "what is courage", "what is virtue", etc… There's just no end to the quotes. When socrates asked some of his listeners "what is virtue?" they gave him 10 or so examples but none of them defined what virtue is in and by itself, just examples of virtue, the same goes for love. I don't want to be critical here by posing this problem, rather to en"courage" us to think about this conundrum.

I think when we dwell on the virtues, think about what they mean, and investigate the connections between them we attract helpful energies that can lead us to become stronger individuals.

Is there correlation between Courage and Virya (of the Paramitas)?

5. Virya, the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial.

I thinkyou are right.  Courage seems to imply the ability to hold on despite resistance.  Virya seems to be that kind of energy.  That might be one way they are correlated.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 11, 2013 at 8:09pm

Yeah, it seems to me to be the kind of courage and 'uprightness' that Krishna encourages in Arjuna following his despondency—the strength and willingness to stand and face the fight. It's the core-ability of the warrior, and certainly we need that kind of strength, poise and courage in our inner battles.

Permalink Reply by Arnold A. McMahon on June 29, 2013 at 12:00am

It takes a lot of courage to address the topic of courage! And a lot of time - as it is a profound - and important - topic. A few comments.

> Love generates courage. The classic case of a mother who risks her life for her child.  The person who gives their life for their love of country.

> Love of truth generates courage. Those in the civil rights movement who believed that all are equal led them to acts of great courage.

> Love of justice has led many to acts of great heroism - Nelson Mandela is but one example. Gandhi is another. He took on the might of the British Empire without so much as a gun or stone in his hand - and the British left as friends.

> So, love has a lot to do with courage. Can one have courage without love? We should be cautious making universal statements, but I tend to think that without love, genuine courage is not possible. Bravado maybe, courage, I do not think so.

> Love of wisdom - philosophy - led Socrates to courageously face death.

> People courageously face things like cancer. What leads them to do that?

> A lot for all of us to think about.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 12, 2013 at 10:25am

How does one develop courage?

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on June 12, 2013 at 11:11am

Gerry,

I've been thinking about this too.  Courage is something greatly needed.  I think that practicing courage on a daily basis in common matters, and developing a habit courage would be a good approach. 

I think that if we first thought about the kinds of ways that we are fearful, say with other people or with common matters such as health, money, politics or whatever, we might be able to also identify how we might move courageously into those subjects without care for ourselves or for specific outcomes.  Then, when such matters come up, we're prepared for the battle.  We're not caught off-foot.  We can pull Virya out like a sword..  Do this often, and perhaps we can establish the habit of courage.

 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 26, 2013 at 11:23am

Can you or any one in the group elaborate on what it means to "practice courage on a daily basis" as Don has mentioned?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 13, 2013 at 10:52am

Now that's a beautiful definition if I've ever heard one! :)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 23, 2013 at 1:21pm

Excellent passage, thank you.  Could we say there is a spiritual component to all the virtues in some respect?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 13, 2013 at 11:01am

This diagram is from Character Strengths and Virtues (CSV) by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman. Notice the four characteristics that are made to compose Courage. Exploring those four seems to help see a wider scope for what we may think of as courage. Same goes for the other virtues as well.

 

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 13, 2013 at 1:32pm

Nice diagram, can I color it? :-)

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 13, 2013 at 1:50pm

Did you bring your digital crayons?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 16, 2013 at 11:27am

You are the diagram master!

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 23, 2013 at 1:20pm

Interesting that he choose to use the word Pleasure at the center of this diagram.  Extremely clever organization.  This is an excellent idea.  Everyone would benefit from creating such a diagram for themselves.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 16, 2013 at 11:27am

Is it possible to understand what courage is if we don't examine what fear is?

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 21, 2013 at 6:49pm

Today I was pondering the difference between "courage" and "fearlessness". I noticed that in some circumstances I will be utterly fearless, but in those times I cannot say that I was being courageous (in the moment or in retrospect). It seems that the absence of fear, as a state of being, may actually negate the presence and use of courage. If I have no fear at all, how can I be said to be courageous? In that situation, what is it that I would be facing courageously?

