It is time to study Courage, Law #26. This is the second of the three stepping stones (Creativity, Courage & Commitment) under the Law of Right Action, the anchors of the East side of the Wheel. Without Courage, the Commitment will be insufficient to actualize your Creativity.
These Laws belong in the quadrant of the Warrior, the Hero and masculine energy, the place of Springtime, new beginnings, Fire, the eagle, intellect and inspiring ideas. Ideally we use our minds to fight ignorance, instead of each other.
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines Courage as a willingness to face and deal with danger, trouble or pain, fearlessness, bravery, valor ‘the courage of one’s convictions’, the courage to do what one thinks is right.
Rollo May’s classic book, The Courage to Create links the Laws of Courage and Creativity for you. Here’s an excerpt;
- Creativity is the ‘process of bringing something new into being which ideally enlarges human consciousness…while fulfilling ones’ own being in the world’
- Engagement and encounter are crucial to the creative process, otherwise it would remain ‘escapist’ (i.e. lacking any encounter with the world)
- Intensity of the encounter creates the heightened consciousness that accompanies the experience of actualizing one’s own potential.
-The joy and ecstasy of creativity come from the union of form and passion with order and vitality.
-This ecstasy combines the intellectual, volitional and emotional functions as the individual relates to ‘their world.
Besides the plain old hard work it takes to bring ‘something new into being’, as May writes, if you intend to ‘enlarge human consciousness’ the challenge grows exponentially. People tend to resist new ideas and changes. Few have the Courage to take on the system and face the ridicule, mockery and hostility that comes with the task. We owe a huge debt to all the pioneers, inventors and progressives who have persevered. Few were loved or appreciated during their lifetimes. Often the most creative, courageous people have risked everything, and been tortured or executed for their efforts. Look at history, and what happened to people like Copernicus and Galileo, who merely dared to point out the physical truth about the universe.
Wisdom Wheel circles have shown me how crucial it is to ‘hold a sacred space.’ Without it, Creativity can not unfold. We need to protect what is positive in our natures. To remain creative, we need peace and safety. Whether it is an actual physical sanctuary, like an island, a quiet room and a blank page or a canvas, we need sacred space even if it is only inside our minds.
Holding that sacred space is one of the courageous gifts CircleKeepers give to each other and themselves. To sit Circle regularly, or even to read these online Journals, you need resolve. You have to say ‘No’ to other things, so you can keep saying ‘Yes’ to the Wheel. To me that is one proof that some one has the Courage of their convictions. It is worth noting that Pure Potential in the West balances the Creativity in the East and Power balances Courage. These are pairs. Without one, the other won’t exist.
Your homework assignment for this Law is to write down two Courage stories; one about the Courage of someone else (like JFK’s book, Profiles in Courage) and one about your own Courage
While it takes Courage to stand up and do something when others won’t, it also requires Courage ‘not to do’ things, as in the tradition of ‘non-violent, non-cooperation’ practiced by Mahatma Gandhi. He called this ‘satyagraha’.
In the Gujurati language Sat means Truth and agraha means firmness. This ‘firmness of Truth’ or ‘truth-force’ empowers the ‘No’ when some thing is not Right Action. To resist wrongdoing, as the Indians did to British colonial rule, you have to believe that there is a better way.
Non-violent non-cooperation has stood the test of time, and has crossed cultures, as proven by Martin Luther King, Jr. He employed this philosophy during the
civil rights movement during the 1960’s. American history tends to be more violent, pitting one armed group against another.
If you’ve haven’t yet seen the film, Gandhi, this would be a good month to view it. Watch how his followers took one whack after another until the people beating them were so sickened by the reality of what they were doing, they had to stop doing it.
This was Courage, practiced in a very spiritually serious and difficult way. Receiving the blows is in high contrast to the violence of lashing out, verbally or physically. Which one takes more Courage? (see Gandhi And Beyond: Nonviolence for an Age of Terrorism by David Cortright for more about this method.)
In closing, let me point out the word rage inside the word Courage. In Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa P. Estes speaks about different kinds of rage:
’injured instinct’ rage
collective rage and
old rage as teachers.
To forgive murder, incest, abuse, unjust treatment, betrayal, theft… each requires a different kind of Courage she reminds us. (Even) the body has memory…to dismantle it, to reconstruct the libido…physical release must be accompanied by psychic understanding,” Estes explains.
If we hope to reconnect with our Creativity after great rage, we need to conceive of Right Action. Rage is such a powerful energy. It has to go some where. Rage turned inward creates depression. Raw rage turned outward is violence.
So how do we transform rage? Estes brings us back to Forgiveness, and its 4 stages: 1. To forego to leave it alone. 2. To forebear to abstain from punishing. 3. To forget to aver from memory, to refuse to dwell. 4. To forgive to abandon the debt.
Each one requires Courage from a different part of you… Be of good Courage, now and always.
Many blessings, Malcolm and Cynthia Davidson