Wednesday, July 11, 2012

There Is Fear

Sitting this morning, I got surprised by the presence and the amount of fear, right here in this body. Had I not sat, I would not have even known . . .

From Ajahn Sumedho:
Many things that we are frightened of are really our best friends -- like fear itself. We are afraid of the unknown, but the unknown is the way to enlightenment. Not-knowing is what brings terror into people's lives. Many people spend much of their life just trying to find security in some form or another, because of fear. Fear drives them to become this, or get hold of that, to save up a lot of money, to seek pleasure or a safe place to live, or to find some ideal person they hope will make them happy forever. That is fear of being alone, fear of the unknown -- of that we cannot know. In meditation, when one is mindful, that very fear -- seeing it as it really is -- leads us into the deathless, the silence. Yet fear is something that we react to very strongly.
I could feel the terror emanating out of my core, coursing through my veins, almost paralyzing if not for the breath. No real thoughts to explain the fear away, but rather a vague sense of dread, about what could happen . . . to 'me'. And of course, not liking the whole experience. Noticing the wishing away. Mind trying a bit of loving kindness, a bit of focusing away, on to the feet. In the end, surrendering to the evidence of the moment. Fear from powerful undercurrents in the mind.
Just speaking from my own experience, I could very much see the first noble truth. It was not that I wanted a more depressing ideology to accept. I recognised that there was fear, uncertainty and uneasiness in myself. Yet the first noble truth is not a doctrine. It is not saying 'life is suffering', but rather it is just saying, 'there is this'. It comes and goes. It arises (the second noble truth), it ceases (the third noble truth), and from that understanding comes the eight-fold path (the fourth noble truth), which is the clear vision into the transcendence of it all -- through mindfulness. The eight-fold path is just being mindful in daily life. 
No 'I', no fear about the future . . . Right there, the source of the problem.


  1. Beautiful post. I was reading Pema Chodron's "When Things Fall Apart" this morning. This is the 2nd or 3rd time I have read it. And it starts with a discussion of fear.

    Thanks for sharing this experience and for using the noble truths.


  2. Thank you, Ed. It helps knowing one is not alone on this journey . . .

  3. I'll trade you some of my anger for your fear! 1 Sankara for 1 Sankara

  4. At least it's good to know that those things are not personal, in the end.

  5. I do find when I examine my fear around death while in meditation that it relaxes and appears to be a natural flow of life and not personal and not me. It also sad that the same fear with regards to others death is less intense, pointing to more ego to work on.

  6. I first heard Ajahn Sumedho teach at the London Buddhist Society 30 years or so ago.He used to read from the Pali scriptures and then give a little sermon. I went there every week for some time because I kind of liked him without knowing why. The scripture readings did not imppress me at all at the time. Anyway I have followed him on and off since then and I think his more recent talks shown on Youtube are well worth checking out.

  7. Was Once, you are right. The deeper layers have to do with fear of non existence (unknown), and also fear of emotional pain ('mine') from loss of what is being clung to ('loved' ones and various aspects of 'self').

    No 'I', no clinging, no problem . . . Meanwhile, more sitting, more practice. And compassion for ourselves and others. We are all in the same soup :)

  8. Michael, thank you. In general, I find there is a lot of audio dharma material available, but not so much video. Hopefully that will change, as much can be gained from experience the more embodied presence of a teacher via the movie medium.