Hello and on this black on this evening of Martin Luther King's holiday. And we'd like to read a quote of his 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.
Someone read this to me, or posted this just a couple hours ago. And I was struck by it. Thinking of Martin Luther King as a great champion for non violent civil disobedience, nonviolent protest, I remember that my first real interest in Buddhism was when I was a freshman in college, and I was of the age that could be drafted for the war in Vietnam. And so that was a big topic of discussion. The other freshmen, and I took the I always had the seemingly the extreme pacifist position. I didn't believe in war and wasn't going to fight in a war. So I had this very strong ideal pacifist ideal. But I didn't think of past this kind of pacifism, as being passive as being doing nothing. I felt that it to live up to this ideal, I had to be willing to put my life on the line at a protest or to confront some of the injustice is in society. And I recognize that I was afraid to do so. And I didn't feel good about having fear, not to live up to my ideals. So I searched around for how to address this fear. And I don't think I had any strong, rational reasons for this. But for some reason, I came upon Buddhist practice, that this was the way to find how to work with this fear to work through this fear. And that didn't really propel me into the world of practice that was still a year or two away. But it was kind of the first kind of interest that I had. So to hear this wonderful quote from Martin Luther King today and that about fear, and that, that people fear each other. And I think that he's saying something very important here, that sometimes assertion of power over over others, sometimes hate, mistrust. can have its roots in fear. And there's many things that we fear, I think it's a hugely pervasive, pervasive attitude. Many people have anxiety and, and part of Buddhist practice is to encounter that fear, to meet that fear, to learn to be present for it, and to not cower from the fear, but rather to show up for it to really find a place within that has the capacity to be with fear, not succumbing to fear. And part of the wonderful possibility of meditation of mindfulness is to learn how to show up in a strong way out of you present in a strong way to what is challenging, what is difficult, including fear Life is very different if we are not influenced by our fear. Now there are certainly things to be appropriately afraid of. And Buddhism recognizes that there's appropriate fear and inappropriate fear, skillful fear and unskillful. Fear and compromising our ethical integrity is something to be appropriately afraid of. succumbing to hatred, or greed is something to be appropriately afraid of.
But succumbing to anxiety, in succumbing to our imagination, of what we think is dangerous, is not appropriate, is not helpful. And to be able to distinguish between the fear that's appropriate, and the fear that's inappropriate, is part of the benefit that comes from stopping and taking a good look at fear, understanding what it's about. And is it about the future? And if it's about the future, how much does the imagination play a role. And how strong is your image imagination is sometimes the imagination is so strong, that it's tendrils of imagination reached down into our muscles, and activate them with fear sensations, fear contractions, and the fear can feel so much more anxiety, and so much more real. It doesn't feel like it's imaginary, it feels real, because the imagination has triggered a real response in the body.
It's not to be dismissive of the power of fear, or the challenge or fear. And it's certainly not to be dismissive of Fear Itself. Fear may be should always be seen as a messenger. And it's a messenger that something here needs attention. And sometimes it said that what needs attention is to what's known in the world. So as Martin Luther King said, that, if we don't know each other, that we can be afraid of each other. And so the fear of others might be a message that we should get to know the other person. I've had many negative feelings where people and, and but by going and talking to them, I'm surprised how quickly they go away. And sometimes I've had, you know, that could be also with people that we're afraid of. And occasionally, it's because people we have occasion to reason to be afraid. Hopefully, we have the wisdom to know when it's appropriate. But sometimes we go be counter phobic, show up and say, you know what's happening here? And can you tell me what's, you know, tell me what's happening? And can I get to know you, let me tell you something about myself. And so fear is a multi faceted, complicated thing. One of the things we want to be careful for when we are mindful is not to see fear as a mistake, or that we're bad or that it's something wrong. But rather, it's the sign of something that we want to show up for. And sometimes we want to show up for ourselves and their layers or fear within ourselves that really could use our attention. And the attention that I've learned that is most helpful for the Layers of Fear within us is the is the attention that helps the fear, feel safe. That helps the fear not feel like you're being being dismissed or seen as wrong or we're trying to escape from it and run away from it. And so, awareness and attention to mindfulness that holds the fear that's present for the fear, the image that that's been very, very valuable for me, is the image of taking my hands and keeping them together and coming underneath something and just holding it there. And so coming underneath and hold Fear, touching the fear, helping the fear of rest in in the palms of awareness. And then breathing with a fear. And meditation is a fantastic place to do this. Because hopefully when we sit and meditate in that time, there is nothing to fear, there's no external dangers that are threatening us. And so maybe it's a place where it's safe enough to offer this kind of attention to fear and see where it opens up to and where it where it takes us. And sometimes it takes us deeper and deeper into ourselves. And sometimes it takes us into the ability, the strength and the courage to be able to talk to others get to know them better. And hopefully, let them get to know us better. Wonder how often people's This spear upset about what's happening in the world is based on fear, that is reasonable enough to have. But the fear is unduly influencing us that somehow we've allowed the fear to take over. As opposed to having the fear accompany us. I learned some years ago, that I had fear.
