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Fearlessness can Coexist with Fear

--by Gil Fronsdal (Feb 03, 2014)


In meditation and in mindfulness practice, we are learning to replace fear with trust, not as an ideal or abstraction, but as a sense of self-confidence that arises from coming to know fear well. Many people have a fear of fear, a tremendous aversion to it, and don't allow themselves to enter into it fully. If we simply allow ourselves to fully experience our fear, eventually we learn that we can do so without being overwhelmed by it. Trust develops, not from willing ourselves to trust, but from discovering for ourselves that we can be present for our experience and not overwhelmed by it.

Many of us have been convinced, by our society, by our own experiences in life, and by our own logic, that we cannot trust our own natural state of being. We turn away from ourselves and our experiences. In mindfulness practice we are learning not to destroy or control our feelings, but to discover them and be present with them. We begin to see how they work when we enter fully into them and give them room. We begin to see how we create our emotional lives and reactions.

In this process, we learn to trust awareness and direct presence more and more deeply. As we explore the layers of our fear, our trust expands into wider and wider circles of who we are. The process of awakening can be understood as ever-widening circles of trust. Awakening occurs when trust becomes all-pervasive. 

We can learn to trust awareness, to trust being alive, without props, crutches, views or opinions. In the Buddhist tradition, such people are known as dispellers of fear. They give the gift of fearlessness. Fearlessness is not necessarily the absence of fear. It is a positive quality that can exist side by side with fear, overcoming the limitations arising out of fear. Such fearlessness can be a profound gift to the people around us. In developing the capacity to be fearless, we do it not only for ourselves, but for others as well.

-- Gil Fronsdal, in The Issue at Hand


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18 Previous Reflections:

 
On May 13, 2014 Blessings wrote:

 Everything happens for a reason, it seems.  Good . . . Bad . . . Or a mixture of both.  Since there is good and bad in all things/people, we can just about expect to see "a mix" of possible outcomes/reactions.
The farmer showed wisdom in responding, "maybe".  The farmer is essentially saying, "God is God and I am not."  (May His will be done.)
The person making a prediction of good and/or bad, "plays god".  (Here's how my will was done.)






On Feb 5, 2014 Sir Michael the Just wrote:

 
During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control. In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived - everyone except the Zen master. Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was. When he wasn't treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger. "You fool," he shouted as he reached for his sword, "don't you realize you are standing before a man who could run you through without blinking an eye!" But despite the threat, the master seemed unmoved. "And do you realize," the master replied calmly, "that you are standing before a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?" - See more at: http://truecenterpublishing.com/zenstory/nofear.html#sthash.EolXjjA5.dpuf



1 reply: Mish | Post Your Reply
On Feb 4, 2014 Raghu wrote:

 From my experience attachment contains fear in it. When insecurity arise within us fear start dominating. Best way to understand this concept in deep meditation those insecurity, attachment arises and also fear which you can understand and observing without any judgement those emotions evaporate and you feel fearlessness and over a practice of mindfullness and awareness fearlessness will be more.....



On Feb 4, 2014 Alan wrote:

 This was beautifully right on.



On Feb 4, 2014 Donna wrote:

 I think fear and fearlessness are two sides of  one



2 replies: Bob, Mish | Post Your Reply
On Feb 4, 2014 Amy wrote:

 The ultimate Gift Giver of this would be God.  Since I have been told (the words) "Do Not Be Afraid" can be found  in the bible 365 times!   This tells me, by the POWER He invests in me, He wishes me to invest in Him in attempt to face my fears, His way . . . FEARLESSLY.  
My DNA and childhood experience lean heavily to the fearful end of the "Fear Spectrum".  In calling on The Name of my Father, my Brother and Their Fearless Spirit, I've been able to find a "functional medium".  Certainly not perfect in this, I am MUCH LESS fearful with the knowledge I am not alone.  Those of Heaven are as close as I keep them.  Always      



On Feb 4, 2014 Mish wrote:
FACING my fear...I am empowered...... to live with COURAGE & not be a "PRISONER".....

