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Further Reflections on Fear, the Past, Present, and Future

October 17, 2009

As a follow-on to my last post about faith, fear, love, etc. I wanted to post the reply I gave to a comment from a regular on the site as I think it develops further the notions of fear, the past, the present, the future, identification, etc.

With fear, it seems to me that the natural identification of it as a state of being is one in which we identify with the factors that feed it.

We fear that the actions of our past will haunt us, creating misery, despair, suffering. And that the actions of others will continue to dictate our state of being and our self-worth.

The actions of the past, while definitely an intricate part of the point we are at right now, have already played their part, fulfilled their role in our lives.

I have often used the example of a kid in school that fails a test. It happened, it is done, the kid moves on. As adults, with the past, we are like that kid, but twenty years later, we still wake up and lament the outcome of that test. It haunts us, prevents us from moving forward, etc.. Now, if you had an adult that was struggling and you asked them what the problem was and they said “I failed a test in first grade” you would look at them like they were nuts. Yet we often do that with our past, continuing to exist in that event, or circumstance, or relationship that needs to be moved on from. The emotion of the event is powerful, yes, but that it continues to enslave us in a state of fear, depression, and suffering HAS to be rectified and resolved, or it stunts our evolving.  And that can be hard. It is hard when your confidence takes a blow. It can be hard when you have a person that seems to have stabbed you in the back. It can be hard when you’ve had occasions in the past that made you uncomfortable or hurt. But ultimately, there has to be a movement into the present from that past. And the quickest way forward into this is forgiving that past (and the part you played in it) so as to let it rest in peace.

Within this past, however, and what you write about in your comment, is that habitual and familiar way of being that can stunt our growth. Fear and pain can be a seductive power in the comfort they can bring. If you’ve had your heart broken, the pain of that can become comfortable and familiar in preventing you from ever taking a chance again on love, because of the fact that you already handled that pain and hurt, and there is the fear that next time it will hurt more, that you can’t go through it again so you sit with it. Like if you take a chance, and get your heart broken again, it will compound, and you might not survive that, so you sit with the level of fear and suffering that you can feel able to tolerate. That familiarity and comfort become a normal level (“I can handle this amount of fear and pain, but it could get worse so I will stay with this”).

Within this familiarity and comfort of fear is the creation of the self-fulfilling prophecy. I am afraid of taking a chance, I am afraid of failure, I am afraid of rejection, I am afraid of being hurt again. So I choose not to act, choose not to take a chance, choose to not be vulnerable to the sins of the past. And thus you fail, thus you reject, thus you hurt…again. It has happened to me before, the fear of failure, where I chose not to do something because of that fear of failure, and thus I failed before I even tried.

And then that pendulum of fear from the past, swings into the uncertainty of the future, playing off that past. What if what has happened in the past, happens again in the future? What if this happens? What if that happens? What if, what if, what if? It creates a certain limbo where you are existing in the moment, but your consciousness is so scattered that you are just paralyzed, catatonic, stuck in a rut.

That is what has plagued me at times over this past period. I moved back to a location where I grew up and was known by many as something I once was – Jason up to 26 years old or so and what that meant to them. Yet I had grown and become something different, which was very hard for them to identify with, and it was hard for me to assimilate because I was just learning to become comfortable in it. And in trying to become familiar with it, and live it, I also started to sacrifice it, and compromise it so that life was palatable for everyone (so that I felt accepted as well). It was hard because there was an expectation of who I was, and from that, I began to identify again with those states that I had been moving on from – those childhood notions of fear (fear of failure, fear of disappointing others, fear of standing firm in my truth). And with that on the plate, I then got caught up in the “What am I going to do, being back here?” Trying to integrate those feelings of the past, with the uncertainties of the future, allowing the momentum of that fear to infect me like a virus, while struggling to hold onto the balance of that core that is in the moment, that is all good. I got caught in this limbo between what I had been, and what I wanted to be, like I was halfway across the tightrope, and I could turn back to where I had come from or move forward to where I wanted to go, and instead of doing anything and stood there bouncing up and down (while deep down knowing that they only way forward…was forward).

And it is here that the momentum of that bouncing up and down in no-where-ville had to stop…the interruption of that program, like the reboot of the computer system of my thoughts. And in that, allowing the past (how I was, how I was expected to be, how I feared and struggled to exist the world) to be, as well as allowing the future to unfold (without incessantly wanting to control it, to run around like chicken with my head cut off so that I could create some elusive solace) is where that center, that “in the moment” was and is and will be found…for all of us. And in that is the old Buddha teaching that said something to the affect that the pathway to enlightenment is one foot in front of the other.

We each have to choose to remove the insidious identification with the fears of the past and the fears of the future, and move into a more empowering truth of the power of the present moment. We have to take our energy that is fragmented and scattered to the four corners of our consciousness and bring that back the balanced scales of the center, into that moment where we realize that we have the choice in our interior environment and response, embracing how that makes all the difference in how we act in the exterior world.

It is east  to get caught up in this whirlwind of fear, the slippery slope of despair, and forget to entertain any notion that something can work out and become greater than our wildest dreams.

It truly becomes a matter of momentum, and when the momentum spins into fear, despair, frustration, and suffering, there has to be the point where you STOP and re-collect your self, recovering, discovering, uncovering, even taking back all of the energy of consciousness that is stuck in the past and lost in the future.

It is the reversal of the flow where we begin to live from the inside out, bringing forth what is within us (that light, that consciousness, that enlightenment), as opposed to living in the current way of so many of us that live from the outside in – taking, seeing, and identifying with what is given to us, identifying with what see, and allowing that to shape our perceptions.

When we exist in that fear, it infects us, and we begin to identify with more and more that will reinforce that fear in us. But when we stop, and begin to live from that state of consciousness that is divine, enlightened, etc. that infection can be healed.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. clarkscottroger permalink
    October 19, 2009 3:44 am

    …bears repeating (in a modified form)…

    the world is a feeling (Carlos Castenada)
    I am responsible for how I feel (Al Frechette)


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