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Fear and Fearlessness

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Fear and Fearlessness

Post by Freya on Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:39 pm

So I have been reading my Shambhala book again, and it's occurred to me - something that has always been a problem with me is fear. And fear is essentially selfish, at least when it is fear for oneself (and even, sometimes, when it is fear for others - are we really, truly fearing that something will happen to our loved ones for their sake, or are we afraid of our own loss?). Once you stop trying to protect yourself, there is no reason left for fearing things.

“Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.”
― Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala


I wanted to make another thread, apart from The Scariest Thing of All, about fear, and thought perhaps it might be an interesting subject for discussion, from all points of view - spirituality, psychology, LoA.


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Re: Fear and Fearlessness

Post by lunareclipse on Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:29 am

Great subject, there's always lots of discovering to do about fears Very Happy

I think first of all that there is a difference between fear and fear, from irrational phobia of spiders for example, when you don't really want them to come and tickle your wild heart, to fear of contacting the guy you like.

I understand them stemming from the ego, but in a sense of as Lotus said- that the world is an illusion and everyone in it just images in your mind, rather then people saying "It's from ego, because when you worry about losing the one you love, it's from selfish point of view because you worry about the pain it causes you and how much you are going to miss them. "

How about if your loved one gets kidnapped though and you fear, because you worry they may be raped, tortured, murdered. In this case it's not a selfish fear, but it still stems from an ego in a sense that technically this is a dream and they are not real.

In real life of course it's not very practical, since if your loved one does get kidnapped, telling yourself it's all an illusion stemming from ego and inviting it in to tickle your heart doesn't help much. You'll be petrified, guaranteed, no matter what you do or tell yourself.

-----
I think we should concentrate on other fears, fears that hold us back from reaching our full potential, such as social anxiety, fear of failure etc.


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Re: Fear and Fearlessness

Post by Freya on Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:26 pm

Yes, I agree that fear is born of the ego, though it can be seen from different angles. The dream-angle is taken by Swami Vivekananda as well:

"What fear is there? Always discriminate -- your body, your house, these Jivas and the world are all absolutely unreal like a dream. Always think that this body is only an inert instrument. And the self - contained Purusha within is your real nature."

Vivekananda also sees fear as essentially selfish.

"Our own selfishness makes us the most arrant cowards; our own selfishness is the great cause of fear and cowardice"

"Only to selfishness comes fear. He who has nothing to desire for himself, whom does he fear, and what can frighten him? What fear has death for him? What fear has evil for him?"

We could say fear is always of the ego because it is always thought. Without thought, there can be no fear. Or can there?

Primal Fear

There is fear that is thought, and then there is the flight-or-fight response that comes when you see a tiger, for example. That is a survival mechanism. It's a high-activity emotion that is mapped as Arousal in the circumplex model of affect proposed by H. Schlosberg and further developed by J. Russell and P. Juslin:


Interestingly, J. Krishnamurti sees fear that is rooted in thought and memory as different from the "action of fear" that happens when you are confronted with something that is truly life-threatening such as a bear (On Fear 21). Nonetheless, to Krishnamurti, the second type of fear is still a conditioned response, from being told since childhood that bears are dangerous. He contrasts the conditioned response with intelligence, which sees that the bear is dangerous and takes the correct action to get away from the bear. Nonetheless, some fears are indeed innate, such as a fear of falling, and certain situations do provoke an automatic fear response in both humans and animals.

Psychological fear, which we might call anxiety, and the flight-or-fight response may not be the same - the neurobiology of fear and anxiety is different - but on Plutchik's circumplex, both would fall under the common heading of "fear".

Here, the vertical dimension represents intensity and the circle demonstrates the degrees of similarity between the emotions - from R. Plutchik, "The Nature of Emotions", American Scientist 89.4 (2001)

In reality, the differences between fear and anxiety dissolve. And they remain centered on the separate self.

Fear as Selfish?

Even when we're afraid for our loved ones, we are identifying with the false centre; our loved ones remain extensions of our selves - after all I feel it more acutely when someone attacks a cafe where my friends may be, in a city that I love, than when something equally or even more horrific happens in Syria. This is human and natural. On the one hand, I feel fear and compassion for my friends who may be in danger; in a certain sense I am forgetting myself and merging with common humanity. But they are still my friends. We are afraid for our loved ones because we experience reality as human beings with loved ones. We cannot experience the aggregate of human suffering --- that would be impossible to take in.

I'm not saying it is out of self-concern for my own loss that I am scared, though Krishnamurti would argue that this can be a strong factor. As current scientific research is beginning to show us, as a species we have compassion and care for others wired into us - our own well-being is deeply connected to the well-being of others. Thupten Jinpa has pointed out the paradox: the more focused we are on others' happiness, and the less we are in it for ourselves ("I like giving people birthday presents more than receiving them because it makes me feel good"), the happier we will be. There is real kindliness, compassion, generosity, and selflessness in us, though why selfishness is automatically and totally condemned in the way it often is constitutes another topic. All that said, this does not stop fear from being rooted in ego.