3 replies: Amy, Mish, Always | Post Your Reply
On Feb 1, 2014 david doane wrote:

 Fearlessness as the author seems to use it is to not be afraid of my fear or any of my feelings.  I can be fearful and not be fearful of my fear, which adds another layer.  It's important to remember that my fear and all my feelings are mine, are part of me, are my experience for me to attend to, explore, listen to, learn from rather than deny or disown as I am more likely to do if I fear them.  The personal examples that come to mind are times I went ahead and did something even though I was afraid.  I didn't feel afraid of my fear -- I didn't like my fear and didn't know how to dissolve or let go of it, and I went ahead and took action while feeling it.  I think I could have done better if I weren't fearful, but I did go ahead and not stop myself because of the fear, and I do think of that as courageous.  Not being afraid of my fear seems to make it easier to take action that I fear but it doesn't seem to lessen my fear.  Taking action even t  See full.

 Fearlessness as the author seems to use it is to not be afraid of my fear or any of my feelings.  I can be fearful and not be fearful of my fear, which adds another layer.  It's important to remember that my fear and all my feelings are mine, are part of me, are my experience for me to attend to, explore, listen to, learn from rather than deny or disown as I am more likely to do if I fear them.  The personal examples that come to mind are times I went ahead and did something even though I was afraid.  I didn't feel afraid of my fear -- I didn't like my fear and didn't know how to dissolve or let go of it, and I went ahead and took action while feeling it.  I think I could have done better if I weren't fearful, but I did go ahead and not stop myself because of the fear, and I do think of that as courageous.  Not being afraid of my fear seems to make it easier to take action that I fear but it doesn't seem to lessen my fear.  Taking action even though I'm afraid seems to slowly lessen my fear. 

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On Jan 31, 2014 Ganoba wrote:

 Fear gets an entry where ignorance exists. Fear goes with awareness. If we observe fear and not run away from it, we will notice its message, Fear indicates that we are entering a new situation and we need to deal with it in a new way. old methods will not do. They will get us into trouble. So fearlessness is really being fully aware, being fully present.



On Jan 31, 2014 Linesh wrote:

 When you are in love with life, when you like the world given to you, when you are friends with everyone, fearlessness seeps into life.courage is antidote of fear, fearlessness is natural to absence of animosity in life.   When we love others,we give them gift of communicating without fear.   However when our love produces an attachment with others we fear losing them.Attachment breeds fear.   I was fearless in life in friendliness, I have been fearful of losing those dear ones i am attached to.  See full.

 When you are in love with life, when you like the world given to you, when you are friends with everyone, fearlessness seeps into life.courage is antidote of fear, fearlessness is natural to absence of animosity in life.

 
When we love others,we give them
gift of communicating without fear.
 
However when our love produces an attachment with others we fear losing them.Attachment breeds fear.
 
I was fearless in life in friendliness,
I have been fearful of losing those dear ones i am attached to.

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On Jan 31, 2014 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:

 This Fronzdal article is outstanding. After reading this I feel I  fear my fear a bit less. Fearlessness  means that it is easier for me to accept myself as I am with my flaws, more easily. Many of my experiences with others include fear and fearlessness. I fear that I will not be liked if others found out who I really am, and on the other hand, I find some acceptance that it's okay not to be liked as much as I want to be liked. Sharon Begley, Reuters science writer, and psychiatrist Schwartz say: “Through mindfulness you can stand outside your own mind as if you are watching what is happening to another person rather than experiencing it herself….Mindfulness requires direct willful effort, and the ability to forge those practicing it to observe their sensations and thoughts with a calm clarity of an external witness….One views his thoughts, feelings, and expectations much as a scientist views experimental data - - that is, as a natural phenomena to  See full.

 This Fronzdal article is outstanding. After reading this I feel I  fear my fear a bit less. Fearlessness  means that it is easier for me to accept myself as I am with my flaws, more easily. Many of my experiences with others include fear and fearlessness. I fear that I will not be liked if others found out who I really am, and on the other hand, I find some acceptance that it's okay not to be liked as much as I want to be liked. Sharon Begley, Reuters science writer, and psychiatrist Schwartz say: “Through mindfulness you can stand outside your own mind as if you are watching what is happening to another person rather than experiencing it herself….Mindfulness requires direct willful effort, and the ability to forge those practicing it to observe their sensations and thoughts with a calm clarity of an external witness….One views his thoughts, feelings, and expectations much as a scientist views experimental data - - that is, as a natural phenomena to be noted, investigated, reflected on and learned from.  Viewing one’s own inner experience as data allows (one) to become, in essence, his own experimental subject.” Through using their idea, one can be highly afraid yet calmly say to themselves in a semi-unafraid manner: "I notice I'm afraid."

Thanks for the opportunity to respond. Warm and kind regards to everyone.
 
 

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