A Lifetime of Fear!

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Fears take root at an early age and then we carry these into our adult life. Parents for instance can be over protective, warning children against this or that and asking them to be careful. Then again you obey your parents and teachers. You do not question them. You want to please them. You believe this is being good and any transgression will invite punishment. The other thing is that a child’s mind oftentimes exaggerates or even mistakes a threat. What perhaps was a mild chastisement, can be experienced and remembered as something huge. This then becomes a willingness to submit and a fear of authority. Or the fear of not matching up to the expectation of others or of making a mistake. Or you felt a certain way when admonished by a teacher in class or when teased by friends and you did not want to feel that way again. So, you insulated yourself. You made yourself small or did not express your views or did not participate (unless you were perfect at it and perhaps even then not). And you do this again and again till it became a habit – selling yourself short. What is more, showing yourself is central to forging relationships. Besides now you’ve come to see failure as something bad and for that reason do not put yourself into anything that is challenging. When it is okay to fail and failing is part of the process to eventually succeeding. Or you were bullied in school and now seek power and wealth so that you never have to face that kind of vulnerability and humiliation again. Or you are unwilling to follow your heart or break loose from a bad situation, all because you fear uncertainty and want to be in control of things. We all carry unknowingly in our subconscious a burden of fears that weighs us down. Our lives are directed by fear of this and that. All you are ever doing is following instructions or doing what is expected of you. What will so and so say or think. I might not get this opportunity again. If not now, it might get too late. This is the way it has always been. What if things don’t work out or I don’t make it. What if this or that happens…. You study, get married, your career choices, what and how you lead your life and the rest of it are all for the most part out of fear. Surely fear has its place. It keeps us from harm’s way. But now it is everywhere, in your relationships… you even pray to a God that you fear. There is the constant undercurrent of fears. There is no free-will. Now imagine a mind free of fear, clear of anxiety of any sort. That is real freedom. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Put yourself out there. Embrace uncertainty. Who can say what leads to what or what will happen? Leave it to Him.

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The Great Magnifier.

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How much one suffers rests on the individual. We have limited control over what happens, but we do determine our response to it. Pain it is said comes as two arrows. The first is the source of pain and the other is the narratives that we spin around the event. Most of us are in the habit of brooding. Chuck the past. Nobody can say what’s in store in the future. In this manner train the mind to be more and more in the here and now. The other thing is attention. Attention is the great magnifier. What we direct our attention on becomes our experience of life. The rest is background. You might for instance miss a glorious panorama or a virtuoso performance if your attention is somewhere else. Or you might lie in bed frightened all night mistaking a shape or a sound for an intruder. Enjoy the joy that this moment brings, and the next, and the next…

Pursuing The Illusion Of Security.

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For the majority of us insecurity is not about a lack of food or a home as it is about fear and desire… a desire for permanence and for certainty and to be in control of things. Insecurity is fear and like all fear it weakens and enslaves and causes distress. The problem with seeking security is that it has the ability to shape our thinking to accept that which is disagreeable. We give up our freedom to pursuing an illusion. We do not make time to pursue things important to us. Besides the more you have, the more you stand to lose. So, having gathered wealth or status or power, we are then afraid to lose it. Or we do not want to be vulnerable and so we put up walls around us. And this separation from the rest in turn is further cause for feeling insecure.

Uncertainty and impermanence is the nature of things. Life is going to be beautiful and life is going to be harsh. On the other hand even a crisis can prove a blessing – it can unshackle us or leave us wiser or get us out of a rut and open new doors. Instead we bury our dreams and step in-line rather than rock the boat. Our lives have become a restricted and mechanical regimen where every aspect is determined by social norms. We have lost touch with our true selves in our obsession with an illusive destination when it is the journey or how we live the present that is important. If we are to be true to ourselves and we must recognise that security is nonexistent and accept that life is going to have its ups and downs.

The Creative Side.

