Courage and Heart

February is a month of many celebrations.  The best known are probably Valentines Day, Black History Month, and Presidents Day. February  is also host to American Heart Month and this year, we enjoy the Winter Olympics!  On the surface, these are apparently unconnected holidays however,  it seems to me there are actually two common themes:  Heart and Courage.  A quick Google search describes these qualities as follows:

Heart (noun) – ” the center of the total personality, especially with reference to intuition, feeling, or emotion.”

Courage (noun)   – ” the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty,danger, pain, etc. ”

It can certainly take Heart and Courage to love (ourselves and others),  to engage in the struggle  for civil and human rights, and to publicly test one’s skills and dedication in competitive sports.  In my practice, it is always inspiring and uplifting to catch glimpses of these two characteristics at work in us more ordinary human beings  as we negotiate the inevitable challenges of life.   I recently saw a post from Lama Sumati Marut, an American Buddhist, who quoted this passage from an ancient text:

“Let all beings be happy! Weak or strong, of high, middle
or low estate,
Small or great, visible or invisible, near or far away,
Alive or still to be born – may they all be entirely happy!

Let nobody lie to anybody or despise any single being
May nobody wish harm to any single creature, out of
anger or hatred!
Let us cherish all creatures, as a mother her only child!
May our loving thoughts fill the whole world, above, below,
Across – without limit; a boundless goodwill toward the
whole world,
Unrestricted, free of hatred and enmity!”

– Sutta-Nipata, 118.

So, perhaps idealistically, I would like to encourage all of us to find occasional, small ways to make this a world where the above prayer can become reality.  That’s an awesome Valentine!