Today we begin September’s Tricycle Retreat, Natural Bravery: Fear and Fearlessness as Path to Awakening. Teaching this month’s retreat is Gaylon Ferguson, Ph.D, a senior teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage and a professor at Naropa University. He is the author of Natural Wakefulness: Discovering the Wisdom We Were Born With, and his forthcoming book, Natural Bravery: Fear and Fearlessness as Path to Awakening Society, is scheduled to be published in 2012.

In the opening of his Week 1 talk Gaylon explains,

The first thing that we need to talk about is bravery itself. The approach here is that this bravery is regarded as natural to us. Natural means that it’s innate, it’s something that we already have. It’s not that at the end of these four weeks then you will have courage, you have it already. In fact, the very fact that you are interested in exploring fear and looking into fearlessness is a sign that bravery is already present in our life. It is already present as we face the challenges of work, life, health, relationships, raising children, and caring for our parents. Bravery is something we already have.

The English word “courage” is derived from the French word “coeur,” which means heart. In exploring Natural Bravery, we are talking about qualities of our own heart. This bravery is expressed by our looking into fear.

Often when we say fearlessness the suggestion is that one could be completely without fear, that one has no fears. In this tradition, which comes from Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, two teachers of the path of bravery, both of them my teacher, we regard fearlessness as something comes from understanding fear. The saying in the tradition of bravery, the Shambhala Buddhist tradition, is that, “unless we know the nature of fear we cannot understand fearlessness.” That is what we will be doing in these four weeks together. We’ll be delving more and more intuit he nature of fear.

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