People can be surprised at how they find themselves when afraid or otherwise under major stress. Perhaps we have an idea, born of repeated experience, that when faced with fear (impending death?) we will let ourselves down. That’s to not be able to cope well and fall apart in ways we have feared we might. I for one was very surprised how together I was in the face of my fathers sudden death on a railway platform. And a friend of mine having physical difficulties was, he reported Perfectly calm when he would have anticipated himself to be otherwise. This sentence from the article referenced below says it all really. When you’ve practiced something enough, it becomes instinct, and then you know what to do automatically. The author is referring to responding to fear in a visceral way, which is needed – thus his point about ‘being afraid’. As meditators we practice sitting still within conditions. Not losing ones sitting place in the midst of life and death circumstances gives witness to those hours spent sitting still with nothing much going on. It is then that we build the habit which reflexively comes into play in certain circumstances.
It was still half an hour before midnight, but the road was already deserted – which was perfectly normal for a Sunday night on the outskirts of a small, coastal fishing town in the north east of Scotland. The year was probably 1989, but I can no longer be entirely sure. I had more pressing concerns than the date. I was ten years old, I was alone, I was on a BMX bike, and I was cycling for my life.
From article, Being Afraid.
This is a really engaging piece of writing and thanks to Julius for sending the link.
6 thoughts on “Be Afraid”
Thank you so much for this article. I found it very confirming. I laughed when the author says that when ‘it’ really happens he’ll ‘get on his BMX and pedal like hell’, because of course we are practicing doing precisely the opposite. And, after many long years, I find that I can even sometimes instinctively feel that, the fruits of the sitting, the solid sitting place in the midst of things. Gratitude. _/\_
I am really glad to hear this Chris, that you sense the solid sitting place in the midst of things.And glad you liked the article. I so enjoyed reading it even if the conclusion is the antithesis of what we aspire to do, as you say.
Realizing that facing fear is very different from writing about it right now, I still would like to share a thought on the subject:
Fear can only appear when there is ‘space’ for that fear to rise- and to be according to its nature.
If it can appear, than that same space allows fear to rise, and must able ‘to handle it’. I think because that very space is undivided. So the fear and the space ‘are no strangers to each other’. An other example: when hearing a sound, it appears within the ‘stillness of space’. This seems a logical thought and helpful, but it doesn’t of course mean that I am ready to welcome fear and handle it well. It helps me to realize that fear is a natural fact of life, not to “fight it, but to feel it”. It could also mean to trust your heart and learn to step into the unknown. One may dis-cover at the very moment, that fear can also be a door and that your own step reveals a space, an Unknown, you are One wíth.
Thanks Wick. You have thought about this more than I have to be sure.
So easy to wish for, so very hard to do.
Thank you Shelley.