Crawling out of the Dead Sea,
Glittering Spring water.
一Zen Master Soen Nakagawa
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
一Frank Herbert Dune
Fear is one of the most primal sensations that originates from the survival instincts of our mind. When left unchecked, it can unfold and create inner storms that mimic authentic emotions. Fear roots itself deep within us, coloring our perceptions and experiences. It causes us to view the world through a lens of anxiety, worry, and negativity, trapping us in fight-or-flight mode where we are constantly on guard. As a result, healthy relationship with ourselves and others is oftentime made more difficult or off the menu altogether.
As Frank Herbert insightfully wrote, "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer." It destroys our ability to manifest traits of our inherent Loving Presence nature, undermining our ability to fully engage with life. Fear imprisons us within the walls of our own mind, cutting us off from our True Nature within the present moment.
Yet there is a way out of this darkness. The practice of Zen meditation opens the door to a fearless way of being. Through meditation, we train our minds to remain calm and open, even when anxiety-provoking thoughts and sensations arise. Rather than being swept away by fear, we learn to observe it with equanimity. We do not suppress fear or pretend it doesn't exist. But neither do we allow it to control our state of mind.
As we meditate, we come to see fears as simply patterns of thinking that rise and fall within the spacious clarity of awareness. By training in mindfulness, we deprive fear of its power over us. We realize fears are fleeting mental constructions without the ability to define our innermost essence.
When we meditate, we touch the ground of our being, which is joyful and at ease. From this place of inner calm, we are able to respond to life's challenges with wisdom and compassion rather than unease. We shift from fear-based living to fearlessness.
Meditation allows us to taste our innate Buddha Nature -- our "essential goodness, wisdom and vitality" that lies beneath the surface waves of enegetic sensation and thought. When we stop identifying with passing fears, we experience the freedom and bliss of our true nature. We come to approach life from a place of Love-based living rather than fear.
I began this post with Soen Zenji's poem...
"Crawling out of the Dead Sea,
Glittering Spring water."
In his drawing made of letters and words, the Dead Sea here isn't a geographical location. Soen Zenji is talking about a spiritual practice that supports us crawling out of the Dead Sea of instincual insecurity and negativity, shrinking, invalidating and immoblizing us with its fear and doubt. Entering it through the practice and process of Zen meditation in all of its forms means embracing the unknown, facing our fears, and letting go of fear and insecurity being a dominate influencing force in our life. Through Zazen, we emerge, from our human compost and baggage, with a newfound clarity, a sense of purpose, resoluteness, and a heart directed by our Universal Idenity of Loving Presence.
The more we practice, the more this love-based way of being is integrated into our daily lives. We carry it from the meditation cushion into each moment. An inner peace takes root and grows, acting as an antidote to fear. We find we are able to live with bravery, authenticity and wholehearted compassion.
By continuously returning to the present moment with equinimity, we walk the timeless Zen... Unification... a path and Way of being with life just as it is, instead of is not. While fear may still arise, it no longer defines or holds us back, influencing us to show up small or with unhealthy character traits. We have found a sense of freedom and joy that transcends circumstances. With each breath, each step, we compost, combust and dissolve fear and open to life sourced in auetncity, integrity and harmony with our Values.
一We Are the Practice Itself
Calligraphy note: 無恐怖 (MūKyōfu) means, being without fear, and so therefore able to live fully as Universal Loving Presence as our authentic identity.