I gave a talk recently titled, “Moving through Fear and Liberating Happiness.” I pointed out three things we may do when we are dominated by fear:
First, we may become more compliant, more willing to surrender our rights for vague promises of safety.
Second, we may withdraw either into our “tribe” or into a sense of hopelessness about our lives.
Third, we become more security-oriented, less open to new possibilities, viewing out future through the lens of fear or hopelessness.
When we focus on the negative, as I do when I Google “Trump Russia” at every opportunity, we inevitably end up exaggerating the potentially threatening parts of our lives. Out of the urgent need to survive, I may compromise my commitment to acting compassionately toward myself and others, overlooking my interdependence with everyone and everything.
Fear, when not named, narrows our vision, shuts down intuition as well as ability to be reflective, and promotes violence. Zen practice is not only about meditating. It’s about both having the courage to name our fears and insecurities and share them with a trusted spiritual friend. Time after time I have supported students in naming their fears and watched how this unburdening has freed them up to be fully present in their moments and their lives. This is what the 13th century Zen teacher Dogen calls, “enlightening our delusion.” If you are a member of our Zen Center you might want to develop an ongoing relationship with a teacher who may help you in this process. There are six of us who are ready, willing, and able to give you support on an ongoing basis. And if you are part of another sangha, you may want to develop a relationship with the teacher(s) there.
Tim Burkett, Guiding Teacher