Courage is one of the greatest virtues that a person can develop during his life on this earth. Unfortunately, most people do not understand what courage is at all. What most people understand as courage is simply cowardice.
All growth in life arises out of courage. Courage involves a lot of things, but one of the most important things to understand about courage is the fact that you need to put everything at stake. To talk about courage may be very interesting, but if you lack the ability to put everything at stake, then you will never come to an understanding of the joy, bliss and ecstasy that life holds for an individual.
I have tried my best to live a joyful life for years and I had always failed. I tried to play safe in life. I used to live life on a motto that everything should be done with a certain limit. Living a limited life is like having one foot in the grave and the other foot in the world – you are neither living, nor dying. Do you think a person who lives like this can ever be happy?
All of us are living like that. When I speak of the fact that we’re living a limited life, what I mean is that we are living in such a way that everything remains safe. Living a safe life means to calculate each step that you take. Most people think that this is an intelligent way of living, because a man who calculates never makes any mistake.
We are conditioned to believe that a person who does not make any mistakes is an intelligent person. The exact opposite is true. A person who makes no mistakes is unintelligent because to calculate means to plan. To plan for the future means that you cannot rely on your intelligence.
Therefore millions of people settle down with a perfect road map for their entire lives. Everything is already decided. The age you’re going to graduate, the job you’ll be working for, the age when you will get married, the kind of life you would live at the time of retirement, the amount of money you will collect so that there is no worry for the future and things like these.
One of the Most important Lessons in life:
One of the most important lessons that I have learnt in my life is that you can either have everything in the world, or absolutely nothing. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you try to stand somewhere in between and play safe, you will fail.
Years ago when I left my job to pursue my dream, my parents became very afraid, because I had left my job at a very crucial stage of my life. I was at a stage where in a few years my parents would be expecting me to get married, make a family and live a settled life. I was in complete agreement with them until I came to a point where life seemed really meaningless.
Yes, I was living a fairly happy life. I had a decent job, I was getting paid enough to support myself and my future, but I thought to myself, is this what life is all about? Something within me wanted to become more. It was not that I was sick or my job or anything. Neither did I feel like I needed to work at some other place. I felt absolutely meaningless. I left my job and spent more than two years simply trying to get my life sorted. I would spend hours of my time reading spiritual books.
Unconcerned about the Future:
I had forgotten my entire future. All that was real for me was me and my hearts longing to become more. At that time, I couldn’t really define what that “more” was. My parents and my friends would keep asking me, what are you upto? I would simply say that I was just enjoying myself. I would keep reading books, listening to spiritual discourses, reading scriptures and so on. I enjoyed doing that, but I had no clue why I was doing it.
When I was doing none of those activities, I would simply sit for hours in silence. My parents had given up on me completely. Years later I realised that I had become a completely new person. I wasn’t the same person I used to be before.
All or Nothing:
When I look back at my life, what I realised is that I had come to a point where I had made a clear decision that I was either going to die with absolutely nothing, or everything that life holds for me.
I would have been living a very peaceful life today had I chosen to continue to do what I was doing, but I would have been living a dead life.
All or nothing is now my basic standpoint in life. Life can become beautiful only when you can put such a condition in front of yourself that you are either going to have everything, or have nothing at all.
Half Bread is just as Bad as no Bread:
A lot of people think that it is impossible to put everything at stake. We feel that putting everything at stake is crazy because we believe that having something is better than to have nothing at all. Half bread is better than no bread – this is people’s motto in life. In my own life, that saying applies only when It comes to food. With everything else in life, half bread is not at all better, but dangerous too.
I would rather die starving with no bread, than to taste half a bread and then wish that I could have just one more bite. It is strange that in the entire world very few people become enlightened. Once in a while you will come across people like Buddha, Mahavir, Krishna, or Jesus. Such people are rare, not because enlightenment is not everybody’s right, but because not everybody is willing to put everything at stake.
Putting everything at Stake is a spiritual quality:
In all religious traditions, the idea of renunciation is almost a norm. In my view renunciation should not be taken literally, but you need to understand the idea behind renunciation. The idea is to put those things in life at stake which at the moment provide you comfort and convenience.
If you look at the life of a mystic, almost every mystic without any exception has renounced something or the other. Buddha had renounced his wealth and family, Jesus gave up his life, Mahavir renounced his clothes. Are all of these people mad or what? One thing is certain – either Buddha, Mahavir and all of these mystics who keep doing such crazy things are mad, or the rest of the world who are living in comfort are mad.
Both cannot be mad, and so, obviously it is not these mystics who are mad, but we who are actually mad. The proof of that lies in the fact that we are still suffering in life.
Therefore, to end suffering, renunciation had become a fundamental teaching, but due to our lack of understanding we have not really understood what renunciation really is.
What is Renunciation?
Renunciation simply means to renounce mediocrity. Yes you can renounce money, power, prestige and all of these things but after renouncing all of these things if you still remain mediocre you have renounced nothing at all.
For example, when Buddha left his palace, he didn’t really renounce his palace. His life in that palace had become a routine. He was bored of it. He was living a monotonous, mediocre life. He had reached a point where if he did not renounce his palace, he would have gone insane.
Buddha wanted to live a life of freedom and the Palace had become a bondage. He couldn’t breathe there, so he decided to give it up. Remember that Buddha didn’t give up his wealth at all, in fact, he was in search of a more subtle kind of wealth which he calls Nirvana.
If you look at all the things that mystics have renounced, you would realise that they were actually renouncing their mediocrity. A man can renounce his mediocrity only when he can see the possibility of having something more.
To give up all of those things in life in order to achieve something higher is the only real transaction in life. I call this the spiritual transaction. The risk is that you may not achieve what you’re looking for. This is why people don’t put everything at stake. The reason why people prefer to live in comfort is because results are not guaranteed when you give it all up. There is always that element of uncertainty which comes with giving up.
When it comes to the spiritual world, nothing is guaranteed. You may die like a beggar, but one of the most satisfying experiences at the time of death is to know that you tried your best. The search for God may not necessarily lead towards finding God. There are many people who have never found God, but even then, you will notice that they are contented.
This is one of the strangest things in the world. If you run after power, fame, prestige, money and things like these, even if you achieve them, you will not be contented. With God, it is a totally different matter. If you have lived your whole life searching for God and you still haven’t found him, you will still be just as joyful as an enlightened man and that is the beauty of a seeker.
A seeker is someone whose thirst is quenched even if he hasn’t drunk any water. Just his search and longing to quench his thirst in itself is a kind of satisfaction. Only a few people in the world are fortunate to realise this.