Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Courage is fear, conquered by love

posted by Robert Moss

Courage is Fear, Conquered by Love

I saw this message once, on a board outside a church, while I was trying to come up with the right thing to say to a friend who seemed to me to be paralyzed by fear in confronting a work situation. I passed on the message, which seems to me to be excellent counsel.

The point is that to be courageous is different from being fearless. If you are fearless, you may be merely crazy, or reckless, or lacking in imagination. Courage is the ability to go through fear because you are driven by something that is stronger than fear. What drives you may be love, or loyalty, or a cause.

Courage is a quality of the heart; you won’t find it anywhere else. The French word for heart – coeur – is in there.

When you are gripped by fear in the face of an experience that will take you beyond your comfort zone, you may be at a point of supreme opportunity. You can either break down or break through.

When we take greater risks, we draw the support of greater powers.

Adapted from Active Dreaming: Journeying Beyond Self-Limitation to a Life of Wild Freedom by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Irene

    I would like to add from my experience that fear can also be a great ally in that it holds, quite literally, terrific power and vital energy. This was a great discovery for me and I remember once being in a stressful situation and was consumed by, literally trembling with fear. I had little time to think at that moment and so just moved forward with fear resonating throughout my entire body. I could feel the fear excited in every cell as I moved forward, I could feel my heart pounding (with fear) and then felt my heart’s beating descending into my legs (to ground me) and to my back (to hold me upright, straight) and to my throat, which empowered my speech to drum out every living syllabol of what I had to say with resounding precision. My voice was blissfully thunderous moving up to my throat and onto my lips from the depths of my belly and clear as lightning. I remember that after it was all over I thought, “God that was great!” and thinking that my real problem with fear is not the fear itself, but the overwhelming power of it, and perhaps my lack of experience hoistering it up and giving it purpose.

    • http://www.mossdreams.com Robert Moss

      Irene – What a wonderfully vivid account of how that energy rose in you. But do you think it is correct to give the name of fear to that energy? Fear may have been the trigger, but for me what rose here, eventually in splendor, was a power not only adequate to the fear but capable of mastering it. For most of us, in any event, fear (as in Star Wars) is the “mind-killer”, something that paralyzes rather than mobilizes, until we find what enables us to brave up.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Aaron

    I’m listening to a Ben Harper song as I read these comments. In it is a line: “Don’t fear what you don’t know/ just let it be your room to grow.” Courage isn’t fearlessness, but requires that we stay in touch with our fears? I like how you put it, too, Irene. To make fear an ally is to stay in touch with it so our feet don’t forget where they meet the ground. The lion is a perfect image for this monday morning. Thanks, Robert.

    • http://www.mossdreams.com Robert Moss

      Aaron – Making fear an ally is a provocative thought. Certainly fear can be part of our survival kit, and give us an edge we don’t want to lose. I am wholly in favor of seeking to take the energy of supposedly “negative” emotions and turning it in creative directions.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Katharine

    Bon Courage! as they say….One of my favourite expressions in French, the subtle inferences it gives in English. :)

    • http://www.mossdreams.com Robert Moss

      Katharine – toi aussi!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Patricia

    Love the sound of this one.
    This story and the words ahh, empowering. I understand this line between fearless and courage now. When I first started active dreaming I was just an ordinary mother, trying to live an ordinary life. Deciding I was a dreamer and having a piece of paper handed to be with your name on it a few days later, changed everything. Through the crazy intense times, the digging down deep while expanding times, I just held to knowing I was a dreamer and since I have met you I have always trusted your heart. I figure spending over 28 years working with children has kept me in touch with that child’s skill of knowing the heart with out layers of soap opera add ons’s. I am thankful to have found you and your unique style. And kind of laugh at why my ordinary middle class American self thought your teachings made perfect sense right from the start.
    A little boy told me a story about a snake who came and pulled the lion out of the tiger. They all became friends after that. I would have disregarded that story before but working with it has been amazing for both of us. Snake is more then just apple eating temptations to this ordinary woman. The lion coming out independent of tiger is a work in progress for me with all kinds of meaning.
    One last thing. This story makes a wonderful bridge into the power of story and image from a physiology view of how the unmylenated vagal nerve causes us to paralyze ourselves in fear. A needed survival technique. Now I am wondering the psychological affects on the physiology of this system from all the instant disaster and war stories flooding our screens. This makes me even more in awe of the power of imagination and dream story. And talk about the evolution of the human race! Yes! Imagine carrying your own personal power story. No matter the crisis you can call in the energy of the health, restoration and sensory integration through owning your own power stories. Oh man…this is why I am an Active Dreamer. Now I will be working with a Lion image and Lion breathing for myself and the children and a couple of mothers I am working with this week.




