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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Courage?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Courage

Courage and Inquiry

I call this the Socratic method because Socrates was the first major figure we know who engaged this process directly, who sat down with people and asked them pointed questions such as, What is courage? Everybody thought they knew what courage was, but he led them in inquiry, first showing them that they did not know, and then guiding them through questions so they could find out for themselves. He knew the answer for himself, but when he asked the question, he asked it from the place of not knowing. He knew, but he knew that he didn't know everything, and because of that his inquiry was always alive. That's why so many people flocked around him; they were excited by that energy of inquiry. He could have just told them the answer, but they wouldn't have learned anything, for the important thing is to learn how to inquire, how to ask questions... ...

Activating the Red latifa provides the soul with the strength and capacity to reach and discern what one loves and wishes to unite with. It gives one the energy and fire, the initiative and courage, to go after one's heart’s desire.... ...

At this juncture of our unfoldment, we need even more strength in order to go forward. Here strength appears in another form that is necessary for our inquiry. When there is fear, the quality that is needed is fearlessness. Fearlessness does not mean the total absence of fear reactions, it means that fear does not scare you away from your inquiry—you still go on. At such times, you need courage to keep looking at the truth even if it terrifies you—to face the fact that you’re going to feel insecure as you go forward into the unknown. It takes a daring attitude to cross that threshold. In other words, for us to continue with inquiry when we are afraid, we need to be courageous, we need to be strong of heart, we need to become lionhearted. But what we need to become lionhearted about is the truth. All kinds of things can happen—disruptions, hardships obstacles, fears, and inadequacies. You might feel helpless for a few days, or a few years. Some people can go crazy on the spiritual path, and some people even kill themselves. These difficulties of the inner journey are well known and have been documented throughout history...

Bold Openness. This is the time when we need tremendous courage, immense strength, and an adventurous attitude. For the true explorer, the bold voyager, risk is always a part of the adventure. So if you are truly interested in the farthest reaches of reality, and the inquiry is a blazing fire within you, then you too will experience this boldness. If your heart is open, this openness will manifest as courageousness. It will become a courageous, bold openness, a daring openness. In fact, you can become so courageous you dare reality: "Show me! Let me see into your mystery!" We’ve seen that openness appears as love, as curiosity; with the red latifa, it appears as courage and daring, an adventurous attitude. Without this quality, you will tend to stay with what you already know or believe about reality. Then openness will have limits and boundaries to it: "Yes, I'm open, but only if what happens confirms what I already know." You might feel this way especially when you’ve fallen into the ocean and you feel like you’re drowning—it can be hard to stay open to see what’s true. You think, “I’m going to die, to disappear. I’m terrified!” But if you let go and let yourself disappear, you might find, “Oh, I didn’t die, I’m water—amazing!” To surrender in this way when we’re terrified requires courage—not just love, and not just trust.

Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 110, 257, 281

Courage and Love Relationships

I am not talking about continuing to love someone and letting them walk all over you. No, that is not what I am talking about. That is not love. That is dependency. That is need. I’m talking about real understanding, forgiveness, appreciation, joy, and pleasure. That’s the love I’m talking about. I’m not talking about a situation where there is negativity, the person hates you and exploits you, and you still stick around—that’s not love. You are probably just engaged in the frustrating relationship then, the mental relationship. Real love is courageous, it is strong, it is no bullshit. If someone does something hateful to you, you deal with it with strength, but you do not stop loving. You do not eliminate the good just because there is bad. You do not eliminate what is really there just because there is also something you do not like. So your courage is in being real, and in being real, you are truly courageous to see the other person as who they are, the whole package.

Courage and Real Living

The real substance of life is who and what we are. We tend to get lost in the container, in the packaging, in the things our eyes can see. We forget that if we live from that perspective, we are bound to be husks or shells ourselves. We are imprisoned in a fake world. When we take the packaging to be what is real, we're going to be like the packaging. If we want our life to be real, to have true substance, we have to be a human being of substance. We have to put ourselves on the line. We have to live with courage, boldness, integrity, and self-respect. These qualities depend on us being honest and sincere. Being honest and sincere means confronting our inner experience and our outer life in a truthful way. Being sincere means not lying to ourselves, not rationalizing, not comforting, not postponing, not bandaging difficulties. Being sincere means grappling with our life and coming to terms with it with a sense of integrity and self-respect. Over time we gain self-respect by grappling with our deficiencies, by learning that we can do it. If we run away from the difficult parts, we'll feel like a coward. If we feel like a coward, we won’t respect ourselves. And we can't lie to ourselves about what we’re actually doing; on a deep level, we know the truth. So we have to grapple with the difficulties in a courageous way. That's how we gain respect and value. If we run away from things, there's no way we can value ourselves. To have a sense of integrity, we have to prove to ourselves that we're worthy of it. I don't mean we have to prove something to our superego. I mean we have to bring forth what we are, bring forth all our resources to confront the difficulties that we have in our life.

Gaining Courage

How is the individual to gain the courage to engage in this process of disidentification, given the deep and sometimes terrifying insecurity that is thereby exposed? It is made much easier if there is some support to take the place of the usual ego supports which come through the object relations, such as approval, recognition, social acceptance and success, love and admiration from friends and family for one's individuality, financial security, and the like. Clearly one's attachment to these things is very strong. In fact, our observation is that we are willing to perceive these phenomena without using them for ego support or self esteem only when we have a sense of a more basic, more real support and value. In the process of inner realization this support can be provided by some of the essential aspects.... ...Strength: The right hand of Essence, related by the Sufis to the "rouh," spirit. It is the energy, the drive, the force, the élan vital, necessary for the realization and development of the Personal Essence. It is the passionate involvement in the process of understanding, the discriminating force behind the process of evolution. It is what gives the heart the courage to embark and continue on the journey of discovery.

