Beating around the bush vs going to the core

In working with my own healing, and also with clients, I see a common pattern.

Some things seem too scary to want to work on.

So it’s tempting to choose something that’s less scary and yet seems helpful.

Why does it seem so scary?

It’s partly out of wise caution. I know that going into traumas may retraumatize me if it’s not done skillfully, in the right setting, and perhaps with the right person. It may retrigger the trauma without much or any healing.

It’s partly because when I first experienced the situation and created beliefs about it, it was traumatizing. So I expect, or am afraid, that will happen again.

What I can do is look at these fears and then evaluate if I have found the right tools and support for me to enter these traumas with the intention of finding healing. Using the living inquiries, we often initially approach strong traumas indirectly. We look at the fears in facing them. The deficient selves that come up when we consider facing the traumas, and perhaps when we consider the initially traumatizing situations themselves. We can also look at commands to either face the traumas, or avoid the traumas (both are often there).

Be real, not nice

There is a good book called Be Real, Not Nice, and it’s a topic that’s especially important for us who score high on the agreeableness scale (on the Big Five personality traits).

I am still “nice” more than I like, in the sense of sometimes being overly polite, self-effacing, not speaking up, avoiding rocking the boat, follow other people’s advice even when it goes against my own best judgment.

This means I sometimes don’t get what I want. (Even if I could have, if I had been more clear and spoken up.) And it also means that I sometimes go into resentment.

It’s as if the energy that should have gone into being clear and speaking up is unused in that situation, and then later goes into forms of anger or irritation directed towards myself and/or others.

The intention behind all this is partly to be kind, polite, and well-liked, and also to avoid confrontation and unpleasant interactions. And the reality is that the opposite often happens: I – and sometimes others – don’t get what we want, and are unhappy about the situation. It’s really anything but kind.

And it all comes from unquestioned assumptions, and probably unloved parts of myself. For instance unloved and unquestioned fear about what it means to speak up, negotiate, and risk not being liked. (Of course, people who are clear and speak up, and are willing to negotiate about strategies so everyone can have their needs met, are often well liked.)

Ironically, what I seek to avoid by not being clear and real with myself and others is exactly what I get. That’s how it often is. It’s how life shows me what I am doing, and invites me to meet my fears and be clear and real with myself and others.

It’s how life invites me to be more transparent. To speak up about what’s already here. To go for what I want, through finding strategies that meets my own needs and – ideally – those of others.

Seeing this in a general way is a start. But what really helps is to really look at a specific situation in my life where I “left myself” and felt resentful afterwards. Why did I do it? What did I fear would happen if I spoke up and was transparent? What were the consequences? What would have been the likely consequences of speaking up?

Fear of what will happen if I allow what’s here

This seems to be one of my core fears…. The fear of what will happen if I allow what’s here.

It doesn’t quite make sense, since what’s here is already allowed, and any mental gymnastics cannot change it.

And yet, the fear is here. It’s real, as long as it’s taken as real. It’s real to me.

One way to explore this is to try it out. What happens if I recognize that what’s here, this experience as it is, is already allowed? What happens if I sink into this experience, allow it as it is – with discomfort, apparent resistance, and everything else? Does something terrible happen?

Another is to look at my beliefs about it. Something terrible will happen. I won’t function. I’ll be overwhelmed. I’ll be out of control. I won’t know how to function. Life will be out of control. Life needs to be controlled. I can’t trust life. I can’t trust what’s here. 

And yet another is to explore what a thought would call resistance, or fear, or escape, or avoidance. How is each of these created in my own mind? What do I find when I look at the images, words and sensations making these up? Are they as real and solid as they appear? Can the image making up resistance resist? Is the word “fear” afraid? Can the sensations of avoidance avoid anything? Is the image of an I a real I?


Surrender to guidance

Surrender can be a surrender to love, to Spirit, to soul, to what’s here.

And it can also be a surrender to guidance. A surrender to the still quiet voice. A surrender to the heart.

It’s a surrendering of what thought thinks it wants and needs, to instead following the inner guidance. It’s a shifting of allegiance.

