The Magical Answer To Our Fear
I was watching a few moments of the Republican debate today on CNN, and was just amazed at what people were applauding to. The audience was uproariously applauding at statements from a certain candidate that he would dismantle medical licensing for doctors and allow people to “practice whatever they want”. There were other statements made that people applauded at that caused me to have a palpable sense of disappointed amazement. It is from this experience that I draw this reflection. First beginning with this spontaneous poem:
The sky thunders with power /
Lightning threads fall, glorious beauty /
The sky is black with gloom //
What was revealed in that moment of feeling was a sense of fear: a sense that people were applauding out of fear. Of course, they were not afraid that if they didn’t applaud that they would land in prison or be tortured, or such. Rather, it seems to be a fear of this very moment in history. The past years have been a perfect brew for cultivating fear: a global economy that seems to be losing its very foundations, Earth crying out through her hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, and so on. Perhaps, it is a moment in our history where there is a lot more change than usual.
We fear change because we fear for ourselves. No one is immune to it. It is the conundrum that the Buddha taught. We are constantly in the process of trying to defend a self that we think exists in some permanent, and solid way, when in fact this very self dies moment by moment. The Ian that is writing this will be long dead by the time you have read it. He will have been replaced by the Ian of the moment when you are reading this. This seems like a piece of very high philosophy, and in fact it can be, but that isn’t the point here. We take this short side-trip in the journey to answer the question: What is the answer to our climate of fear?
The answer to our climate of fear lies in the realm of love. In fact, it is the whole realm of love. It is a magical answer because it at once will calm our fear, and show the way to overcome fear and attain inner courage through moments of tremendous change as we are facing. We begin by loving ourselves as individuals. This practice is not a conceited or narcissistic love. It is instead, a truer love of self, one that is genuine and friendly. The practice of loving ourselves is presence and awareness of this very moment. It is a sense of approaching the moment without fear, without judgment. Doing this, we have to cast aside and rend asunder the veil of our self-hatred. Whether it is a feeling of unworthiness before some external deity, a loathsome image of one’s self (thinking I’m too fat, I’m ugly, I’m not worth someone else’s love), or whatever form it may take, we must set it aside in a friendly way. Self-hatred breeds hatred towards others. Think about it, if you are afraid that someone is going to steal away your sense of happiness, how likely are you to treat that person with respect and dignity? Only by doing this, can we begin to see the light and feel the warmth of the morning sun. Only when we break through our cocoon of fear can we begin to become curious, and friendly towards others.
A blossom springs forth /
Facing the Sun of Morning /
Fear dies peacefully //
As a seed dies when the flower grows and seeks the light of the morning sun, so too does our fear die when we respond to the Sun of our luminous minds. The magical answer to our fear is the letting go and having loved ourselves, we can love others. When Jesus talks of the two great commandments, the first: loving God, I think that he meant we ought to love the God within, that luminous and clear mind that is the essence of our very being that has manifested in us as we are. And that very love, that very friendliness towards ourselves as we are, gives birth to the love of our neighbor.
Can you let your fear die peacefully? The magical answer is truly ordinary, because there is no distinction really between the spiritual and physical worlds. As the shamans of old would say, the physical world is merely denser than the spiritual one. Or, as the Buddhist masters of old would say: There is no distinction between suffering and bliss.
Peace to All