Having the Courage to Penetrate Experience

So we’re not courageous to earn the approval of the superego—our own or anybody else’s. That won’t affect our real sense of value. We’re courageous because we know the value of knowing and living according to the truth. Acting courageously often is scary and painful. But by allowing that fear, that pain, something happens in us. There is a transformation that makes us feel satisfied, even though we might have had a difficult time. As you can see, this satisfaction is personal. It’s not something between you and other people; it’s between you and you. Between you and your own integrity. Between you and your own sense of truth. Loving the truth for its own sake means preferring to be sincere with yourself, preferring to be honest with yourself. Loving the truth means not lying to yourself, not being hypocritical. It means having the courage to penetrate your experience. It means having the courage to see your deficiencies and fears, your lies and delusions. The love of truth for its own sake can be expressed even with mundane issues. Every minute, we interact. Every minute, we conduct ourselves in some way. And we can notice whether the love of truth is present in these moments. Now, it’s also true that we are ignorant. We often don’t know what’s happening or what’s driving us or how to find out the truth. The teaching provides the means for paying attention and seeing what’s real. But we’re the ones who need to do it. We’re the ones who need to practice, to grapple with our life.

Staying with Experience

To stay with your experience without manipulating it means you have to be objective about what’s here. Objectivity doesn’t mean being cold. Objectivity means not laying your trips on what’s actually here. True objectivity does not mean that you are unfeeling but that you are full of love for the truth. To be objective means that you don’t burden what’s actually here with your preconceptions and ideas from the past. You simply let it be as it is. In examining your weakness, you see that you have to eliminate your associations, reactions, and beliefs about it. You have to find out what this weakness is right now. If you really go about it that way, the hole of weakness emerges, which is the opening for the aspect of strength. And suddenly strength arises and you are this raging fire. You have the courage and excitement, the openness and curiosity, to go on finding out who you are and what the world is.

The Importance of Courage

We need a bold, courageous, adventurous heart to take us where we have never gone. Because that’s what the inner journey is—going where we haven’t gone before. If we only have a nice, kind heart, that might help us to not attack ourselves, but we won’t take the bold step of moving into the now, of being open and vulnerable to whatever beckons us into new territory.... ...It takes an adventurous spirit to say, “Well, let’s jump and see what happens.” But remember that the jumping is not a matter of doing anything. It’s more about the sense of courage, of boldness in that whatever arises, whatever happens, we will allow ourselves to be vulnerable to it. So compassion is necessary, but it needs to be balanced with a strength in the form of an adventurous spirit, a spirit that wants to experience the unknown. We’re talking about a sense of vitality and strength that is not passively waiting for things to happen, but is dynamic and interested in what might arise at any moment. We’re talking about being ready to go—although we don’t go anywhere, really. We just keep being where we are in every moment.

The Need for Intense Sincerity and Ruthless Courage

True states of realization occur when you throw away all the teachings. All of the teachings, absolutely. Everything. Then you are investigation itself finding out what you are. You realize that many people have said many things along the way. Somebody said you are an eternal soul, you have to be saved, and you have to believe in Christ. Somebody else said you just need to realize that there is no self. Another person said the true self is the Brahman. Somebody talked about God. And if you really believe that those people are not lying, you start wondering what they’re talking about. Who is right? You need intense sincerity and ruthless courage to discover the truth for yourself. “This person says this and that person says that. I believe that they mean what they say, but how can I say one of them is right and one of them is wrong? And who knows what they mean by what they say anyway?” That is one of the things I discovered when I realized the state of no-self. The state was different from what I thought. I realized that many people go around talking about Buddhist no-self, and they haven’t got the vaguest idea of what it means. What they think is no-self is not what Buddha talked about. When Buddha said there is no self, he also meant there is no table and no house. He didn’t mean that you walk around without a self, but that everything is conceptual. The self is ultimately a concept. This thing or that thing is a concept. But people don’t think that way. They read about no-self and think that after sitting around for a while they will be this person sitting in lotus position with no self. There isn’t anything like that. No-self means you realize that you are not sitting in that lotus position. So we don’t really know what those people meant. At some point you have to achieve an independence of mind, which is the state of aloneness. You have to know intrinsic aloneness, allowing yourself to be free from all influence, independent from anybody, from anywhere, even from your own experience.

We Have to Put Ourselves on the Line

Living according to the truth requires courage, boldness, and a willingness to sacrifice. We’re sacrificing what is false in us. In the beginning, it will appear as if we were sacrificing our security, safety, and comfort, sacrificing the possibilities of pleasure and love. But these seem small sacrifices once we have a taste of what it’s like to be real, once we have a taste of the satisfaction and freedom of really living as a human being. Our usual ego perspective is that satisfaction comes from having what we believe we should have. In my experience, it doesn’t work that way. I could have the whole world, but if I am not the person I can be, it doesn’t mean anything. Comfort or pleasure, a home, a mate, work: these are external ornaments for a real human being. They are not life itself, not the stuff of life. They are the husk of life, the package, at best the manifest expression of life. The real substance of life is who and what we are. We tend to get lost in the container, in the packaging, in the things our eyes can see. We forget that if we live from that perspective, we are bound to be husks or shells ourselves. We are imprisoned in a fake world. When we take the packaging to be what is real, we’re going to be like the packaging. If we want our life to be real, to have true substance, we have to be a human being of substance. We have to put ourselves on the line. We have to live with courage, boldness, integrity, and self-respect. These qualities depend on our being honest and sincere.

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