And embedded in this is an invitation to notice and inquire into any fears and shoulds stopping me from doing this.

When do I choose my conscious wishes, fears and sholds over the still quiet voice? What are these wishes, fears and shoulds? What do I find when I inquire into them?

Is it really worth choosing fear over love and guidance? What happens when I choose fear? What happens when I chose love and guidance?

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Fear of meditation

For about ten years, from late teens to late twenties, I meditated and prayed daily, often more than once and for an hour or longer each time. I did it because I loved the connection with soul and Spirit so much.

Then, as I left myself and my guidance, this changed. (I moved geographically because of a relationship, which felt deeply wrong.) I wasn’t able to meditate or pray anymore. It was too painful. It brought me face to face with the pain of leaving myself and my guidance, and the shoulds and fears that made me leave myself. This was the beginning of a dark night of the soul for me, and the ability to meditate and pray were among the many casualties of me leaving myself.

This inability to meditate and pray lasted for a few years. I then got back into meditation again, which led to a nondual/selfless state for a few months followed by a very intense dark night.

And during this phase of the dark night, it was again very difficult for me to meditate or pray, at least in the more formal way I was used to previously. It was as if I lost the capacity to engage in these practices. I was able to – at least at times – breathe and feel the feelings, be with what’s here, pray for guidance and assistance, and some other variations of what may be called meditation or prayer. But the ability to do more formal sitting practice, and more formal prayer sessions, went out the window.

There is still an inability to do much sitting practice, and I see that one reason may be fear. There is still a fear of facing the pain and discomfort of leaving myself, a fear of meeting the shoulds and fears that led to me leaving myself, and a fear of facing the pain of the consequences (all the losses) of me leaving myself. (Even though I have now left the situation created by me leaving myself.)

One thing that came out of this is a deepened humility. There is a deeper empathy and understanding of others who experience a fear of meditation. For me, meditation and prayer was so deeply satisfying and nurturing that I didn’t “get” this fear earlier. Now I do.  There is also a deeper understanding of the possible consequences of leaving myself, both “inner” (pain, distress) and “outer” (loss of much of what was most important to me).  Read More

Can land on any idea

The mind can use any thought as a refuge, as a place to land in an attempt to find sense of safety.

It can land on any idea to avoid fear, and avoid feeling what’s here.

The content of the idea doesn’t matter. The mind can just use whatever is available and seems most fool proof.

And that means that it can also use “spiritual” ideas as a landing place, including ideas of awareness, emptiness, and so on.

And there is nothing wrong in this. It’s all innocent and from confused love.


I keep seeing the beauty and innocence in fear, and what mind does to protect it’s idea of a me. It goes into belief, velcro, and identification. It holds certain thoughts, views and identities as true and real. It “glues” words, images and sensations together. It identifies with the viewpoint of thoughts. It’s all innocent. It’s all from confused love.

Sometimes, as it happens, it can be quite a struggle. There is a struggle between an imagined (literally) self, and something in an imagined wider world. And there may also be a struggle between these dynamics, and the knowing that it’s all from confusion.

That too is innocent, and confused love. That too is an attempt to keep the imagined self safe. That too is an attempt at protection. That too comes from fear.

And not even fear. It comes from trying to push away the sensations of fear. And that too is an attempt at protection. That too is innocent and confused love.

All sides of the apparent struggle comes from identifications, and confused love.


I see how courage can mean several different things.

It can mean doing something in spite of fear. Sometimes, this may involve setting fear aside for a while.

It can mean facing the fear itself. Befriending the fear. Thanking it for protecting me. Thanking it for it’s love for me. Asking what would satisfy it forever. Asking it what it really is.

It can mean facing my most basic fears, beliefs and labels. It may mean exploring the label fear itself. It may mean looking for a real – not imagined – threat in words, images and sensations.

It can mean the natural courage that’s here when there is more clarity, when the fears are seen through.

Meeting resistance

I sometimes experience (what a thought would call) resistance, especially when it comes to getting certain projects done.

