Posts Tagged fear
For using nostalgia in meditation in a practical manner, I see it like this: Richard Rose used to say that guilt is a mixture of fear and nostalgia, fear being we’re afraid of being punished for the act that brought on the guilt, and nostalgia being the longing for the relatively innocent state we were in before the act. Think of it in terms of a lifetime. We may feel guilty about having lived what we come to see as a meaningless life, or an unfulfilled one. The fear manifesting as the fear of being punished for our life asleep, of not being awakened, of wasting our chance. We will die, and not know why we lived, perhaps have to pay karma for our mistakes, and just the plain old fear of death, the unknown. The nostalgia would be from the longing for our innocent state before life affected us, such as the innocent state of a baby. We didn’t have problems or even an identity then, and sense it was better. Especially if we have children or have been around babies, we can pick this up.
Nostalgia is the key to using emotion to find our way back to our original state. If we only use the mind and the imagination in our search, it becomes dry and hollow. The emotional element is brought in by the nostalgic mood; it lends a direction, a practicality, and a motivating factor missing from the head only approach.
- Bob Fergeson
When one begins the process of looking at oneself, many hitherto unknown facets of personality begin to appear. At first we may wish to think the meditative process itself has created these behavior patterns, but soon enough we come to see that our previous state of sleep was greater than we wished to admit. If we keep at our practice long enough, we will begin to see that certain states of mind are behind the newly discovered patterns, and may be shocked to discover our true motives in day-to-day-life. When these facts come to light, the first reaction may be to sort the behaviors into good and bad categories, and then set ourselves to the grim task of removing the negative while accenting the good. In other words, the ego will start a campaign of behavior-modification meant to bring us closer to ‘perfection’. Actually this is nothing new, having been going on since birth, but the new found level of awareness gives the ego a new sense of cleverness. It’s going to outwit itself this time, for sure.
When we begin to see the underlying motivation for a negative pattern of behavior is, say, pride, we can hardly resist wanting to counter it by creating a projection of humility or altruism. If we are honest, we may see through this, but be left
wondering if there is another solution. Renewed effort in the form of continued self-observation may take us to the next step. The pride itself could be just an effect, a compensation for an underlying state of fear. As we continue with our observing, we may come to wonder if there is ever an end to all this, if the root cause of our aberrant behavior can be found. If we persevere, we eventually come to the root cause of the fear, a feeling of alienation, the battle of the self with the not-self, the mistaken belief that we are a separate thing. This thing, or body/mind, lives in constant opposition with what it sees as other separate things. The universal has become lost in the particular and forgotten itself. This unnatural situation brings about the sense of anxiety and fear underlying most of our lives.
What now? Here we find ourselves head to head with our very sense of survival, where no ego effort can help. By looking within long enough, we may come to the door of awareness, and with grace and luck, find ourselves beyond the mind. From this new awareness, we come to see the former belief in separateness to be, as John Wren-Lewis puts it, ‘some kind of inflation or hyperactivity of the psychological survival-system’. We will also come to see the futility in putting new and improved patterns of behavior in compensation for any negative ones. The old Zen warning against putting a new head on top of the one we already have comes to mind.
All negative patterns of behavior can be traced back to the ‘I am the body’ idea, the feeling of alienation. Our natural state has no sense of separateness, for it contains all. Trying to fix an ego problem with an ego effort is doomed to failure, for as Wren-Lewis again states, ‘the underlying universal consciousness, with its every-present-moment happiness, peace and wonder, gets shut out ”. True peace can only come from our true self, or universal awareness. The body/mind will then continue to function, but in a sane manner, without the inflated ego-sense as master.
The effort of self-observation is the revealing of the false. Our true nature will remain, and as such, needs no modification. All we can do is to follow the old adage for crossing a busy road: look and listen. If we can see something, anything, it’s not us. In this manner we can come to see we do not exist, yet Are, and Life can become a wonderful thing.
The cycle of desire and fulfillment may seem a trap of monumental proportions, but as all traps built in the framework of the mind, it has no inherent reality. Let’s take a look at this cycle of desire, fear, and fulfillment, and how an ache of the heart turned within is our release.
We see that if we want something and then get it, we feel better. After years of this cycle, we fall for the trick of believing that getting what we want is what life is about. And what would make us happy would be getting what we want, when we want it, all the time. We fail to look closer and see what has really taken place. Fulfilling desire simply puts it to sleep, and leaves us in the state of no-desire. It causes no fundamental change, and sows the seeds for our future discontent. If we saw behind the circumstance, we would see that the state of no desire, or pre-desire, is what we long for, and would no longer move from it out into the dual dimension of pleasure and pain, the so-called reality of life. This state of peace has been there all along as our true nature, lying much closer than any pleasure object of the world. But this peace is not peace of mind. The mind is motion, and does not manifest in stillness. This state of no-desire is stillness itself, beneath and primal to mind, and is our rest.
