Courage Is the Very Essence of Buddhism

I read an article in the SGI-USA’s World Tribune publication yesterday titled “Courage Is the Very Essence of Buddhism.” Most people don’t associate Buddhism with courage. Especially in the U.S., people tend to associate Buddhism with Zen, meditation, peace, quiet and solitude. In Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism, the approach is slightly different. 

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda also stressed the importance of courage. He solemnly declared that while Buddhism teaches compassion, it’s really all about courage – in other words, acting with courage is the way to manifest true compassion. Courage and compassion are two sides of the same coin, he said.


World Tribune, February 12, 2016 p.2

The SGI-USA’s three keys to expansion for 2016 include: 

  • Expanding our prayer
  • Expanding our state of life
  • Expanding our courage

How do we manifest compassion by acting with courage? Courage might be telling a friend or relative something they don’t want to hear, or dealing with injustice forcefully rather than always giving someone the benefit of the doubt. I’ve discovered this about myself recently – I am often too nice. I’ve had to learn how to stand up for myself in certain situations, and to not accept the blame others have so willingly placed on me. 

If there is one thing, in particular, I have noticed about the U.S. government’s handling of this nightmarish situation, it is the stunning arrogance and cowardice. The relentless media coverage of terrorists in the Middle East has led us to believe that these are the people we should fear the most when the reality is the biggest threat to the U.S. only ever came from within its own government.

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