Courage or Naivity?

Courage is to understand all that is horrible in the world and still love it. Courage is to experience all the evils in men but still embrace them. Courage is to be hurt again and again, but still keep on trying. It is different from naivety. The naive and the courageous act the same. But the form is different (and, as all good Hegelians know, the form makes all the difference). Naivety is a terrible situation to be. Courage is the ethical position to strive for.

In Buddhism, nirvana is not the ascension into another world, but a staying in the same one as everything else, but to approach it slightly differently. It is not a complete disinterestedness to everything, but a large love towards everything despite all injustice. The Buddha, after reaching enlightenment, did not choose to retreat, but to plunge wholeheartedly into the mundane world of everyday life, to try, practically, to reduce suffering. His state shifts from a naive enthusiasm (when his father entrapped him in the beautiful bubble without death) into a genuine love. And herein lies courage.

We applaud people who can “be like a child.” But things are not so easy. There is no paradise without paradise lost. There is only a laudable childish curiosity towards the world when all adversities are setting to make one’s edges round. It is the return to a child-like state with full cognizance of everything that throws a child into adulthood, that makes such a person great. (In Chinese, the phrase is 赤子之心。)

In Taoism there is the phrase 返璞归真. This is the state at the end of one’s journey, wherein one returns back to the truth of one’s beginnings. There is no return, however, without a stepping out of the original position. And this is the same with courage. There is no courage without fear.

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