Fear as a constant companion

One more post prompted by recent references to Adam and Eve. These ancient stories attempt to do justice to the fundamental truth of the human condition, using the language  of  those days. And we are told that after they ate of the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve hid themselves. This simple fact – the need to hide and protect themselves, the existence of judgmental thoughts and guilty emotions – alerted God to the fact that something had changed. When he asked them why they were hiding, Adam replied “I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself”

As I said, the writers were reflecting on what their own experience was. And it is similar to ours. We feel fear and that leads us to pull back and hide from others, because of the anticipation that we will get hurt. The openness and ease of the original days is not easy to find, even in the closest relationships. And most of us have been hurt along the way, from early childhood onwards. There is a relationship between how reliable things were in our childhood and how confused and difficult our relationships are as adults. So there can be an ongoing struggle between the part of us that loves and the part of us that fears, the part that wishes to be open and be seen and the part that want to protect itself and hide. And so all of us will struggle from time to time to keep believing in love, in allowing ourselves get close to others.

What we can learn from these ancient stories is that some undercurrent of fear has always been present in human history and will likely always be present in our lives. The difference between adulthood and childhood is that we do not have to allow it dominate. We can act in spite of our fears. Mindfulness is based on this same understanding that there are fears  at the heart of life, and that  does not mean there is anything wrong with our life, or with us,  just because we feel them. We do not have to turn this fact into a judgment about ourselves or others. We can choose not to hide. We can work through our fears.

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