Fear is the guardian of ignorance. Ignorance is the root of suffering. Most of us do not know what to do about our fears, so we allow them to dictate the shape of our lives – keeping us separate from the deepest truth of our own nature. However, if we can learn to stand inside of our fears, we can begin to master our fear responses and move deeper into ourselves, revealing that which is hidden from view.
The journey into and beyond the concept of enlightenment is, among other things, a journey of fear, bravery, love, acceptance, and surrender that plays out over and over and over again, until we have shed enough of our fear to fully accept the truth of who and what we are – leading to the ultimate surrender of the illusory self into the stream of consciousness from which all things arise.
This is not the same as awakening, it is the end game of the awakening process. Awakening is an invitation to step into the truth of our oneness, but it requires us to deepen into the awakened experience to fully understand what it is that we have stepped into. This is why so much of what arises within the awakened experience is so challenging, if your path includes true liberation.
The journey into the experience of no self is not an easy journey to take – which is why so few find their way into it. The road to liberation has many distractions – fear is one of these. In fact, almost all spiritual traps can, in one or more ways, be tied back into a particular aspect or facet of fear. The fear of missing out on something better, the fear of doing something wrong, even the fear of fear itself.
To better understand this mechanism, we must recognize that fear comes in two primary flavors, with many varying levels of subtlety between them and around them…
One is the bio-physiological process of reacting to an immediate physical threat. For instance, a snake jumping out of the bushes, lunging at you. This event engages the innate fight or flight system that has allowed human beings to survive thus far. There is nothing wrong with this type of fear. It is a part of our natural response system as biological entities experiencing a perceptual reality.
The other kind of fear, emotional fear, is the fear that traps us in separation and division. This is the fear that we encounter within ourselves as certain thought-forms arise within the confusion of the conditioned mind. It is ego-generated fear used as a protective blanket to keep us safe from the pains of our past and from the potential reemergence of that pain in a projected future.
When emotional fear arises within us it becomes an all-consuming cloud of darkness that blinds us to our way out of it; much like a sandstorm that never ends. Because we tend to hide from our fears, the darkness just gets deeper, darker, harder to perceive, and harder to escape. Layer upon layer of fear isolates us from ourselves, from each other, and from the essence of all being.
The only way out is to stop running. One must learn to look deeply into the self in order to find the light that will illuminate the darkness and dislodge the roots of fear that keep us trapped. As we strip away each layer of accumulated fear, new realizations arise, and the veil of ignorance becomes a bit thinner. With each new level of surrender, we learn to shine our light more brightly – and more fear is revealed.
Eventually there is no darkness remaining; nothing left to fear. There is only the light, shining brightly – leading us into the spaciousness beyond the mind where we return to our true nature as beings of infinite love, able to live in harmony with the perfection of all things as they are, flowing, as one, with the effortless way of being. This is the hallmark of true self-mastery.
The journey into, through, and beyond our fears, can be taken in many different ways, for there are many different methods. The method described here includes five dimensions of healing that work together as one; learning to love and trust ourselves and honor our own journey, to practice mindfulness and meditation, to face and let go of our pain, to pay attention to synchronicity, and to be wary of our traps.
These steps, when taken with radical inner-intensity and radical self-honesty, lay the groundwork for the final stages of transformation. By this point, the patterns of progression are clear – the true purpose of suffering has been fully revealed as the gift that leads us home, back into ourselves, back into the one self, and finally, beyond all notions of self entirely. Yes, even fear is a gift that tilts us toward liberation.
Fear is not the enemy – nor is it your friend. It is simply the perfect harmony of motion playing itself out – drawing the version of you that believes it is someone deeper into the play between form and formless, between being and nonbeing, between existence and non-existence. Fear leads to freedom once it is seen through and no longer guards the veil of ignorance from your prying eyes.
But you must learn to stand in it first… to stand inside your fear, unflinching and unyielding. It is the only way home…