When I look at this in myself it seems that the presence of courage might actually require the presence of fear: i.e. only when there is fear to be faced can one really be said to be courageous.

In this light, perhaps courage is but a stepping stone towards the greater state of fearlessness—courage existing as a strength only because there is a "weakness" (fear) to be conquered.

Any thoughts?

Permalink Reply by Mary Elyn Bahlert on June 16, 2013 at 2:02pm

Thank you for inviting me into this discussion, Gerry.  I don't mind sharing my thoughts (!), but I am not well-read or well-studied in Theosophy, so please excuse my ignorance there!

My own spiritual life is very experience oriented.  That is, I come from my own experience, while at the same time I have learned from many teachers.  Most of my experience comes from surrendering, or "letting go," not as a tactic, but as a way of life.

Courage?  I'm not sure I can define it, or even offer a quote that speaks to courage.  I'm not sure I even know what it is - if it is - in myself.  About 30 years ago, when I was in the first few years of a new, public career, several folks commented to me that I was courageous.  As I look back, I'm not sure I knew, even then, what they meant.  I suppose it takes courage for any of us to venture into this life at all.  Every day is filled with obstacles and dangers, and yet we get up in the morning and even go outside our homes or tents.  That may be courage.

Some of the examples we hear about courage often don't strike me as being "courageous" at all, but rather, the ordinary action of a particular moment; ie., the stories we hear of "courage" in those who have gone to war. 

The most powerful moment to me in the New Testament scripture stories of Jesus is that moment when he stands before Pilate.  Pilate says [not sure which version here, please bear with me]:  "Who are you?  King of the Jews?"  And Jesus answers:  "That is who you say I am."

I suppose the most courageous act of all is to simply be ourselves.  That takes a lifetime of getting up day after day, shedding more and more of the skin of our ego-selves, and still continuing to live and breathe.

Anyway, thanks again for asking me to join you in this discussion, Gerry.  I read all of the posts with great interest, and I hope to learn more about Theosophy as time permits.

Blessings, all.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 16, 2013 at 2:27pm
"I suppose the most courageous act of all is to simply be ourselves."

Very nice reply! HPB said something to that effect, and she wasn't only referring to the higher self, but to be true to our manifested self as well. I think the above statement is a very good representation of that idea, to be as we are and not hide behind our persona (mask).
Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 16, 2013 at 6:04pm

What wonderful thoughts Mary.

The story of Jesus seems to demonstrate this courage to be truly ourselves. He remained true to himself right to the end, through great suffering. It's a good example to try to emulate, in our own little ways, I think.

You say:

"As I look back, I'm not sure I knew, even then, what they meant."

and it causes me to reflect on the "stages of mastery" (which I read somewhere):

1st: Unconscious Incompetence, 2nd: Conscious Incompetence, 3rd: Conscious Competence, and 4th: Unconscious Competence.

So those who are truly masters of something may not even entertain the thought that they are performing masterfully at something.

In the Tao Te Ching there's a similar sentiment:

Those who have the highest righteousness do not consider that they are righteous; therefore they are righteous.
Those of lesser righteousness never forget that they are righteous; this is why they are not truly righteous.
Those who have the highest righteousness act righteously without thinking of righteousness.
The men of lesser righteousness are consciously righteous. ... (Tao Te Ching, 38)

And it seems to me that very often we may act courageously without really thinking of our actions as courageous. Someone falls in front of a truck, another leaps to pull them out of the way without entertaining the thought: "I'm a hero. What courage I'm showing!" ;)

Again, thanks for your perspective. That was wonderful!

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 23, 2013 at 1:23pm

Might it be fair to say that venturing into unknown territory requires courage?

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 23, 2013 at 2:01pm

No.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 23, 2013 at 8:56pm

Why?...................(ok so you win the award for the shortest reply!)

