In my last post, I quoted from the Stoic Epictetus about the three fruits of true education: Tranquility, Fearlessness, and Freedom. I want to take up Fearlessness. Is Epictetus really suggesting that we can arrive at a place where we don’t have fear?
I aspire to fear-less in my life. Even to arrive at fearlessness, but I have some way to go.
Fear is hardwired into our circuitry. Our survival was tied to our ability to respond appropriately to risks in the environment. Hard wiring for fear was evolutionarily adaptive.
Most modern philosophers point to the fear of death as the ultimate fear. To get to fearlessness requires facing squarely one’s mortality and our finite span of days. The Stoic philosophers in particular counsel a contemplation of the shortness of life and a living in the present moment as antidotes to fear.
Your True Self has no fear because the True Self touches the Eternal in the present moment. You can notice within a sense of infinite space when you look beyond the contents of your thoughts and focus on the context that contains your thoughts. The Groveler and Shadow however live very much in fear. The Groveler in the fear of loss—looking bad, feeling bad, being wrong, being out of control. The loss of the ‘goods’ that it isovels for. The Shadow wields fear as a tool and weapon.
In the moment of fearing, the automatic tendency is to resist the fear, but resistance gives the fear power. The opposite is what is called for. Accepting the fear as it is, for what it is, and fully experiencing it. To breathe (literally) into the fear will transform the experience from fear into excitement and anticipation. Try it and see. This is not knowledge that is good for anything other than pointing to an experience that must be proved by living it.
January 5, 2017