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 Sitting through the smoke of fear.

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PostSubject: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Tue Nov 20, 2012 2:34 pm

"Out of fear, even the good harm one another" -Rev. Dazui MacPhillamy

I wanted to talk for a minute about sitting though fear.

You know "I vow to undergo the rule of training, so that I may teach myself to refrain from: fear."

Really should be the 11'th precept.

Fear does almost as much harm when indulged as anger does from my experience.

As a person who gets regular fear and terror coming up in my sitting, including what I would call "liquid fear" (to the point of not being able to move, barely),

I don't have a lot of pity for people who indulge it. (fear)
Compassion, yes, but pity implies I view someone as a victim for getting the consequences of their actions, which I don't.

Well do I know the consequences of indulging fear.

It creates a lot of Karma.

I know, because I've done it myself.
And I've hurt a lot of people and myself indulging fear.

I don't recommend it.
Fear will pass, if you sit with it, just like the smoke of an incense stick burning away.
Eventually the stick burns out and the smoke is no longer there.

Only the slightest hint of the scent remains to remind you that it once was there.

It has no tangibility of it's own.
No matter how insistent, or intense, or urgent fear seems to be, or how it wishes to rationalize itself,
fear, is always going to mislead us.

Its a force that blows us off-center if we indulge it, and we do have a choice to indulge it or not just like anger.

And it creates real harm.

No matter how intense the fear comes up, that does not make what the fear is "saying" true.

We can, actually sit with it, and sit through it. It will pass.

Like I said:

Fear will pass, if you sit with it, just like the smoke of an incense stick burning away.
Eventually the stick burns out and the smoke is no longer there.

Only the slightest hint of the scent remains to remind you that it once was there.

In Gassho,

Sara H
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:19 pm

Quote :
Its a force that blows us off-center if we indulge it, and we do have a choice to indulge it or not just like anger.
Welcome to the forum Sara. Yes, but this is also true of hate, love , compassion etc. if we 'indulge' them. In some ways paradoxically even more so for the positive states and emotions. We can start to think that they are right, just as we can think that the negative ones are wrong. But with the positive ones we can end up thinking that because they are right we must be right too and then begin laying down the law for everyone else..
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:33 am

You're missing the point friend.

I'm not talking about "grasping after" positive "feelings" as an alternative to "avoiding" negative one's.

I'm talking about sitting still, in the midst of emotional turbulence and waiting for that turbulence to pass.

And then seeing what's good to do from a place of stillness, not avoiding one and grasping after what one likes.

If you took that latter for my meaning you completely missed the point.

In Gassho,
-Sara
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:01 pm

I quite agree Sara. I did not wish to imply that this was what you were doing merely try to amplify your point. Mindfulness is the core practice, with its quintessential expression in shikan taza meditation. But even that can descend into grasping after forms - though Howard may apostatise me for saying so!
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:38 pm

It is often interesting to look at how different the descriptions of mindfulness can be between those who are devotional in orientation and those who are meditative. Yes yes yes.. please no more "but I'm both"!

The Absolutes and the fluidity camps seem so far apart.

Fear...Something to overcome or something to accept?

When I do read behind an angry posting, usually fear is looking back.

And yes Mark, since your messin with sacred meditation again, I'll get back to ya just as soon as I find my dictionary & figure out what you said.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:35 am

Howard wrote:
When I do read behind an angry posting, usually fear is looking back.
...And some kind of sadness too, methinks...
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:28 pm

I think some of you are missing Sara's point or making her point more obscure than it is. Seems to me she is saying that when fear arises, don't push it away. Just sit with it and let the fear be there. Bow to it, don't back away from the fear. Eventually it will pass away.

This is a sound teaching that Koshen often expressed. Going back to what I said a few days ago, it is important to distinguish sound, helpful teaching from the abuse of power that certain monks have exercised, facts well documented on OBCC. I don't know how one goes about this, but I totally agree with Mark that a spiritual advisor has a heavy responsibility not to exploit followers, either financially, sexually, or spiritually.