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 23, 2013 at 10:00pm

So, no. Not necessarily, because lots of people venture into unknown territory out of ignorance, curiosity, stupidity, greed, necessity, etc. For example people joining a certain group (perhaps a cult) venture into unknown territory, or scientists venturing into unknown territory (research) does not necessarily constitute a courageous act. There are too many variables that can be applied to the motives for venturing into unknown territory. There's a lot of bad unknown territory into which people venture that takes courage as well (like robbing a bank).

Perhaps detailing what kind of territory AND its possible  conditions that could be faced might take us closer to an answer. Rather, wouldn't some element of knowing what to face bring courage into the picture? I don't think that courage is necessarily devoid of fear nor knowledge either if we define courage as the ability to overcome our fear moving into territory where the expectation (or knowledge) of danger is warranted.

My 2 cents :-)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 28, 2013 at 11:26pm

Mary,

In theosophy Wisdom is the thing, not the number of books someone might have read.  Your hard earned experience is worth more than a hundred books so you have nothing to apologize for here.

If we think deeply about the experiences we have, and search our souls for the meaning of events we are far better off than if we memorize text, or read dozens of books.

Theosophy is being taught in every way, not just through books, because Theosophy or Wisdom you might say is the heart of Nature and Karma is the central Law of Theosophy one might also add..

If we look at things this way, and if we consider that each of us have lived myriad lives previously, then we can dispense with who has read more than who and just pass on to each other what our lives have taught us so far.  That is what all the discussions and discussion groups are about on the Nexus..  Learning from life and sharing it with others so that they might benefit.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 29, 2013 at 10:16am

Well said Gerry. :)

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 29, 2013 at 11:32am

Hear Hear!

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Sophia Fields on June 24, 2013 at 12:44pm

Courage...courage is that rush of adrenalin that sweeps over the body when one jumps off from the tip of the tree down below the canopy into the unknown. Like an eternal clock with a surprise alarm, one may awaken to a dream through a vibrant alarm into a spiritual hall with a dim glowing light of experimental experience.  The self driving force seeking truth.

Permalink Reply by Casady on June 27, 2013 at 9:56am

This is from some daily thought book grouped around specific virtues -

COURAGE

"Be brave for Truth and Brotherhood, and

     We shall be with you throughout the ages."

 1.   What I meant by the “Forlorn Hope” was that when one regards the magnitude of the tasks to be undertaken by our theosophical volunteers, and especially the multitudinous agencies arrayed, and to be arrayed, in opposition, we may as well compare it to one of those desperate efforts against overwhelming odds that the true soldier glories to attempt. KH.

2.    WE never whine over the inevitable but try to make the best of the worst. K.H.

3.    The victor’s crown is only for him who proves himself worthy to wear it; for him who attacks Mara single handed and conquers the demon of lust and earthly passions; and not we but he himself puts it on his brow. K.H.

4.    It was not a meaningless phrase of the Tathagata that “he who masters Self is greater than he who conquers thousands in battle”:  there is no such other difficult struggle.  If it were not so, adeptship would be but a cheap acquirement. KH.

5.    In traveling your own thorny path I say again courage and hope. K.H.

6.  Like the “true man” of Carlyle who is not to be seduced by ease, “difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death are the allurements that act,” during the hours of trial, on the heart of a true chela. K.H.

7.  Doubt not, for this complexion of doubt unnerves and pushes back one’s progress. K.H.

8.  It is true manhood when one boldly accepts one’s share of the collective Karma of the group one works with, and does not permit oneself to be embittered, and to see others in blacker colours than reality, or to throw all blame upon some one “black sheep” a victim, specially selected. K.H.

9.  Indulge not in apprehensions of what evil might happen if things should not go as your worldly wisdom thinks they ought. K.H.

10.  An accepted chela does not become free from temptations, probations and trials. M.

11.  B. is an honest man of a sincere heart, besides being one of tremendous moral courage and a martyr to boot.  Such our K.H. loves. M.

