Dedicated To The Graceful Hearted That Face Suffering & Free Fear.
By Swan Michelle
“Suffering didn’t make me more fearful. It made me more real.” –Walking Each Other Home, Ram Dass
Discomfort, shakiness, uncertainty and not knowing; these are significant mile markers in the terrain of one’s life. Exciting are the vivid celebrations, flavors, revelations and plans that synch seamlessly with the seasons of life. Just as momentous and pivotal are the unexpected, unplanned, non-preferred vistas of devastation when the lights go out, and the sun gives way to the night.
In the predictable and preferred, a manageable edge seems approachable and answerable. Yet, there will be significant mysteries when the darkness of time flood and collapse us and we don’t know the answer. There will be unlit paths, the way un-illuminated, uncertain if you will make it,.
Everything that you have done before has prepared you for this moment. This is where courage lives. You don’t have to know or understand everything. You don’t have to desperately leap at the first answer or reason but, any last shade of insecurity must be confronted and seen for you to live your life fully.
Be sure you are not afraid to live. It is only fear that dies.
“Love is more powerful than death.” -Neem Karoli Baba.
There will be a time you must step into unchartered territory and open to the mystery. You don’t have to be a master. But you must do something, even if it means to surrender. Our soul yearns for the freedom of growth, not the debilitation of perpetual suffering. For this, courage is needed to face what disturbs us; otherwise, it may further spoil the appreciation of all that is exquisite.
Facing our fears, we do not miss a beat. We taste. We touch. We smell. We listen. We live. We must.
“We have to be close to what we fear so we know our own attachments, and let them go.” Walking Each Other Home -Mirabai Bush
As fall has entered, nights lengthen and the life force & vibrancy of one season dries in vitality, we too must look into what is hidden, what dies, and what does not.
Not remembering can be beyond uncomfortable. We don’t know how it will all turn out. We can pray for it to turn out as we wish or protect our actions and belief systems for want of guarantees, but the truth is, we do not currently have the full picture. We can shrink and remain afraid of this truth and cower from living fully, or, we can travail when wounded or broken into the place where courage lives.
One of my favorite Sutras in the Bhagavad Gita is a moment where the main character, Arjuna, has fallen from Grace. He experiences a dark night of the Soul. He is frozen by concealed mystery and shocked to his core by things not being as he had thought they were. Shrouded in not knowing, he is frightened into a stupor unlike himself, incapacitated, and totally stunned. He falls to his knees, folding in defeat and surrender. Admitting that he just doesn’t feel strong and capable any longer, he openly realizes he is at his edge.
Blinded and weak, he doubts everything, believes in nothing, sees no point to it all, and no longer wants to go on any further. Horror nails him to the ground and alarm pours over him.
In that tender, vulnerable moment, Krishna, Divine Grace, offers him a striking discourse that has always hit right into the pangs of me ever since the first time I heard this beloved book from India. It is one filled with strife, conflict, unabashed honesty and bold doubts to the waverings of human struggle.
Krishna says: (BG2:2) “This despair and weakness in a time of crisis are mean and unworthy of you Arjuna. How have you fallen into a state so far from the path of liberation? (BG2:3) It does not become you to yield to this weakness. Arise with a brave heart and destroy the enemy.” -Trans by Eknath Easwaran
Later in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna goes on to state the traits of a yogi. We might imagine “calm” or “happy” first. But instead it was “courage,” “bravery,” and “fearlessness” that are repeated. It is worth noting that the root of the word courage is the Latin word cor, which means heart. This is where courage lives and fear dies.
The “Gunas” in the Bhagavad Gita, are described as: “qualities or vectors existing in nature in occurrence with a cycle, be it a beginning, middle or end.
There are 3 Gunas. Tamas. Rajas. Sattva.
“Tamas” Guna is the dissolving end cycle of a seed of decay, decline, degeneration, stagnation and inertia. The nighttime, sleep, cloaked, covert, unknown, dark, and slowed down are natural states, not something to fear.
When tamasic qualities are imbalanced, the will, immunity, clarity and life force shrinks. We avoid discomfort and anything different or difficult as it represents change, movement, the unknown, stealthy, unaccepted, or unrecognized and difficult to look at parts of ourselves.
“Rajas” is the action, movement and assimilation quality of motivation. We must activate this vigor for life to offer us experience, proactively involved in life’s purpose and pulsations.