Conveying the message that failure to follow or doubting the master's invincibility as a teacher is the kind of spiritual exploitation that can deeply wound people. Maybe you, too, have been hurt, Sara, but we don't know your story.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Thu Nov 22, 2012 11:22 pm

Carol, yes your right. However there are severe cases where practice is dangerous. It is one of the things that we here have alluded to. It is when the fear, or whatever, is too great and there becomes a danger that the person could be overwhelmed. This is where counselling or psychiatric help becomes more appropriate that sitting. In fact sitting can be positively bad exacerbating the problems rather than helping. It is where it is very important that a persons spiritual mentor has the training to recognise the symptoms and the humility to know their own limitations and advise the person on where to go for help. It is a difficult situation for all concerned as the trainee often denies the depth of their problem and their mentor needs to err on the side of caution. As you know a number of people here have related such experiences and they may have been saved much suffering if their spiritual mentor / teacher had acted differently. It is all to common to find mentors who are so arrogant and misguided that they believe that they know best about everything. If you break a bone you see a doctor, if you can't cope mentally with the rigours spiritual training then you need to see a mental health practitioner and perhaps adopt a different, gentler form of training, or even refrain from training for a while whilst the problem is takled. I am not sure I have put this very well, I am sure that Henry or one of the other forumites with the mental health training I lack could explain it better. Reading Sara's postings again it seems to me that she may have been quite close to that edge, but as I say there are those on the site who are more qualified than me to make that kind of call.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:10 am

Thank you, Mark, for an eloquent explanation. You are absolutely right. I too have seen a situation where fear and confusion exceeded the person's ability to "train" with the chaos, but unfortunately the monks in charge lacked the medical or psychological training to deal with the situation in a responsible way. Maybe this is a form of spiritual exploitation. The master running things assumes that his training qualifies him to know everything about human behavior and he therefore feels he is right to demand unquestioning obedience. It is a perversion of spiritual guidance.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:38 am

A very good discussion, benefiting from everyone's comments (in my opinion):

Sara, Howard, Anne, Carol, and Mark!

I tend to think that fear--or more precisely, existential fear--the fear that arises from the experience of being in existence--lies at the crux of it all.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:42 am

(Of course, there is far more involved than my comment above suggests. I hope that it might contribute to further discussion.)
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 2:20 am

Can someone be a little brave and say actually what they are afraid of.
Are we afraid of our own fear, or something like a bull charging at us?
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:10 am

I fear that the only reason I don't fear is because I've arranged my life to be predictable.

and

I fear that I am unwilling to see how deluded I may be.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:53 am

Thanks Howard.
I find that fear is a prelude to something happening, maybe there is a choice do it or dont do it. When it is do it or go there tends to be dealing and no or little fear.
Our spray room caught fire once,it would have put us out of business,6 of us ran into the flames and eventually put it out when we did put it out we laughed a bit,and I think we were a bit scared at that point but at the start we were not,some were and kept away,which was fair enough.
One of my friends here was standing on beautiful St Ives harbour, when a freak wave hit it and dragged a child into the sea, he jumped in grabbed the child ,they got the child on a line and dragged him in. Then my friend remembered he could not swim, and shouted out for help,he was pulled in, we all laugh about it now but that was incredible bravery he was awarded a bravery medal from the queen.
In daily life I fear the increasing size of timber bills,and dont like having to arrange deliveries in and arrange payments out, and then productions to make sure the money is in position,the money out seems to get bigger all the time, we have to buy larger quantities for larger discounts.That for me is a basic survival fear, no money no food,today in the UK there must be a lot of families scared of how they will get enough money together for their family.

I was in a crazy situation once when a plane I was on caught fire or the engine did. there did not seem to be an escalation of fear among the passengers. the pilot was brilliant,
' We have a small fire and we are descending so we can land..there is nothing to worry about,and we are bringing the situation under control,stay calm and we are doing alright' and then 'we are landing there is no problem please exit on landing' when we landed I have to admit I led the applause for the pilot,we all clapped and cheered..and of cause laughed,and got off pretty quick.
A friend of mine who sat with us in London his brother was a pilot and in thick cloud flew the plane into Mt Teidy in Tenerife,everyone died.
I think we are lucky that we tend to miss life's real horrors like living through the blitz or facing dire circumstances,battening the hatches,which fishermen do down here.Fear can grip you ,and there are so many remarkable ordinary people who are brave everyday,facing pain death and sadness...stick together with friends family and neighbors,look life in the eye and get through somehow hopefully as Buddhists with some compassion and love.

