“We habitually erect a barrier called blame that keeps us from communicating genuinely with others, and we fortify it with our concepts of who’s right and who’s wrong. We do that with the people who are closest to us and we do it with political systems, with all kinds of things that we don’t like about our associates or our society.
It is a very common, ancient, well-perfected device for trying to feel better. Blame others….Blaming is a way to protect your heart, trying to protect what is soft and open and tender in yourself. Rather than own that pain, we scramble to find some comfortable ground.”
~ Pema Chödrön
Fear. Blame. Doubt.
The air is heavy with it this week. I can feel it. I can almost taste it.
It’s somewhat claustrophobic to an empath to be surrounded in this overwhelming fog so pervasive in our nation right now. On one side there is celebration—and on the other fear.
I will not choose fear. Nor will I celebrate.
Instead I will choose to observe things as they are, free from the constraints of my limited ego mind, which would have me in a full-fledged panic over everything that I can do nothing about.
Perhaps this is a result of my Buddhist practices, or perhaps it is a result of my emotional growth over the past few years. Of course, I believe the two go hand in hand. I do not think I would be where I am, in a state of relative emotional freedom, had it not been for the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism, and my daily meditation practices.
Fear controlled me for too long. Most of my life really. And to break free, I had to unlearn fear. Fear shows me that I am not in faith. Fear shows me that I am insecure about something, and that I am not trusting the process. If I believe in a God or Supreme Being, or even a divine artist, and I am in fear, that means I don’t trust said higher being.
In Western society, we are taught to fear the unknown, change, death, loss and pain. Yet all these things are natural and inevitable facts of life. When we stop fearing them and instead embrace the impermanence and uncontrollable nature of everything that exists, we suddenly find that fear no longer controls us anymore.
And that is freedom.
When we fear the shadows and refuse to look at them, they only grow in their power over us. For me, this is exactly what Donald Trump represents right now—the collective shadow of the United States. And you know what? That shadow has now had a big, glaring light shone upon it. It’s time to see just what big, bad monsters are hiding there.
I’m willing to bet that they’re not as scary as we try to tell ourselves they are. More importantly, if we don’t get in there and start looking around this dark underbelly of America, now been shown to the world, we can’t move on from it. We have to go through the proverbial sh*t to get to the goods on the other side. We can’t build a bridge and we can’t go around it. So it’s time for all of us to gear up, suit up, show up and band together to wade through the cesspool of our shadow in order to move on.
As we move forward, I hope these words may bring you comfort and strength as they do for me. It’s okay to feel afraid, just don’t let it consume you.
It is my hope that these quotes, which have served as a source of inspiration on my quest for freedom, will also encourage you to stare your fears in the face and explore them. Ask yourself, “Can I do anything about this, or am I just future-tripping?” Are we wasting precious time in the present living in fear of whatever scenarios our minds are creating?
If so, let’s stop now!
“We are very afraid of being powerless. But we have the power to look deeply at our fears, and then fear cannot control us.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
May we all look deeply at our fears and discuss them openly without shame. May we all process through the irrational and the rational alike, and find a connection from our common humanity.
“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
~ Pema Chödrön
Let us not collapse and back away, shutting down in fear. Let us instead hold one another by the hand as we step forward together. Let us find the collective lesson in this fear so many of us feel.
“The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
This is where our healing begins! We can ask ourselves, “Can I move forward into the unknown?”
“The presence of fear means only that fear is present, and nothing more.”
~ Suzanne Segal
That’s it. It’s that simple. It only becomes more when we allow it to become more. Try admitting, “I am afraid,” and then examine why. See what happens as you talk through it.
“Self-grasping creates self-cherishing, which in turn creates an ingrained aversion to harm and suffering. However, harm and suffering have no objective existence; what gives them their existence and their power is only our aversion to them. When you understand this, you understand then that it is our aversion that attracts to us every negativity and obstacle that can possibly happen to us, and fills our lives with nervous anxiety, expectation, and fear.
Wear down that aversion by wearing down the self-grasping mind and its attachment to a nonexistent self, and you will wear down any hold on you that any obstacle and negativity can have. For how can you attack someone or something that is just not there? Try hard not to create too much hope and fear, for they only engender more mental gossip.”
~ Sogyal Rinpoche
I couldn’t say it any better myself. Of course, how could I manage to say it better than a Rinpoche monk?
There’s no need to suffer. There’s no need to fear.
We can move forward collectively. We can evolve to greatness and to love, but we have to choose it in the face of fear.
I see each and everyone of you. I feel you. You are not alone.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte
Editor: Toby Israel