    • http://www.mossdreams.com Robert Moss

      Patty – That’s an intriguing story from the little boy, of the snake pulling lion out of tiger. Shamanically, I find that lion and tiger are very different energies, and both wonderful allies (as snake can also be).

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nina

    Thank you a lot for these words of wisdom. Courage is very much the quality of heart and very little the quality of just physical power or prevalence.
    In our language the word courage seems to be connected with verbs concerning weighing or considering something, but the prefix in the word also indicates that after you carefully consider all pros and cons, you are supposed to take a leap without any hesitation. This leads me to a recent early morning image or a short dream, in which I observed people jumping from a diving board into water in a large swimming pool. The water was crystal blue and the diving board was elevated very high. The altitude was almost breathtaking for me, however, not for sportsmen who were obviously jumping with delight and professional self-confidence. In one moment a woman appeared on the springboard and her uncertainty and fear were palpable. The situation was solved when another man standing beside her, embraced the woman around her waist and they courageously jumped down together. They were a magnificent sight and as a result all my worries about that woman dispelled. I don´t remember details apart from the woman´s swimming costume which was of nice rose colour. I woke up uplifted and with a feeling that even when we feel incompetent and fearful in some situations there is always some good spirit who can lend a helping hand.
    Now I also remember one story about Mother Theresa. I just overheard it but I think that it was about her second calling (call within a call). It is said that she didn´t feel able to fulfill a task God entrusted her. So she said to Him: “Why me? I am incapable to do what you require from me, choose someone else.” And she received the answer: “Exactly because you are so incapable, I chose you.” For me she is one of the most beautiful examples of people who don´t show any supernatural powers but thanks to their great hearts they go to a hell (in her case the hell of abject poverty)to change what people without courage or heart find impossible to influence.
    Thank you once again for encouraging all of us to make impossible possible.

    • http://www.mossdreams.com Robert Moss

      Nina – Thanks for the lovely hypnopompic image of the woman in the rose-colored swimsuit taking the high jump in the arms of a companion. As for the Mother Theresa story, that opens yet another topic: how it is at the very moment when we recognize that we do not have the answers that we can open the space for a larger power to work with us and through us.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Don

    I recall years ago, when I was a boy and reading Indian stories, that being brave didn’t mean not being aftaid. It meant going ahead when you are afraid.
    I regard fear as being much like pain. It is something we do not want. But it carries a message, sometimes a very important message. I accept fear, like pain, as a warning.

    • http://www.mossdreams.com Robert Moss

      Don – Exactly. Courage is the ability to go ahead when you are afraid.

  • http://Introspection Terri A

    Oh man, big topic! Courage is a compulsion with purpose. It does not rely solely on adrenaline produced by fear, but requires heart felt call to action. Courage breaks through fear because it comes from the heart, the emotional center cannot house both at the same time. I remember saving lives on several ocasions where it was a matter of fact that what I was doing simply needed to be done-no room for fear. Fearlessness on the other hand actively solicits adrenaline producing events, feeding off of fear. I know a lot of adrenaline junkies. I guess I would go so far as to say fearlessness can be adictive in nature. Courage considers others, fearlessness considers no one. It is in and of itself in purpose. But I may be wrong…

    • http://www.mossdreams.com Robert Moss

      Terri – Freud has made it a bit hard for me to described courage as “compulsion”, through his association of the word with neurosis. But you make a good point, if we go back to the pre-Freudian uses of the word, which originally means “to drive together” or “to drive to an end”. Perhaps the word to use here is “compelling.”

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