As children, many of us were taught courage in the form of the warrior or the explorer, bravely facing danger. In the Buddhist understanding, however, great courage is not demonstrated by aggression or ambition. Aggression and ambition are more often expressions of fear and delusion. The courageous heart is the one that is unafraid to open to the world, to care no matter what.
With compassion we come to trust our capacity to open to life without armoring. As the poet Rilke reminds us, “Ultimately it is on our vulnerability that we depend.” This is not a poetic ideal but a living reality, demonstrated by our most beloved sages. Mahatma Gandhi had the courage to be jailed and beaten, to persevere through difficulties without giving in to bitterness and despair. His vulnerability became his strength.
time to check in with intentions……with right speech….with right action…..with humility…
inquiry for today~ don’t give up….don’t give in…..don’t forget mercy…….
To practice actively welcoming in what is most strange or other in my world as the very place of divine encounter – what St Benedict tells us in the Rule – is a holy challenge! But in a world where otherness sparks so much fear and policies which further divide us, learning to embrace the gift of the stranger, both within our own hearts, as well as in the world is a true balm.
In her book Mystical Hope, Cynthia Bourgeault writes that “(Mystical hope) has something to do with presence- not a future good outcome, but the immediate experience of being met, held in communion, by something intimately at hand.” Allowing time to feel met by the divine and held in communion is a reminder for us as we return to the demands of our lives and seek to make wise and compassionate choices. It helps to nourish hope deep within us.
It is a reminder that more than ever we need people willing to pause and listen, to open their hearts to what is uncomfortable, and to hold space and attention until the new thing emerges.
I don’t have the answers, but I do have ancient practices which help to sustain me when I would rather run away. Perhaps if we keep practicing together, we will hear whispers of a new beginning.
~Christine Valters Paintner