12.  To have cheerful confidence and hope is quite another thing from giving way to the fool’s blind optimism; the wise man never fights misfortune in advance. KH

13.  May the faith and courage which have supported you hitherto endure to the end. K.H.

14.  Happy is he who crosses the great gulf between himself and us-unscarred with doubt and free from the pollution of suspicion. M.

15.  So now, you my chela, choose and grasp your own destiny. M.

16.  Since every one of us is the creator and producer of the causes that lead to such or some other results, we have to reap but what we have sown.  Our chelas are helped but when they are innocent of the causes that lead them into trouble when such causes are generated by foreign, outside influences.  Life and the struggle for adeptship would be too easy, had we all scavengers behind us to sweep away the effects we have generated through our own rashness and presumption. K.H.

17.  Courage and fidelity, truthfulness and sincerity, always win our regard. K.H.

18.  Courage, then, you all, who would be warriors of the one divine Verity; keep on boldly and confidently; husband your moral strength, not wasting it upon trifles but keeping it against great occasions.K.H.

19.  “To dare, to will, to act and remain silent” is our motto as that of every Kabalist and Occultist. K.H. 

20.  You offer your services; well.  You are willing to devote time, incur expense, run risks for OUR cause.  Well, it is the cause of humanity, of true religion, of education, of enlightenment and spiritual elevation, of course.  It needs missionaries, devotees, agents, even martyrs perhaps.  But it cannot demand of any man to make himself either.  If he so chooses-well; well for the world and for himself. M.

21.  The fact is, that to the last and supreme initiation every chela-and even some adepts-is left to his own device and counsel.  We have to fight our own battles, and the familiar adage-”the adept becomes, he is not made” is true to the letter. K.H.

22.  “The Kingdom of Heaven is obtained by force” say the Christian mystics.  It is but with armed hand, and ready to either conquer or perish that the modern mystic can hope to achieve his object. K.H. 

23.  Those who have watched mankind through the centuries of this cycle, have constantly seen the details of this death-struggle between Truth and Error repeating themselves.  Some of you Theosophists are now only wounded in your “honor” or your purses, but those who held the lamp in preceding generations paid the penalty of their lives for their knowledge. K.H.

24.  He who cares for the opinion of the multitude will never soar above the crowd. S.

25.  But you have to remember that you are at a hard school, and dealing now with a world entirely distinct from your own.  Especially have you to bear in mind that the slightest cause produced however unconsciously, and with whatever motive, cannot be unmade, or its effects crossed in their progress-by millions of gods, demons, and men combined. K.H

26.  Silence, discretion, and courage.  Have my blessings upon your head, my good and faithful son and chela. M.

27.  You were told, however, that the path to Occult Sciences has to be trodden laboriously and crossed at the danger of life; that every step in it leading to the final goal, is surrounded by pit-falls and cruel thorns; that the pilgrim who ventures upon it is made first to confront and conquer the thousand and one furies who keep watch over its adamantine gates and entrance-furies called Doubt, Skepticism, Scorn, Ridicule, Envy and finally Temptation-especially the latter; and that he who would see beyond had to destroy this living wall; that he must be possessed of a heart and soul clad in steel and of an iron, never failing determination and yet be meek and gentle, humble and have shut out from his heart every human passion, that leads to evil.  Are you all this? K.H 

28.  Do not feel despondent.  Courage, my good friend and remember you are working off by helping her your own law of retribution, for more than one cruel fling she receives is due to K.H.’s friendship for you, for his using her as the means of communication.  But-Courage. M.

29.  Young friend, study and prepare and especially master your nervousness.  One who becomes a slave to any physical weakness never becomes the master of even the lower powers of nature. K.H. 

30.  If you are unfit to pass your first probation and assert your rights of a future Adept by forcing circumstances to bow before you-you are as totally unfit for any further trials.M.

31.  Brother mine, it is a hard task to you; but your devotion and unselfish zeal for the Cause of Truth should support and strengthen you...Keep courageous and patient, Brother, and-forward! S.

