Courage is not something you acquire. It is something that surfaces from within you when you face up to fear in any situation.
In order to understand courage you must understand yourself first. If you believe you are a victim of the circumstances you are faced with, then you will live in fear, self-doubt and misery. Instead know that you are the Master and your circumstances are just that. They are circumstances and are therefore impermanent. Know that the energy within you is capable of overcoming any situation. Provided you turn around and face it. The Vietnamese dissident poet, Nguyen Chi Thien (1939~2012), was a classic example of someone who made the best out of any situation. To be sure, Thein had spent a total 27 years in prison resisting oppressive regimes and captors. Of this time, eight years were spent in solitude, in shackles, in the dark. He committed his poems to memory so that the authorities could never discover them! In one he wrote, of the regime and how he fought them:
“They exiled me to the heart of the jungle
Wishing to fertilize the manioc (cassava, a staple food) with my remains.
I turned into an expert hunter
And came out full of snake wisdom and rhino fierceness.
They sank me into the ocean
Wishing me to remain in the depths.
I became a deep sea diver
And came up covered with scintillating pearls.”
This is how you become courageous. When Life puts you in the dock, you face it with equanimity. You remind yourself that every dawn will take the night’s darkness away. When you look fear in the face, and do what you think you cannot, the circumstance, while remaining the same, will be less terrifying and your ability to deal with it will substantially improve!