Sunday, June 19, 2011

Common Sense about Fear

The opening chapter of Pema Chodron's book When Things Fall Apart is very valuable as a clear-eyed, very human look at fear.

"Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth." Chodron, the American Buddhist nun, says that any spiritual journey through unknown lands, such as sitting for hours in silent meditation, will naturally evoke fear.

The present moment, so important in Buddhist practice, is "a pretty vulnerable place," she writes. To be alone in silence, without a reference point, is to experience groundlessness. And so anyone who attempts such meditation needs to be cautious and able to tap into the courage of someone like Chodron.

When you encounter fear, she says, consider yourself lucky; it gives you a chance to push through a basic human emotion and act anyway.

As one who has experienced many fears, and been restricted by some of them, I welcome this chapter, "Intimacy with Fear," as well as any advice by those who have been there and are not reluctant to talk about their experience with fear.

I value the courage of spiritual seekers in any tradition who take great emotional risks on their journeys.

No comments: