2022-07-22 Fear (5 of 5) Protecting What is Important
3:10PM Jul 22, 2022
martin luther king
So we come to the last and fifth talk on fear and hope that thing during this week, I've been able to offer you some new perspectives on practicing with fear, living with fear, understanding fear, and not continue with that today. And I thought of maybe the subject for today would be the wisdom of fear. And part of the wisdom of fear is that, or how to understand that the wisdom that fear can be wise, is when we think that one of the functions of fear is to is protection. It's an attempt to protect something. And then what are we protecting? What is being threatened. And, and some things are worth protecting, some things are not worth protecting. And so there is this notion in Buddhism that there is healthy fear, and unhealthy fear, helpful fear and unhelpful fear. So to have a categorical attitude towards fear as being wrong or bad, is not so useful. What's useful is to practice with fear, to normalize fear, to not identify with fear, to learn to hold fear, with kindness, hold it gently, so you can really see it and know it. And, and it's helpful to have it, you know, sit on your shoulder and accompany you rather than be you. All things that I've talked about this week. And but then it's also important to be able to look deeply at fear. And is this healthy, this fear? Is this helpful this fear? Is, is this really protecting me in an important way? Is it really a protection? Or is it it was the is it the opposite? Am I actually more in danger by having this fear, because some fears and anxiety, especially anxieties that are quite strong, probably put us in greater danger, than if we don't have it, we're more likely to make mistakes, we're more likely to act impulsively, we're more likely to some some anxieties are self fulfilling, that if we're anxious, something's going to happen, that very anxiety, anxiety makes it more likely to happen. Sometimes it's the analogy, it sometimes is used around dogs. If you're afraid of a dog, the dog is more likely to attack you. And so the more anxiety there's around the dog, we want to protect ourselves, but the very movement of anxiety is the thing that that keeps us from being protected. And so we have to kind of look at what is what are we afraid of here? And is it a healthy or not healthy. And if it's a healthy fear, we're protecting something worthwhile, then the fear has a function of being motivating, there's energy and fear. And that energy can be motivated to do something, to actually do something that's protects what's needs to be protected. And sometimes that's to do things in the world. And maybe put a lock on your door, for example, if that's what's gonna keep you safe. And sometimes it's to really practice careful self monitoring, so that you don't succumb to unhelpful states of mind. You don't succumb to anxiety or anger or hostility or greed. And you don't succumb to attachments that are maybe they've been the source of the fear itself. And so the fear, a healthy fear protects what's needs should can be protected, it's helpful to protect. And so what are some of the things that are helpful and healthy to protect? Certainly, our integrity, our ethical integrity, because one of the sources of fear is when we're live unethically and afraid of being caught or, or frayed of our own conscience. It's also
You know, there's a fear of wrongdoing. So there's fear of, so that there's a healthy fear of, I don't want to do that I don't want to lie, I don't want to get into that kind of situation. And that keeps us from doing it keeps us even getting into those situations. And the deeper and more peaceful meditators tend to become, the more likely they're going to have a fear for somehow harming themselves with their ethics, or harming anybody with their ethics, the fear of causing harm, that's a healthy fear. And it can be an anxious fear, it can be a neurotic, fear not to harm others. And that maybe won't be so helpful. But if there is a healthy not wanting to cause harm, it's like the hearts. The heart sings when it doesn't cause harm. The heart stopped singing when you think about causing harm or think we have caused harm. And so that's worth protecting, being close to. And, and then there's a sense of well being we get whatever that is, if I use that word very vaguely, that that as we practice, as we go through our lives, there are times when we feel a degree of peace, happiness, connectedness that is nourishing supportive for us is, brings us joy and delight. And that's worth protecting. It's remarkable how easy it is to give it up, how easy it is to get distracted and caught up, and sometimes very petty concerns that that really wipe away the sense of balance, the sense of inner strength or peace that we might have. And that so it's worth protecting that. So how do we protect that? Maybe we protected by being careful with what we watch on TV. Maybe we're careful what we who we spend time with or how much time we spend with people. Maybe we're careful about where we go or with the activities we do. Because some activities like like, you know watching a shopping channel or looking at catalogs, maybe stimulates unhealthy desires and attachment and that the stairs stairs up and cause us to lose the fact that we were pretty content before we looked at the catalog. And so to to be so fear that the wisdom of fear is to understand that fear is trying to protect something and is what it's protecting worthwhile. Is it appropriate? Is it helpful for us. So there's this used to be read quite a bit this quote by Krishna Murthy. There is fear as long as you want to be secure, secure and your marriage secure and your job secure and your position, secure and your responsibility secure in your ideas in your beliefs, secure in your relationships to the world and in your relationship to God. At the moment the mind seeks security or gratification in any form, at any level, there is bound to be fear. So, there can be attachment to a security to a certainty in a world that has much more uncertainty than we often will admit. And so, our is all these things we try to search try to hold on to for our security. And then is that really the right place to feel secure. For the Buddha, the ultimate security ultimate safety is found in letting go is found in peace is a found in non attachment non clinging and that can make us feel very vulnerable, very challenged, but to find strength, courage, stability, in that place of non clinging, non attachment and realize that that is portable and learn how to take that with us in all the insecure situations in life all the uncertainty places in life. Life is uncertain, there is dangerous in life. But the biggest danger is that of what we do to ourselves through our attachments, through our karma, the actions we do
through the dispositions of the mind to hate To be greedy, or be caught up in something so that we get, we lose ourselves, we lose ourselves and anxiety. There is a place of security within that it's worth protecting is worth finding, getting close to. And, and that place where it's a place within, that is cannot be threatened. No matter what happens in the world, that place is not touched. And to be centered there to know that is the ability to go through the world with out fear. But until we get to that place, that point, any hints or sense of that possibility of that inner well being, that's that moves in that direction, that should that can be protected, that we want to be careful for that is worthwhile protecting. Because we're moving towards freedom, we're moving to the place where we really bringing yourself and bring the healthiest, the greatest health to ourselves the greatest spiritual health, the greatest freedom to our hearts. So fear is an all to human experience. It's a there's healthy and it's a it's, it's, there's it wants to protect us. It's a kind of, in and of itself a healthy movement of protecting something. So we don't want to dismiss fear. We want to be able to be friends with fear and connect to fear, see it deeply. Because as we see it deeply in our present for it all fear all movements of protection, probably at the very root of what they're about. Is is this place of ultimate safety, this or this desire for ultimate safety. And many fears are mis understandings many fears, is misunderstanding what's really important. Meditation, like meditation, hopefully will connect us to what is most important. So that we remember that as we go into the world. And we don't fear things which are not that important. That doesn't matter so much, just plenty of things that we might fear that we don't have to worry about. So I'd like to end with a quote from Martin Luther King. That brings this topic of fear into our social domain. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, people fail to get along, because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don't know each other. They don't know each other, because they have not communicated with each other. So to the degree to which we are afraid of others. Maybe we haven't really gotten to know them. And maybe we really haven't let them know us. Maybe to develop real communication between people is one of the benefits of becoming wise with fear. Because then fear does not interfere with our ability to communicate to connect and, and have real friendship with other people. So thank you for all this and may you now take the time to really become wise about your fear, maybe even courageous around it. So I'm going away again next week for another week of vacation this summer. And happy that the Nikki Nikki Mirghafori will come back. She has come often to be my substitute and wonderful teacher. She teaches happy hour at IMC which is the time for an hour's time for loving kindness practice in the afternoon. So she'll be here next week and I'll be back the following.