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Learning Not to Be Afraid of Things That Are Real

--by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (May 23, 2016)


Recently I've been looking through a field guide on nature observation. The author, when he was a child, was trained by an old Native American. One day the child asked the old man, "Why is it that you're not afraid of heat and cold?"

The old man looked at him for a while and finally said, "Because they're real."

And this is our job as meditators: to try to learn not to be afraid of things that are real.

Ultimately, we discover that things that are real pose no danger to the mind. The real dangers in the mind are our delusions, the things we make up, the things we use to cover up reality, the stories, the preconceived notions we impose on things. When we're trying to live in those stories and notions, reality is threatening. It's always exposing the cracks in our ideas, the cracks in our ignorance, the cracks in our desires. As long as we identify with those make-believe desires, we find that threatening. But if we learn to become real people ourselves, then reality poses no dangers.

This is what the meditation is for, teaching yourself how to be real, to get in touch with what's really going on, to look at your sense of who you are and take it apart in terms of what it really is, to look at the things that you find threatening in your life and see what they really are. When you really look, you see the truth. If you're true in your looking, the truth appears.

This is an important principle in the practice. [...] Only people who are true can see the truth. Truth is a quality of the mind that doesn't depend on figuring things out or being clever. It depends on having integrity in your actions and in your powers of observation, accepting the truth as it is. It means accepting the fact that you play a role in shaping that truth, so you have to be responsible. You have to be sensitive both to what you're doing and to the results you get, so that you can learn to be more and more skillful.

Excerpted from Thanissaro Bhikkhu's Dhamma Talk: Get Real

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On May 29, 2016 Caroline Blackwell wrote:

Recently, I went through the difficult experience of learning that I needed a breast biopsy. During the two weeks leading up the procedure, I was consumed with fear; I had a hard time concentrating, felt panicky, confused, out-of-control... I entertained lots of worst case imaginings.  The fear was real, but the stories I constructed of its energy were not.  After the biopsy, I sat with the radiologist and talked with her about what "really" would happen, from that point forward. I determined what I could do, what I would do...with real information; I faced down my fear-based imaginings and consolidated a more response-able, self-connected consciousness about the situation. A plan emerged that allowed me breathe in hope, clarity, and strength--no matter what.  Through this experience, I (re)learned several lessons and practices about being and keeping it "real."  They include the following: 1. Voice matters. The more I tried to "silence" my  See full.

Recently, I went through the difficult experience of learning that I needed a breast biopsy. During the two weeks leading up the procedure, I was consumed with fear; I had a hard time concentrating, felt panicky, confused, out-of-control... I entertained lots of worst case imaginings.  The fear was real, but the stories I constructed of its energy were not. 

After the biopsy, I sat with the radiologist and talked with her about what "really" would happen, from that point forward. I determined what I could do, what I would do...with real information; I faced down my fear-based imaginings and consolidated a more response-able, self-connected consciousness about the situation. A plan emerged that allowed me breathe in hope, clarity, and strength--no matter what. 

Through this experience, I (re)learned several lessons and practices about being and keeping it "real."  They include the following: 1. Voice matters. The more I tried to "silence" my fear with silence, the stronger it became. 2. Thoughts are things.  It sounds trite, but a vital portion of the way we inhabit our worlds is first constructed in our minds. Call it attitude; call it faith, call it what you will.  3. Love is power. If a quality of fear is disconnection from what is "real," an antidote to fear is love. Love has been defined as uniting that which appears separate; and as such, love is an act of courage in itself. 

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On May 26, 2016 dbracey wrote:

 I agree you do play a key vital role the truth. And in order to be truthful you have to practice.



On May 24, 2016 Alia wrote:

Beautifully said .. If you're true in your looking, the truth appears.

 
You can see the truth only by becoming that truth. And by becoming truth you are no longer divided and thus no more afraid. We have to learn how to look..  


