As per Buddhism, the power of the universe could be found within our own lives. Every individual is born with this immense potential, and can harness this power to change not only their lives, but transform the lives of others and the society at large. However, to initiate such a change, it requires inner determination, and the courage to take a leap towards a new direction.
In fact, courage is an essential stepping stone towards achieving anything in our lives. Before taking action in any endeavour, courage is the primary requirement. It is the courageous people who are able to realise their dreams and achieve their goals in life.
Every choice or decision to be made; every desire or goal to be achieved; every destination to be reached; requires that one courageous thought, one courageous step. Courage is the continuous effort that we need to put in, in order to lead ever victorious lives. It is the spirit to never give up.
Step over the barrier of fear
While one may go on wanting to be courageous, one can certainly not overlook the cause and case that leads to failure—the sole culprit, we fear to recognise, called fear. Incidentally, we all carry along this ‘friend’ close to our hearts all our lives, but refuse to identify it as it contradicts our self-righteous beliefs.
To understand and experience courage, we must understand and accept the manifestation of fear in our daily lives. Fear is what causes us to limit ourselves. We tend to belittle ourselves in our minds every second of our lives, and in the process bare our low self-esteem to the outside world. We, thereby, lay ourselves vulnerable, exposed and susceptible to be influenced by the opinions of others. And in the process, also begin to believe in the same about ourselves.
We would be surprised if we were to hear ourselves out while talking about ourselves in a group. Most of us just end up repeating what we have learnt about ourselves from others, rather than pondering on our true identity and our true nature.
The general notion that we formulate about ourselves is that—I can’t do it or it is beyond my capacity.
To go beyond this complacency where we are happy begrudging our lives and where we are constantly brooding over the commentaries others ave to make about us, we need courage. The challenges that we face differ from individual to individual. While, someone might be facing a seemingly simple problem, another might be going through an overwhelming issue. However, the process of overcoming these challenges remains the same, facing the problem with courage.
Be one with your true self and environment
It is the strength that invigorates our life force and empowers every step that we take forth. Courage first manifests itself in the will to self reflect and identify the fears that we nurture unknowingly. The next step is to understand how fear itself becomes the transformative force!
Buddhism lays its foundation in the strong belief that the well spring of happiness lies deep within our own lives. Hell and heaven exist within— goes the famous Buddhist quote. So, other than the seed of eternal happiness, we also carry within us our fundamental tendencies. We are often easily angered, or would want to be in control of the situation all the time, or better still, unable to fight back the thought—Why me?
This question generates from the belief that we are separate from our environment. However, as per Buddhism, the environment and the individual are one and inseparable. Life is regarded as the subjective self that experiences the impact of past actions, while creating new causes for the future. On the other hand, the environment is seen as the objective realm, wherein the karmic effects of life are moulded. For instance, if a person is in a state of hell, he will perceive his environment as hellish as well. However, if the same person is in the state of learning, he would perceive his immediate environment accordingly.
As per Buddhism, everything around us, which includes our relationships and work, reflects our inner lives. Everything we perceive through our self and our environment keeps changing as per our inner state of being.
And, instead of asking ‘Why me?’ we would rather focus on ‘How to move ahead?’ when we understand that our inner self and the immediate environment are inter-dependent. With that understanding we would eventually make an effort to change ourselves, face every issue with courage, which will inevitably change our circumstances as well.
Mind your mind
When we allow our minds to master us, these fundamental tendencies of greed, jealousy, hatred etc., begin to manifest themselves in a way that takes complete control of our good sense. As a result, our thoughts are clouded with overwhelming negativity and pessimism. We are engulfed in insecurities, fear and delusion.
As parched land cannot bear a rich harvest, the same is the case for a deluded mind. Our fear and negativity translate into challenging environment and trying circumstances, and from here begins the vicious circle of suffering. This is the stage where fatigued by our circumstances, most of us begin to believe it to be our destiny to lead lives of extreme misery.
We may know that we have the potential to unlock our minds, but unless we have enough courage to act upon that knowledge, we will not be able to achieve our maximum capability. However, the path onward unlocking our true potential is not without obstacles. We ourselves would often become the roadblock. That’s when we need to face these obstacles with courage and triumph over them for unlocking the truest potential of our lives, and manifest our inherent enlightenment.
Triumph with courage
Courage translates into an ability to face our thoughts, our negative tendencies, and our fears. Courage helps us to identify the need to polish our lives everyday, to rid ourselves of our own fundamental tendencies.
The fact that our mood early in the morning is decisive of the course of our day also explains the fact there is an unarguable relation between our life and our environment. Thus, once we brave our negative thoughts and paint a rosy picture of our life, its manifestation will be quickly evident in the environment as well. Great masters of ancient times have also reiterated the importance of creating a positive self image and painting a beautiful picture of our lives in our minds.
The transformative possibilities of courage are within us and around us. As SGI President Dr. Daisaku Ikeda said, “Small things matter. What may look like a small act of courage is courage nevertheless. The important thing is to be willing to take a step forward.”