Image borrowed here.
We stand on a cliff and stare out over the horizon, into the completely unknown. There we fill up with fear, looking behind us and seeing the life we know stretched out before us we feel a sense of security and control. Standing on the edge of the cliff and seeing the unknown horizon once more, we feel how deep the fear in us really is, as it tries to find a sense of control, a sense of security, but as it cannot do so it tries to force us back down. It is in this moment one can see the totality of fear in which we live, if we dare to look at it. For when we stand on that edge and fear grips us, we see that fear runs through us, through our whole lives down to our very core. Stepping off that cliff would mean death. That is the feeling we get, that is how deep it sits. It is the very root of our sense of self.
This metaphor with the cliff is a psychological description of how it might manifest in our consciousness, but physically we might be sitting in our living room or taking a walk in the forest. There is no physical danger, no actual danger that might injure or kill us. Still we feel as though this is an actual reality; that we might actually die if we move into that unknown. So what is it in us that believes it will die? What is it that projects this fear? For obviously this is not true, but in our consciousness it feels true. Had fear alone been able to kill a human being, we as a race would have been extinct long ago. Fear can drive us to kill another being, it can also drive us to kill ourselves, but fear in itself cannot harm us. It is only our reaction to fear that is dangerous. If anyone has ever thought about this or been with fear long enough without reacting, one must inevitably come to this insight; that fear alone cannot kill us.
So why then do we feel as though we would actually die if we stepped into that great unknown? Who is it that fears death?
This is one of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves as human beings. There is a great deal of fear in our consciousness and most of it is buried in our subconscious. Like an iceberg where the greater part is hidden under the surface of the water so too is our manifested fear only a fragment of our subconscious fear. We see it as thought surfacing in our mind; jealousy, envy, ambition, pride, judgments, selfishness, harshness, greed, anger, hatred, malice and the hunger for power, possession and pleasure and so forth. All projected outwardly from ourselves or directed towards our sense of self.
The thought is always divided between the object of fear and the one being fearful. There is always a duality.
Take for example the metaphor with the cliff; there you have the psychological fear of death as a projected thought and at the same time the one experiencing the thought. So you have the thought of fear and the one being affected by it, giving it reality; the fearful one. But if we look at this very closely, very deeply, we see that fear and the one being afraid have to be the same source. For if you remove the fear, the totality of fear, you also remove the self who is afraid, the fearful self. For it cannot survive without the Other and the Other without it. So they go hand in hand. Like the shadow and the one casting it are the same so too must they be.
We call it the illusion of duality; that the thought would be separate from the thinker or fear be separate from the one being afraid. Our thoughts are, as is our fear, only a reflection of ourselves, of who we think we are. The image that we hold on to in our consciousness, our self-image, is the very source of the boundaries that confine us.
As all structures will inevitably collapse and as our sense of self is derived from a mental construct, an image created by the mind, it too is subject to collapse and so we become fearful. In becoming fearful we try to control in order to create a sense of security. We try to protect our images so that they will not be wounded or collapse. But we do not see that control is born out of fear and so it can only function on the level of fear, cultivating more and more fear.
For in truth we fear the darkness that is in our world, the darkness that is in the hearts of men, but we do not see that the very same darkness also lives in our hearts. And that we by acting through fear, through control, actually create the world we are so afraid of. As we are so blind we do not see that our very actions, seeking to achieve security, are actually the very root of all the insecurity in the world caused by mankind. We do not see how even the smallest ripple born from fear can carry itself across the world, affecting countless of human beings.
When my security is won at the expense of someone else, it is not security, for the other persons insecurity is also my insecurity. For if my actions, however small, have led to someone else becoming hateful, fearful, hungry, poor or some other kind of suffering and so acts on behalf of these, have I not then created insecurity in the world? Is this not how suffering, poverty and wars are born? Is this not why we steal, hate, murder and conquer? Is this darkness in the hearts of man not common to all of mankind? Is it not our common fear? Not mine or yours, but ours, as human beings?
Fear is born out of a perception on life were we accept ourselves to be what we think we are, our cultivated mental self-image which is subjected to psychological death. To ensure its own safety it uses control to create security, a security which will inevitably create insecurity and so always cause us, and our fellow human beings, endless suffering. For the cycle can never end as every action we take from that level of consciousness will inevitably breed more fear and insecurity in the world. The very action itself is insecurity, is fear, so when we realize that we have not come any closer to solving our problems with security we apply more control. We do that because we have no other method of approaching the issue, other than escaping from it through some form of pleasure, running away and hiding or giving in to oppression which is someone else’s control. This means that the more we try and solve our problems from the level of fear, the more we strengthen them. We give them validity and power when we accept them as truth; validity as in defining our reality and power as in giving ours over to the mercy of fear. How small and fragile does not our world then become? The walls of our mind forever closing in with each step we try to take. Painting ourselves into a corner until there is no more place for escape and we come face to face with our own existence, fears and ultimately ourselves. We will find ourselves on that cliff, on one side our old life and on the other side the unknown. The acceptance of complete and total uncertainty is a necessity; the surrender to life in which there is not a trace of control. For in that moment when we stand on the cliff there will be only two choices; escape or total surrender and one of those two is the beginning om something completely new.
So suffering ultimately leads us towards the truth, guiding us forever inwards to that place within us we so rarely dare to look. There lies our own darkness but it goes much deeper than that. To break through the darkness we need light, and here it takes the form of honesty. An honesty born out of compassion and love; that we may detach ourselves from our darkness, our suffering and fear, and look at them in the light of truth. This is the beginning of self-knowing, wisdom, compassion and love.