My courage - My strength!

Hello all,

Namaste! Hope all of you had a great time putting your strength towards the exact things you wanted to show up in your life. Last week we discussed how Abraham Lincoln with his sheer focus was able to capture the highest pedestal for his life. Today we are taking the same example of him and see how he used his courage to pursue what he wanted in his life. When we focus on what we want in our life it grows in our life. If we focus on what we don't want for our life, that also grow in our life. (As noted in my previous post, please put yourself, the blog reader at the 'My' position in the title and read the Blog from that perspective. So each blog reader again is saying, "My courage, my strength"). 

Now we have discussed life and living so many times. Today let us concentrate on how we are supposed to live? But, many times how we are actually living? In the Sanskrit language a difference is said as 'Ajagajantharah' (अजगजान्तरः) Aja=goat, Gaja=Elephant, Antharah= difference. The way we are supposed to live and the way we really live may be as different as a goat and elephant. Let us dissect this more.

My courage: All of us come into this life as wide-eyed, cherub-cheeked babies. Somewhere along the way we lose our wonder for the life, bogged down by everyday matters, and in a rat race to make something of our life. Here let us come to the story of Arjuna and Krishna in Mahabharata. We discussed before how Arjuna can be taken as our mind and Krishna as our inner self or Soul. In the Bhagavad Gita, second chapter, second verse, Krishna says to Arjuna, 

                                                        "Kutas tva kasmalam idam 
                                                         vishame samupasthitam |
                                    narya-justam asvargyam 
                                                         akirti-karam arjuna " ||

"Arjuna, why are you so timid? Does it give anyone impressiveness by being timid, and cowardly in a time to take action? How can such disgraceful behavior come to beings with a noble heart?"

Here if we take the Mahabharata as the battle of our life, Arjuna as our mind and Krishna as our inner self, the inner self in each of us or the divine, as the divine spark in each of us is asking us, "Hey Arjuna (being), how can you be a coward in the battle of your life? Should you keep all the talents and passions (the bow and arrows we have been provided to fight this battle of life) aside and sit in your physical body (the chariot where Arjuna is sitting), being in a state of inaction? Is that how you are supposed to fight your battle or is it supposed to be fought with courage, fortitude or determination?"

Courage, strength, Lincoln, authentic, realm, greatness
Our courage determines our strength
Image courtesy -

So what does this stanza prods us to do? All of us have been given bow and arrow to fight this battle of life. But many times we throw away that which we have been given and start either becoming a coward, not fully living our life from the heart or not looking at the bow and arrows (talents and passions), just live randomly from the perspective of the mind.

But every one of us has been sent to this Earth with apt weapons to fight our battle of life. The talents and passions we have exactly give us the right opportunities and options to fully capture the life we want. But it is not enough to have talents and passions. We also need the courage to go after what we want for our life. 

But many times we are totally afraid to live our life fully. Either we put our own obstacles, saying the purpose or path is too difficult, or allow others to put difficulty in our path, so that being terrified to take charge of our life, we lead a half-hearted existence. So above said talents and passion only a truly courageous person can capture in his/her life.

Mark Twain has famously quoted, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." So when we decide to lead a purposeful life and try to capture the highest realms of Self, of course, we are going to be fearful. But not succumbing to the fear we take actions anyway. The living here we are discussing is not the half-hearted living many times we do. But the authentic and courageous living that we do from the core of our heart. That is what we are discussing here.

Now let us again come back to the story of Abraham Lincoln and see how he lived a fearless life, true to his heart, being authentic and courageous.

Abraham Lincoln: Last week we discussed how he was focused and determined on his purpose. Today let us analyze the same story from the viewpoint of courage. He was born on February 12, 1809, into a family where hard work and labor was the norm every day. Later his family moved from Kentucky to the south of Indiana state in 1816. He was only able to go to school only for a short period of time as he had to constantly support his family. So he had to stop his schooling. Here Lincoln could have left his studies completely and could have just helped his dad in farming and hard labor. That would have been the easy way out.

Instead, being courageous by nature, he wanted to keep his love for studies alive, by writing, poetry, scribbling thoughts, and ciphering and reading books. He taught himself whenever he got time in between his farm labor. He even went to the extent of studying under the street lights as his home didn't have electricity. Think about the courage and inner strength a school-aged boy needed to study under a street light, after a whole day of hard farm labor. His mother Nancy died when he was nine years old and later Abraham Lincoln became very close to his step-mother Sarah Bush Lincoln. Again it was his inner courage that led him to survive the tragedy of losing his mother at the young age of nine.

In between, he became busy with a job on a flat river boat taking freight down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. Even here, he never left his passion for reading, poetry, and books. Even though Lincoln was always doing manual labor, farming, and even river rafting freight, his mental courage was always driven by books, poetry, reading, thought process and analysis. He was a life-long learner. The books and underlying intellectual process opened up his mind to higher echelons of thought.

Abe, Lincoln, focus, growth, Senate, Congress, President
Abraham Lincoln -The sixteenth U.S.President
Library of Congress [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There were many chances where he could have just left everything and led a simple life in states like Indiana, Illinois or another place. Instead, he worked as a postmaster for some time, studied law by himself, later to become a lawyer. Now think about the underlying courage to learn law by himself reading books and later appearing for the law as well as bar exams and clearing it. Have heard even students who go to a law college and study have a very tough time to pass the law exam. Here was a young man appearing for a law exam as well as the bar exam after studying everything by himself. What would have been his inner might and courage? Definitely President material. (Wish such leaders, who were true world leadersare more prevalent nowadays.) He practiced law in the Illinois bar of Springfield for several years and was famous for his cross-examinations and closing arguments. Again doing a brilliant job on cases, for which the very foundation he developed himself.

