May 25, 2014

How to Dissolve Fear.

yoda fear

How to Dissolve Fear.

Don’t push fear away; face it.

The ego’s basic function is to cling to pleasure, and push away pain. That logic is found throughout New Agey spirituality, The Secret, positivity and self-help.

I call it “Gated Community Spirituality.” We’re surrounded by it (no pun intended). Homelessness? Suffering? Crime? Neurosis? Difficult family members? Traffic? Anything irritating, we seek to push it away, outside of the bounds of our safe, pleasurable world.

But creating a cocoon for our pleasure smothers our hearts. “A ship is safe when docked, but it is built for the open seas.” So are our hearts. We have one precious human birth.

“If you want to be happy, think first of others.” Get out there. Make yourself useful. Obsessing about our own happiness, strangely, keeps us miserable—it’s like focusing on the scratch, instead of the 99.99% of our life that is healthy.

Here’s how to dissolve your fear: stop running. Turn and face it. Breathe. Breathe! Imagine, now, the worst case scenario of your fears. Say you’re lonely. Imagine being on your own for the rest of your life. No family, no love, no girlfriend or boyfriend. Then, imagine how you’d cope.

You’d watch movies you love. Go on bike trips. Adventures. Start a book club, or join a climbing club. Find ways to make friends, and community.

And soon enough you remember that many folks find love…and then don’t wind up living happily ever after. There’s no guarantee. And for those who do find lasting love, well, it feels better to be happy for them. We should all be truly happy.

But true happiness—unlike the fake, temporary, brittle, sugary stuff—is rooted in something inside, not something external that we can buy or eat or work to seduce.

True happiness is maitri.

Do yourself a favor. Look it up.


For more: Join Elephant’s self-paced course, Maitri: the Buddhist practice of Making Friends with Yourself. This course won’t make you better—it’ll help you make friends with yourself as you actually are.

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