 

 

 

 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 27, 2013 at 10:15am

What a treasure trove!  Which part of this strikes you the most profoundly?

Permalink Reply by Casady on June 28, 2013 at 10:57am

Thanky kindly, I'm glad you appreciate it - it's hard to chose, many of these, I think, are fundamental points, but at the moment this one is scratching me where I itch:

8.  It is true manhood when one boldly accepts one’s share of the collective Karma of the group one works with, and does not permit oneself to be embittered, and to see others in blacker colours than reality, or to throw all blame upon some one “black sheep” a victim, specially selected. K.H.

Permalink Reply by Casady on June 29, 2013 at 10:10am

appendix: this was probably not availible when that little book was compiled, but I thought it would be good to tack it on, for the family honour...

'A clean life,
an open mind,
a pure heart,
an eager intellect,
an unveiled spiritual perception,
a brotherliness for one's co-disciple,
a readiness to give and receive advice and instruction,
a loyal sense of duty to the Teacher,
a willing obedience to the behests of TRUTH,
once we have placed our confidence in,
and believe that Teacher to be in possession of it;
a courageous endurance of personal injustice,
a brave declaration of principles,
a valiant defence of those who are unjustly attacked,
and a constant eye to the ideal of human progression and perfection which the Secret Science (Gupta-Vidya) depicts
- these are the Golden Stairs up the steps of which the learner may climb to the Temple of Divine Wisdom.'

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 30, 2013 at 12:35am

Casady, in this passage we get courage, bravery and valiance each mentioned.

I wonder what the subtle differences in meaning for these three terms?

Any thoughts anyone?

Permalink Reply by Sophia Fields on June 30, 2013 at 3:43pm

With Thirty-two Mystical Paths of Wisdom, God engraved and created His Universe

with Three Sepharim:
with Sefer,
with Sephar 
and with Sippur.

~S.Yetzirah

“No messenger of truth, no prophet has ever achieved during his lifetime a complete triumph, not even Buddha.”

Does truth require courage? If so, what kind of courage does it require?

Permalink Reply by Casady on July 2, 2013 at 8:22am

I'd be happy to Nicholas, but alas I'm afraid I no longer have the actual book, just that one month of quotes that I had transcribed - and I can't remember a thing about where I came across it - I wish could find it... sorry to sound so mysterious...

Permalink Reply by Casady on July 5, 2013 at 3:17pm

Update: found the ref!

Meditations : extracts from letters of the masters of the wisdom

Author: Katherine A Beechey

Publisher: Madras, India : Theosophical Publishing House, 1950 (1973 printing).

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 27, 2013 at 10:13am

OK Sophia, that was beautiful, now for the hard part, so how to does a person cultivate courage?

Permalink Reply by Sophia Fields on June 27, 2013 at 2:27pm

In a short note, through applying daily practice of choice. 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 27, 2013 at 7:05pm

Reminds me of a quote from the Tao Te Ching:

He begins with easy things when considering hard things;
with little things when planning great things.
The hardest things in the world began of necessity by being easy.
The greatest things in the world began of necessity by being small.
Therefore the Saint seeks not at all to do great things; this is why he can accomplish great things.

Seems to me as well, that if we practice making the right choices in the small daily situations we face, we develop the ability (and habit) of such choices, so that when we come face-to-face with something big we're more able to make the hard choice. And perhaps the very act of making those choices is courage.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Mary Elyn Bahlert on June 27, 2013 at 5:26pm

Can courage be "cultivated?"  I'm not sure.  Perhaps courage is only courage when it is acknowledged and received by others as courageous.  Can we choose to be courageous?  I'm not sure!

For example, someone who has never spoken publically chooses to make a speech.  My guess would be that at the time, they would experience fear, and then perhaps, joy or happiness, when they realize they are doing what they never thought they'd do.  But do they "experience" or "know" courage?  That's not clear to me, at least in this example.

Maybe courage can only be courage in the mind of someone who receives an act of another, and chooses to name that act as taking "courage?" 