What are we afraid of? I would like to know. Lets chew it up and spit it out.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:59 am

I think that RM Jiyu's fear lies at the root of almost everything we discuss on this forum. And that this fear is, at root, existential in nature.

She, at one point (in a private conversation with me) identified fear itself as the root of the koan. And yet, despite her insight, I don't think that she was able to fully recognize the root causal dynamic of her own fear. I believe this was due, in no small part, to the fact that Buddhism itself does not recognize, or understand, the root causal dynamic of existential crisis--even though Buddhist teaching is the outcome of Shakyamuni's quest to resolve his own existential crisis!

I think that existential fear arises from the experience of being in existence--and coming face to face with change, threat, loss, insufficiency, pain, illness, impairment, adversity, and death--while forgeting that we are nothing but empty, eternal, awareness itself.

I have concluded that our experience of the existential dilemma, and crisis, is not only personal, but collective. It is manifested, most notably (IMO) through our 6,000 to 10,000 year old existential nightmare of empire, conquest, and war.

RM Jiyu's own existential truama and crisis may well have resulted from what appears to have been early childhood-family distress, the trauma of growing up during WWII in England, and the likely trauma of being subjected to Zen bootcamp at Sojiji--resulting in kensho experience--but no healing of existential trauma and crisis itself.

It seems to me that the crux of existential crisis--both personal and collective--lies in the belief that survival and success require an adversarial struggle to dominate and exploit. Because this belief is a misunderstanding of the nature of existence, the way it works, and the requirements for survival and genuine success, acting on this belief guarantees failure. Ironically, the conditions of adversity and failure that result seem to confirm the accuracy of the misunderstanding! In consequence, we then tend to seek solutions to our global-existential crisis by acting ever more desperately to do what causes failure in the first place!

In short, existential fear is not just a personal dynamic, it is a collective dynamic--and a dynamic that Buddhism does not yet seem to fully recognize or understand.


Last edited by Kozan on Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:31 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:04 am

Chisan, great comments above! I saw your post after posting mine.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:48 am

I've been very interested ,Identifying ,recognizing stimulated, reading all this . Sitting in my warm kitchen this morning i have a sense that my walk yesterday is my response , a perfect metaphor ( oh God .....you intellects out there it might be the wrong word, but i think you'll get it ).
i was in the woods next to the sea , and beneath the dark clouds 1000's of geese were gathering to land on the marsh , their noise was overwhelming , eirry.i stood head back to watch their flow and meld of flocks.As they settled i walked on . it began to get dark and the wind was loud and strong , i walked faster calling my dog, out of the undergrowth- telling him their was no time to play .A rich dank smell of vegetation ,wind bashing the mossy tree trunks ,and scattering their leaves and twigs , strange lurking dark shapes, a little fear, but relief at how i can still swing along breathing deeply , stumbling sometimes though . At last out and into steady dusk , but i wanted to just go up a bank at the side to see the north sea , i climbed up and over . the tide was miles out ,the mud and sand gleaming and it was still light out there , luminous sea light ,endless peaceful space , windy , but no threat , a sort of glory - fearful but so beautiful .This morning that space is still with me .
Just seen the subject is changing , so this might have missed the boat , still i'm launching .
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 12:48 pm

This is complex. I’d like to first address the problem of Sara’s interpretation of the perceptual formula “I vow to undertake the rule of training to teach myself to refrain from….” This formula specifically refers to the ten great precepts and the three pure precepts. There is no specific precept that deals with “fear” as being a problem. Since fear is an emotion, it could be assumed to be associated with the emotion “anger” and so substituted for the precept “do not be angry.” There are many complications associated with this particular precept “do not be angry.”

I believe any religious organization that wants to teach their followers about anything having to do with emotions or psychology, should get specific training. Why? Because teaching people that their emotions are bad or teaching people not to feel and emotion such as anger or fear is harmful. To teach the precept “I vow to undertake the rule of training to teach myself to refrain from anger” is harmful, irresponsible, and puts all trainees at risk.
Sara brought up the emotion “fear,” so I will attempt to break this emotion down for you all.

First of all, there are three types of emotions; instrumental, primary, and secondary. The primary and secondary emotions can be either adaptive or maladaptive.

