Not only is the ego all we’ve known, it’s very forceful and insistent. It’s power is akin to the power of the devil in Christian theology. And just as the devil tries to pull man away from his God-spirit, the ego-mind tries to pull us away from our unborn Buddha mind.
We’re used to thinking of “courage” in terms of the ego-mind … standing up to things that affront us, protecting ourselves, not being weak. That is why it rejects acceptance or resignation, which it defines as weakness. But courage in Buddhist-speak needs to be based on wisdom. And wisdom results in action quite the opposite of what the ego-mind presses on us.
First there is the basic understanding of wisdom as taught by the Heart Sutra. For a Buddhist, wisdom means being aware that all five skandhas, all our feelings and perceptions, are a product of the mind. That’s basically it. With that awareness, we are then able to experience things directly with dispassion, free of likes and dislikes, free of fear and anger … free of our ego. And when we experience things directly, when our minds are free of fear and obstructions, all suffering and doubt cease.
Second, armed with that wisdom, we understand that acceptance or resignation is not being weak, not giving in to something, but is instead quite the opposite … an exercise of will, of not letting our ego-mind take us down a road that will harm us.
And so, despite all the yelling and screaming of our ego-mind, we find the courage to say, no. To not engage these feelings and instead return home to our unborn Buddha mind. And when the ego-mind is ignored, it will subside. Then we are at peace, open to all that the present moment offers, and find happiness in that moment.