The Seven Faces of F.E.A.R.
Part Seven: Spirit
And so we’ve reached the last level, one which has some fascinating connections to the very first. Whereas the first level of fear relates to core survival, literal physical extinction, the last level deals with the disposition of our non-physical being. Every culture in the world has an answer to the question: what becomes of us after death? And the flip side of that questions speaks to the first level: what were we before we were born?
Think of the countless millions of pages of print attempting to address this question, a question that cannot be ultimately answered. We simply don’t have the data. We may be the only species with conscious awareness that we are going to die. That our vital flesh will one day return to the base clay.
And what have we done? Created a vast spectrum of theories, beliefs, fables, songs, prayers, and practices around this question. Now, if you are devout, you may believe that your “way” is the correct answer. And of course, you may be right. But can you hold the possibility that more than one religion or philosophy may be “correct”?
This concept is difficult for most people. And because the cost of being “wrong” is so high, think of the vast amount of terminal, existential fear held in check by the belief that “their” answer is the right one. Fear. Raw, raging, fear. Terror that their immortal soul might be at risk if they get some tiny part of the ritual chain or belief system wrong. And how many wars have resulted from people desperate to belief that THEY, and they alone, have the ear of God..?
I remember speaking to a young man on Hollywood boulevard. A rough-looking gentleman who was selling copies of “Watchtower,” the Jehovah’s Witness magazine. I spoke with him, and he tried to convince me that his particular interpretation of Christianity was the only protection against Hellfire. I didn’t try to change any of his beliefs, but the very fact that I didn’t agree with him was causing him serious stress. He grew angry. Threatening. And I suddenly realized that I was dealing with a gentleman with...shall we say a familiarity with the ugly side of the legal system? And that he had locked his criminal tendencies, anger and violence behind a door of dogma? That when I failed to agree with him, it created the tiniest crack in that armor, the only thing keeping him on the straight and narrow?
That’s exactly what I think. And I extracted myself from the conversation as gently as possible, leaving him to cast a (rather sorrowful) “you’ll burn in Hell!” after me.
It would be impossible to estimate how many lives have been destroyed by the fear relating to our inevitable deaths, and the myriad religious and spiritual traditions that attempt to channel that fear so that we can live our lives with dignity and grace. Remember that fear competes with love for control of our hearts. All major world spiritual traditions say much the same at the core: do no evil. Love one another. Have faith. Do good works. Connecting with this core, without fear, frees us to experience life as a wonderful adventure.
This is your legacy, your birthright. Just being willing to examine the effects of fear in your life reduces its power. Be one of the few willing to stand in the light of truth.
Walk in the Light...
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The Seven Faces of F.E.A.R.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:23 AM