Monday, August 17, 2009

How to Escape Fear, When False Evidence Appears Real




"It is always the false that makes you suffer...Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy; truth liberates."

Nisargadatta Maharaj





I've been wanting to write about fear, but I was afraid to. What if I wrote something foolish – what would people think? Would I ever get acknowledgment and acceptance from the people I want to impress? What if someone with power over my life would read what I've written, judge me, and prevent me from reaching my rightful rewards? I could be ruined...lose my home...let my family down, etc., etc.

That paragraph describes a little of the neurotic nature of modern fear, the folly of the mind that leads to the construction of of imaginary threats. The worries that can consume an intellect, usually brought on by the volatility of our desires – What will they think? What if I don't get what I want? What if I lose something important to me?

Fear is basically an instinct for self-preservation, and as such is perfectly necessary and useful, sometimes even critical. Not all that long ago, we had to worry about being attacked by wild animals. Bears or tigers or, God forbid, crocodiles. Fear in those cases is entirely appropriate, though you don't see a lot of that sort of thing these days. In the agrarian societies of some countries, or increasingly in our society, if there's a chance that crops would fail, or if our water supply were threatened, arising fearful insecurities assure that we take action to prevent shortages, to shore up critical supplies and reserves. In these cases too, fear is an appropriate motivator born from the instinct to survive.

Luckily (for now) in our society, we don't have many of those worries. The only shortages of food we have in the world are artificially created by inequitable distribution. In some countries (including our own), this leads to unnecessary hunger. For most of us though, a simple phone call brings food right to our door, even if it's just pizza. God bless pizza.  So since we needn't worry much about eating, and we really needn't worry about being eaten, what exactly is fear in this society, and what is it really good for?

Fear is the imaginary projection of the ego into the future, as remorse and resentments are the ego's unwillingness to release our perceived losses of the past. There are a couple great acronyms for FEAR that I find useful:  False Evidence Appears Real;  and Forget Everything's All Right.  Ninety-eight times out of a hundred (those are strictly my numbers), what you fear never comes to pass, unless you create it yourself. But does all that evidence prevent the ego from creating the "worst case scenario?" Not on your life, buddy. The human ego is built to fret – unless you take some action to defuse it. Here's a proactive approach to do just that:

As usual, the solution always seems to begin with meditation. As the ego seeks to separate us from Source, meditation connects us, and disconnects fear. Karma is really the action of life – not the causality of life, as the victimized ego would define it. If you form your actions based on fearful expectations, you energize the ego's negative influence in your life. Your actions follow that negative intention, and you create a causal cycle of negativity. If on the other hand you're connected by meditation, and you recognize the imaginary nature of your fear, you'll notice that the real evidence of your life usually demonstrates that everything is actually all right. Then you won't energize that negative thinking, stop your fearful self-paralysis before it starts, and be empowered to take the necessary actions to assure your fears will never come to pass.

A simple example would be that when there's something that appears to threaten your health, say that you have an ache or pain that you worry about. As you enlarge those ego-fears without taking action, you really do compromise your health, when just calling for help could resolve the entire situation. There's appropriate fear there. You need to act. The same is true with relationships, if you feel there's a problem brewing, gather up the love in your heart, and start communicating in order to defuse any potential problems.

This works on a broader playing-field too. Let's say there's a politician who seems to be unconscious of our growing environmental realities, who wants to keep burning fossil fuel for energy, or further institutionalize the use of pesticides. The appropriate fear is for the health of the planet – the need for clean, renewable energy, and responsible stewardship of our food sources. You may want to take action and join the opposing political effort. And when you're talking about fear, don't put anything off too long. It always works best if you apply the proaction nowtoday. Any procrastination invites your fearful ego-imagination to run riot in your mind, and your life.

Show up and just do what you need to do today. If you're doing"the right thing," you never need to worry what other people think. This is karma in action - creating a positive cycle. It will even effect the way you carry yourself, when you relate to the world in a way that assures positive experiences, because your healthy spirit extends beyond your physical body. You'll have intuitive intelligence in your corner, and confidence to face any situation. bringing me to the last of my favorite acronyms for FEAR: Face Everything, Attain Relief. 

 Except, God forbid.....a crocodile.


"The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future...but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly."
The Buddha

The book, How to Survive Life (and Death) is available at all major (ask for it at your local bookstore) booksellers.

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