Instrumental emotions are similar to a person’s emotional style and can be unconscious or conscious. For example, a person can learn to use anger as a way of dominating others. Using the example of anger here does imply that one can learn to “refrain” from using it and in fact, this use of this emotion can cause suffering and so it would be good to work on. Working on it though, is a whole other thread and I won’t go into that right now. Fear, however, is NOT an instrumental emotion. It can look like it though in the form of being “scared.” One can use “I’m scared” to gain support or attention and in this way it is manipulative and so would also need to be worked through.

Secondary emotions are felt in reaction to another more core feeling, or a primary emotion. Any emotion can be secondary. Some common examples of this are: anger as a secondary emotion in response to sadness, hurt, or vulnerability, and sadness as a secondary emotion to anger. Where does fear come into this? Fear can be a primary or secondary emotion and can be adaptive or maladaptive.

Primary adaptive fear is essential for survival and we all have this hardwired into us. This is the feeling of imminent danger and prepares us to fight or flee. Even though this feeling is unpleasant, it is important to not push this away. It must be felt and acted on; it must be allowed and accepted.

Primary maladaptive fear is problematic in many ways. If someone experienced trauma or a frightening situation and this was not worked through, that fear can get stuck. That fear is waiting to be processed and becomes sensitive to anything that looks like the original trauma; termed a “trigger” or “triggering event.” The problem here of course is that the trigger is not a real danger, but it produces the original feeling of fear and that feeling can be just as intense as the original primary adaptive fear. In therapy, maladaptive fear must be replaced with an adaptive emotion such as adaptive anger or by a “softer” emotion such as compassion or forgiveness. (Yes, anger can be a healthy, adaptive emotion. More on that later?)

Fear as a secondary emotion does not stem from an imminent external danger or a core emotion. According to Greenberg (2002), secondary fears “arise when people are insecure or anxious that their core feelings of anger, sadness, or weakness might damage their relationships with other people. This results in people trying to avoid experiencing their core feelings” (p. 159). In this case, fear is more complex in that it can be an avoided state and it gets stuck in between the primary and secondary emotions. For example, if a person is trying to work on their secondary anger or rage, the fear (a secondary maladaptive emotion) covers up their core, or primary adaptive emotion of sadness. When working through emotions, we always go through the secondary emotion to get to the core, primary emotion. The secondary emotion is like a window into the primary. But when secondary maladaptive fear (or shame) gets caught in the middle, it takes more work.

I believe Anne said that she felt that sadness was underneath fear. This can also occur. For example, sadness (or despair, or hopelessness) can be the secondary emotion, anger can be the primary, and fear (or shame) can get caught in the middle.

All emotions need to be approached, allowed, and accepted. Emotions inform us. It is impossible to “refrain from” emotions. Any teaching on emotions should include basic education in a healthy, supportive, and validating environment. A good place for the OBC to start would be to educate themselves about emotion and learn how to use the information on themselves first. They stress the importance of using the teaching “in your daily life.” If they want to teach the precepts, they should make sure those precepts can pass the litmus test of the real world. In the case of Sara- Sara, I would suggest that if fear is coming up for you, that should look deeply at this fear and work on it if it is creating problems in your life. It is these kinds of situations that deeply concern me; when trainees come across difficult situations in their training, there needs to be a better system of support for them. My training caused some pretty extreme dysfunctional emotional states. I needed help. When I see others struggling, my heart goes out to them and I pray that they can somehow receive some support.

My original comment on this thread might have seemed strange, so I’ll explain. The fact that Sara can demonstrate the behavior that she did through her posts shows me that the OBC still has a long way to go before it really starts helping people or “ceasing from evil, doing only good, and doing good for others.” I’m sure Sara is a devoted, loyal, and passionate trainee. Even though she may not think that the OBC is responsible for her training or well-being, they are. I hold them responsible for what they teach and if they are still teaching the precepts in ways that are harmful, it is their responsibility to rectify this.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:04 pm

I'm glad to see you have pushed the date back to the beginning of agriculture Kozan clapping
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:20 pm