When I look more closely, I see that there is fear here.

And I can meet this fear in satsang.

You are welcome here.

Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your devotion to me. Thank you for your love for me.

How would you like me to be with you?

What is your deepest desire? What would satisfy you forever?

What are you really?

As long as I have beliefs about this apparent resistance – it’s bad, I need it to go away, it stops me from getting things done – it’s held at a distance, and it’s difficult to meet it with interest and curiosity. Holding satsang with it this way, it’s revealed as something quite different from how it initially looked to me, when it was filtered through my beliefs. It relaxes. Melts. Is revealed as coming from love, being love. Is revealed as awakeness, just as this apparent me it’s happening to/for, and this I observing and relating to it.

Behind the image of an enemy, a friend

Fear of discomfort is one of our greatest enemies in our quest to give our gift more fully.

I saw this sentence in an online article.

In a sense, it’s valid. When I get caught up in fears – or more precisely, when I believe fearful thoughts – it does stop me from living and offering my gifts more fully.

And it looks different when I take a closer look. This fear is here to protect me. It’s offering it’s services. It’s devoted to the image of me and it’s well being. It comes from love, and it is love. And the same goes for the beliefs creating this fear.

I notice it’s already allowed. It’s already allowed by life and mind. You are welcome here. 

I notice it’s function is to protect me. It’s devoted to me. It comes from love. It is love. Thank you for your devotion to me. Thank you for your love for me. 

I notice I have made it into an enemy in the past, and tried to push it away. How would you like me to be with you? 

I notice it – and I – have not been aware of it’s function. What is your deepest desire? What would satisfy you forever? 

I notice it – and I – have not been aware of what it really is. What are you really? (A thought would call it love. A thought would call it awakeness.)

First, there is an image of this fear as an enemy. A problem. Something to get rid of. Ignore. Fight. Go around.

Taking a closer look, it’s revealed as something quite different. I see it’s already allowed by life and mind. It’s function is to protect the image of a me and I. It’s devoted to me. It comes from love. It is love. It wishes me to meet it with respect, understanding, love. It’s deepest desire is (a) to be met with respect, understanding and love, and (b) a deep sense of trust and safety. And again taking a closer look, it’s revealed as love, and also as awakeness itself – the play of awakeness as this form a thought initially called fear.

Barry: All those fears are about an imagined future

All those fears are about an imagined future. Right now it is OK, and has been OK. Look back.  All along you have been afraid for the future and thus fearful and unhappy in the moment. It’s what the ego mind does.
– Barry, in an email to me

Unloved fear

I keep noticing that when something is unloved in my field of experience, in my world, it’s uncomfortable.

Why is it unloved? Because of mind holding certain images and thoughts as true.

And what are these beliefs? They may look different on the surface, but the basics of them is (a) something is bad (wrong, a mistake, shouldn’t be) and (b) is not loved, it’s unloved.

The first creates the appearance of it as bad (wrong etc.), and mind perceives, feels and acts as if that’s so. And both of them distracts mind from noticing that it is already loved, and is already love.

This also leads to attention not staying with the (apparent) object of these beliefs. Attention goes to the beliefs instead, or something else. And there is discomfort, at least at first, if attention is brought to the object of the beliefs.

So what’s the antidote?

It’s to bring attention to what’s unloved. Breathe. Stay with it. Notice it’s already allowed, it’s already happening within and as wide open spaciousness.

It’s to notice the images, beliefs and fears behind it. Make a note of them, write them all down uncensored. Then for each one, is it true? Can I know for certain it’s true?

It’s to notice it’s here to protect me, it’s devoted to me. It comes from love. It is already love.

For instance, there is fear and a thought says it’s about an upcoming life change. This fear is at first unloved, and there is discomfort. Attention goes to stories about it, or to something else.

(a) I bring attention to the sensations of the fear. I notice where it is in my body, where the body is most contracted and appear most dense. Attention stays with it. I breathe. I stay with it. There is a sense of it opening up. I notice some images and beliefs behind it, and take these to inquiry. (I am making a wrong decision. I won’t have enough money. My health won’t be good enough. Something terrible will happen.)

(b) I hold satsang with the fear. You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. How would you like me to be with you? What would satisfy you forever? What are you really? I notice other impulses around it, such as resistance to the fear, and meet that in satsang as well. I find how the fear is from love, and it is love, and the resistance to it too. The fear and resistance relaxes, through being met, respected, and recognized for what they are – love, presence, awakeness.

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Meeting the primal dread

It is as though Love is calling for an embodied radical openness and surrender, and out of fear, the creature fights that invitation somewhere in the body and a clench results. It’s as though the creature of the body is screaming, “Noooooo!”

– Jeannie Zandi in Dark Night: The Breakdown of the Mythology of Me

I am familiar with this primal dread that seems to sit in the body. I notice a part of me that wishes to run from it, and into thoughts and other distractions.

Eventually, running away from it seems pointless. The dread is still here, and the running away from it is in itself uncomfortable, it’s not very satisfying, and it takes me away from activities that are more rewarding (meditation, rest, staying with an activity).

I see that the impulse of running away comes from a wish to protect me, it comes from innocent love.

How would it be to meet the dread, and the impulse to run away?

You are welcome here.

I am sorry for having pushed you away.

Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your love for me.

How would it be to quietly meet it, welcome it, find love for it? What happens when I open my heart to it?

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A fear that welcoming it will make it worse

I guided a friend through the Unfindable Inquiry, and then switched to welcoming.

What comes up first is a negative self. I have always been negative. People are alienated from me. 

Then an impulse to make it worse. Feeling bad, I want to feel even worse. 

And in welcoming that impulse, a fear that welcoming it will make it worse.

I invite her to welcome that one as well.

You are welcome here. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your devotion to me.

She says it feels peaceful.

I have found this for myself. There is a fear of welcoming what’s here, partly because it’s unfamiliar, and partly because I fear it will make it worse.

So I can welcome that fear too, thanking it for protecting me, notice its devotion to me.

As it’s welcomed, it may relax. And I may thank it for it’s courage.

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for the courage it takes to relax.

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Thanking fear

I had some fear come up today about a specific event, and whenever I noticed – and remembered – welcomed it, and met it as a friend.

I meet it, stay with it…..

Thank you. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for your guidance.

And I notice it’s said with sincerity. I know it’s true. I have seen it through inquiry.

It’s there for me. It’s there to protect me. It’s devoted to me. It’s love.

It’s worried love, sometimes, created from thoughts taken as true.

The belief was perhaps created when I was very little, in innocence, from watching what others say and do.

And it just needs some support in catching up.

It is already supporting me. So I can support it by meeting it with appreciation, understanding, and love.

And if it feels right, I can support by allowing it to catching up.

How can I support it in catching up?

It happens by meeting it with appreciation, understanding and love. Identifying the images behind the fear, and inquire into these. Noticing it’s awareness, the play of awareness.


Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48

I listened to the BBC Sporting Witness episode on Eric Liddell, the Flying Scotsman. As a missionary in China, he was placed in a Japanese prison camp, started a Bible study group, and encouraged the participants to pray for the Japanese.

I notice for myself how powerful it is to pray for the health and well-being of myself and others, and especially those who trigger beliefs in me. As I pray, an image often comes up of them living in health and happiness, of love flowing from their heart center and filling them and their surroundings, and of them as light and love (as they and all of us and everything already are).

As one of the participants in the Bible group says, this shifts how I relate to the ones I pray for. Love and sincere well-wishing replaces whatever resentment and fear may be there. It’s as if love takes up the space where fear otherwise would be.

When Jesus asked if you love only those who love you, what reward will you get? I find for myself that my reward is to stay in resentment and fear. As I instead include in my sincere prayer and well-wishing the ones I tell myself disturb me, the reward is love – a love that is all encompassing and all inclusive of myself and others. This is the perfect love that already is here, that we all already are and everything already is, and which I prevent myself from seeing, feeling and living when I am caught in resentment, fear and beliefs.

