“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.”
— Anaïs Nin
Our purpose the Conscious Learning Tribe is to understand consciousness by learning together. To understand consciousness, one has to be totally free of fear. And we cannot love when there is fear.
The last month has been a mirror to me and how fearful I have been living my life, despite my fame for being a brave woman, entrepreneur, mother. Yes, courage is one of my values, I intend to talk and act with courage. But I have been acting despite my fears and constantly avoiding facing the fear. One thing that became very clear to me during this time is that fear breeds illusions and makes the mind dull. A mind that is always seeking to be certain is a dead mind. There is no certainty in life, there is no permanency.
So this topic, maybe more than anything, requires investigation. What is fear? And is it possible to totally empty the mind of fear?
WHAT IS FEAR?
Most of us have some form of fear: fear of sickness, fear of loneliness, fear of darkness, fear of spiders, fear of losing loved ones, fear of being broke, fear of rejection, fear of physical pain, fear of old age, fear of death. We have dozens of fears.
A simple and useful definition of fear is an anxious feeling caused by our anticipation of some imagined event or experience.
According to Psychology Today, there are only five basic fears that we share, out of which almost all of our other so-called fears are manufactured. These are:
1-Extinction—the fear of death.
2-Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our precious bodily structure.
3-Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being controlled by circumstances beyond our control.
4-Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness.
5-Ego-death—the fear of humiliation, shame, or any other mechanism of profound self-disapproval that threatens the loss of integrity of the self.
Physical self-protection, the instinctive urge to keep away from the venomous snake, to avoid falling from a cliff, and so on, is sane and healthy. In this post, my focus is about the manufactured fears.
Fear cannot exist by itself. It always exists in relation to something. For example, you are afraid of loneliness because you are afraid that nobody loves you. Or you are afraid of your boss because you are afraid of losing your job. If you can recognize the conscious fears (such as being afraid of the boss and losing the job) then you can easily stop them. But it is much more difficult to find out the unconscious fears, deep down within you, which have a greater importance.
So it is very important to understand one’s relationships with others, with society, with everything, and to be free of fear.
Our fears narrow our perceptions, limit our potential, stifle our creativity and willingness to collaborate. They exhaust the energy for action and innovation, which we need to survive and thrive in our lives, communities and work.
As explained by Otto Scharmer, Figure 1 summarizes this choice by depicting the two different social fields that we can choose to embody through our actions, our relationships, and our thoughts. In the upper half of the figure, you see the “freeze” reaction, that tends to amplify ignorance, hate, and fear. In the lower half, you see the “opening” response, that tends to amplify curiosity, compassion, and courage.
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.” ― Aristotle
Many people are afraid of being lonely, even if they don’t know what it might feel like to be lonely. Most of us were surrounded by people, and things like in our job, or in our daily activities. These days we are practising social distancing and some of us alone in our homes, but are we completely isolated? Not really, there are hundreds of thousands of virtual gatherings, excessive and pointless communications on WhatsApp and Social Media, binge-watching on Netflix without questioning, and we repeat what we are used to by creating more online distractions.
How can we face our fear of loneliness if we don’t understand what it means to be lonely? And how can we be free if we do not face our fear of it?
You can try to run away from your fear for a couple of weeks or a year, but fear always catches up with you wherever you are, and goes with you. You may turn your eyes away from it, but it is there.
When you look at fear, come directly into contact with it. Most of us do not come into contact with fear. The moment fear shows itself in any form, we run away from it. Our whole defensive psychological system gets triggered and we invent beliefs and we run away from it. We tell ourselves stories, we come up with visions, we invent new ways to avoid fear. Think of why the mass media is full of fearful news and why most blockbusters have extreme violence and fear factors? Because we like channelling our fears through other mediums, but our fears only get strengthened by this avoidance and toxicity.
How is one to understand that fear? The understanding of that fear is freedom from it.
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson
Take your fear: you are afraid of something, maybe your financials or health of a loved one. Take it, look at it, bring it out: don’t suppress it, don’t accept it, don’t deny it, but take hold of it, look at it. To look at it demands a fully aware mind. So, it is important to be aware of this whole process of oneself, to observe, to learn about it, instead of trying to get rid of fear. When you focus on only getting rid of fear, you will find ways and means of escaping from it, but you will never be free from fear. To understand, to transcend fear and to set ourselves free, we have to understand fear.
Here is a series of paintings by Cécile Carre, showing what many people experience when they stop avoiding and start approaching the roaring voice that tells them to be afraid. You can order her prints here.
A WORLD FREE FROM FEAR
Over the past weeks, the media and messages from friends highlight the war against COVID-19, using very military language. How can we expect intelligence if there is fear? The military mind is an output of the fear and feeds the conflict. If you understand this structure of consciousness as a human being, all that development and structure of society can be understood as well. Then, we stand a chance to eliminate its greed, envy, ambition and despair.
This period – when we are experiencing fear in our individual and collective psyche – we have a responsibility more than ever to face this fear. Let’s stop distracting ourselves. When the mind is no longer escaping through words or activity of any kind, there is no division between the observer and the thing observed as fear. It is the mind that is escaping that separates itself from fear. But when there is direct contact with fear, there is no observer, there is no entity that says, ‘I am afraid.’ So, the moment you are directly in contact with life, with anything, there is no division to breed competition, ambition and fear.
If you seek a way, a method, a system to avoid fear, you will be everlastingly caught in fear. But if you understand fear, which can only happen when you come directly in contact with it, then you can do something. Only then will you find that all fear ceases. Because out of the freedom and the understanding and the learning about fear comes intelligence, and intelligence is the essence of freedom.
Let’s finish this post with a beautiful poem by Maya Angelou;
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.”
― Maya Angelou
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