Fear of playing music live, oh yes.
the golen rules,be well practiced, know the parts,,know anything iffy,then it is a bit ritualistic,sound check and warm up,playing guitar finger exercise and warming up is so vital. And that is all you can do. If nerves or fear creep in,your fingers go.Some musicians have a little alcohol or a lot,some would smoke some weed or do some other stuff,this works in making it seem OK I maybe have a beer ,but 2 beers and my fingers would not move.
If you dont think about it is fine.But fear effects people differently,I played alot of charity gigs and I have had many times the singer look round with a petrified look,which means I forget the words,do a solo! I remember having to play the intro on guitar to girls just wanna have fun,quite a definite intro,I forgot it,no intro no song.I looked at the bass player who just grinned then after a few nice smiles,he walked over and hummed it to me.
One of my friends toured with a big American singer song writer from the 60s,he told me that the band were on stage ready and on time played the intro of a famous song,on walks the singer and sings an entirely different song,the band plays the backing of what should be the first song nobody notices,and then they pick the set up with the second song.
The golden rule is carry on and play,it is a lot like life,in this situation you try hard to play the great solo,to move someone,to touch the right note,and sometimes you do and sometimes you dont. A good lesson for fear suffers and life weary people came from a well known black musician.' Don't worry about it man just play'
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:09 pm

And there's that which fears to speak it's own name.

OK.. maybe it's my name.

Sometimes I think one of the most twisted refuges of a longtime practise is learning how to be "right" with the talk.

Honing unassailable expressions of Dharma but not embodying them.

Creating the ultimate bodyguard for ones identity, embodied with spiritual "speak" that is really just a Teflon coating for the ego.

Just more talk that doesn't walk.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:37 pm

Yes, Howard, how right your are. A trap I fear I too often find myself in. The great modern Cistercian monk Thomas Merton talking in one of his occasional lectures about St John of the Cross's great admonition to 'live in the monastery as if on your own' said words to the effect of 'there are some monks who take this the wrong way and build a shell to keep the monastery out, boy the longer they practice the harder the shell. They're never going to let anything or anybody in. They just sail around the monastery completely untouched by anything. Boy they are going to have a tough time of it when they die and meet someone who is really an expert at breaking down shells!'. It is all to easy to use the precepts or any other positive teaching, (such as living without self) as a shell to hide behind and justify all your behaviour whilst using it beat others with, and prove your superiority. It is the foundation of all the worst forms of fundamentalism.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 12:30 am

Mark, your post above is brilliantly stated (IMO)!

As is yours, Howard (as always!).

OK, Chisan, yours ain't bad either ;-) ! (Actually, brilliant as usual).
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:22 am

glorfindel wrote:
I'm glad to see you have pushed the date back to the beginning of agriculture Kozan clapping

Thanks, glorfindal! Dang, that date by which the dynamic of Empire takes hold on our collective unconscious is slippery indeed!!

6,000 years ago it was full throttle. And yet, as you (implicitly) say, without the shift from horticulture to agriculture, 10,000 years ago, there would have been no way to support the dedicated armies required for conquest, domination, oppression, and exploitation.

My primary interest however lies in the causal dynamic by which existential misunderstanding, when acted upon, becomes a collective crisis of failure and trauma--and subsequently--a self-reinforcing, self-escalating global crisis.

My thesis, in essence, is that global industrial capitalism, and its escalating global crisis, is not the result of human nature--or greed-anger-delusion--but the result of a very specific, collectively inherited, existential misunderstanding of what we need to do to survive and succeed.

As our global-existential crisis continues to escalate, it might be time to cut through denial--and start paying attention!!!

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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:25 am

The richness of life is found in all situations, and insights are readily available whenever we peep under the duvet to face of our shadows that accompany us in normal daily life.
Fear of failure is naughty little fellow that crops up any time I try to achieve anything,this being life I try to achieve things.It comes in a variety of ways some clear some subtle.An obvious area is what I mentioned my working situation, I have a factory that makes a lot of bespoke furniture,prices are low costs are high at the moment,we have high top long vans leaving every day,London 4pm every day,local 11am next day,wood coming in each week from Finland furniture out the other end of the funnel,There are so many varients that at any moment fear can leap out 'We are behind schedule' behind schedule means miss the delivery,don't get paid,can't pay bills business collapses,Fear of failure is fear of loosing things that I regard as important but actually the most important thing is is ones one dignity and self esteem,these are aspect of our self are non dependent of personal circumstance.They have nothing to do with position and wealth, they are who you are they reflect ones understanding of ones self and life.
Tamara my girlfriend who has just had a breast cancer all clear,was worried about dieing,not so much for herself,but for her children,she feared she would fail or not fulfill being a mother,I said I would do this and that,but it would never replace a mother.These fears maybe empty maybe not but they can grip we are lucky we have discovered the gentle way of Buddhism,insight will guild us to who we are and we can temper life's nasties with compassion and dignity
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:32 am

:-) Also I'd like to say "Thank you" to Diana for a very sensible, nicely stated post. (-:

:-) Kozan, this may well not be paraphrasing you but are you, in a way, saying that even without "greed-anger-delusion", this "very specific, collectively inherited" view could have similar result?