When I pray for others, I often pray for those close to me and myself, include the wider circles (family, friends, city, country, all humans, all beings, the Earth, all beings in the universe), and also the ones I sometimes have beliefs about. Sometimes, I start with the latter group, and include myself and those close to me. And sometimes, I go back in time in my own life, praying for myself and others in situations that triggered beliefs and fears in me. I may also pray for groups of people, all humans, or all beings, in the present, past and future.

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Primal fear of death

As seems quite common in this process, a primal fear of death has come up for me for a while now. It was very strong for some months up to about a year ago, and now comes up a little less intensely.

What is is about?

It’s about the death of who I take myself to be, and this takes two forms: (a) The death of identification with images and ideas about who I am – a human being etc. (b) The physical death of this body. And the latter is of course really about the former. If I take myself to be this body, then the death of this body is perceived as the death of me. It’s all about identification and beliefs.

The invitation here is for two things:

(a) Open to the fear and the impulse to recoil from it. Take it as an inquiry and notice what happens when I recoil from it, and what happens when I open to it all. Ask myself, is it true I cannot take it? Is it true it’s too much? Is it true it’s (the fear, the impulse to recoil) is not already allowed? Not already opened to?

And (b) identify and inquire into (i) the beliefs behind this fear, and (ii) the beliefs behind the resistance to the fear.

(i) It’s terrible to die. I will die. Death means…. What I fear the most about death is…..

(ii) It’s overwhelming. It’s too much. This dread/terror means something terrible has happened/will happen. It’s easier to recoil. Something terrible will happen if I open to it. I am not up to the task. I need to be up to the task. What I am most afraid would happen if I open to this dread/terror is….

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From Little Buddha by Bernando Bertolucci.

As Siddhartha Gautama sat under the tree, Mara – representing delusion and beliefs, appeared.

Mara sent his three daughters to seduce him, and Siddhartha was free from believing the thoughts that he needed love, approval and appreciation.

Mara sent his army to scare him, and Siddhartha was free from believing the thoughts of pain, death or a me who was born and could die. The arrows were revealed as something quite different.

Mara came and said Siddhartha wasn’t worthy of clarity, and Siddhartha was free from the belief that he wasn’t worthy.

This is how it is for each of us. Thoughts surface telling us we need love, approval and appreciation, that something terrible will happen, or that we are better or worse than others. If they are believed, we stay in confusion for a little longer, and that’s OK. If we have investigated those thoughts, they are revealed as innocent.

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The higher they climb without passing by my humanity

The higher they climb without passing by My humanity, the lower afterward shall be their fall. My humanity is the road which all must tread who would come to that which thou seekest.
– Suso, quoted in chapter IX, The Dark Night of the Soul, in Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill

This has been true in my experience. After some years where Big Mind/Heart noticed itself and lived through this life, more of me wanted to be included and align more closely with reality. Circumstances changed so the very human wounds, fears and primal beliefs surfaced. And since this is about the very human wounds, fears and beliefs surfacing to be seen, felt and loved, to align with reality, it is a very human and “unmystical” process.

A longer excerpt:

It is interesting to observe how completely human and apparently “unmystical” was the culminating trial by which Suso was “perfected in the school of true resignation.” “None can come to the sublime heights of the divinity,” said the Eternal Wisdom to him in one of his visions, “or taste its ineffable sweetness, if first they have not experienced the bitterness and lowliness of My humanity. The higher they climb without passing by My humanity, the lower afterward shall be their fall. My humanity is the road which all must tread who would come to that which thou seekest: My sufferings are the door by which all must come in.” It was by the path of humanity; by some of the darkest and most bitter trials of human experience, the hardest tests of its patience and love, that Suso “came in” to that sustained peace of heart and union with the divine will which marked his last state.


A few things about guidance.

The simplest is to ask myself and wait for an answer. It may come right away or some while later. And it’s usually clear, simple and kind. What a wise person would tell me.

