Saturday, November 10, 2018

The Fear - Love Continuum

     After four or five years of continuous hard training, while awarding the black belt to deserving karate students, a wise karate teacher may tell them that now they're ready to learn karate. What does this mean? Eagerly focusing on the goal of the mythical black belt at least partially obscures important deeper engagement with the martial art itself. Only after the extrinsic reason for training is put to rest, can training purely for the love of the art really begin.
     When obsessed with a goal, we're filled with enthusiastic energy. Energy is necessary to get things done. But when single-pointed zeal takes over, quieter, gentler, more refined qualities like perspective, maturity & depth are often pushed to the side. When obsessed with getting or avoiding, we forget who we are - our authenticity, then everything goes wrong.

     The more we crave a goal, the more we're coming from a place of not having enough, not being enough. "If ONLY I had X, THEN I'd be happy" - is part of the "fight, flight, freeze instinct," at the fear end of the fear-love continuum, where we feel alone, drowning in stress hormones (adrenalin & cortisone). It's very difficult to think clearly and make good judgements in this state. Action arising from this sense of being an animal trapped in a hostile environment is survival based self-centeredness, with no regard for others, the environment or even one's own long-term happiness. A frighteningly large proportion of the population, even in wealthy countries, is stuck in this hellish realm, often for life.
     When we very simply, directly engage with whatever or whomever we're with in this present moment, we are being authentic. This overlaps with the "tend & befriend instinct" at the love end of the fear-love continuum, where we feel our deep connection with everyone & everything, and feel pleasant, partly due to the hormone oxytocin. Authenticity transcends words & concepts, and can only be experienced: profound peace, stillness, silence, ease, awareness. Action from authenticity arises spontaneously as it feels appropriate, nurturing, decreasing suffering and increasing flourishing for all, including oneself.

     Mindfulness practice is a gentle way of gradually releasing conditioned survival strategies (that today are almost always inappropriate & self-defeating), and learning to reconnect with and stabilize in our own, deepest authenticity. Mindfulness practice is a way of getting back to reality & quality of life.

     “Remember we don’t meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you won’t find it.” Ajahn Chah 

      "... even one moment of true silence can have a profound impact. When you are truly silent, there are no obstacles between you and the truth." Miguel Chen

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