I think that "greed-anger-delusion" (for the last, I prefer the clumsy-sounding but also valid translation of moha as "self-dulling" or "dulling oneself down") are likely operative in the present global mix but, as I think you're saying, perhaps the belief or "existential misunderstanding of what we need to do to survive and succeed" could and might still operate independently... (-:
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:36 am

And of course Mark the real temple is life
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Anne

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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 5:09 am

:-) Hi Kozan, again!

You wrote:
I think that existential fear arises from the experience of being in existence--and coming face to face with change, threat, loss, insufficiency, pain, illness, impairment, adversity, and death--while forgeting that we are nothing but empty, eternal, awareness itself.

I have concluded that our experience of the existential dilemma, and crisis, is not only personal, but collective. It is manifested, most notably (IMO) through our 6,000 to 10,000 year old existential nightmare of empire, conquest, and war.
I note you say that "it is manifested, most notably ..." and not "... manifested, only ...". Some human activities have a degree of cunning and technology not apparent the activities of other animals, but some of the thinking behind "empire, conquest, and war" seems to me continuation of concerns found in the general animal world for predation/vulnerability and for other resources (including the liability of resources to change in changed environments) -- which is, I guess, pretty much as Buddhist teachings conclude. These physical concerns obviously apply to the physical realm: probably less where we don't need to eat, have shelter, etc! ;-) Do you see something else qualitatively different between humans and others animals when referring to the "existential misunderstanding of what we need to do to survive and succeed"? (-:
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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:25 am

I think there is a lot of fear of personal /sexual relationship, I have struggled with this,again religious training can really screw this up,primarily as the religious have little or no experience of personal relationship. I personally started my quest for relationships from the view point of a dinosaur. I went to a boarding school where there were no girls, and girls seemed to be a sexual conquest to achieve. My aim was more a quick sexual fulfillment rather than a meaningful relationship.
I think with the amount of posts we have had about negative sexual teachers shows me that so called teachers have not managed to cross over to a real way of relating to all people and maybe especially women.
The root cause for me I found was firstly ignorance and secondly fear.The ignorance part was actually not being able to relate to myself, not being able to know myself or be easy with myself,not being able to compassionate to myself. I don't feel that one can come anywhere near relating to someone else if one cant relate to one self. I discovered that good sexual relationship is far more to do with mental than physical.There is nothing closer than having sex with someone,the only way that one can be more intimate is actually over time as a relationship becomes more intimate.
So another of my fears has been real intimacy with myself and others,I raised 3 children on my own my friends at that time were all single mums struggling through,women can talk much more easily than men about sex and relationships. I believe that Zen without intimacy of our selves is cold , zen with intimacy of our selves allows real intimacy with other people and all life
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Diana



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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:50 am

You're welcome Anne! I think it was Mark who asked that a mental health professional respond to this thread, so I thought it would be nice to help. What I wrote was not only sensible, but it is also backed by 20 years of evidence-based research. I use this theory in my practice and have found it can transform fear, among others difficult emotions, in a very powerful way. Some of my patients live with real fear from real trauma (not existential); war vets, survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and victims of violence. I now have a full-time private practice and am an advanced practitioner in Emotion-Focused therapy.
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:07 pm

@Diana

Well friend, I can only tell you that in my own experience, I have seen it entirely possible to refrain from acting on fear.

This is what has proved true for me though.

What proves true for you, I cannot say.

I can also tell you than in my own training, fear that I get come up, has been directly linked to the karma of past lives that I've had come up in my training.

So in my own case, sitting with it in Buddhism is entirely appropriate.

But again, this is my own experience, what proves true or is helpful for you I cannot say.

You are entirely right, one cannot make fear go away. However it is entirely possible to refrain from acting on fear.