When imbalanced, being overly rajasic accelerates an increasing stress, disturbance and a high strung, intensity. Difficult to unwind, it shocks the body with impulsivity and reactivity, steering us far from presence.
The third Guna, “Sattva,” is a state of clear harmony and balance embodied. It aligns with sacred timing, synchronicity, clarity, and reciprocal order to the natural world so that time and materiality feel pure and divinely sequenced even when difficult. A Sattvic mind lives inside of the workings of Grace and syncretic alignment of right place, time and season.
“There is a crack in everything. Thats how the light gets in.”-Leonard Cohen
“Stabdo” is a word in the Bhagavad Gita used to describe Arjuna’s fallen state. Words related to it are: stunning, shocking, stunted, stopped, and paralysis.
Upon hearing these words, you might picture either something beautiful or horrific depending on your state of mind in this moment just as it both stopped and stunned Arjuna.
I certainly have been stopped by the stunning beauty of climbing the foothills of the Himalayas, where I bowed to the ground spontaneously, shaking in an all consuming reverence that was both humbling and awe inspiring. I felt fulfilled by the courage that it it took to climb this unknown, distant peak of my life. It was breathtaking to reside within my courage. I was simultaneously small, vulnerable, starkly on the edge, and infinitely one with vast, abundant, timeless space.
“Encounter yourself and trust your life.” Adyashanti The Most Important Thing
I’ve also experienced a paralysis that felt to be an ongoing terror. Disproportionately, everything small seemed monstrous: The fear of loss, not knowing, finding outcomes beyond my control, the fear of not being good enough, or the fear of others experiencing atrocities that I can’t fix. Without the willingness of stepping into the mystery of all of these things, I would remain cloaked and stuck with them, still lost, still frozen by fear, and self impoverished from living fully.
This tamasic paralysis of lifelessness, will inevitably degrade valuable moments with ongoing hurt, a lack of acceptance of ourselves and others’ lifestyles & their differences and rights, a low self esteem and a survival-mode life of exaggerated running, fighting, or freezing. This only further deprives us of this gift of life and the courage to live it.
“And perhaps the bravest thing we will ever do is wake up and try again“ -Iman
Where fear abides, it will continue to thrive justified and unwarranted, leaving us ever anxious and afraid, Arjuna, having fallen to the earth, was honest and alive in that moment of courage, having faced his fears. As a male built for war in a Warrior caste, it took courage to admit where he felt he fell short and was weak, yet he did, which was his strength. He accepted the teachings and applied the eventual tenacity needed to move from his heart, exemplifying the victor instead of the victim.
Where courage lives you trust this life, made of a delicate and tender fabric. It’s not that life is answered, but you are more real. This is your humble victory. Depriving ourselves of self inquiry sets a stage setting for fear to take advantage of us. Facing our fears is the journey we each must take.Where courage lives, fear does not become you.
Living in courage reveals the fraud like face that fear takes on, as well as the lies you once believed of isolation and endings. Often we are not upset for the reasons we think. Courage is a recovering of the truth and the remembrance of an infinitesimal, unwavering, and all consuming love.
Viewing any level of suffering as something mysteriously stunning is the moment that you realize Grace. Where this courage lives, it is doubtless that Grace has been operating and walking with with you all along.
“The opposite of love is fear, but what is all-encompassing can have no opposite.” -A Course In Miracles Introduction
Be honest about what you fear. Tell the truth. Marinate in inquiry and the broadening of not knowing instead of needing answers. If you are devastated, let yourself be for a moment in time, knowing there is a return. Visit the dark and where it is that you are afraid so that the sleeping state is not cast by a false sense of being alone, incorrect limitations nor a haunting of our waking state.
“Even a little effort toward spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.” -Bhagavad Gita 2:40
Move past your idea of the instability of loosing and inadequacy. A lamp does not flicker in a place where there is no wind. Courage is always there. It is only fear that dies.
“All healing is essentially the release from fear. To undertake this you can not be fearful yourself” A Course In Miracles Ch 2:7-8
The very nature of you is the unknown.
In Courage, Swan Michelle
“What’s dying is the frightened mind, so the love inside us can get a chance to breathe.” -Marianne Williamson A Return To Love
“It takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.” –Marianne Williamson