January 26, 2012

Quote of the Day: Our Deepest Fear.

“Be quiet!” “Shhhhh!”

It’s what I heard in just about every room I went into, when I was young, living at a Buddhist meditation center.

When I was young, I was loud and sweet and sensitive and proud. Still am. This quote, then, really turned me around in a way—instead of being yelled at, or criticized, as I was in my Buddhist community for being loud and dorky and full of myself (when really I was more just insecure), I could let go of any shame about being big and loud and dorky, and just be myself.

Next time you feel like you oughta be smaller, safer, less shiny…(re)read this.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you

not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to

shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

It’s way more fun to have a sense of humor about yourself, and a sense of uncompromised caring for what’s truly important, than to pretend to be small just to get along.

Most folks attribute this quote to Nelson Mandela. Fact is, author Marianne Williamson wrote it (it’s understandable, seeing as how easy it is to get the two of them confused).


Bonus: “Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” ~ Rumi



Why people lie to you.

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Susannah-Joy Schuilenberg Apr 19, 2019 9:16am

The culture we live in (everywhere and anywhere) requires…no, demands…conformity. To own the glorious individuality and uniqueness of the Self is an act of courage that causes all others to pale in comparison. Those who have accomplished great things have done so by first embracing the ways in which the internal sense of Self does not conform to the expectations of the dominant social discourse.

Living peaceably in all the unique facets of Self is the biggest ‘middle finger’ to Society, ever.

P.S. It astounds me, given the assumptions I made about being Buddhist that you would experience shushing. I truly thought if there were any community in which one would be free to develop a true sense of Self, it would be a Buddhist enclave.

Hannah Apr 27, 2015 3:49pm

At the same time – there is still wisdom in humility. That being said, we are all beautifully and lovingly created. Each of us brings something purposeful to the table. Let us all take joy in each other for we are all created in our own Creator’s image. Love.

Shane Sep 16, 2014 6:02am

I've been carrying this quote around with me for years, it's been on my mind now more than ever. Thanks for posting.

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Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.