This trap of desire and its fulfillment also involves forgetting. We forget we are fulfilled as we really are, within, and thus move away through temptation and trickery. Not from being pushed, but from being fooled. We have become mesmerized by the world and its sensations, and have forgotten the peace that lies within. A potent cocktail, equal parts faulty memory and a profound propensity towards fantasy and projection, mixed with fear of unfulfilled desire and death, topped off with a passion for grabbing onto everything that feels good, keeps us on the endless loop of turning our attention out into the world for fulfillment, coming back into ourselves to rest, and then going back out again. We have become identified with the world and it’s dual nature, and have forgotten we are complete and forever in the state of fulfillment within, our true home. We are not an animal at heart, though we have come to believe this.
This leads to the longing of nostalgia and how we confuse the circumstances of our childhood events with a purer state within that was also present at the time. It is innocence and lack of guilt that we truly long for, a state before temptation and the chasms of the mind led us out into duality. We long for our childhood or nostalgic scenes, not because these props and times can provide peace, but because our inner state at the time was one of peace. We paint this inner state onto the scenery and confuse the two, fooled again. We mistake the event for the feeling, much as we do the act of fulfillment of desire with the state of no-desire. Nostalgia in its pure spiritual state is not the desire to live in a root-beer commercial, which might be nice, but the longing of our heart for its true state of oneness. Our inherent inner peace passeth all understanding, for to ego and mind, it’s completely unbelievable.
Our garden can become infested with bugs and weeds if we have copped out of all responsibility towards it through a belief that everything is fine, simply because we don’t want to put the time and effort needed to actually do a bit of gardening. This applies also to our inner world, the garden of the mind. We can believe that every thought that happens along in our heads is our thought, so it must be okay: we thought it. This combination of laziness and pride is trouble. We tend to unquestionably believe our own thought, but if we did a little unbiased observation of the inside of our heads, we may see that these thoughts are not only not ours, but some do not even have our best interest at heart.
In our garden, we would never assume that every bug and pest that comes through is a good thing, or us. That would lead to a sad state of affairs: no more garden. If we never question our own thinking, never look at our own motivations, desires, and actions, if there’s nothing to control these through a system of honest intelligence, then any mental ‘bug’ can come through and take up residence, and since we have denied all responsibility for the inner domicile through our assuming that we’re perfect, these bugs can make themselves at home. This infestation could be likened to a disease, not only harmful but infectious. It can spread from one to another, and much like a politically correct special interest or fad of the time, become accepted and even encouraged.
Much talk has been heard through the ages about ‘changing the world’, usually declared by the young or ambitious. The starting point for this change is never in the advocate, but always in the other guy. In order to change the world, each person must weed and debug their own garden by taking responsibility for their own thinking. The thinking can’t be allowed to go unquestioned, and assumed to be always right just because it’s us, our beloved specialness, the ego. We may be obsessed, fanatical, unhealthy, detached, and aggressive to the point of ruining our lives and those of others, but since it’s us, we assume that it’s all okay. We don’t take responsibility for our own thinking/feeling processes and their resulting actions. Hypocrisy may be the order of the day with politicians, professional athletes, and movie stars, but those professing change for the better had best start closer to home and make their own bed first.
Tension can be a good thing, it keeps us from getting too lazy and helps to revitalize. But tension should be used so that it maintains balance, holds a middle road rather than the extremes of the right or left. If people insist they’re ‘better than’ or ‘special’ and their particular vested interests are better than or special than anyone else’s, this tends to remove them from the domain of nature and her guiding force, as well as from common sense. If removed from tension or swung too far to one side or the other by getting their way too often, they can be rendered unhealthy and unfit, leading to even more misery for the human race, the planet, and themselves.
Some environmentalists have advocated a complete hands-off policy towards the environment by mankind, as if we as humans were not a part of nature. This ‘special’ thinking, that we as humans are somehow better, or much worse, than the rest of nature encourages pride and the thinking we’re above it all. It’s twin is the apathetic’s
‘why bother’, a form of laziness. A hands-off policy of pride that we’re above nature or a ‘why bother it doesn’t matter’ lethargy hands the bugs and weeds free rein; the garden falls into disarray and disease. Our personal mind functions in the same manner as that of society’s. By believing in a hands off policy towards our own thinking just because it’s us or from sheer mental laziness, encourages de-evolution and decay. The ego cops out in either scenario, playing the role of God or lackey.
The dawning in the mind of the truth of our nature, the beginning glimmers of seeing things as they really are within, cannot take root in a barren or weed-choked mind. The first step to mental and emotional freedom lies in clearing the field, not declaring anything and everything there either holy, ‘special’, or not worth the bother.