When we see speak about courage in Yoga, it is of four kinds– DharamVir, KaramVir, YudhaVir and DanaVir, namely the Courage of Righteousness, Courage of Right Action, Courage in War and Courageous Generosity. All four of these facets of the One Courage must be active in the aspirants to Yoga.
It is natural for us to possess some of these facets of courage and to lack in some. The work of a life towards freedom is in acquiring progressively higher levels of courage in all four of its facets.
The Courage of Righteousness requires, as its central supporting force, the art of discernment, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, not as it appears to our individual egos, but to rise above the personal ego, subject as it is to the vagaries of genetics, upbringing and environment, and to glimpse at the eternal path where justice beyond any prejudice prevails.
Flying high in this thin, cold and clear air of higher justice, the greatest fall will be occasioned through self-indulgence. And so, to counter this fall, the self itself must suffer and progress, from the ability to be self-censorious. To know what is wrong, what is right and to commit to the right, to desist from the wrong. This in itself might seem simplistic, but it is the hardest thing we could ever do. If Adam and Eve could have done this, there would be no fall from grace for them. The Courage that arises from seeing the Path from which one does not then separate, gifts to one the ability to foresee, to be a Seer.
While it may be argued that such a self-censoring Ego has already been identified as the SuperEgo in Freudian terminology, the Yogic perspective of the self-censor goes much further, as all Yoga is directed towards evolution. The human psychosomatic system is but a vector, which can be redirected and given momentum towards unlimited levels of evolution.
As a corollary we may add that all Seers and great discoverers of natural laws possess the courage of righteousness, and so the Platonic belief of philosophers or discoverers of universal laws being the most ideal leaders of society is supported by Yoga, as such individuals will both possess the art of discernment and the consequent courage of righteousness, both qualities which are of preeminent import to the harmonious leading of society. These are the true Brahmans, the knowers of Creative Intelligence, who are classified as the most ideal leaders of a benevolent society. Needless to say, the term ‘Brahman’ has devolved over the millennia in India, into a social caste, whose, by now redundant privileges are procured through inheritance, and not Intelligence, as was originally the case. But no vital idea has ever survived organization, and kept its vitality intact. Organisational thought helps to multiply, functionalise and spread the adoption of vital idea structures, but at a great price, that of sentience. The living, vital idea becoming functionalized and structured, loses its living force, becoming an imago of its real self.
The Courage of Right Action requires, as its central force, the power of will. When this facet of courage is applied along with the art of discernment, then the resultant force of good to humanity and the world is immense in its scope and influence. With the right level of discernment, a small man’s actions, powered by indomitable and free will, can change the very face of the world and the future, bring utopia into manifest reality.
On the negative side, in this type of courage lies the greatest danger to humanity and the world, for the power of will, which has the force of sentient nature behind it, if misdirected or abused, will destroy and corrupt, to an extent only limited by the imagination of the abuser.
Courage in War demands befriending the fear of death. Life and living is a constant war that only ends with death. Our body is fighting viruses and bacteria every moment we are alive. The body’s immensely complex multi-layered organic systems are constantly fighting to preserve homoeostasis, the balance of life. Society and the economy are battlegrounds where finders are keepers, relationships are fraught with tension over establishing the dominant-submissive roles. From unicellular organisms to the most complex species on Earth, us humans, we are all established in the constant War of Life.
Great courage in war is taking the bull by the horns, not flinching at the immensity of the challenge, regardless of the vulnerability of the fragile self. But such a courage requires both the art of discernment, that generates the Courage of Righteousness, and the Courage of Right Action born from indomitable will power. If the Courage of Righteousness is missing, the individual who has the Courage in War is like a missile or a bomb that is unable to distinguish between friend and foe, he becomes somebody more dangerous to those around him, than to any imagined foe. On the other hand, if the Courage of Right Action is missing, the person will never manifest his thoughts into action, especially the strong and persistent action required in the arena of War.
The ultimate War we can fight is twofold, firstly to evolve from our present capacities and sensibilities to a higher self, this is the Inner war. Secondly, to help manifest beneficial, transformative changes to the society and world around us, in a minor or major way, depending upon our capacities and vision, this being the External War. Obstacles that stand in the way of the Internal and the External War are the foes and they must be taken on and taken down, their seeming immensity notwithstanding. For the power that is required to accomplish victory in the Wars comes from the will that is indomitable.
As a great master once said, ‘Iccha Shakti Uma Kumari’ , ‘Will-Power (when completely under ones control) is the Virgin Queen’ . The foresight and wisdom required for winning the Wars will come from the Art of Discernment and its child, the visionary Courage of Righteousness.
Finally, Courageous Generosity, the very peak of all Courage is only acquired once all the other three facets of Courage are gathered, and internalized into the new persona. Once the fear of death, the fount of all identity is befriended, the next stage is to overcome the fear of death, by going to the land that lies beyond the light and shadow worlds of life and death, and entering the realm of immortality of the clear light of self-awareness. Looking outwards, with that crystal- like clarity born in the realm of non-death, there is great pity felt towards those still hunted by the spectre of death. All the things that all the beings do, to feel alive, to desperately escape the inevitability of death-there is great pity for these feelings, and from this pity and loving concern arises the ultimate flower and gift of spirituality, to humanity and the Universe- true compassion, a higher love.