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The starting point on the path of fearlessness is the discovery of fear. We find ourselves fearful, frightened, even petrified by circumstances. This ubiquitous nervousness provides us with a stepping stone, so that we can step over our fear. We have to make a definite move to cross over the boundary from cowardice to bravery. If we do so properly, the other side of our cowardice contains bravery.
We may not discover bravery right away. Instead, beyond our nervousness, we find a shaky tenderness. We are still quivering, but we are shaking with tenderness rather than bewilderment. That shaky vulnerability contains an element of sadness, but not in the sense of feeling badly about ourself or feeling deprived. Rather, we feel a natural sense of fullness which is tender and sad.
It’s like the feeling you have when you are about to shed a tear. You feel somewhat wealthy because your eyes are full of tears. When you blink, tears begin to roll down your cheeks. There is also an element of loneliness, but again it is not based on deprivation, inadequacy or rejection. Instead you feel that you alone can understand the truth of your own loneliness, which is quite dignified and self-contained. You have a full heart, you feel lonely, but you don’t feel particularly bad about it. It is like an island in the middle of a lake. The island is self-contained; therefore it looks lonely in the middle of the water. Occasionally, ferry boats carry commuters back and forth from the shore to the island, but that doesn’t particularly help. In fact, it expresses the loneliness or the aloneness of the island further.
Discovering these facets of fearlessness is preparation for the further journey on the warrior’s path. If the warrior does not feel alone and sad, then he or she can be corrupted very easily. In fact, such a person may not be a warrior at all. To be a good warrior, one has to feel sad and lonely, but rich and resourceful at the same time. This makes the warrior sensitive to every aspect of phenomena: to sights, smells, sounds and feelings. In that sense, the warrior is also an artist, appreciating whatever goes on in the world. Everything is extremely vivid. The rustling of your armor or the sound of rain drops falling on your coat is very loud. Because you are so sensitive, the fluttering of occasional butterflies around you is almost an insult.
Such a sensitive warrior can then go further on the path of fearlessness. There are three tools or practical guides that the warrior uses on this journey. The first is the development of discipline, or sila in Sanskrit, which is represented by the analogy of the sun. Sunshine is all-pervasive. When the sun shines on the land, it doesn’t neglect any area. It does a thorough job. Similarly, as a warrior, you never neglect your discipline.