Ego-self is, as Lunar, Lotus, and Vivekananda have pointed out, a figment of the dream-world. It isn't real because it arises from the false concept of separation, when we are all one. When Vivekananda says that all fear is basically selfish we could translate that to mean that it is all rooted in ego, thought, and the false concept of separation. The fox and its prey are both one; the prey's fear of the fox may be instinctive but it remains a response to the false view that it is somehow divided from the fox.

Fear has a purpose. Flight-or-fight drives us to do something, and fear warns us not to do something that may be harmful to us (such as walking in front of a bus - though Krishnamurti calls that intelligence rather than fear). Fear for loved ones is rooted in compassion and is thus non-selfish. At the same time, all fear can be seen as based on the ego-dimension rather than the non-duality dimension. As Rupert Spira says, "Don’t let thinking divide loving into a lover and the beloved, feeling into a feeler and the felt, seeing into a seer and the seen, hearing into a hearer and the heard, touching into a toucher and the touched, tasting into a taster and the tasted, smelling into a smeller and the smelt, or thinking into a thinker and a thought." Surely, only when there is ego, which includes thinking and a sense of separation and isolation, is there fear.

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Re: Fear and Fearlessness

Post by Freya on Sat Mar 26, 2016 11:36 pm

Overcoming Fear

Little Miss Sunshine, President Roosevelt and I had a discussion about this yesterday in chat; as Little Miss pointed out, it depends on the type of fear you're trying to overcome. If it is personal fear, for example social anxiety or fear of driving, the methods you use will be different to say, fear for a loved one, in which case you can visualise everything being better. Acting in spite of the fear ("feel the fear and do it anyway") is a good way of conquering it if it is a personal (and basically irrational, unfounded) fear.

Whenever You See Some Fear, Do Just the Opposite

Osho says,

“Don’t follow your fear instinct, because that is going to make you a coward. It degrades your humanity. It is a humiliation imposed by yourself. Whenever you see some fear, go against it! A simple criterion: whenever you see there is fear, go against it and you will be always moving, growing, expanding, coming closer to the moment when ego simply drops – because its whole functioning is through fear. And the absence of the ego is enlightenment; it is not something plus.
“Just a simple principle: remember, anything that makes you afraid, fearful, is a clear indication of what you have to do. You have to do just the opposite. You are not to become a follower of fear, you have to fight your fear. The moment you decide to fight your fear, you are on the way towards enlightenment.”


This is overall a good philosophy, although one still has to be sensitive to circumstances. Sometimes fear can be healthy, for example when you're afraid of riding a wild horse.

Pulling out Fear's Roots

What if we fixed the root cause of those personal fears? I'm not talking about actual phobias though I suspect that they are still based on thought and conditioning in some form. But personal fears are psychological fear and are based on thought. If we didn't think and "just did it" every time, we would be fine. We would have no fear at all. Let's take talking on the telephone. Piece of cake if you don't have those little anxious thoughts snaking around in your mind saying "oh oh oh this is scary, nooo I don't want to do this, what if I say the wrong thing, what if I stammer, what if I sound like a child, what if I embarrass myself to this disembodied person?"

The question is though, how do we eliminate those anxious thoughts? How do we transcend the personal self that makes our own "safety" in social situations, for example, seem so important? Taking action even when the fears are there gradually builds courage. But what about actually going beyond the self that is scared? How do we do that?

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Re: Fear and Fearlessness

Post by Night Eyes on Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:29 am

I dont think its Selfish to be scared or to worry, i find that quite bizarre, i mean if we're worrying over someone else, for example i worry over my kids.. why is that selfish, they're my responsibility, i'm looking out for them because i want them to have the best lives they possibly can.. of course i dont want to lose them, but not just because that would hurt me... because they have a right to be safe and cared for.. does that make sense?

i can see that predominantly our thoughts and our worries come from us and our ego's.. what WE want, but i dont think thats always a bad thing, especially if all we want is happiness and love.. i guess its perspective right?.

how do we get over these fears... well, i guess its different for each situation.. will i ever stop worrying and being scared for my kids.... no.. but would i want to? ... not really..... you reach a point where you just trust and hope for the best, you gave them the tools for life you teach them as best you can but then you have to trust its enough for them to make their own way.. doesnt mean i wont be on pins when they go on a day long trip to london without me..


but do i want to get over my fear of driving.. of course... totally different story... but well.... guess how i'm gonna do that? by driving! believe me there are techniques and studies all over the place about how to get over irrational fears and phobias, immersion therapy, behavioural activation.... thought diaries... relaxation.... but they all come down to an end task..... do it!

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