1 reply: Aj | Post Your Reply
On May 23, 2016 Indira Iyer wrote:

 Most of what we "know" to be "real" is still continuously being proven wrong;whether it is science or our own perceptions, there are countless examples. We see the world as "we are" and not for "what it is" including other people and inanimate objects. Hence, putting a condition on fear based on our own faulty perception of what is real is still a question to me. What is real, is how we seem to perceive and experience (assuming we are not mystics who can see reality for what it is). Hence, if our notion of reality itself is constantly evolving why worry about what is real, hence why worry about fear at all. Accept fear when it arises, for within it lies truth of some experience that is about to unfold and reveal your truth, but do not buy into it- many of those emanate from our mind and are made of illusions and arise out of impermanence. When we accept the fact that it is ok to be fearful but not act out of it, we are forever free from the  See full.

 Most of what we "know" to be "real" is still continuously being proven wrong;whether it is science or our own perceptions, there are countless examples. We see the world as "we are" and not for "what it is" including other people and inanimate objects. Hence, putting a condition on fear based on our own faulty perception of what is real is still a question to me. What is real, is how we seem to perceive and experience (assuming we are not mystics who can see reality for what it is). Hence, if our notion of reality itself is constantly evolving why worry about what is real, hence why worry about fear at all. Accept fear when it arises, for within it lies truth of some experience that is about to unfold and reveal your truth, but do not buy into it- many of those emanate from our mind and are made of illusions and arise out of impermanence. When we accept the fact that it is ok to be fearful but not act out of it, we are forever free from the need to qualify what is real and what isn't.

 

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On May 22, 2016 david doane wrote:

In this life, all that is is temporary, constantly changing, and uncertain; we are different yet one; we are of this planet and not on it.  A big part of becoming real is to learn and accept those facts of life and live accordingly.  Real people don't fight, deny, or ignore the facts.  Real people may not be in harmony with everyone but are in harmony with life.  Real people see what is rather than seeing their own thinking, expectations, prejudices.  I am able to get in touch with what is real for me when I look inside to my own feelings, my own experience, my own intuition, and not just go along with what is said to be real.  What I am seeing or feeling is my truth.  What helps me is to accept and value my truth.  What also helps me is to be open, express my truth and listen to the response of others, which process modifies my position and I learn and grow.



On May 20, 2016 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 Seeing ourselves as we are and seeing others as  they are is not that easy although it is liberating. We wear lenses of our desires, wants and biases to see ourselves and others.Our lenses need to be clean and clear to see the reality or the truth. The truth liberates us from the delusions, maya, we create within our own selves.It is like chasing the mirage. No wonder why we go through ups and downs in our life. Sitting quietly in a meditative way helps me to see things more clearly and dispels my delusion. I cause my own suffering by projecting my own wishes and desire and seeing things the way I want to. It has resulted in pain and agony. I attribute my suffering to the other person in my life with a blaming stance. What has helped me and still helps me is sitting still to listen to my unfiltered voice and seeing the truth. Such mindfulness processing frees me from my self-created bondage and makes me whole and wholesome. I always set aside time for awakening myself. This  See full.

 Seeing ourselves as we are and seeing others as  they are is not that easy although it is liberating. We wear lenses of our desires, wants and biases to see ourselves and others.Our lenses need to be clean and clear to see the reality or the truth. The truth liberates us from the delusions, maya, we create within our own selves.It is like chasing the mirage. No wonder why we go through ups and downs in our life. Sitting quietly in a meditative way helps me to see things more clearly and dispels my delusion.

I cause my own suffering by projecting my own wishes and desire and seeing things the way I want to. It has resulted in pain and agony. I attribute my suffering to the other person in my life with a blaming stance. What has helped me and still helps me is sitting still to listen to my unfiltered voice and seeing the truth. Such mindfulness processing frees me from my self-created bondage and makes me whole and wholesome. I always set aside time for awakening myself. This mindfulness meditation helps me to remain centered and grounded.

May we  all find some time everyday to be with ourselves mindfully to see the truth for awakening..

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave


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