Another is the guidance that comes for me in the turnarounds. Life should help me –> I should help me. By making a list of how I want life to help me, in which areas and with very specific and practical examples, I can turn this around to myself and see how I can help me. This is a guidance for how to live my life.

When I don’t follow these types of guidance, it’s often because I believe certain thoughts that stop me from living it. What am I afraid would happen if I follow my guidance? What do I find when I look into these beliefs?

A related exploration here is what happens, how is it, when I follow this guidance? What happens, and how is it, when I don’t? In my experience, following the guidance gives a sense of ease, of being held by God, of being on track, and it feels kind. When I don’t follow the guidance, there is a sense of stress, discomfort, and of being (temporarily, in a limited sense) off track.

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The fear of death

The fear of death is the last smokescreen for the fear of love. The mind looks at nothing and calls it something, to keep from experiencing what it really is. Every fear is the fear of love, because to discover the truth of anything is to discover that there is nobody, no doer, no me to create suffering or to identify with anything. Without any of that, there is just love.
– Byron Katie

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End of fear?

I was invited to join a group on Facebook called The End of Fear.

This brought up a few things for me.

On the surface, it seems a bit naive to seek the end of fear. It seems like another “dream of the ego”, what we may want if a set of thoughts are believed about fear. For instance, fear is bad, fear means something terrible will happen, and whatever beliefs are here on who and what I take myself to be.

As Adyashanti says:

Freedom is never freedom from.  If it’s freedom from anything, it’s not freedom at all. It’s freedom to. Are you free enough to be afraid?  Are you free enough to feel insecure?  Are you free enough not to know?  Are you free enough to know that you can’t know? Are you free enough to be totally comfortable knowing that you can’t know what’s around the next corner?  How you will feel about it?  How you will respond to it?  That you literally can’t know?  Are you free enough to be totally at ease and comfort with the way things actually are?  That’s freedom.  The other thing is the ego’s idea of freedom.

And if the thought “end of fear” brings up stress for me, it means I am holding onto an opposing thought as true, and I can inquire into that too. In this case, they shouldn’t seek end of fear, it’s naive to seek end of fear, it’s misguided to seek the end of fear.

One thing that comes up right away is that the phrase end of fear may well be used in the meaning end of being caught up in beliefs about fear and what it means. I notice that seeking an “end” to anything seems a bit absolutist.

How would I say it, in a way that feels comfortable for me now? Here is what comes up for me: What do I find when I explore fear? How does it show up in the sense fields? How is to to bring attention to the sensation aspect of what my thoughts label fear? Can I be with this fear? Can I see it, feel it, stay with it as a friend, a frightened child? What are the stories behind this fear? What do I find when I inquire into these? And exploring that is quite interesting to me.

Staying with sensations

What do I mean when I tell myself I stay with the fear behind discomfort, unease, tension and so on?

I am really just staying with the sensations of fear, the sensations my images and thoughts tend to label fear.

And how can I more easily do that?

I find that inquiry is very helpful, for instance inquiring into the thoughts creating the fear (I won’t have enough money, she won’t like me), thoughts about the fear itself (it’s overwhelming, it means something terrible will happen), and the label fear itself (it’s fear).

Training a more stable attention is also very helpful, for this as for so much else, and the simplest way to do this may be to bring attention to the sensations of air as it flows in and out of the nostrils. Allow the breath to be as it is (or notice it’s already allowed), and bring attention to the sensations at the nostrils. As attention goes somewhere else, usually into thoughts taken as true, notice and bring it back to the sensations again. (This is also an inquiry practice, noticing the tendency of attention to go into thoughts taken as true, and then bring attention back to the sensations, and notice any beliefs about this and perhaps later take these to inquiry.)

Staying with sensations seems helpful at any time. It helps me see that what I label warm, cold, pain, hunger, unease, agitation, joy, excitement are all sensations with an overlay of images and thoughts labeling it in these ways. Is it really true? Is the label true? Does it have an as clearly defined boundary as these images suggest? What does my thoughts tell me are the implications of these labels (it’s pain and that means….)? What do I find when I take these to inquiry?

