Sunday, August 22, 2010
Courage vs Absence of Fear
Courage and absence of fear at first glance seem to be the same thing. But are they really?
Courage is the feeling - 'I can do it'. Its like, I am strong enough to deal with the situation. I am confident of coming out successful. I can deal with the challenges. All these and many more are attributes generally associated with courage. The commonality in all of these is the 'I', more than anything else. The commonality is the illusion of the separate person, the ego, who can deal with things.
Tiananmen tank man - courage or absence of fear?
On the other hand, absence of fear comes from a deep understanding that the infinitely complex causal web is responsible for things. Though we execute our dharma, all our actions comes out of the understanding that the result is not totally under our control. Hence, there is acceptance that the result may not necessarily happen in a way that we might want it to, but still, best possible action is taken at all times. It needs complete absence of fear to be able to live that way!
Not for nothing, the great tamil poet Bharathiyar sang,
அச்சமென்ப தில்லையே அச்சமென்ப தில்லையே
No fear, No fear, let us not fear at all.
He did NOT sing,
துணிவுண்டு துணிவுண்டு துணிவென்பதுண்டே!
Have courage, have courage, I do have courage!
I think there is a deep meaning to it. While courage might be a good weapon to have to deal with sticky situations on a very short term basis, it is no long term solution. Actions motivated by illusion of separation can ultimately not heal as the suffering itself was originally caused by the illusion of separation.
In Yoga terms, courage comes about due to asmitā, or false identity. On the other hand, absence of fear, which springs forth from the destruction of the me, comes about after complete surrender of the individual to the state of pure consciousness within - the state of īśvara pranidhānā! The two are indeed poles apart!