A new year has come! And with it lots of new opportunities, decisions, experiences and growth. So what are your dreams for this new year? What do you want to do and where do you want to go?
Moving forward towards your goals requires effort, energy and above all COURAGE. Courage is that strong deep force, the will power, to do, create, move, evolve and grow. Is our own inner strength that guides us in life, which we need to cultivate persistently, if not we might find ourselves paralysed by our own fears, the circumstances, the opinions of others. We need courage to stand for ourselves, to live our own truth and stay centered in our principles.
To face the difficulties of this modern world, to voice out our concerns, and to speak and live by our own morals can be an overwhelming task. The Bhagavad Gita, with its eternal message of spiritual wisdom from ancient India, s a great source of lessons on how to live a noble life, and how to use this will power not only for our own benefit but for the benefit of all.
We would like to share two articles from ISKCON, The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, that can help us understand what is courage, this inner power source that we have, and how the Gita can help us understand this concept better. In the articles, whenever Krishna is mentioned see it as the universal source of energy, the essence of all things, what many religions call God, the light within us.
“Achievers often talk about the courage needed to dream big and to work untiringly for realising the dream. But courage is not only about being brave and moving forward and reaching goals. There is another important side of what is courage that we tend to forget, the courage to let go.
Realising our dreams requires many factors beyond our control to work out. If those factors don’t work out, we can’t do much. For example, if a ship on an ambitious voyage encounters a huge storm, it can’t make much headway. It will not move forward. When storms threaten our dreams, we need the courage to let go, understanding that the supreme controller, Krishna, is our greatest well-wisher (Bhagavad-gita 05.2). Frequently, we are reluctant to let go, seeing it as a sign of weakness. But bhakti (love and devotion) wisdom helps us re-envision surrender as a sign of courage. Even when we have the faith that Krishna has some plan, we often don’t know what that plan is. Trusting him amidst such unawareness requires courage.
The Gita (11.33) integrates the courage to hold on and the courage to let go. By referring to Arjuna as an ambidextrous archer, it acknowledges his courage to dream – he had trained tirelessly lifelong to become a peerless archer. By urging him to become an instrument of Krishna in the ensuing war, even when it entailed the death of his venerable elders, it asks for the courage to trust Krishna’s plan.
Bhakti wisdom infuses us with this dual courage by explaining that our life’s perfection is not just in fulfilling our specific dreams, but in realising our deepest need: the need for enduring love. We relish this love when we connect with Krishna by practicing bhakti-yoga diligently.
Then, we experience both dreaming big and trusting big as two aspects of the one devotional disposition that connects us with Krishna, dynamically and ecstatically.”
“We live amidst a culture of violence and indifference. Some people resort to violence at even the slightest provocation and others often just stand by, watching indifferently, as if they were seeing a movie spectacle rather than seeing the victimisation of a living human being, who is essentially just like them. This prevailing culture of violence and indifference can make us apathetic, unless we ourselves are targeted.
Yes, in the world there’s much wrong that we can’t change. But still there are things we can change. At the very least, we can change our defeatist attitude that we can’t change anything. Actually, nothing will change if we don’t change our notion that nothing will change. It is easy to blame others for the state of the world. But the easy way is hardly ever transforming or fulfilling.
We often stand passively when things go wrong in the world. And when things go wrong in our own life, we stand passively in another way – we, in the sense of our intelligent side, stands passive and paralysed while our emotions take over and make us act in ways that simply worsen the situation.
Consider a situation when we find ourselves in a conflict with someone. Whenever any conflict involving us escalates, we are responsible, even if we are not the cause. We are responsible for how we conduct ourselves in that conflict, whether we arouse the fire or whether we douse it. If we let our situations determine our emotions and thereafter our actions, then we become reactive, thereby arousing the fire of conflict further. If we decide in advance the principles we wish to live by, and then let our emotions and actions be determined primarily by those principles and secondarily by the circumstances we find ourselves in, then we can ensure that we do our part in dousing the fire of conflicts.
We could label the other person as irrational, sentimental, delusional. And, sadly, those labels do apply to some people. Yet labelling anyone thus does little to resolve conflicts. People may be what they are, but we don’t have to give them the power to make us what they are. And unwittingly that’s what we do when we let our responses be determined by anger or other such emotions.
We are not here to see through each other – we are here to see each other through. This becomes our guiding principle when we internalise spiritual wisdom. The Bhagavad-gita (06.32) states that the topmost yogis exhibit empathy, seeing others’ joys and sorrows similar to their own joys and sorrows. Gita wisdom explains that we all are interconnected, being parts of the Whole, the supreme spiritual reality that is the source of everything. The more we become spiritually conscious, the more we become sensitised to see how others are ultimately like us, how we too might be acting the way they are acting now if we had been in their circumstances.
Gita wisdom helps us sharpen our spiritual intelligence. This intelligence helps us to cut through the fog of emotion that clouds our inner world whenever we are confronted with unreasonable, aggressive people. We learn to go beyond the emotions to the actual issues and respond appropriately.
Grounded in spiritual wisdom, we get the strength to take a stand. Firstly, we take a stand in our own inner world, refusing to be swept away by the stormy emotions that impel us to knee-jerk reactions. We stand firm in our knowledge of our core identity as parts of God and in his love and guidance. With our mind thus calmed and clarified, we can take a worthy stand externally too – we can do our part in solving the problem, and in going through and growing through the situation.”
So for this New Year that we have ahead, we need to center ourselves in our own spiritual wisdom to find the strength to really face our own truth. Yoga is a great tool to develop this attitude. Every time we come to our math, we are faced with our own limitations, struggles and imbalances. But as we continue practicing, we develop the steadiness of the breath, the control over the movement of the body, the awareness of the here are now. We are able to bring focus to our senses, to filter the information and redirect our attention to what it really matters in our life. We develop the path of the spiritual warrior, who with love, compassion and COURAGE continues on its journey of seeking the truth.
Dungsey Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche, explains beautifully this journey of the spiritual warrior:
“The path of the warrior does not have to do with becoming brave and powerful in an ordinary way; rather, it is the art of developing the courage to face oneself That which must be conquered are not physical kingdoms or geographical areas, but our inner enemies: ignorance and fear. The warrior’s combat must not be understood as an external fight driven by attachment and hatred, but rather as a firm will to conquer over the defilements that most human beings are affected by: desire, hatred, ignorance, pride, jealousy and fear.
In order to discover our basic goodness, to find authenticity, joy, openness and gentleness, we need to step out of our comfort zone and develop courage in order to face ourselves. The teachings on the path of the warrior show us how.”
The Bali Yoga Wien Family wishes you all the best in 2020!
May your path this year be filled with courage and wisdom!