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yoga meditation and philosophy with Lynn Fraser
in the Himalayan Tradition of H.H. Sri Swami Rama


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Overcoming Fear, from a talk by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

“Doubt is the first obstacle to fearlessness that has to be overcome.  We are referring here to overcoming a much more basic doubt (than about a thing taking place or joining an organization), which is fundamentally doubting yourself and feeling that you have some kind of shortcoming as a human being.  You don’t feel that your mind and body are synchronized, or working together properly.  You feel that you are being constantly short-changed somewhere in your life. Even if we’re doing our best in life, we still feel that we haven’t fully lived up to what we should be. There is that fundamental doubt, or fundamental fear. 

When we don’t acknowledge our doubt, it manifests as resistance and resentment.  When we are presented with a challenge, we often try to turn away rather than having to face it.  The colorfulness of relationships, household chores, business enterprises and general livelihood is too irritating. We’re constantly looking for padding so that we don’t run into the sharp edges of the world.  That is the essence of wrong belief. 

Fear does not allow fundamental tenderness to enter into us.  When tenderness tinged by sadness touches our heart, we know that we are in contact with reality. We feel it. That contact is genuine, fresh and quite raw.  Openness seems demanding and energy consuming, so people prefer to cover up their tender heart. It is uncomfortable to feel so real so you want to numb yourself. Then you can forget the discomfort of reality. 

Fearlessness is a question of learning how to be. Be there all along: that is the message. That is quite challenging in the setting sun world, the world of neurotic comfort where we use everything to fill up the space.  We even use our emotions to entertain ourselves. You might be genuinely angry about something for a second then you draw your anger out so it lasts for twenty five minutes.  We could choose to not indulge in pleasure for entertainment’s sake – to give up our babysitters. 

In order to experience fearlessness, you need a real connection to basic goodness.  We are able to relate with whatever arises with a sense of sadness and tenderness.  The neurotic upheavals created by conflicting emotions, or the kleshas, arise from ignorance, or avidya.  Ignorance is very harsh and willing to stick with its own version of things.  Therefore, it feels very righteous.  Overcoming that is the essence of warriorship: we have no hard edges.  We renounce growing a thick, hard skin.  This brings simplicity and naturalness. You just go forward and present the truth quite fearlessly.  As a warrior, you constantly extend  yourself to things around you. You don’t withdraw. There is a complete absence of laziness. Even if what you are seeing, hearing or perceiving becomes very difficult and demanding, the warrior never gives up.  You can relate with other sentient beings who are trapped in the confused world, perpetuating their pain.  First you develop your own good conduct, and then you can extend yourself fearlessly to others. 

You have to put effort into being aware. You don’t indulge in the degraded concept of rest, which is purely indulging in your confusion.   The warrior’s world is so much more alive.  Learning how to handle fear, both how to utilize one’s own fear and that of others, is what allows us to be fearless.  We are all good.  We have everything we need to make the journey already. 

Trust means we know our actions will bring a definite response from reality.  We can trust our individual discovery of goodness. It takes trust to be constantly exposed to the phenomenal world and be constantly willing to take that chance.  We don’t manipulate situations. We think our world is trustworthy in that it will always give us a message.  Success and failure aren’t the point. The result is the seed for the next journey. Whether the situation brings success or failure, it brings an unconditional good understanding. Therefore your mind and body are constantly synchronized. Your experience becomes like music, which has rhythm and melody that is constantly expanding and being recreated. So the sense of celebration is constant, inbuilt, in spite of the ups and downs of one’s personal life.  That is continuously being joyful.  Having developed trust and appreciation, you can finally conquer fear.  At this level, your mind automatically rebalances itself and you can’t be startled. You know you belong here. Even if things go right or wrong, you don’t exaggerate them. You stay with the practice of awareness. Conquering fear is not based on blocking your sensitivity. It requires a complete connection. Unconditional fearlessness is simply based on being awake. Fearlessness is unconditional because you are neither on the side of success or failure.  Success and failure are your journey.  You maintain a fundamental connection with the earth of basic goodness. 

When problems arise, instead of being seen as purely threats, they become learning situations, opportunities to find out more about one’s own mind and to continue on one’s journey.” 

Pema Chodron.  Trust in the clear open sky (your true nature) behind the clouds. What is profoundly transformative is the courage to look at yourself and not to give up on yourself when you see negative qualities. In facing these things we develop a compassion for our shared humanity. When we are willing to expose our defects, we expose some kind of heart to other people.  Curiously enough, people respond more to our honesty about our imperfections. People resonate with the bravery of someone who is courageous enough to express their pain.

Start Where You Are, by Pema Chodron

The Places that Scare You, by Pema Chodron

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