The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda, Volume 5
by Paramhansa Yogananda
Courage: an Innate Quality of the Soul
Success, health, and wisdom are the natural attributes of the soul. Identification with weak thoughts and habits, and lack of concentration, perseverance, and courage are responsible for the misery that people suffer due to poverty, ill health, and so forth.
You are paralyzing your faculty for success by thoughts of fear. Success and perfection of mind and body are man's inherent qualities, because he is made in God's image. In order to be able to claim his birthright, however, he must first rid himself of the delusion of his own limitations.
God owns everything. Therefore, know at all times that as God's child you own everything that belongs to the Father. You must feel fully satisfied and contented, knowing that you have access to all your Father's possessions. Your native endowment is perfection and prosperity, but you choose to be imperfect and poor. The sense of possessing everything must be a mental habit with each individual.
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Every day is a fresh opportunity on the part of the human ego to gather more and more exploits of heroism. Meet everybody and every circumstance on the battlefield of life with the courage of a hero and the smile of a conqueror. Whatever comes your way and needs attention must be considered a duty. Duty is not imposed upon man by any super-power. It is the inherent urge of life toward progression. Neglect of one's duty is a source of evil that can be avoided by wisdom.
Avoid associating with those who always complain about life. They may ruin your newly awakened spirituality, which is like a tender plant growing within you. Avoid such people and try to be happy always, no matter how you are situated. God will never reveal Himself to you unless you are contented and happy.
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The true devotee banishes faint-heartedness. Resolutely he assembles a mental caravan of noble spiritual qualities, appointing Will Power and Devotion to the post of leadership, and sets out on his journey. He knows with unshakable faith that, once he frees his heart from every vestige of desire, he will attain true freedom at last. Onward, ever onward he travels, embracing high achievements on the way, but never allowing himself to become attached to any of them. Never does he rest until the end is reached. Such is the true devotee!
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Changeeven change for the betteris often approached with apprehension. "In giving up something," people think, "will I be left with nothing?" It takes courage to renounce the known for the unknown. It is not easy even to renounce a familiar pain for an unknown, and therefore uncertain, happiness. The mind is like a horse that for years has pulled its delivery wagon. The horse grows accustomed to its daily route, and cannot be convinced easily to walk a new one. The mind, too, will not lightly abandon its old habits, even when it knows they cause only misery.
Beneficial changes should be embraced with courage. As long as one's hopes for better things are opposed by fear of their attainment, the mind can never be at peace. Accept change, therefore, as life's only constant. Our lives are an endless procession of gains and losses, of joys and sorrows, of hopes and disappointments. At one moment we find ourselves threatened by the storms of trials; moments later, a silver lining brightens the gray clouds; then, suddenly, the skies are blue again.
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The sincere seeker, in contrast to the armchair "seeker" who wastes his life spinning intellectual theories, takes heart at the thought of the hard work before him. A true warrior, though afraid, plunges courageously into battle when the strength of his arm is needed. A true alpinist, though apprehensive of the sheer cliff he faces, sets out resolutely to conquer it. And the sincere truth seeker tells himself, "I know what an arduous task it must be to achieve perfection, but I will give it all I have. With God's help, success, surely, must be mine!" By deep, daily efforts in meditation he conquers flesh-consciousness at last, and regains his long lost awareness of the divine bliss within.
O devotee, take heart! No matter how dry, clay-hard, and cracked the soil of your heart has become during famine years of sense indulgence, of failure and disappointment, it can be watered and softened again by peace-showers of inner communion. Your spiritual enthusiasm, long wilted, can be revived. Only drink once more the ancient wine of God communion. In the field of fervent spiritual endeavor, as, daily, you work the softened soil of renewed soul perceptions, sow once again the seeds of spiritual success, and watch them grow into a new crop of divine joy.
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Instead of being overcome and discouraged when confronted with what you think is trouble, thank the Father for offering you the opportunity to see what you need to learn and to develop the strength and wisdom to meet the challenge.
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Karma is best worked out by meeting life's tests cheerfully and courageously. If you still fear something, that karma has not yet been worked out. To dissipate it, don't try to avoid the tests you have to face. Rise above them bravely, by dwelling in God's joy within.
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At any given moment you have all the courage, strength, and intelligence necessary to overcome any seeming difficulty. Become still, mentally and physically. Retire to your center of poise within, and commune with your Father there. He will show you the way.
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Affirmations for Courage
I will seek safety first, last, and all the time in the constant inner thought of God-peace.
I will wipe the dream fears of disease, sadness, and ignorance from the soul's face of silence, with the veil of Divine Mother's peace.
I am protected behind the battlements of my good conscience. I have burned my past darkness. I am interested only in today.
There is a right solution to every problem. I have within me the wisdom and intelligence to see this solution, and the courage and energy to carry it through.
God is within me and around me, protecting me, so I banish the gloom of fear that shuts out His guiding light and makes me stumble into ditches of error.
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Secret fear creates tension and anxiety, and brings ultimate collapse. We must have faith in our ability, and hope in the triumph of a righteous cause. If we do not possess these qualities, we must create them in our own mind through concentration. This can be accomplished by determined and long-continued practice.
First, we must identify our defects. If, for example, we are lacking in will power, let us meditate upon it, and through conscious effort we shall be able to create strong will power in ourselves.
If we want to relieve ourselves of fear, we should meditate upon courage, and in due time we shall be freed from the bondage of fear. Through concentration and meditation, we make ourselves powerful and able to focus our attention. Continual practice will enable us to concentrate our energy upon a single problem or a single responsibility without any effort. It will become second nature to us. Possessed with this new quality, we shall succeed in our life's undertakings, both spiritual and material.
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Sorrow has no objective existence. If you constantly affirm it, it exists. Deny it in your mind, and it will exist no longer. This is what I call the hero in man: his divine or essential nature. In order to acquire freedom from sorrow, man must assert his heroic Self in his daily activities.
The root of sorrow lies in the dearth of heroism and courage in the normal man. When the heroic element is lacking in the mental make-up of a person, his mind becomes amenable to all passing sorrows. Mental conquest brings happiness into life, and mental defeat brings sorrow. As long as the conqueror in man is awake, no sorrow can shadow the threshold of his heart.
Tears and sighs on the battlefield of life are the liquid cowardice of a weak mind. Those who give up the fight become prisoners within the walls of their own ignorance. Life is nothing if not a continuous overcoming of problems. Every problem that waits for a solution at your hand is the religious duty imposed upon you by life itself. There can be no life that is not full of problems. Essentially, conditions are neither good nor bad; they are always neutral, seeming to be either depressing or encouraging because of the sad or bright attitude of the mind.
When the individual sinks below the level of circumstances, he surrenders himself to the influence of bad times, ill luck, and sorrow. If he rises above circumstances by the heroic courage that is in him, all conditions of life, however dark and threatening, will be like the blanket of mist that disappears with the warm glance of the sun. The sorrows of the normal man are not inherent in the conditions of life. They are born out of the weaknesses of the human mind. Awaken the victor in yourself, arouse the sleeping hero in yourself, and lo! No sorrow will ever darken your door.