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Developing Courage


Approaching the Buddhist Path

Volume 1 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and
Ven. Thubten Chodron

Wisdom Publications

Courage comes from the way we regard situations. For example, from one viewpoint the current situation in Tibet is dire; from another there is hope. Focusing on the positive, while being aware of but not discouraged by the negative, enables us to make every effort to improve conditions.

One single practice or method alone cannot develop courage; it requires contemplation of several topics over a period of time.

These topics include the preciousness of our human life; the potential of ourselves and all others to become fully awakened buddhas; the compassionate, awakening activities of the buddhas and bodhisattvas; the life stories of great masters; the kindness we have received from all sentient beings; and love, compassion, and taking others’ suffering and giving them our happiness.

These will uplift and balance the mind so that we then view situations from a broad perspective.

In addition to courage, we need confidence. To develop this, I keep in mind some basic beliefs: Human nature is gentle and compassionate. Each and every one of us does not want suffering, and we have a right to try to overcome it. All beings have the potential to become wise, altruistic buddhas.

Reflecting on these gives me inner strength and determination. A compassionate motivation and a clear, beneficial goal give me self-confidence and destroy doubts. In other words, confidence arises not from being successful in our projects but from engaging in them with a wise and kind motivation.

Human beings have remarkable intelligence, which if applied correctly, can solve problems and conflicts. Fatalistic attitudes are useless. We have the capacity to prevent hardships and improve what is good; we must do our best to use our abilities in constructive ways.

If we make every effort and still fail, we need not have regrets. We can accept what happens. However, if due to lack of care or hope, negative things happen, that is extremely sad.