Just a thought! 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 27, 2013 at 7:09pm

This is an interesting line of thought, Mary. Personally, I've never felt "courageous" in the moment of doing something that others viewed as courageous (or that I viewed as such in retrospect). Perhaps courage isn't a "feeling" at all, but rather a "posture" (inner and outer). So it can be recognized (by ourselves and others) "by its fruit", so to speak, but may not be really "experiential" per se.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 27, 2013 at 8:37pm

"I've never felt "courageous" in the moment of doing something"

Perhaps because you were too busy overcoming your fear (in whatever degree), so you were more focused on this effort rather than perceiving it as courageous?

Could courage (within the realm of the kama-manasic mind) be defined then as the process of overcoming ones fear?

People may after that process use the same term "courage" - as the resultant outcome - although the "courageous" person was scared out of his/her wits, they may even call that person fearless, although that person didn't experience it as courage at all.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 28, 2013 at 11:30pm

Your comment reminded me of the movie, The King's Speech which illustrates your point.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 29, 2013 at 12:14pm

"Can courage be "cultivated?"  I'm not sure."

Mary, anything that exists has been cultivated. That goes for our fears and all other psychological idiosyncrasies as well, including the good stuff. Nothing comes from nothing, whatever traits we exhibit in the manifested world, have been developed by and through ourselves for good or for worse in the course of many incarnations. We ARE today the sum total of all our previous existences although we may temporarily - depending on our karma - only EXHIBIT a small part of that totality in this present incarnation.

The triad Atma-Buddhi-Manas (our true self so to speak) does not need to develop courage because it IS courage by definition. Whatever courage shows up in our lower vehicles (the lower quaternary including lower manas or mind) has its source in that triad.

Can courage be developed then?

Well, if in the lower man fear can be overcome, that amounts to saying that we are developing courage, the overcoming IS that courge. It is the influence of the triad in us that finds a way to manifest or seep through into the lower and we can experience this consciously or subconsciously, i.e. be aware of it or not. Courage is a substantial, i.e. material force, its "material" is however of an akashic rather than an astral substance and can even have a healing influence on others, it is also known as the ambrosia of the gods and has many more aspects to it than courage alone.

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on June 28, 2013 at 9:54am

It might seem small, but I think courage is being able to accept and adapt to change.

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 28, 2013 at 10:48am

True, and it's bigger than you think :-)

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on June 28, 2013 at 1:14pm

I think so too Pierre. The fear of change seems to take a lot of courage to work through.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 28, 2013 at 11:40am

That's a wonderful definition. Change is, after all, an essential part of reality. It certainly seems that the lower self (the kama-manasic ego) is constantly trying to halt change (that might even be its primary function). One might say that it's very survival as an ego depends on resisting change. So the Higher Nature in us is embracing and allowing for change to happen, while the lower is trying to stop it from happening.

Might we say that the crazed desire to remain young, to fight "wrinkles" and every manifestation of "old age" is a reflection of the lower self, and the ability to embrace getting older (and ultimately, even embrace death itself!) is a reflection of the higher in us, and thus it's an act of courage to allow oneself to age and to die gracefully?

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on June 28, 2013 at 2:03pm

Thank you for this Jon. So the Kama-manasic ego is very instinctual, is that what one experiences when going into survival mode (our lower self, when fighting the change)? Is it same in life or death survival modes(ex. In an avalanche or similar)?

Might we say that the crazed desire to remain young, to fight "wrinkles" and every manifestation of "old age" is a reflection of the lower self, and the ability to embrace getting older (and ultimately, even embrace death itself!) is a reflection of the higher in us, and thus it's an act of courage to allow oneself to age and to die gracefully?

I think this is well said. Aging is such a beautiful process, in my view, each wrinkle falling into it's natural fold telling a story, of life. It seems this is a common battle within for most. However, I don't view the fear of getting old from aging per se. In my view its seems the fear is from not living, and you need courage to live! I do see how it works both ways now.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 28, 2013 at 2:27pm

I think you're absolutely right. This sure helps us see that courage isn't just part of the grand or extreme instances in life, but really plays its role in the smallest of acts on a daily basis.

