Commentary by Siddha Yoga Meditation Teacher Eric Baylin
Dhairya is one among several terms for courage used in the Sanskrit language. Dhairya has multiple shades of meaning, among them “constancy,” “wisdom,” “equanimity,” “fearlessness.” Each suggests a different facet of courage in relation to sadhana.
Courage is grounded in the understanding of the Truth, which is constant.
Courage is born out of the wisdom of the supreme Self.
Courage is the fruit of equanimity.
Courage distinguishes between real and imagined dangers and fears, and reassures us to bring our attention to the reservoir of power within.
The derivation of the English word courage from the French coeur, or “heart,” adds another dimension to our understanding. We sometimes tell one another, “Take heart”—meaning, “Draw on your inborn strength to face whatever is necessary.” In the context of sadhana, heart takes on a still deeper meaning as the core of our being: the Heart is another name for the inner Self. In this sense, courage flows from the Heart.
Here is how Gurumayi defines this inspiring quality in her book Courage and Contentment:
Courage means rising to meet the demands of each moment with total delight, knowing you are equal to it. Courage means having faith that within you is an innate force whose essence is never depleted by external events.1
Gurumayi teaches that courage, which we often think of in terms of high-pitched challenges, is actually called for by the demands of each moment. In other words, we are to draw on courage in ongoing ways, on familiar turf, and at each moment of our day—amidst family, at work, or in the solitude of our spiritual practice.
Courage gives rise to the subtle inner act of shifting away from limiting thoughts, toward the expansive state of the Heart. Through courage, we relinquish the thoughts that erode our spirit, such as, “I am not worthy. I am not able,” and allow the Heart to say, “I am That I am.” Courage emboldens us to step back from the confines of pride and to act with humility. Courage urges us, in the quiet of meditation, to release every fiber of our being from anything that holds us back, and become comfortable in our own skin.
In moments when we open to the strength and expansiveness of the Heart, our courage becomes manifest. Such moments enliven us completely. We experience not only strength but also delight and enthusiasm, as these, too, are qualities of the Heart.
It is apparent that by acting with courage, we express our faith in the inner Self. Such faith is secured over time by our steady practice and our remembrance of the revelatory experiences that come when the veil of the ordinary mind is lifted. In such moments we recognize our inner divinity. Through our own efforts and the unfailing gift of grace, we learn to trust that the Heart is an inexhaustible source and will sustain us no matter what external events may present themselves.
The Kularnava Tantra describes the process in this way:
असाध्यसाधकं शूरमुत्साहबलसंयुतम् |
अनुकूलं क्रियायुक्तमप्रमत्तं विचक्षणम् || १३.२८||
asādhyasādhakaṁ śūram utsāhabala-saṁyutam,
anukūlaṁ kriyāyuktam apramattaṁ vicakṣaṇam.
He is a wise person who, through sadhana and the power of his
enthusiasm, makes possible that which is impossible. He never
neglects to engage himself in austerities and suitable work. He
A wise and courageous seeker is steady in sadhana and fuels his spiritual practices with enthusiasm—literally, divine inspiration. Through constancy, wisdom, equanimity, and fearlessness, the seeker makes steady progress toward securing the understanding that in this human form dwells the Divine.
The Siddha Yoga teachings empower us, encourage us, to be such seekers. In any situation, we can choose to take heart and rise to the occasion with confidence and delight. When facing any challenge, we have the ability to do what is right and necessary, because within us is a force equal to whatever life presents to us. In each moment—in this very moment—we can be our strongest, our most joyful, and our most courageous selves.