We are not free of darker feelings and views just because we espouse a spiritual view or lifestyle.
We have not one drive, but two. A will to self preservation and fear, but also a will to power. Courage. A motivation to engage the world. Some soldiers do actually want to see the battle won, and we in our civilian life are not taught to really back up our desires, our goals, or values. Can you succeed if you refuse to let yourself take any risks?
The Tao book speaks of the courage needed to stand for what you believe in, so you can overcome barriers and create your own life, and we have that drive to create our own lives. Animals have the drive to compete for mates, even though they know it can mean they will get hurt.
I have that drive, but I fear people will not like what I want from my life. Yes, so courage is a big issue isn’t it? We admire those courageous enough to go after their desires, and our desires are often wisdom.
I read somewhere; “The opposite of courage is not cowardice, it is conformity.” That is perfect, and it’s true. Conformity is being unplugged. Even the coward is seeing what’s there, and has something they want, and can even have it turn around. A Greek philosopher once said that bravery was no virtue. Many a brave warrior dies at the hands of a coward, because the coward is more invested in living. A brave person is often being a conformist, and will likely even entertain ideas of dying in battle as being a proper way to end his life. Is this actually courage?
It is fatalism. Yes, and it is not courage. Courage is being centered in the face of the chaos. Being present in the fire. Fully aware in uncertainty, and taking responsibility. Response ability. The conformist is not response able are they?
A General in the Pacific, during WWII, told a cameraman to film the battle. The cameraman replied he had no film. The General said “Point it anyway, there are no cowards in front of the camera.” Comes back to awareness, and that General is right. Courage is being your own camera man. Saying “This is happening to me, and I am here, and I am responsible for my actions.” This is actually how we teach children, or how they learn naturally even if we don’t bother to teach.
It takes great courage to remain present in bad times. Isn’t courage simply putting the ability to do things in spite of our fears? True, and we can only put that ability to do first, when we preserve at least some clarity of awareness. Can you be courageous if you can only do what you are told?
Awareness or being? Though it’s not often considered, they are synonymous. It is the eye of Odin.
I can be aware of the present, or I can be in the present? Can you be in the present moment, but not aware of it? Awareness is the natural extension of being. Awareness is not thinking though. Those are not the same, and courage is not thinking either. It’s choosing. There is a very old saying; Conscience makes cowards of us all. Conscience is concern for doing the right thing. Courage is not concern for doing the right thing. It’s response ability.
Do or be damned? Yes, and in war it’s a literal truth.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.