And I just felt that just imagine the fear was sitting on my shoulder. It accompanied me through situation that was tied some danger involved. And, and but I was not afraid. But fear was present for me. And, and I kind of came, I just came, I didn't think that I would be able to not be afraid I would not have the fear. But I could. I knew how not to have the fear take over. So I just imagined was sitting on my left shoulder. And it was my companion. Yeah, as I went through the dangerous I was going through. So one of the possibilities with mindfulness practice of mindfulness is to cultivate a new relationship with fear, a new relationship with anxiety, one in which it's not, it doesn't somehow have an impact on us. Because we show up strong enough, courageous enough, that we're able to be present and breathe with it without believing it necessarily or identifying with it or taking it on without letting the all the muscles kind of contract and react around the fear. So the fear gets accentuated. So what if the gift that we able to give the world is the gift of fearlessness. And what this means in Buddhism is that it's a gift giving people the gift that they don't have to be afraid of us. And so rather than being so focused on our own fear, one way to put the fear up on its place on the left shoulder, perhaps is to turn the whole fear thing around and offer ourselves to the world as someone that others do not have to be afraid have to offer the gift of fearlessness. And And also, there's a gift of fearlessness for ourselves, that we do not fear. And when we don't fear others, that's a gift to them as well. It's not a healthy thing, to have anxiety and fear for others. Now, there are times where it's appropriate to be afraid of others, they are dangerous. And but there's plenty of times and that the fear we have the social fears we have maybe are not as appropriate as the emotion believes. Maybe we don't have to succumb to it. And so to learn how to add to give ourselves the gift of fearlessness, either by not having the fear or having a strength and a presence where we we recognize the fear but we are stronger than the fear So to sit with fear, to practice with fear, and to begin discovering that we have strengths that we didn't know, to have courage to have a heart that can have the strength to stay open and present and sensitive to this world, heart, they can look directly at what is happening. Look reality right in the eye and see when for what it is. I don't think what I'm saying this evening is easy. It's not something it is something that requires wisdom and care. But it's a wisdom that comes from stopping and taking a good look, really studying a situation, look, if you're recognizing what's really happening. So that fear is not, doesn't evoke the imagination or running away or cutting ourselves off from what's happening. But we use it as a reminder, that was that it's a messenger, now's the time to pay more careful attention. What's really happening here. And if it is a real, real world danger, then perhaps win a better position to take care of ourselves and find safety. And if it's a comes from social anxieties or
met, imaginary fears of what could possibly can happen in the future, I wonder if there's not, there isn't another alternative than changing the world running away. But rather to the opportunity to really stop and breathe with fear and take a look at fear, hold the fear and find the strength, the power, the courage, to be with the fear in a way that helps the fear be safe, helps a fear, feel reassured, because it's being held in the strength and courage of your good heart. So those are my thoughts this evening for Martin Luther King's holiday. I think that I don't know how much fear Martin Luther King had. But he certainly was a courageous man who kept showing up in all kinds of situations of great danger. And it took a lot of courage to show up in his non violent way. When others wanted to harm him. I think it's a great lesson. And it's a great Buddhist lesson, to live the power of non violence with courage, that occasion to change the world for the better. Because if we can change the world, even the smallest kind of ways, we do change it for everyone and to change it in the direction of fearlessness of safety, of getting to know people of communicating deeply. So that in that knowing and that communication and that recognizing each other the depths of other people, our humanity. Perhaps we teach, we learn ourselves not to fear others, but maybe also more importantly, we teach others not to fear us. May we give each other the gift of fearlessness. We all live in safety. Thank you