The survival mode example is perfect to illustrate the modus operandi of kama-manas. After all, what is it that the lower self is trying to keep alive through these instincts? Itself. And it'll do so at any cost. In one sense, it perceives itself as perpetually in a life or death struggle and its every act comes from this kind of consciousness. The ego doesn't want to recognize or admit that it was born and will someday cease to exist as an ego, so it struggles to maintain the status quo of its existence. One of it "tools" is fear, and perhaps, as Pierre points out, the antidote for this is courage.

The higher self (the Ego, capital 'E') recognizes that the lower ego is but a temporary phenomenon that will play its role and then die, so it doesn't fret about that death, so it seems that the higher self is inherently fearless. Transferring our consciousness from the lower to the higher may be what, ultimately, requires courage. And this transference isn't a one-time thing, but is accomplished through act after act, thought after thought that reach upwards. It might not take any courage at all to live a life totally immersed in the lower nature, swimming in ignorance, but it certainly takes courage to live a good life, in even the smallest ways. :)

Permalink Reply by Sophia Fields on June 28, 2013 at 1:39pm

Change IMHO is huge! "Humans are the next closest thing compared to water" not sure who said it but are they right? Water is most adaptable and can change accordingly to its environment. Obviously water doesn't need the courage to adapt and change, but humans do. 

While growing up thinking that something that was handed down as a belief was true all their life into current time suddenly realizes that their belief system has been debunked by science per se, they may need courage to assist with the transformation of old beliefs into their new thought system. Perhaps it would be courage that would lead their way on their quest during times of change.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on June 28, 2013 at 2:41pm

Hi Sophia,

I view water as being most adaptable myself also, along with adapting within itself taboot.

Perhaps it would be courage that would lead their way on their quest during times of change.

:) I think it takes a lot of courage to lead through the change as well. And to realize our beliefs are just that, beliefs, which is not knowing as a wise man said once. That is the hardest task, to see our own ways, in my view, most would rather live in denial. The courage to face ourselves and lead ourselves out of that darkness is one quest for sure! Thank you!

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on June 28, 2013 at 3:26pm

Water is an excellent analogy. Thanks Sophia.

I often picture the substance of mind as water: the kama-manasic tendency wants to freeze and solidify it into one set shape (a non-changing ego), while the buddhi-manasic element wants to thaw out those set shapes so that mind can remain fluid (to then shape itself into what is needed in any circumstance). Ultimately, the fire of atma-buddhi will free manas from even the restrictions of "fluidity" by raising it from "liquid" to "gas". Ok, maybe that's about as far as I can stretch the analogy. ;P

The true courage, it would seem, is for the kama-manasic principle to voluntarilyallow itself to be thawed, to "surrender", to "renounce" itself as a self (i.e. for the ego to allow itself to "die", as St. Paul said: "I die daily").

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on June 29, 2013 at 11:15am

""Humans are the next closest thing compared to water" not sure who said it but are they right?"

If we do indeed consist of 75-80% water, then it needs no proof! :-)

If the triad Atma-Buddhi-Manas corresponds with Fire (as HPB points out), then the lower quaternary corresponds to Water. 

The task in front of us seems then to boil off the water by means of the Fire until the lower is evaporated - in a metaphorical and alchemical sense of course. It goes beyond "thawing" :-)

Permalink Reply by Sophia Fields on June 30, 2013 at 5:19am

Sounds a lot like completion =) Thank you for sharing that!

