On working with fear

Mary Lu, and other lovely ladies, put my agitated mind at rest. I take the swami's advice to heart.

Harmless amusement. Mary Lu, and other lovely ladies, put my agitated mind at rest. I take the swami’s advice to heart. This photo is from an Arizona Photo Events shoot.

I have worked with fear all my life. The work has involved reading, workshops, meditation, and, I assume, one-sided conversations with divine beings. I still have a lot to learn.

While many, many books address fear, I have four that are specific to it. They vary in their level of abstraction and in their general tone. I find all of them daunting.

Swami Yogananda, early in his little pamphlet, refers to the superconscious. That subject remains a complete mystery to me. Chögyam Trungpa writes about the sun in our head. He wrote that the effect is that it brings natural intelligence to how we organize our world. Natural intelligence appeals to me, but it remains a mystery.

Krishnamurti traces the existence of fear to thought itself. He taught that thought is responsible for both fear and pleasure. He said thought is not to be trusted—a frequent message in this type of literature. He said we must put thought into its proper role and place. I remain largely mystified. He taught that pursuing pleasure provides a channel for fear to access us.

Pema Chödrön writes about working with fear in her aptly named book Taking the Leap. She is also the speaker on the audio tape titled When Things Fall Apart. I need to hear it again.

If you are unable to dislodge by conscious will a haunting fear of ill health or of failure, keep on diverting your attention by reading interesting books that absorb your attention; or even indulge in harmless amusements. Then the mind will forget to haunt itself with fear.—Paramahansa Yogananda

The teachers tell us we must develop unconditional self-acceptance. I take this to mean that I must accept myself even when I am frightened. Those are the times I need harmless amusements.

These are the books featured in this post:

  • Taking the Leap, Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, Pema Chödrön
  • Smile at Fear, Awakening the True Heart of Bravery, Chögyam Trungpa
  • On Fear, J. Krishnamurti
  • Living Fearlessly, Bringing Out Your Inner Soul Strength, Paramahansa Yogananda

I welcome your point of view. Please share your experience.

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