The Kitchen

And Fear Shall Have No Dominion

angst fear

Is the nondual promise about the “end of fear” a cruel hoax pedaled by an insentient elite? If there is an end to fear, then how do we get there? Here we offer five doorways to dimensions where fear holds no sway.

Fear has been named the silent pandemic of our era. Despite the privileges of materialism, contagious stress, morbid dread, and uncontainable degrees of existential anxiety are attacking us from within. States of fear are affecting our wellbeing in mind and heart, and directly breaking down our physical immunity. In this, nondual talk about the “end of fear” can feel like a cruel hoax pedaled by a merciless and somehow insentient elite.

If there is a hell, we could find it in the experience of existential angst. Angst is an awakened fusion of fear, anger, and annihilation. Yes, annihilation is a feeling vibration, because if we actually were annihilated, there would be no suffering left, no consciousness, nada. The fear or rage around annihilation is based on the trauma of loss – on the horror of watching someone or something we are attached to vanish from our perception. We fear that the impossible ending of an object of consciousness could become our ending – as if we were an object and not the consciousness in which the object appears. More than anything, we fear the experience of that torturous, non-negotiable existential anxiety.

Because we so much fear the annihilating, formless fear, our thoughts become wild to try and give the fear a story, a cause, or some kind of form to make it finite. Yet these fearful thoughts and ruminations just whip up more fear, until we find we have repeated our worst nightmare imaginatively in countless ways, suffered a million senseless deaths, or been trapped, isolated, or buried alive in a huge variety of scenarios. Caught in spirals of fear of the fear, we rage, rage, rage (as Dylan Thomas wrote) against the dying of the light.

When we’re caught in hell-loops of fear, how can we even dare dream of a place where fear is no more? How can we turn the wounded core of ourselves into a core of wonder?

 “Is a match-stick dangerous when the house is on fire? The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it will destroy the world in which you live. But if your motive is love of truth and life, you need not be afraid.”

Nisargadatta Maharaj

Time to take space

When we experience fear, we are sending solar flares from our essence through the fabric of time. Fear is time-bound: it belongs to the world of objects and forms. Each form has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has a date of manufacture and an expiry date. Just as every form created in time, so will every form in time be destroyed. The very nature of time is transience. Time is passing, it is ultimately ungraspable. In the same way, no time-based form can be grasped, kept forever, or made safe for eternity.

In our conditioning, we became confused between time and our timeless nature. We try to block change and to prevent loss because loss feels impossible – especially in those spaces where we believe we are an object – that we are ultimately this body, this personality, this lifetime. We believe we can be lost because we base ourselves on time, and this core resistance to the flow of the unknown is the core of fear.

“Fear is always in relation to something; it does not exist by itself. There is fear of what happened yesterday in relation to the possibility of its repetition tomorrow; there is always a fixed point from which relationship takes place.” 
Krishnamurti

Existential Emergency

Yet once fear ignites as an experience, it comes with an immediacy that decimates the sense of time. Our rhythms go wild as we find ourselves in a space of torture because the physical sensations of fear are spatial, not temporal.

In time, everything is constantly ending and being reborn. So in time, fear is ending every millisecond which is an unbearable acceleration of frequency. Anyone who has suffered panic attacks and the hot-cold flashes together with shallow breath, racing heart, and fragmented thoughts will recognize this upping of the frequency. When we seek the end of fear in time, the fear speeds up.

“The territory of fear ends where true nature begins. Out of the fearless space, we are free to let any fear come, and just as easily let any fear go.”

GEORGI Y. JOHNSON

In space, we shift dimensions. Now we are thinking in terms of territory – the territory of experience. Here, there is endless space. When the mystics talk about the end of fear, they refer to this kind of ending, a spatial ending, the end of the territory of fear. This is the annihilation of fear, but the expansion into the empty space within it, around it, beneath it, above it, and beyond it. To say it another way, we do not diminish fear but expand our awareness, so that the experience of fear loses sovereignty over experience.

Fear ends like a wilderness ends when you approach the village, or the village ends when you approach the intimate warmth of your own fireplace. It is not excluded but loses its power to compress, obsess and possess our sense of self.

"The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

5 Entry Points to the Space of No Fear

  1. Stillness

Every movement, large or small, slow or fast, can only occur within the continuum of stillness. Without stillness there could be no rhythm, speed or velocity; no strength and no softness. Stillness is prior to form, underlies all form, and outlives all form. Stillness is therefore by nature fearless.

Connect to any point, inside the body, or outside of the body in open space and contact the sense of stillness there. The moment you touch stillness even within a tiny space of your experience, you touch the stillness that is behind all experience. Practice becoming perfectly still, and return there, moving increasingly to your center point.
This practice of stillness naturally relieves and satisfies the freeze response to fear.

2. Space

Space is unbounded, unlimited, and is the existential continuum beneath all experience. We have the power to restrict our consciousness of space and the power to expand it. If we like, we can choose to merge with space, becoming the space in which all experience (including fear) emerges, moves and fades.
This practice of space helps the flight response to fear.

3. Silence
Like stillness and space, silence is an entry point to the fearless continuum beneath all experience. Out of silence, sound emerges. It resounds through silence, and when the sound fades, the silence continues. But this silence is not a dead thing, it is very much alive. When we practice listening to the silence, we attune to the universal resource of peace.

This practice of silence helps relieve the fear response of compulsive thoughts.

4. Passion

Passion is the source of core vitality that affirms life and supercharges natural, existential esteem. Expanding as compassion it releases the energetic suffering that builds up around fear based beliefs in the separate self. Passion makes passages of connection between ourselves and the environment, disabling shame, transitioning guilty and liberating the psyche into the field of belonging. It is by its very nature, selfless and therefore fearless.

The practice of passion helps relieves the suffering of isolation so associated with existential fear. As it is made of the same stuff as existential rage, it also helps relieve the fight response to fear.

5. Devotion

Still on the theme of the suffering of separation, any movement of devotion, whether it is prayer to a higher power, devotion to life, or to the wellbeing of others, helps release the contraction of the sense of self so associated with fear. On the wings of the devoted heart, our fear is released. We can even suffer fear itself as a movement of devotion. This permission to fall in love with something beyond the self gives spatial, temporal and existential relief to the whole physiology of the Psyche. As a practice it also alleviates the fawning (aka: people-pleasing) response of fear.

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