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Creativity is put simply the interaction of the person with the art or vocation or anything else. All that is needed is to bring to the table that which is truly you without regard to socially enforced notions. You might say you create with feeling and curiosity, and not with rationality. Often the fear of embarrassment or being unsure of yourself is the only hurdle to creating. As children we are creative. But as we grow up we became increasingly self-conscious and also we are trained to adhere to convention. In a sense we lose sight of ourselves and lose our will to conventions – what is right, what praiseworthy and which the proper way. That is why the commonplace and unoriginal, because the mind is constipated with these that we never go beyond.

Every individual has a unique history and consequently an only one of its kind perspective and aesthetic sense. Hone your skills but do not block yourself or deliberately try to be different. Give yourself some alone-time, free the mind of distraction, and give the subject sufficient mind-space; and sooner or later you will have your insights. And every now and then the mind will dive deep, past the person to the essence and core of your being and bring up something beautiful. The joyfulness of creating is reward in itself. You bring what is within to the material and the expression in turn reveals something of yourself to you. And like everything else, the more you indulge the more creative you become – more you come to trust your instincts, to free yourself of everything that is not you, and better you get at synthesizing the self and the material.

Freedom From Fear.

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We fear failure, embarrassment, loss, death, the unknown. Fear perverts our thinking. It enfeebles, enslaves and paralyzes. It causes suffering, so much so that the anxiety of what might happen is more often than not more agonizing than the event itself. Is there some way to be free from the load of our fears; so as to function, take chances and begin to live fully with no fear? Is it possible for the mind to not all the time look to past experience of pain and cast fearful thoughts of the future; but to dwell in the present, take life as it comes and do the task at hand?

Fear exists only in the mind. It is nothing but thought, the imagining, that this or that will happen. If you do not have these thoughts, there is no fear. Furthermore these thoughts have their source in our memories and recollection of pain, in the phantom we have created with its identifications and attachments. To be free from fear you have got to diminish the phantom and be closer to that which you are? You have got to diminish your sense of separateness and of self-importance.

Life Is Beautiful.

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Of a flower the gardener might say it is the fulfillment of his toil. The religious, “It is an offering for God.” And the spiritual, “It is God.” The artist says, “It is something of beauty.” And the philosopher adds, “… that grows out of dirt and dung.” The romantic says, “It is an expression of love.” The cynical, “It is a trigger for allergies.” And the bee, “It is a source for nourishment.” All these things were said of the flower, but in actual fact each spoke not of it but of his attitude, of his conditioning and his history. Such is always the case.

In the same way our life experience depends not so much on what life brings us as on how we approach life. You needn’t change the world. You need only to change yourself. You look at life through a prism of hate or resentment or despair or envy or suspicion or competition. Then everybody and everything around you appears threatening; then you live in an ugly world and in constant anxiety. Replace these with compassion and forgiveness and hope and trust and friendship; and life is beautiful. In reality you are all these already. There is no need for replacing. You are love. You need only to remove the obstruction that you’ve put up to it.

Life Can Be A Bummer.

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Our happiness is fragile. One moment we might be at the top of the world and at the next writhing in misery. Moreover life does not spare anybody although clearly some are dealt a far worse hand than others. So what is the best way to deal with or handle the difficult situations that life will certainly and unavoidably keep throwing at us? There are two components to this. The first is to be committed to the effort to do all that is required in any situation. Even with your every effort the desired outcome may perhaps not be forthcoming. Nevertheless in the face of setbacks you must continue to persevere. The second component (and this is the tougher part) is to possess at the same time an attitude of detachment. To labour with no fear or concern as to what the future holds, without getting anxious about results or depressed by bad fortune.

We must recognize that “worry” is venom and not allow ourselves to wallow in it. It drains us of life-energy, keeps us uselessly immobilized and bring us boundless unhappiness and despair. This is easier said than done and it can’t be stressed enough that regular practice of meditation is of enormous help. Over time from within will come an undisturbable calm in which attachment and sorrow ends. Moreover those on the spiritual path have an unshakeable faith in even the direst circumstances that in ways that cannot be fathomed all that is happening is that which is precisely necessary for their spiritual progress and to bring them closer to the ultimate goal. As a final point, as night follows day even so does day follow night and so too even the most difficult times will eventually pass.