It also helps attention stay with something quite simple – sensations – instead of getting lost in labels, interpretations and stories about these sensations or other aspects of life.

It’s all an experiment. What happens if attention stays with sensations here and now? What happens if there is that intention? What are my thoughts about it? What do I find if I take these to inquiry?

The Backward Step

Take the backward step that turns your light inwardly to illuminate your self.
– Dogen Zenji in Fukanzazengi

Dogen mentions taking the backward step.

It seems that I just wrote about one of these backward steps: Noticing and connecting with the fear that’s here, behind unease, tension, discomfort etc.

The forward step, the habitual step for many of us, is the recoil from the fear, and instead go into reactive emotions, tension, seeking comfort, over-thinking and so on. And the backward step is to instead notice and connect with this fear.

Another backwards step is The Work. Here, the forward step – the habitual one for many of us – is to take the belief and run with it, fuel it as it leads to more thoughts, emotions, a life in the world. The backward step is to notice the belief, write it down, and take it to inquiry to see what’s there.

Yet another is sense field inquiry. Or even, in a sense, ho’oponopono. Or one of the many other practices which invites us to look at what’s really here, or reverse a process of going into and fueling beliefs.

Of course, what Dogen talked about was zazen.


I am returning to being with the fear that’s here.

There is unease, tension or discomfort. I notice a fear behind it. Connect with it, feel it, allow it to have its life, meet it as a friend, meet it as a child seeking love.

Whenever there is any of the symptoms of beliefs I can do the same, and these are the symptoms I notice from question no. 3 in The Work: A sense of unease, tension, discomfort, reactive emotions, hurt, seeking comfort in food or activities, a sense of having to protect something or someone (including viewpoints, identities),  trying to find refuge or safety in analyzing or thinking or maps, or wishful or fearful images.

It seems that (a) some very basic beliefs are behind the fear, creating the fear. (b) There are also beliefs about the fear, creating an impulse to recoil from the fear and the basic beliefs behind it. (c) This impulse to recoil leads to an impulse to seek refuge and safety in the same and other beliefs. And (d) these beliefs in turn fuel fear.

It’s all a house of cards, held up by the impulse to recoil from the fear and the beliefs behind the fear.

So the medicine is to connect with the fear, feel it, be with it, allow it its life, meet it as a child seeking love. As I do this, there is a sense of connecting with the root of the fear and it doesn’t need to express itself in reactive emotions, seeking comfort in food or activities, over-thinking and so on.

And the medicine is to allow the fear a voice, writing down whatever it has to say, the stories and beliefs behind the fear, and then – perhaps later – take these to inquiry. This too, in my experience, gives a sense of coming home, of relief, even gratitude.

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A silent “no” to existence

I have had several days recently – off and on – where I experienced something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It felt mostly as a congestion at all levels. After asking for guidance, something shifted while in bed last night. I found the fear behind the experience, and felt it. And then realized that what I was experiencing was a silent, primal “no” to existence. As I saw this, something shifted further and the experience moved on. It must have been yet another very basic layer surfacing to be seen, felt, and loved.

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Primal layers

I woke up with the sense of primal fear again this morning. The mind can of course go to current situations and concerns (health, money) that fit this fear, and I make a note of these and will take them to inquiry. And yet, the underlying beliefs behind this fear are more basic and existential.

I’ll die. It’s terrible to die.

I’ll be alone. I’ll be abandoned by God. I’ll be lost forever.

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Some facets of FEAR – Fantasy Expressed As Reality:

It’s from a belief, a mistaken perception. Really, it’s from a temporary mistaken identification – with a viewpoint, an identity.

It’s a pointer to a belief or set or beliefs. Fear is a guidepost to thoughts taken as true.

It’s actively created here and now. And it may be believed at an emotional and/or energetic level, even if it’s not consciously taken as true.

It may appear to be “stored” in the body, and can be released through certain activities such as TRE. (This may reflect active beliefs at emotional and energetic levels.)

