Every time you hesitate – that’s fear. When you go to the store and you start to buy soap, and you think but maybe I should get this other soap – ahh maybe, I’m not sure. That’s such a small thing, but it’s fear.
Every time that you cling to something, and say I hope this stays just like this. When you see someone you haven’t seen for a long time and they’re saying goodbye and you hug them and hold them – it can be wonderful, but it can also be born of fear. We hold people, and we hold moments and try to keep them just like this.
And every time something happens and you flinch, even in your mind, that’s fear. When I was younger, I practiced karate all the time, that was kind of my obsession. And one day my teacher was using me as the demonstration dummy – he did this a lot. And I was standing like this (strong pose) and he said OK, and he turned very quickly and he punched me in the stomach (with a loud kia) - and I flinched. He said “don’t flinch”. I said “Yes sensei!” He said "let’s do it again", and he came at me exactly the same way, except louder and faster – and again, I flinched. And again he looked at me and said “don’t flinch”. “Yes sensei!” And he came at me from the side, and every time, I’d flinch – just a little bit. And he’d say, “don’t flinch”. And he started getting mad. And then it got worse. And then I got really nervous. And then he’s coming at me from all directions. And every time he’d say “don’t flinch” and I’d say “yes, sensei!” And this went on, and on, and on – maybe 20 minutes. He just kept hitting me and saying "don’t flinch".
And at the end of that time, I didn’t flinch. He could just hit me. And hearing the story, you might say “he broke you.” Maybe. But I learned something really important. Whenever I flinched I was afraid of how much it was going to hurt. Whenever I flinched I was afraid he was going to do something I wasn’t ready for.
But after a hundred times, I know exactly how much it was going to hurt, so the fear becomes irrelevant. There’s no surprise. It doesn’t mean I want him to keep doing it. But there’s nothing to be afraid of, when you see really clearly what’s going on. Fear always is anticipatory. Fear is always us looking into the future, or into the past. But in this moment, in this actual present moment, it is impossible for you to encounter the thing that you fear. By definition, that thing is in the distance. It’s coming. And so you feel this gap. And whenever that arrives, whatever it is, you may feel all sorts of things, but fear will no longer be the point, because now it’s real. It’s no longer just the story in your mind.
We fear that good things will go away. But we don’t have to fear that – because they will. Every person that you know, will suffer in their lives. Every person you know, will die. It’s a fact – more so than taxes. Dreading has nothing to do with the reality of it. Wherever you are in your life today, it will not be the same a year from now. It will not be the same two years from now. And some of you may say “oh no – because I just got this right”. But it will go away.
And we fear that bad things will come. And they will. Fearing this is like being afraid of the weather. It doesn’t change it at all.
We fear that the way things are today will not improve. What I mean by that is we look around at our lives and we fear that this is all there is. But again we don’t have to fear that. Because right now, in this moment, this is all there is. This is the totality of your life. This is the whole story. And in this moment, there’s nothing missing."
from Koun Franz "Fearlessness" video http://nyoho.com/about/
|Anja Niedringhaus www.bbc.com