From Fear to Fearlessness

Posted on November 12, 2010

I like checking the Skills for Awakening against a variety of other wisdom traditions. What I find, time and again, is that this thoroughly contemporary approach is really the pure practical essence of what the wisdom traditions teach. It represents the practice of the liberation from suffering without all the trappings of foreign cultures and times. It is for us, and it works.

The following is a quote from a Tibetan work, detailing exactly what our Skills approach says: identify the thought or feeling that causes stress and apply the antidote: The Work for thoughts and Open Attention for feelings. Face them, set them free – and as you do, you increasingly build a habit of the opposite positive qualities (here: fearlessness). This is the process of removing obstructions and building the qualities of a pure existence. As you do that, grace will create the deeper transformation of enlightenment. Here is the quote:

Fear and Fearlessness.
Perhaps the first reaction we have to our own suffering is fear. Fear arises in us almost automatically when we experience strong emotions or pain. We don’t have to sit there and generate fear–it just arises. When we experience a disturbing emotion such as jealousy we think, “No, I don’t want this.” We would rather not experience it. However, if we examine fear closely, we see that it is a thought to which we have been habituating our mind for a very long time. We have repeated this thought pattern of fear for many years, and from a Buddhist point of view, many lifetimes.

In just the same way, when we habituate our minds to being fearless, to being brave and open towards our emotions, fearlessness will also arise naturally. In order for this to happen, we must train in applying antidotes to our thought patterns that are caught up in fear. In this way, we transcend fear first through a conceptual process, which later becomes nonconceptual, a natural fearlessness. In order to become fearless in this way, we need determination and the willingness to face our emotions. With that strong determination and courage, fearlessness will arise effortlessly.

–from Trainings in Compassion: Manuals on the Meditation of Avalokiteshvara trans. by Tyler Dewar under the guidance of The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

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