Fear is very useful. That sudden pounding of the heart, tightening of the muscles and quickening of the breath lets us know we’re in physical danger, stops us walking into oncoming traffic or falling off the edge of a cliff; it provides us with tremendous amounts of energy to help save ourself or others in a life threatening situation. But there is another kind of fear: the fear of the future, the fear of the past, the fear of being caught out, of what other people might think, of being judged, blamed, humiliated, of being the one who doesn’t know, the one who got left behind, the one who got it ‘wrong’.
This ‘psychological’ fear wreaks havoc with our lives creating all kinds of mental, physical and emotional stress. And for what? There is no actual physical danger here, no hungry lion bounding towards us or venomous snake poised to strike. This sense of threat that causes the heart to race and the body to tense is entirely made-up, existing only in the abstract realm of thought, our world of make-believe. We have become so completely fixated on our idea of who we are, that fleeting bundle of self images we call ‘me’, that we mis-take this thought-made imposter for our very lifeblood. Whenever that idea is challenged, it’s as if we literally are in physical danger; to be defeated or fail in our attempt to escape means pain, and pain is what we fear most of all.
And so the game goes on. Each time the latest version of the ‘me’ story is challenged, up jumps fear again along with its gang of unwanted stress and anxiety. Maybe we become aggressive and fight against whoever or whatever creates the threat, or we live in denial, trying to suppress or control those turbulent feelings, or we live small, retreating to the sidelines of life in an attempt to hide away from any potential future conflict. Either way we resist the discomfort, fleeing back into our conceptual world for reassurance, immersing ourself in our routines, our work, TV, hobbies, moral beliefs, religious beliefs, spiritual beliefs, anything to reinforce the sense that we are in control, that we know; until inevitably we’re challenged once more and round we go again.
Maybe we spend our whole life on the run from fear, or maybe there comes a moment when, utterly exhausted with trying to maintain the charade, with trying to protect our fragile house of cards from every blow of air, every rock of the table, we’re finally ready to stop all the pretending, to give our ‘self’ up to the fear and let it consume us entirely; and in that furnace of truth, as the myths explode and all the divisions melt away, we come to know a depth of being beyond imagination, beyond comprehension.
What a revelation: the death of all belief is the birth of boundless love!
When we know ourself as THAT, we no longer look to the fictional me and its story for our identity, we are set free from the cycle; free to really feel the full intensity of those energies we label as stress, anxiety, humiliation, free to allow them to finally release, free for our unique character to shine more than ever before. Then fear no longer comes as an enemy, to be denied, suppressed or escaped, but a welcome friend, an honest teacher; revealing and melting away the residues of the outdated misunderstanding that what we are is a separate ‘inside’ self cut off from a separate ‘outside’ world.
Without the fear of fear itself, life opens up; love courses through the veins of our true body, this moment and all that it contains, nourishing and healing, bringing joy and aliveness to this ever-fresh, magical play of existence.