In Gasshō,

Sara H
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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 4:34 pm

And btw, Diana,

If it were impossible to teach yourself to refrain from acting on emotions, as you say,

Then anger mamagement classes wouldn't work.

You are right, that all emotions are good or valid.

However it is not right, or good, to act upon all emotions.

This is why we have the teaching to refrain from acting on emotions.

It's not even necessiarily wise, to act upon emotions.

But you are right, you do have to accept the emotions, that they are valid.

In Gasshō,

Sara H

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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:18 pm

Diana said: "I now have a full-time private practice and am an advanced practitioner in Emotion-Focused therapy."

That is GREAT. I think you will be a great success!
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Carol

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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sat Nov 24, 2012 9:21 pm

I have been reading all the responses to Sara’s post about fear. Some (like Nicky) are beautiful, poetic. Others (like Michael’s first post about the fires in the airplane!) make me scared just hearing about them. Others (like Diana) are informed, sensible, and learned. Some historical! (Kozan) And mystical (Howard).

Michael’s comment about playing music live reminds me of what we learned in speech class in sophomore year (probably wrong) that many people would rather face death than stand up and speak in front of a crowd of people. I used to think that, until I became a trail lawyer and discovered I kind of like standing up in front of everyone and being the center of attention! (Now what precept deals with that!)

Michael again is right on the mark talking about fear of failure and fear of personal, especially sexual relationships.

My brother and brother-in-law both died suddenly last year. My greatest fear right now is old age and death. I know the Buddha supposedly saw all this and came up with an answer, but I rather think we just have to wait and see.

Good for you, Sara, if you see fear as something to be dealt with through meditation and the precepts. I tend to think fear is somewhere else and must be dealt with in flexible ways. Or maybe it doesn’t have to be dealt with at all. Maybe we just have to live through it and wait to see what happens.

There is the famous passage by Frank Herbert in Dune: “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.”



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chisanmichaelhughes

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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Sun Nov 25, 2012 6:30 am

Carol
I kind of like standing up in front of everyone and being the center of attention!
Love it.

What you dont have is fear of revealing your self..,2 cornerstones of meditation, honesty and guts, and if I may also add the sadness and trauma,of your brother and brother in law dieing so close together,reminds me of 2 more cornerstones,compassion and responsibility. I always think that compassion is easier to understand or feel,the responsibility that goes with it, now that is something to hide from
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david.



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PostSubject: Re: Sitting through the smoke of fear.   Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:37 am

Fear is very lovable.

Love is listening.

When I stop and listen to mine and other people's fear I find that it usually has a story to tell that if I didn't stop and ask, if I didn't move towards it in some way, would have been buried again.

The story very often begins with something that isn't the actual story at all, but is really. Kind of disguised. This gets easier to hear as I learn to listen below the surface.

Almost always there are stories under stories.

And if I am loving enough to allow my fear to reveal its stories, I always find a frightened child.

I find frightened children respond well to love and kindness, and not very well to dispassionate observation.

Being willing to lose control, to be what an onlooker might think is a deranged screaming terrified "mad" person, is very ok for me, though it usually doesn't feel ok at all at the time.

7 years of therapy, 10 years of psychotherapeutic training, 30 years of trying to help people emotionally professionally and in my private life, and 30 years of sitting have all helped me in this regard.

A small example.. Mothers hand their babies to me saying their baby has a physical problem like cholic, and the baby tells me of the terror of their birth, screaming it out as they arch their backs, kick with their legs, graphically expressing a situation of sheer terror that is not resolved. Sometimes the babies go back further, much further, in their memories and their screaming.... Most times the baby's physical and emotional "symptoms" strangely go away after this, and other nice things happen too.

With all stories like this, the terror was never resolved. There is no need for resolution, just that the "never resolved" be listened to with love and understanding.

I like what Diana said, and found it helpful.

I am constantly amazed how scared people are of moving towards scared children and being willing to listen.

To set oneself up as a spiritual teacher and not be able to listen to emotions in this way is not being a spiritual teacher at all really, is it.

We all have so many ways of being, attitudes, states of mind who's job it is to get away from the fear.

All this is done by our sub-conscious selves, the bigger part of us that is really controlling us, that is really doing the talking.

I think that loving and listening to a frightened child is beginners compassion class.

I know I'm starting to get repetitive....
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