Topic 6 – Shiver Me Timbers

Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Series-The View from Here | 11 comments

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Episode 6Fear is not a flaw in our human make-up. It is not a weakness. Rather it is the result of being an inhabitant of planet earth with a worldview that insures a deep and expansive sense of disconnection. Of all the creatures on the face of the earth, we are the ones who can relate to the notion of: a leaf in the wind. We try desperately to understand a world that seemingly attacks us uncalled for, with disease, catastrophe, war, starvation, to name a few. We continually find ourselves asking: Why me? Why this? Why now? We create religions to alleviate our fears, but to little or no avail. From our low-grade worry to mild concern to panic disorders and utter terror, we move from birth to death afraid. Do you notice any other form of life living like this? There are none, for all other life abides in a worldview of interconnectedness. They belong; we pine for membership. Our worldview may allow us to clump up and make groups, but it does not allow us the ease that accompanies those creatures who do not have to maintain a sense of self as apart from all else.

I have spent many years coming to understand fear. I had studied metaphysics and various spiritual philosophies, but always kept the safe distance of a student. Then that changed one day and fear came to own me for many years. So what I share about fear resulted from experiential learning not from reading the words of others in a book. People who knew me prior, would have described me as bold, adventuresome, a risk-taker, and brave, and still fear had its way with me. My only way out was to come to understand fear, its source, its maintenance, and its fatal flaw. So when I say that we are all infested with fear, deny it to others if you want, but not to me, for I know fear by all its names and recognize its every face. As the protagonist says in my novel Dying to Know: “It [Fear] was death in beggar’s clothing, shutting down life bit by bit, without hope of esteem or accomplishment to ennoble its end.”

You don’t see fear in the natural world. You can see primal instinct in response to life-threatening situations, but not fear. Fear is a mental creation. Nowhere in the natural world do you see creatures ground down, filled with tension, unable to sleep, joyless or fretful (unless they are ones we’ve domesticated). Only we live like this, for our worldview cuts us off from our natural intuitive instincts and isolates us to a degree unknown to the natural world. Our worldview offers a life beset with fear. What else would explain a constant need to war against one another? What else would account for racism or our suspicious nature around differences? What else could explain our lack of tolerance or our discomfort with vulnerability?

Once while working as a corporate consultant, I had a discussion about fear with a friend who was a leading consultant in Vancouver at that time. He became incensed when I suggested that he too lived in fear. “I’m not afraid,” he scoffed. “I was a Navy Seal during the war. I saw all manner of things and stayed the course.”

“I understand,” I said, “but minutes ago we were having this discussion about one of your greatest dreams, and just as we got to the why of it, the most intimate part, you changed the topic. What was your motivation for that?”

“Oh that,” he responded. “That’s fear?”

“What would you call it,” I replied.

He thought for a moment and to his credit answered, “I see what you mean. I never realized that was fear.”

We accept our level of fear just as we accept our level of bodily tension because we have no real recourse. Our only way out as we see it is generally pharmaceutical. Our worldview, in a sense, relies on fear for its maintenance. For fear is very attention grabbing, and our attention, if prised away from fear, can be our key to freedom. That remains for another topic we’ll get to later, but hold that thought if you will.

Until next time, see how brave you can be by identifying some fear that limits your experience of life, and note the price you pay for it. Observe how you find yourself actually defending it, rather than seeing into it and coming to learn what it is about. The only upside of fear is its capacity to motivate you to get the hell out, to allow you to consider that there is another way. We defeat fear only by coming to see how it has no basis in fact, but to see this accurately requires an intent not nurtured by our worldview. I knew years ago that I would never have money sufficient to free me from my fear of lack, never stop being afraid of what disease might get me next, nor stop fearing old age and death. I knew I had to come out the other side with a new worldview, for life lived from fear is life left unlived. We are so much more than that, magical beings with infinite possibilities. Perhaps it’s time to look at bit more deeply at how this happened to us, how we lost our way, so alienated ourselves from our true nature as to have come to believe so completely this view of life we now have. Next week in Topic 7 – The Tower of Babel, we’ll call on an old story to help us.

