No Courage, No Grace

The following is a piece I wrote a few years ago, and I am re-posting it here because it is more relevant to my life than it was when I wrote it.

We are presented with special moments in our lives, when the curtains are pulled back and we get a glimpse of what is normally beyond our experience and vision. The human experience of such a moment is often called grace.

There are many many references to this experience throughout the writings of man. The numerous terms other than grace are Nirvana, Cosmic Consciousness, Heaven on Earth, transcendence, etc. Socrates, Whitman, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, among others, all refer to the magical existence of such an experience, from a personal point of view. References to such a state are found in the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, the Koran, countless poems, self help books, and even music.

The musical group Pink Floyd have something to offer with their song “Comfortably Numb” when they refer to a moment where the veil was pulled back. “When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse Out of the corner of my eye. I turned to look but it was gone. I cannot put my finger on it now. The child is grown. The dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb”.

Pink Floyd nailed it. Our western society for the most part has become comfortably numb. Maybe just numb, and only some of us comfortable. When the search for grace starts at the self-help section of a large chain bookstore and dies on the bedside table, or on an extra-thick yoga mat, our efforts look down-right silly.

Even more silly, and maybe even scary, is that there are the hordes of non-westerners who envy our way of life. The west has thrown capitalism and democracy and free trade into the blender and called the resulting froth Freedom, and it appears that the sales pitch has taken roots all over the world. How many times in our history will we continue to create dreams based on the desire of power, either by a man or a sect or a country or a religion or a corporation? How soon we forget what dictators and fascists destroy.

Beware of the path most travelled. We have been here before. Amazingly, the Arab spring uprising, chasing democracy, sowed the seeds of the Occupy movement, chasing accountability. I had hoped that the Occupy movement would morph into a movement that steamed right through corporate and governmental accountability and had spoken to personal accountability of the highest kind.

Balzac wrote “Are you certain that your soul has had it’s full development? Do you breathe in air through every pore of it? Do your eyes see all they can see?” Here he challenges us to investigate our own lives.

Whitman wrote “The eyesight has another eyesight, and the hearing another hearing, and the voice another voice”. He knows there is another level of experience and he tries to tell us in this sentence.

We should all read Balzac, Whitman, Thoreau and Socrates. Many great minds have written of the higher planes of experience. We need to search out that which challenges us to challenge ourselves. We are, after-all, our own masters, and yet we forget and give way to group think.

Grace arrives where there is silence, contemplation, nakedness and acceptance. Grace arrives long after courage has taken roots.

Our soul’s tuning fork will be the only sound we hear as we fade away from this life, and the note it plays will be as sweet as we have been courageous.

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