Inner courage

“The essence of courage is to willingly feel our vulnerability; this is what allows us to respond to life with an undefended, wise heart.” — Tara Brach

I’ve now listened to this podcast (Living with Courageous Presence) three times; Tara Brach does a beautiful job of exploring the landscape of inner courage.

Early on she references a Facebook group and the comments received in asking the question:

Right now, what does it mean to live with courage?

There are some beautiful, heartfelt responses but the one that struck me most was this one:

Giving and receiving love.

How many of us can honestly say, whatever the circumstances, we’re able to give and receive love?

I can’t.

In fact, and without wishing constantly to go over old family ground, one of the major issues of my early life is the conditionality of the love given and received — mostly from my mother — and how, in later life, I’ve not been able to accept the (largely unconditional) love of others.

“This fire that we call Loving is too strong for human minds. But just right for human souls.” ― Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love

Certainly this year, one of the things I’ve accepted is the need to open my heart, to soften my edges (attempting to be right all the time is not a pleasant trait, and is legacy of being a litigator) and listening to others.

But, like so many areas of my life that I’ve too often ignored, I need to go much further.

No judging.
Letting go of the need to control.
And accepting everyone and everything as it is.
(I’m always reminded of Byron Katie‘s words: “When you argue with reality, you lose every time.”)

I want to make it clear that this isn’t about a counsel of perfection but, instead, being a nicer person around everyone and not just a select few.

Receiving love and loving requires huge courage, particularly when we’ve been wounded or need to prove ourselves; but in the end, if we can’t open our hearts to that beautiful space, I fear we’ll never confront our deepest, darkest demons and we’ll be worse off — on so many levels — as a result.

Much love,

Julian

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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