February 2008 – Fear
This month we are going to be exploring the very nature of Fear – devoid of all of the preconceptions that we have bought into. Fear is a part of our cellular structure. It is not an enemy, but a very powerful ally. Essentially, this month’s apprentice homework is going to be very similar to the first lesson of the Ten Month Hindu Studies Course. Shamans are generally referred to as “crazy people” because of their willingness and ability to jump into the unknown – into fear. The Hindu’s term for shaman is Saramana. From my perspective the clearest description of our universal relationship with fear is presented by J. Krishnamurti. In his own words: “A theory based on another man’s experience in matters of the psyche or an inward life has no meaning at all.” Again
and again, Krishnamurti declared that people do not need guidance, but that awakening to our true nature arises as a result of direct experiences. As Krishnamurti points out: “The movement from certainty to uncertainty is what I call Fear.”
Beyond the actual moment there is a deeper layer in the mind that is consciously or unconsciously thinking of what might happen in the future or worrying that something perceived as negative from the past may arise again. So, mind has a tendency to divide time into the past and the future. As Krishnamurti points out “fear cannot actually exist without a thought and it is always old. And, that what we are actually afraid of is the repetition of the old. When we are actually confronted with something immediately there is no fear. It is only when thought comes in that there is fear.” Krishnamurti invites us to watch fear without any conclusion, without any interference of the knowledge we have accumulated about it. He points out that there is only total fear, but how can the mind, which thinks in fragments (love and hate, enemy and friend, my country and your country) observe the whole picture? If we cannot do so, then what we are looking at is the past, not fear. And, that the mind can look at this total fear only when there is no movement of thought.
For our first exercise, please allow your own particular form of fear to arise. Look at it. Watch your reactions to it. For example, we have all had the experience of having our “hearts broken” and at some point concluded that love is not safe. The thought structure is that “I need to be protected.” So, when you are in direct contact with a fear that shows up in the guise of despair, loneliness or jealousy, or any other ugly state of mind, look at it so completely that mind is quiet enough to see it for what it is – that is, meet it face to face. It is fine for fear to be there because it is. Let your attention fall into it without naming it. Feel it as an energy that is in your physical body. Meet it without any desired outcome, so that there is something unknown about the meeting. What if you had the knowledge that the fear would NEVER end – how would that change your relationship with it? In other words, what happens when you see that you are a part of fear, not separate from it – that you are fear – and that you cannot do anything about it?
If you want, pretend that fear is a radiant light that points to where your fundamental misunderstanding is located. As Krishnamurti points out – we only fear that which we feel separate from. What is the thread of fear? What is it telling you? The pattern of thinking is always that there is someone that can be harmed. Where is this thing called me that gets hurt and exactly what gets hurt? Find the thing that gets hurt. Go where the mind is telling you not to go.
Can you look at fear without any movement of escape, justification, condemnation or suppression? Can you look at it without the word or memory that causes the fear? In the experience of fear is the patterning of mind or thinking that is actually generating the fear. See it from inside the fear. What assumptions and beliefs are there – not to get rid of it, but to be conscious of its true nature? Would you counsel someone else to run from it or to avoid it? As you watch, is the observer who says “I am afraid” any different from the thing observed, which is the fear.
Be open and prepared to make several and sometimes contradictory entries. I expect all of you to do this homework and to post it on the site, and I urge you to comment about what other members post. Let’s keep up a dialog throughout the month.