It has an survival function (evolution). It encourages me to take care of myself. It offers advice, caution. I can harvest this advice through dialogues with fear.

It adds to the drama of a mistaken identity. It’s part of the play of reality. It’s Lila. It’s life temporarily scaring itself and experiencing itself that way too. If life can go somewhere, it does.

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What do you know that you don’t want to know

What do you know that you don’t want to know?
– Adyashanti

I have noticed this for myself. When I tell myself I am confused and don’t know what to do, I often find I do know. I just don’t want to know it, and that’s where the sense of confusion and struggle comes from. What I know is uncomfortable. It may have consequences I would rather avoid. It goes up against my fears and old beliefs. It goes against my familiar identities.

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How terrorism is successful

If the goal of terrorism is to trigger fear and irrational behavior, the 911 actions were pretty successful.

Dead in 911: Around 3000. (Approximately the same number as weekly traffic deaths in North America).

Dead from how the US responded: Hundreds of thousands, perhaps up to or more than a million.

US military spending since 911: 6.6 trillion dollars.

Source: Wired – The Dead, the Dollars, the Drones: 9/11 Era by the Numbers.

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Is it true that what I am fraid of isn’t already here?

Some questions that are helpful for me right now:

Is it true I don’t already live in the unknown?

Is it true there isn’t already an absence of footholds?

Is it true experience and fear is not already allowed?

Is it true that what I am afraid of isn’t already here?

– o –

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Befriending fear

I still have nights where experiences surface that’s difficult to befriend or welcome. Mostly, it’s a sense of strong wordless inner struggle along with a sense of everything dissolving – the image of a larvae in a pupa describes it. From the outside, I see there is nothing to fear here. It’s probably just part of the process. But from the inside, when it happens, a great deal of fear comes up.

When I get caught up in this, it’s easy to “forget” what may help, so I’ll go through it here as a reminder for myself.

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Haunted house

Here is an instructive – and funny – illustration of something familiar to most of us:

Most of the time, she screams because of what she expects or fears may happen. Only occasionally does she scream because of something actually happening. And even then, she scares herself.

How does she scare herself? Through the stories she tells herself about what is happening or may happen.

I sometimes do the same.

Fascination with the unpleasant

A quick look at the entertainment world – books, movies, songs, fairy tales, mythology – tells us that we are fascinated with the unpleasant.

Why is that? I can find several reasons for why I am drawn to it….

The most obvious is that these things (death, pain, cruelty etc.) are part of human life, and this is a way for me to get familiar with it in a safe way. I get to explore it without putting myself at risk. And I get to prepare for it should it happen to me or someone close to me. If or when something like it happens in real life, I am somewhat prepared.

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Fear -> Belief

As so much here, this is very simple and a repeat of previous posts. But it is something I keep noticing throughout the day, so why not write it down.

Fear comes up. There is resistance to that fear. Identification with that resistance fuels belief. And attention goes into the belief.

There is of course more to it.

The initial fear comes up because of friction between my beliefs of what should be and what is. Not wanting to experience that fear comes from beliefs about the fear. And it all serves to take attention away from the fear, and also the initial friction. It helps me avoid finding what is more honest for me than the initial belief. And I want to avoid that because of beliefs of what may happen if I do.

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Fear of truth (iv) – fear of not taking a story as true

When I take a story as true, I automatically fear truth.

Among other things, I fear what is more true for me than the story. I fear taking the consequences of it.

If I am honest, I know that I don’t know for sure if any story is really true. And there is a fear of seeing that, and especially of living free from a belief.

I fear that without taking the story as true, something terrible would happen.

So I can ask myself what do I fear would happen if I didn’t have that belief? (One of the subquestions in The Work.)

How likely is that?

What is more likely?

I can also investigate the story more thoroughly, for instance by doing a full The Work inquiry on it and its assumptions.

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Acting on fear, and feedback

When I make choices from fear, and act on them, life is kind and gives feedback.

There is a staleness. Deadening. Loss of vitality.

Everything may look good on the surface, it seems right in a conventional sense, but it feels wrong deeper down.

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