Permalink Reply by Sophia Fields on June 30, 2013 at 5:25am

 often picture the substance of mind as water: the kama-manasic tendency wants to freeze and solidify it into one set shape (a non-changing ego), while the buddhi-manasic element wants to thaw out those set shapes so that mind can remain fluid (to then shape itself into what is needed in any circumstance). Ultimately, the fire of atma-buddhi will free manas from even the restrictions of "fluidity" by raising it from "liquid" to "gas". Ok, maybe that's about as far as I can stretch the analogy. ;P

This is an interesting statement. I had to ponder on it for a while and would like to comment upon it, unfortunately, this is not the place on the Forum for it. Guess this will help to keep my feet grounded =^.^=

Permalink Reply by Mary Elyn Bahlert on June 28, 2013 at 1:43pm

Not so very small at all Sharisse!  It seems so often we are looking for "world class" examples of what may be a part of every single human being's life.

Permalink Reply by Sharisse on June 28, 2013 at 2:55pm

Hi Mary,

It seems so often we are looking for "world class" examples of what may be a part of every single human being's life.

This is beautiful, thank you. I am often guilty of this myself, always looking on the outside. :)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on June 28, 2013 at 11:36pm

It might be the a life time filled with little heroic acts might end up amounting to a "world class example".  I am sure most of us have run into people like this, who embody an ideal to some extent that it inspires us to be like them.  Some one noted early on that courage becomes contagious.

Permalink Reply by Hari Menon on July 10, 2013 at 1:08am

Trust Sir Winston Churchill to come up with such a definition of courage , courage is "fearlessness" and not partial but absolute fearlessness - this is what Vedanta teaches , for a person who sees oneself in everyone and everyone in oneself (both are the same - you cannot have one without the other ) has nothing to fear . Strange it may seem to people who are afraid that some maurauder will appear on the wayside and attack oneself . It is not so , it may seem inconcievable to the ordinary mind to envisage a situation where one is never in the wrong place at the wrong time . Because we pay too much attention to trivial things and are afraid of everything it detracts from equanimity and right thinking . We are a jumble of thoughts with no idea as to the integrity of the intelligence behind the intellect and hence our thoughts or knowledge . Equanimity bestows right thinking , right thinking bestows uninterrupted discrimination which is nothing but intuition in ordinary language . Uninterrupted intuition is nothing but ethics which is intuitive where one does not have to think whether an action is right or wrong , intuition transcends reason but does not controvert it as can be seen by later events . It is what the Chritians call "benediction " and is choiceless . Our mind is never directed to a place where we may be "out of place'' like say a mall which may have a shooting which is proposed or planned or to board any vehicle to which accidents may come etc. It is a very very slight adjustment or a "an angle of vision" which corrects previous egoistical ally refracted assignment of actions and planning of events in future and having a broad and hazy idea of their outcomes. Strange as it may seem , it is eminently attainable by some knowledge and hard practice and alleviates a lot of discomfort from ones life . Once known the explanations are very easy , but it does require assiduous practice - but will lead to a state of fearlessness.For on transcending ones body consciousness one is part of the cosmic mind.memory and consciousness - it "adjusts" so very slightly one single karma making one change from a egoistical way of life to an intuitive way and a choiceless one , like the untangling of a single twist in a ribbon to make it straight , and it being cosmic does not allow the practitioner to be at the wrong place at the wrong time for whatever purpose it maybe - it is privy to every action  done and contemplated by all and so easily "steers" a person away from any apprehended danger from a third party or another person. Failure occurs where ther is an outcome predicted and ones results are not in consonance with the "imagined satisfaction" of the outcome. It is a poor apology of a way of living if one has to learn from mistakes , rather than engender right thinking and knowledge in the intellect which is everybodys birthright and an infallible friend .

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on July 19, 2013 at 5:01pm

Courage is.......  The strength to confront and overcome that which you fear.  Never give up.  Doing what you believe to be right regardless of the consequences.   Grabbing a grizzly bear by the throat and shaking it until his teeth rattle (Davy Crocket, I think).   I don't agree with LJG, however.  One should never be content with failure; one must accept failure, but never should one be content with it.  Tenacity comes to mind here; never giving up until one attains success or whatever one is striving for.  Be content with failure strikes me as simply laying down and giving up.  One must now when and how to gracefully leave the field of battle, so to speak, but one shouldn't give up fighting the war.