General George Washington was struggling against overwhelming odds to keep his troops from deserting and to rally them to face the power of the British army. A new nation—one based on freedom and equality—was desperately trying to take life; by all outer indications, it was going to be stillborn.
Then Thomas Paine, an aspiring writer who had emigrated to America from England two years earlier, wrote a series of pamphlets called “The American Crisis.” The first of them began with these words: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
The pamphlet was published on December 23, 1776. Its impact on General Washington and his troops was such that two days later, on Dec. 25, they crossed the freezing Delaware River at night, and soundly defeated the British at the Battle of Trenton. It was the turning point of the war.
Where does such courage come from? The word itself comes from the Latin root “cor,” meaning “heart.” It is from within our heart that we find the strength to enter a battle against overwhelming odds; to confront a foe stronger than ourselves; to face inner tests that have always defeated us.
How do we find our inner source of courage?
Find what is dear or important to you in life and fight for it; then forget about the results. As Master explains so profoundly in his commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, life itself is a battlefield. We must take up our sword, do what is before us, and be unattached to the outcome.
Every test in life is a test of our will power. Challenge yourself daily to strengthen your will power: first in little ways, and then in increasingly demanding ones. Eventually you’ll reach the point where nothing can stand in your way.
Call constantly on God’s power to give you the strength and courage that you need. Here are some words of Yoganandaji to one of his disciples:
You must never lose courage. . . . Overcome all by constant inward calling on God and utmost devotion in words, thought, action, and obedience to Guru. . . . Your troubles I do not mind. I will never give up my job about you. . . . Have no fear, even when I am gone and no longer visible to your eyes. You will never be alone. . . . I shall ever be with you, and through Divine Mother guard you from all harm, and will constantly whisper to you guidance through your loving self.
So do not be discouraged or tired, but be ever interested in doing for Divine Mother, no matter if war, sickness, and death dance around you. . . . A smooth life is not a victorious life. And I will give you lots of good karma, so you will get through.Towards divine victory,