We are all suffering. This knowledge results in compassion. Buddha was compassionate. And courageous too.
My question is : Is there any aspect of knowledge which results in courage?
Buddhism Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people practicing or interested in Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
Which types of knowledge results in courage?
Emptiness. Realizing Emptiness leads to courage, because when you have nothing you have nothing to lose. Abidelessness is the ultimate courage. Abidelessness is having no conceptual home, no warm stinking lair of the ego to defend, no territory to call your own. You are a "wanderer" in the ultimate sense of the word.
Understanding Emptiness conceptually is not enough though. This aspect of vidya is active spontaneousness, sincere unforced action without calculations. Of course before you can be like that you have to remove all guilt first, hence the practice of sila, morality. As Buddha said in suttas, dirty mind has many fears, pure mind has none.
Then you have to "leap off the cliff", metaphorically speaking. This means, expose yourself, with all your imperfections. Become open and vulnerable in the world. You jump right into fear, the fear does not stop, but you ignore it, defy it, and keep going. You setup the intent to keep going, no matter what your doubts tell you. You make your own mood, instead of your mood making you.
You no longer rely on the expectations of the world to set your direction. You don't even rely on your Buddhism teacher and Dharma anymore. You have to figure out your path by yourself, which is like the baby learning to walk for the first time.
I refer you to the following articles:
As well as this book by my beloved teacher Chögyam Trungpa: "Smile at Fear. Awakening the True Heart of Bravery”
Loneliness of the long distance Dhamma practitioner.
bit.ly/bbclonely BBC "Focus" March 2018 "You are not alone"
An article giving much focus on the fact of loneliness in this age of social networking. One solution reminded me of my bedsitter, pub socializing days in Belsize Park: strictly for the young.
Sadly no references to Dhamma, quite blind to this dimension.
From a Dhamma perspective, loneliness is the down side of the thrill of communication, on a conventional level - what goes up must come down - thus cutting down on social networking would thus cut down on loneliness. Perhaps a surprising conclusion.
On returning from 13 years of monastic life in NE Thailand to a relatives box room in Essex was workable, rather like the Kuti just left behind.
OK, though moving to a "studio" flat in Dunstable was very depressing: moving to a fully self contained apartment in Leighton Buzzard was positively suicidal.
However, developing a practice based around MahaBuwa/Anapanasati produced a very positive result, reminding me of a verse from the Pali, "Lonely as a Rhinoceros": defeating - nay vanquishing - that very sense of loneliness.
Sharing same in Buddhist forums is even more positive. Much gratitude for the opportunity.
The knowledge of kamma (cause and effect due to volition) leads to us having the courage to build up wholesome and skillful thoughts and actions.
From Thanissaro Bhikkhu's essay "Freedom from Fear":
Conversely, this same principle can make us brave in doing good. If we're convinced that the results of skillful intentions will have to return to us even if death intervenes, we can more easily make the sacrifices demanded by long-term endeavors for our own good and that of others. Whether or not we live to see the results in this lifetime, we're convinced that the good we do is never lost. In this way, we develop the courage needed to build a store of skillful actions — generous and virtuous — that forms our first line of defense against dangers and fear.
The knowledge of kamma, impermanence (anicca) and suffering leads to equanimity (with regards to how we face challenges) and also compassion (with regards to how we view others facing challenges).
From Bhikkhu Bodhi's essay "A Remedy for Despair":
As we grope about for a handle to prevent ourselves from plummeting down into the pits of despondency, we may find the support we need in a theme taught for frequent recollection by the Buddha: "Beings are the owners of their kamma, the heirs of their kamma; they are molded, formed and upheld by their kamma, and they inherit the results of their own good and bad deeds." Often enough this reflection has been proposed as a means to help us adjust to the vicissitudes in our personal fortunes: to accept gain and loss, success and failure, pleasure and pain, with a mind that remains unperturbed. This same theme, however, can also serve a wider purpose, offering us succor when we contemplate the immeasurably greater suffering in which the multitudes of our fellow beings are embroiled.
And the essay continues to explain how deep reflection on kammic retribution leads to development of equanimity:
Deep reflection on kammic retribution does, however, brace us against the shocks of calamity and disappointment by opening up to our vision the stubborn unwieldiness of a world ruled by greed, hate and delusion, and the deep hidden lawfulness connecting its turbulent undercurrents with the back-and-forth swing of surface events. While on the one hand this contemplation awakens a sense of urgency, a drive to escape the repetitive round of deed and result, on the other it issues in equanimity, an unruffled inner poise founded upon a realistic grasp of our existential plight.
And then equanimity leads to us having the courage to face challenges and have endurance.
Genuine equanimity, which is far from callous indifference, sustains us in our journey through the rapids of samsara. Bestowing upon us courage and endurance, it enables us to meet the fluctuations of fortune without being shaken by them, and to look into the face of the world's sufferings without being shattered by them.