Fear becomes Fearlessness ~via Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche [Buddhism, Carolyn Gimian]

Via on Jan 14, 2009

Being without fear, you create fear.
The renown of fear cannot be feared.
When through fear you examine yourself,
You trample on the egg of fear.

Fear & Fearlessness, by Chogyam Trungpa.

The crazy wisdom approach to fear is to not regard it purely as a hang-up, but to realize that fear is intelligent. It has a message of its own. Fear is worth respecting. If we dismiss fear as an obstacle and try to ignore it, then we might end up having accidents. In other words, fear is a very wise message.

You can’t con fear, or frighten fear. You have to respect fear. You might try to tell yourself that it’s not real, that it’s false, but such an approach is questionable. It is better to develop some kind of respect, realizing that neurosis is also a message, rather than garbage that you should just throw away. The whole starting point for working with fear and other emotions is the idea of samsara and nirvana, confusion and enlightenment, being one. Samsara is not regarded as a nuisance alone, but it has its own potent message that is worthy of respect.

Fear contains insight as well as the panicky blind quality we often associate with it. The element of panic has a deaf and dumb quality—you know: doing the best you can, in spite of your fear, hoping everything will be okay. But fear without hope seems to be something very insightful. If you give up your hope of attaining something, then tuning into fear is tuning into its insightful quality. Then, skillful means or action arises spontaneously out of the fear itself. Fear can be extremely resourceful rather than representing hopelessness. It is the opposite of hopelessness, in fact.

 

Student: Is fear insightful, in that it points out to you why you were afraid in the first place?

Chögyam Trungpa: It’s not only that. It has its own intuitive aspect going beyond just logical conclusions. It has spontaneously existing resourcefulness. When you connect with your fear, you realize you have already leapt, you are already in mid-air. You realize that, and then you become resourceful.

S: You said that fear without hope would be intelligent. Could the same be said about working with other emotions?

CT: Hope and fear largely constitute all the emotions. Hope and fear represent the kind of pushing and pulling quality of duality, and all the emotions consist of that. Emotions are different aspects of that duality: they all seem to be made out of hope and fear of something—either pulling and magnetizing, or fending off.

S: Is having fear also based on a desire for the same thing you are afraid of?

CT: Yes, that’s the way it is. But when you realize that there is nothing to be desirous of (you know, the desire is the hope aspect of the fear), when you realize that, then you and your fear are left nakedly standing alone.

S: So you just connect with the fear without hope. But how do you do that?

CT: It’s relating without feedback. Then the situation automatically intensifies or becomes clear.

S: Can you apply the same approach to anger? If I’m angry, instead of either expressing or suppressing it, can I just relate to it? Can I stop the anger and just relate to the thought process?

CT: You don’t stop the anger, you just are the anger. Anger just hangs out as it is. That is relating with the anger. Then the anger becomes vivid and directionless, and it diffuses into energy. The idea of relating with it has nothing to do with expressing yourself to the other person. The Tibetan expression for that is rang sar shak, which means “leave it in its own place.” Let anger be in its own place.

______________


Chögyam Trungpa gave many teachings on working with fear and fearlessness, as well as how to transform confused emotions into wisdom. This month’s column is based on material in Crazy Wisdom, one of Chögyam Trungpa’s books about the tantric teachings of Buddhism. The poem that is included here was originally published in another of his books: Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of Shambhala. Column editor Carolyn Gimian is currently working on a book by Chögyam Trungpa, to be entitled Conquering Fear: The Heart of Warriorship.

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7 Responses to “Fear becomes Fearlessness ~via Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche [Buddhism, Carolyn Gimian]”

  1. Heather says:

    Having these teachings accessible online is invaluable. I’m bookmarking this page and Trungpa’s other articles on the ele site, so I can easily come back for a reminder when I’m stressed at my computer or dealing with tough times.

  2. [...] As I bought my pint of blackberries and an orange, Aretha Franklin stepped to the podium to sing America the Beautiful. So I pulled up a chair and watched the inauguration in a supermarket. A continuous line of customers checked out in the background, and a construction crew was working on a hole in the parking lot outside. A little girl wearing pink shoes ate a handful of dry Corn Flakes in her dad’s arms. Not the most romantic location, but a powerful reminder that life goes on. That momentous occasions happen, when each of us suddenly seems stunned and proud to be standing together—reminded of a larger picture—but that these historical moments are not separate from our own mundane lives. And that it’s our job to take the inspiration and hope sparked by today’s inauguration and weave it into our daily routine, each morning waking up, and placing one foot in front of the other. [...]

  3. [...] As I bought my pint of blackberries and an orange, Aretha Franklin stepped to the podium to sing America the Beautiful. So I pulled up a chair and watched the inauguration in a supermarket. A continuous line of customers checked out in the background, and a construction crew was working on a hole in the parking lot outside. A little girl wearing pink shoes ate a handful of dry Corn Flakes in her dad’s arms. Not the most romantic location, but a powerful reminder that life goes on. That momentous occasions happen, when each of us suddenly seems stunned and proud to be standing together—reminded of a larger picture—but that these historical moments are not separate from our own mundane lives. And that it’s our job to take the inspiration and hope sparked by today’s inauguration and weave it into our daily routine, each morning waking up, and placing one foot in front of the other. [...]

  4. [...] teacher I was studying with at that moment), I finally understood one of the most important lessons of yoga: that my practice is for me.  It’s not about trying to impress anyone else or be anyone [...]

  5. [...] 10. “You can’t con fear, or frighten fear. You have to respect fear. You might try to tell yourself that it’s not real, that it’s false, but such an approach is questionable. It is better to develop some kind of respect, realizing that neurosis is also a message, rather than garbage that you should just throw away. The whole starting point for working with fear and other emotions is the idea of samsara and nirvana, confusion and enlightenment, being one. Samsara is not regarded as a nuisance alone, but it has its own potent message that is worthy of respect…If you give up your hope of attaining something, then tuning into fear is tuning into its insightful quality. Then, skillful means or action arises spontaneously out of the fear itself. Fear can be extremely resourceful rather than representing hopelessness. It is the opposite of hopelessness, in fact…When you connect with your fear, you realize you have already leapt, you are already in mid-air. You realize that, and then you become resourceful.” – Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche [...]

  6. Greg says:

    Another wonderful article by Trungpa. Thank you for posting. It is much appreciated.

  7. [...] and indestructible thread of experience that unites wisdom and ignorance, heaven and hell, or nirvana and samsara. It is the ground from which we [...]

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