Fear Notes

 

If my life were a pinball machine, I would tell you the ball is lighting up the letters f.e.a.r. 

 

Fear is widespread. Coronavirus, the US Supreme Court sanctioning border agents to firing shots across the border and killing people in Mexico, the US justice department setting up procedures to denaturalize citizens, the anti-semitic graffiti this week at my kid’s school, the fear of collapsing stock markets, and whatever else scares you.

 

Krishnamurti:

What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.

Let us make fear our teacher and see what we can learn.

 

I present here a compilation of thoughts I have collected about fear with the hopes of it helping.

 

-rB

 

 

Birds and the Bridge

A Chinese aphorism:

That the birds of worry and fear fly about your head you cannot help. But you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov:

The key to traversing the narrow bridge of life is not add to the fear.

We must live with fear. We need not feed it.

 

 

 

S.H.O.P. (Standard Human Operating Procedures)

We attempt to end and/or manage our fears by:

  • Ignoring it
  • Masking it (drinking, etc.)
  • Being overly cautious
  • Attempting to control as much as possible

Our bodies faced with fear:

  • Fight – attack the thing causing fear
  • Flight – run away from the thing causing fear
  • Freeze – go limp and hope the thing causing fear leaves us alone

Our thinking faced with fear:

  • Fear shuts down our higher order of thought
  • Fear removes from us joy and goodwill
  • Fear makes us tired

Consequently, in the midst of fear we often feel scattered, joyless, and exhausted.

 

 

Natural, 2 + 2

Fear is natural. Fear is an emotional response to being alive. (Emotions and feeling them are our birthright.) The purpose of fear is to keep us safe. The fear of slipping on the ice keeps us from walking on it too briskly.

 

However, while it is natural to be afraid of a tiger walking near us, our fears often get distorted and we decide it would be better to never leave the couch.

 

A chasidic quote:

I am afraid of things that cannot harm me, and I know it. I yearn for things that cannot help me, and I know it. What I fear is within me, and within me too, is what I seek.

Most of what we fear will not come to pass.

Humans have two innate fears at birth:

  • Loud noises
  • Falling

The rest we learn. (Which implies we can unlearn them too.)

As adults, our fears fall into two categories:

  • Lack of control
  • Feeling inadequate

Forcing one’s self to categorize which of the two is the source of our current fear can short circuit our fear from spiraling.

 

 

Living Nightmares

The three qualities of a nightmare are:

  • Unpleasantness
  • Lack of control
  • Indefinite end

There are times when our waking life has all three.

 

 

Fear’s smell

Unconsciously we sense the fear of those around us. Our nervous systems mirror that fear.

 

The “pan” part of pandemic and pandemonium are the same as the root for “panic” – pan is a Greek prefix meaning all. When fear is in the air – as it is right now – we all are all affected.

 

Researchers find the brain’s of participants smelling sweaty clothes from first time sky divers and smelling sweaty clothes from treadmill joggers become alerted to fear from the former and not latter.

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Heath Journal

 

 

Rabbi’s notes

Franklin D. Roosevelt said Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself.

 

The simple act of examining fear changes our relationship to it.

 

This was Krishnamurti’s point at the start of these notes:

What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.

Faith is not about belief in anything other than that we have some freedom from fear.

 

Let me end with a beautiful poem.

 

Hafez Shirazi:

Fear is the cheapest room in the house

I would like to see you living In better conditions,

For your mother and my mother

Were friends.

I know the Innkeeper In this part of the universe.

Get some rest tonight,

Come to my verse tomorrow.

We’ll go speak to the Friend together.

I should not make any promises right now,

But I know if you Pray

Somewhere in this world –

Something good will happen.

God wants to see

More love and playfulness in your eyes

For that is your greatest witness to the Beloved.

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