Friday, December 30, 2011

Do What You Fear To Do

Shawn Tedrow

Our historical experiences formed our identity-personality. Past emotional encounters of yesterday are why we respond to life the way we do today. Our reactions today seem new, but they are from the old, still living today.

If we are offended today, it is because of yesterday's wounds being revisited. If we have a fear of intimacy, and our life is lived as such, it is because we have a fear of betrayal and rejection, appearing to us once again. Our phantom past dictates our thinking and living today.

When the world around us touches our ancient wounds, laying blame and pushing away the world from us, it spins this seemingly endless, egoic-wheel. It just adds fuel to this hellish wheel of fire. It is like throwing fire into fire. Instead, we must allow ourselves to become vulnerable and exposed to the possibility of anything.

Meditative contemplation is not enough. Freedom doesn't come through touching our thoughts with a soothing Tao feather. Go to where the rubber of this egoic-wheel meets the road, where life is lived. That place where the heat of friction can be sensed, that place we painstakingly avoid. This is called practice.

If you fear intimacy, open yourself up to potential betrayal and rejection. Do what you fear to do.

Do not let fear continually spin this wheel. Submission to the dictations of fear is the life-blood of ego’s appearance of permanence.

There are two doors with signs on them. One door says “The Commands of Fear”. The other says, “Mystery”.

How do we unlock this door of mystery?

Stop taking fear's commands to turn left or right. Don’t surrender into the door of "The Commands of Fear", where boundaries have been unconsciously weaved, that we mistakenly call living. Instead, surrender into doing what you fear to do, and spin off, and away from this phantom wheel into the door of mystery.


Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that you do this practice with all fears. There are natural fears of wisdom, like a fly has when it dodges a flyswatter. There are also unnatural conditioned fears.

A special thanks to Hakuin Ekaku, 1686-1769, whose motto was, “meditation in the midst of activity is a thousand times superior to meditation stillness”. Hakuin’s teaching was in opposition to what he called, “Do-nothing Zen”, teachers. These teachers taught that by simply emptying the mind would lead to enlightenment and also instructed that peaceful emptiness IS enlightenment.

Hakuin urged his students never to be satisfied with shallow attainments, and truly believed that enlightenment was possible for anyone if they “exerted themselves” and approached their practice with real energy. I am sure that the spirit of this type of teaching would not be very popular in today’s fast- food spiritual marketplace.

You can check out Shawn's other musings here.

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