Imagine you are walking in the woods and you see a small dog sitting by a tree. As you approach it, it suddenly lunges at you, teeth bared. You are frightened and angry. But then you notice that one of its legs is caught in a trap. Immediately your mood shifts from anger to concern: You see that the dog’s aggression is coming from a place of vulnerability and pain. This applies to all of us. When we behave in hurtful ways, it is because we are caught in some kind of trap. The more we look through the eyes of wisdom at ourselves and one another, the more we cultivate a compassionate heart.
Tara Brach, True Refuge
The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering,
it doesn’t mean that something is wrong.
What a relief. Finally somebody told the truth.
Suffering is part of life,
and we don’t have to feel it’s happening because we personally made the wrong move.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Hard Times
As long as we are breathing, there are infinite possibilities.
A good starting point is with a question: What if I completely let go of the fear body and were released from the gloomy future it predicted? And then another question: In the absence of fear what would I want my life to be about? And then another: In the absence of fear, what would motivate me toward that life?
As we ask these questions and feel the resistance they provoke, we begin to recognize how hypnotized we are by the fear body. Recognizing our own neurosis is the beginning of freedom.
Tim Burkett, Nothing Holy About it, The Zen of Being Just Who You Are
The distance doesn’t matter;
it is only the first step that counts
La distance n’y fait rien; il n’y a que le premier pas qui coûte.
Marquise du Deffand, 1697 – 1780, French hostess and patron of the arts. She was commenting on the popular legend of Saint Denis who was said to have walked for 6 miles carrying his head after being beheaded.
I asked the poet Tony Hoagland what he thought about fear. He said fear was the ghost of an experience: we fear the recurrence of a pain we once felt, and in this way fear is like a hangover. The memory of our pain is a pain unto itself, and thus feeds our fear like a foyer with mirrors on both sides.
And then he quoted Auden: “And ghosts must do again/What gives them pain.”
Mary Ruefle, On Fear