The essence of this practice is to develop the qualities of courage, perseverance, resolve and determination.

 The situation we are faced with in attempting to define spiritual qualities is that we are using words and mind to explain what is essentially beyond words and beyond mind. With any quality we discuss there is a danger of misleading people and of creating confusion.

When we practise yin cultivation, if we apply the principles incorrectly we are most likely to harm ourselves but, with yang qualities, incorrect application usually leads to the harming of others. For this reason we need to exercise caution and be especially mindful when discussing them.

In brief, when we attempt to be true to our inner essence we will face resistance, both from our own minds and from forces outside of us. In order to overcome this resistance we need to cultivate a number of qualities which we can group under the heading of strength.

The qualities of strength include courage, perseverance, resolve and determination. The challenge is to cultivate these qualities without allowing them to develop into the vices of bloody-mindedness, arrogance, dominance, control or the wielding of power over others for selfish gain. We must also caution against wielding power over others in the belief that we are serving the greater good.

We must become warrior-like in our commitment to overcome resistance but without engaging in war. We must persevere without becoming obsessed. We must develop determination without becoming bloody-minded. We must learn to stand in our own truth without becoming arrogant or trying to force that truth upon others.

Developing strength is all about developing presence. Although we may sometimes need to speak up or speak out against what others are saying, this does not mean we should be aggressive or provocative. True strength comes from silence and from pure being. When we develop inner strength we can speak quietly and our words will have greater impact than if we shouted from a position of inner weakness.

Many people believe that they are not strong and that strength cannot be cultivated but this is not a view to which I subscribe. If you really knew who you are you would know how strong you are. If you believe yourself to be weak this is because you have identified with a limited version of yourself instead of realising who you really are.

In order to develop strength we need to face the challenges which are presented to us and to see those challenges as opportunities. We need to be honest with ourselves and keep going. Much of the time we will feel that we are battling against limitation and it will often feel as though limitation is being imposed upon us. This can lead us into anger and blame. We must be mindful to stay on track and remember that the objective is to overcome the resistance and not to prove someone else wrong or to seek vengeance. Ultimately all limitation is within us, regardless of what happens in the outer world.

The words written on this page have been easier to write than to put into practice. On reading these words the mind may well throw up all manner of questions and objections. To some extent the mind must be pacified – which is why we must endeavour to answer some of these questions – but at the same time we must be mindful not to indulge the mind in its obsessiveness and desire for endless debate and intellectualisation.

Next Chapter: Self-Discipline >>

*** This chapter is taken from my book The Light Within ***