27 Mar Fear
Fear is one of the dominant emotions underlying human life and a primary cause of suffering. Of course there is healthy fear, such as meeting a tiger on the path. We are conscious of these fears and they help us survive. The more problematic fear is the day to day psychological fear that can permeate our lives and is often unconscious. In fact for many in our culture the mention of feeling afraid is considered a sign of weakness, that we need to be “brave”. This is especial true for men but of course women are not exempt from this cultural conditioning. One of the primary dimensions of spiritual practice is to learn how to recognize, understand and work with our fears.
Most all of the unwise decisions in my life resulted from fear, which was most always unconscious. We live in a society permeated by fear and it is insidious and contagious. The fact that our country spends billions upon billions of dollars on the military speaks for itself. This fear permeates every dimension of life in the United States; from the fear not being good enough or not having enough to the fear of the unknown or uncertainty.
So what to do? The first step is to become aware of fear. Notice the thoughts generating it and to feel it in the body and learn to stay with the sensations just as they are. Much of our activity is an unconscious way of distracting ourselves from this feeling of fear. One of the first tasks is to recognize the ways we distract ourselves from fear. Deep spiritual work requires that we turn toward the fear, meet it and stay with the sensations generated by the fear. A common and very simple description of the cause of fear is that it is the absence of love or the absence of awareness. With grace we begin to make it a priority to bring more awareness or presence into more moments of this preciously brief life that we have be given.
“Fear is never an actuality; it is either before or after the active present. When there is fear in the active present, is it fear? It is there and there is no escape from it, no evasion possible. There, at that actual moment, there is total attention at the moment of danger, physical or psychological. When there is complete attention there is no fear. But the actual fact of inattention breeds fear; fear arises when there is an avoidance of the fact, a flight; then the very escape itself is fear.” J. Krishnamurti
“Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the total presence of fear with the courage to face it.” Osho