Even though his first run for the Illinois state senate resulted in disaster, the second run was successful and he was a four-term state senator, successfully completing his terms as a 'Whig' party representative. At that time itself, he had a strong stance against slavery and abolitionism. This again shows his courage and persistence to keep the efforts up even when failure was a constant in his life.

Later he wanted to run for the U.S. House of Representatives and again the first attempt failed. But in the second attempt in 1835, he was successful and served as a U.S. Congressman for one term. Later as he was not able to proceed with his political ambitions, he returned to Illinois to pursue his career as a lawyer. He practiced law for the next sixteen years. Sixteen years! If it had been another person they would have left their political ambitions long back. But this was Abraham Lincoln, courageous and determined to his core

Again Lincoln tried to run for the U.S. Senate in 1855 as well as in 1858, almost twenty years after his one term stint with the U.S. Congress in 1835. Any other person, after sixteen years away from politics and two unsuccessful runs for the U.S. Senate would have left their dreams dejected and just would have led an ordinary life being a lawyer at Illinois. But here Lincoln's inner courage and dedication were the horses driving his ambition.

My strength: In 1859-1860, the candidate called Abraham Lincoln who had great oratory skills and who could give speeches with a punch captured national attention. His debates with Stephen Douglas put him as a great candidate who had a brilliant thought process. His speech at the Cooper Union, a private college in New York city carried him to the top of the charts, which eventually put him as the sixteenth president of the United States.

Now, from a, one term, unknown congressman he became the most powerful man in the United States. Again his courage was tested. As soon as he became President, he had to face a civil war between the slave promoting south with the freedom-seeking north. Even without any military training he read and made himself aware of the military strategies needed for a wartime President. His courage successfully led the north in the war and defeated the south and integrated the whole country to become the 'United States of America'. Thus his inner courage became the strongest strength for him during the civil war.

In between when the war was raging, he undertook yet another bold action. It came to his attention that after the war, the rehabilitation of slaves would come into the picture and if the north was to win, they would become the masters of the slaves. So on January 1,1863, Lincoln issued a preliminary 'Emancipation Proclamation' freeing all the slaves. Now think about it. In the middle of a civil war, freeing the slaves who were considered the treasured property of the enemy side. Think about the mettle of this man.

In November 1863, Lincoln gave an eloquent speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, today extolled as the 'Gettysburg address', that showcases the importance of independence and human equality. He was shot point black on the head by a Confederate (south) sympathizer John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, and breathed his last on April 15, 1865. Lincoln's 'Emancipation proclamation' freed the slaves and the success of the civil war led to the integration of the United States as a working whole.

Analysis: Abraham Lincoln's life shows again and again how to lead a life with courage and strength. There were many instances where he could have just given up on life and could have led a very ordinary existence. His early age without schooling, hard labor in the farm, the death of his mother at a young age, instead of going to school working in a flat boat, all tough life experiences. This was just during the school age and youth.

Again once he became the adult, he could have just continued in the job as a post-master. Instead, he took the pains to study law by himself, write the law and bar exam single-handedly and became a successful lawyer and was famous for his oratory skills in the court. Even with this his ambition didn't quench. He ran for state senate of Illinois, later became congressman of the U.S. Congress for one term, ran for the U.S.Senate twice, lost and later practiced law for sixteen years.

If it had been another person they would have left the political ambition and continued their life as a lawyer. But here was Lincoln after almost twenty years became the sixteenth President of the United States, not once but twice, even though he was not able to complete the second term. Being the President, he presided over a civil war, military strategy, and later issued the 'Emancipation Proclamation' freeing the slaves.

So now let us look at how Lincoln led his life. Did he live his life half-heartedly or did he go and claim the bull of life by grabbing its horns by both hands? Did he lead his life with the courage which turned it into a life of strength or did he shy away from the bold decisions he had to take during his life?

Each of us lead our life. And every day we take decisions that lead us down a path. Most of the time we are given two choices, one bold, but tough to the core, the other easy, but mediocre in its stature. Many times we take the easy way out, shying away from bold decisions that lead our path down the road of undistinguished life. Should that be the way we lead our lives?

Now the question. Why only a few people capture the 'Realm of Greatness' we discussed before? Why every single one of us is not able to capture that realm? Any idea? This is because it is only with the bold decisions taken truly from the core of our heart leads to our true power of authentic Self. Only from this powerful position of strength, we can capture the 'Realm of greatness'. Otherwise, we end up leading an ordinary, mediocre, uninspired and unexceptional life.

Realm, courage, greatness, strength, Lincoln
In the realm of greatness, our courage is our strength!
Image courtesy

Is anybody excluded from this 'Realm of Greatness' where our courage becomes our strength? No, no one is excluded. But the decision is solely is in our hands as we have discussed many times, the decision involves free will and choice. Some people choose to be courageous in their intentions and go with the tough road where they are welcomed by their own unique stature in the world, while others don't want to stand apart or want to be just in the in-crowd and coast around with their life.

Both are not wrong. But it is only in the realm of inner courage, authenticity and strength we can find that true greatness which has the name of some of the fantastic leaders of the world. Hope each one of us can access that realm of inner courage and strength.

I wish you a good weekend and I'll see you next Friday! 😉

Next week: My experiences - My truth!

Note: Images from Wikimedia Commons, and

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, "There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance ; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried".  

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SwaroopaStargazer and Swaroopa, 2017- Eternity.


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