Discovering bravery is 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. Ferryboats occasionally 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 even more.
Discovering these facets of fearlessness is preparation for the further journey on the path of bravery. If the warrior, or the brave person, does not feel alone and sad, then he or she can be corrupted very easily. To be a good warrior, one has to feel sad and lonely, but rich and resourceful at the same time. This makes you sensitive to every aspect of phenomena: to sights, smells, sounds, and feelings. In that sense, you are also an artist, appreciating whatever goes on in the world. Everything is extremely vivid. The rustling of your armor or the sound of raindrops falling on your coat is very loud. The fluttering of occasional butterflies around you is almost an insult, because you are so sensitive. Such a sensitive and courageous person can then go further on the path of fearlessness.
From Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery, pages 63 and 64. Published by Shambhala Publications.