Courage manifests as the Three Minds:
1. THE SINCERE MIND —the willingness to acknowledge our own fundamental goodness without arrogance, knowing that all sentient beings share Natural Perfection; and to recognize our innate stains without despair, knowing that we have the capacity to overcome and control our afflicted emotions and obscurations.
2. THE DEEP MIND —the ability to maintain full conviction and faith in the grace received from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, regardless of doubts, obstacles, or difficulties, and to act according to our highest understanding of the Dharma.
3. THE ASPIRING MIND —the determination to dedicate this and all future lives to benefit others, tame our afflictions, open wide all the gates to the Dharma, and embody the path to enlightenment for every sentient being without exception.
While courage also refers to the willingness and ability to stand against error, actively and skillfully opposing misconduct (as exemplified in Shakyamuni’s ‘act of information’ concerning Devadatta), steadfast courage is the distinctive trait of Bodhisattvas —those who pledge to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others. A faithful rendering of the Sanskrit term bodhisattva is ‘Hero of the Heart’, or ‘Spiritual Hero’.
Courage is the energy that enables the Bodhisattva to overcome impediments to his or her own spiritual transformation: to conquer ignorance, fear, error, death, and thereby attain liberation. Compassion is the energy that allows the Bodhisattva to assume the pain and struggle of others who yearn for transformation, and to guide them as ‘king’, ‘ferryman’, or ‘shepherd’. Wisdom is the energy of discernment that skillfully supports the process of transformation. The awakened state (every sentient being’s Buddha nature) is the spontaneous presence of these three energies.
For those of us treading the Great Middle Way, courage is not something to be sought, attained, or newly fabricated, but the ever-present grace of previous Bodhisattvas, and especially of Vajrasattva, the Lord of the Five Families, the Primordial Buddha. With the Three Minds of sincerity, depth, and aspiration, we pray constantly:
om Vajrasattva! I rely on Your Vow
To stand by me and sustain me,
To console and to nourish me, to love me unreservedly,
To grant me all attainments, to purify my actions,
And make my mind auspicious.
ha ha ha ha ho
Sovereign Ruler of the Five Wisdoms, The Blessed Lord,
Truly The One Come Thus, Indivisible, Imperishable Perfection,
Abide in me and grant me Your protection.
Your Vow is ever firm!
om vajrasattva hum