Upon reflection this Christmas, it has become clear to me that one of the definitive patterns in my life that brings me a continual source of renewal and happiness, is my ability and drive to put myself in situations that initially scare me as much as they stir my sense of creativity and love. I think this is so because every time I do, I experience (and not just conceptualize) the greater potential of this mind/body spectrum I call, Sati. I awaken to more compassion, humor, resource, creativity, and wisdom that was submerged amid all my previous fumbling, error and ignorance. And, I give less power to kleshas (afflictions) in my mind heralding the lessening of attachment in my life. This rather ardent quest to extricate myself from fear, increases my taste for life itself—as it becomes a ship I learn to steer in heavy seas that used to have me running below deck clinging to the floorboards for fear of death and annihilation.
The saddest and most depressing moments of my life have been when I was negating this mighty call. And I cannot help but notice the same in those around me who are struggling. To live a vibrant existence is to meet, understand, and eventually disarm your personal “scary”. And this is why I believe that all genuine liberating spiritual practice cultivates and requires courage and effort. And since scary is relative to our life and very dependent on our individual karma—meaning we all do not share the same scary—there is a great deal of mutual support offered by bearing witness to other’s stories as well as sharing our own via personal interaction, literature, creative practice, and media. We can be inspired and moved into action when we observe others do it in their own lives. We can do the same for others by offering the gift of transparency in communicating our own story. The sacred space that is made by being a receiver or giver of the quest to face and eradicate fear is emboldening.
Ultimately, everything in our field of perception is on loan. We never really “have” anything—money, time, people, status, jobs, our bodies, thoughts or feelings. The multiplicity of options swing toward us or away from us as part of a dynamic creative process called life, samsara, maya, or prakriti. The sages say that because of this our greatest merit is in how well we envisioned, received, surrendered, and worked with this vast phenomenal energy. And how we work with it has cosmic consequences well beyond this loaner life. In short: it was how well you journey that counts.
However, on the flip-side, nor can we live wisely attempting to negate the fact that we cannot be in this life and be truly goaless due to the relative nature of phenomena—to say one is “goaless” or “aimless” is itself a goal and an aim. And many times, our personal scary tries to say that in an attempt to appear liberated but really, is attempting to entangle us further into delusion. Scary is slippery too. We are always going towards some relative point, be it big or small, the bathroom or a new country, stupidity or insight. So while we cannot claim absolutes in this relative world, we can use relativity to create immense benefit for ourselves and others.
But fear is less concerned with that, as it is interested in clinging for dear life to tangibles (this includes any perceivable thing including beliefs) which is a very debilitating way of relating. Fear is not a journey-oriented force. The quest to face fear and relate well to the unending movement of our own minds and thereby life itself produces some ancient but very valuable questions and one of the most important seems to be: Can I pursue a goal without clinging to the outcome? This question tends to scare the crap out of our personal scary, ironically.
Scary is all about plugging into and grasping to phenomena as an outcome that it hopes will provide a source of static, unchanging security that in truth, is fragile at best, since everything is a dynamic visitation and impermanent fixture that we have on…well…loan. Scary is fighting with the very impermanence and creative potential of life itself. To meet and transcend our personal scary, means to understand how to do the journey well which means allowing love to guide us in pursuit of the goal without clinging to it and relating to the temporary result in a softer, kinder, more altruistic way.
So in summary, what has brought me happiness? Moving in the direction of where fear would rather have me not. Learning how to journey well and lovingly disabling the baseless power of my personal scary, over and over and over again.
A scary, I am reminded, that has no other resting place outside the creative potential of my own mind.