“No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear. We are very rarely told to move closer, to just be there, to become familiar with fear. I once asked the Zen master Kobun Chino Roshi how he related with fear, and he said, ‘I agree, I agree.’ But the advice we usually get is to sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, or distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away.
We don’t need that kind of encouragement, because dissociating with fear is what we do naturally. We habitually spin off and freak out when there’s even the merest hint of fear. We feel it coming and we check out. It’s good to know we do that––not as a way to beat ourselves up, but as a way to develop unconditional compassion. The most heartbreaking thing of all is how we cheat ourselves of the present moment.
Sometimes, however, we are cornered; everything falls apart, and we run out of options for escape. At times like that, the most profound spiritual truths seem pretty straightforward and ordinary. There’s nowhere to hide. We see it as well as anyone else––better than anyone else. Sooner or later we understand that although we can’t make fear look pretty, it will nevertheless introduce us to all the teaching we’ve ever heard or read.
So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky.”