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11 Comments

  1. Amazing, amazing! So clear, so logical. Thank you, Christina! Each of us can benefit thoroughly from this with a little self-examination. Incredible clarity!

    • Thanks, Jo. Seeing through our fears is the beginning of grasping the illusory nature of our named self, not to mention great moments of peace and ease.

  2. One of my favorite, though relatively unknown authors, Frederick Marryat, was a British naval officer during the Napoleonic Wars. He was a captain of iron men on wooden ships who fought in more than fifty naval engagements, before retiring to pen tales of adventure. In one of these, he remarked that “shyness” (fear) was a mark of intelligence in a midshipman (a young man aspiring to be a naval officer). I have nothing else to offer. I think that his insight is profound and unassailable.

    • What Marryat was referring to, I call primal instinct, our inherent understanding of pending danger. It is a truthful assessment of a situation, and god help you if you are impervious to it as military personnel. It’s not merely intelligent; it is essential to such individuals. The beauty of it is that you can operate while under its impact. Those deemed cowards are those whose mind entered the game, and its thoughts of possible outcomes terrified those in life-threatening situations. That’s why heroes and cowards are often surprising. It is not about their character, but rather that they let their mind grab them in that moment and scare them into either inappropriate or non action.

      What I am referring to as fear, is very different. I am talking about a mental creation which afflicts us when, in that moment, there is no immediate or apparent danger. We live in that jangled state most of our days and a great deal of our nights. All our fretting, all our worrying are common examples of fear as I am talking about. However, there are hundreds of faces fear exhibits. Unfortunately, we are so accustomed to them that for most, we no longer notice ourselves reacting to those mental thoughts and scenarios that conger up the response called fear. It’s become second nature to live in a state of unending tension it is that common.

  3. I understand this fear you speak of as I was raised in its claws and continue to be cautioned by family about every possible fear-filled scenarios out there. When you are raised to be fearful, then throw off most of those shackles and return to the next years later, it is amazing how clearly you can see fear in it’s many forms. That clarity has caused me grief in some ways because I can no longer tolerate the constant warnings and must modify my reactions. In other words, my stomach churns when I’m told to “be careful”{, “don’t trust”, “don’t give.” The freed person inside wants to do war against the fear, but there is no point and I have to keep telling myself that. Each individual must free themselves, with perhaps a little help from the outside, and if that person is too entrenched in fear, you can’t blast them out of it with dynamite. Oops, you can probably see this is a topic close to the surface for me.

    • Christina – when I comment, what I write is nearly invisible on my screen so there are crazy errors as I can’t see them. Should be nest, not next, etc.

      • That is most annoying, that light gray on white. I started to see if it could be changed and quickly got in over my head. Sorry for that inconvenience . I will get back to it, however.

        • No worries on the white on white – I decided to write my responses in Word and cut and paste.

    • There comes a time in the life of anyone who wants to live in truth where they must begin to make clear to those around them that they will no longer play games. The key here is be able to do this without negative consequences. When you know clearly, something that is true for you, then there is no longer anger or resentment or judgments about their choices. There is only a quiet, immovable awareness of what is true for you. When you stand in that place, you are able to state what you will or won’t do, without creating bad feelings or confrontation. Truth is clean and without motive. People can feel that and are much less likely to fight you on it, for when you are speaking truth it is neither a reaction nor a response. Rather, it is a statement of just the way it is. It doesn’t bate or boss, so there is nothing much for them to react to. Truth makes it so simple and non-scary. If emotion arises, it is no longer the truth you are speaking. Intend that level of knowing in this situation you are in , and as you let it, it will come.

  4. Just remembering that fear is a creation of our mind (and I love that you compare humans to other animals to illustrate this) could be a game changer for people. If we create it, we can toss it out, too.

    • So good to see you, Laura! And yes, what people are not told is that creative is an aspect of the Life force we are. We don’t have a choice about being creative or not. We are creative – period. Since we create through our attention, meaning where and how ardently we focus it, we do at least have a say in WHAT we create. But if you don’t know that, you are truly a leaf in your own wind.

Thoughtful comments are always welcome!

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