What is this self inside us, this silent observer,
Severe and speechless critic, who can terrorize us
And urge us on to futile activity
And in the end, judge us still more severely
For the errors into which his own reproaches drove us.
T. S. Eliot, The Elder Statesman
We spend all our energy and waste our lives trying to re-create zones of safety, which are always falling apart. That’s the essence of samsara – the cycle of suffering that comes from continuing to seek happiness in all the wrong places.
Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Ways Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion
The mind creates a lot of the dramas in our lives, often making them more frightening than they actually are.
Most of us, in some way, struggle with fear — instinctually tensing against it or becoming overwhelmed by it. Shifting our relationship with fear is central to the evolution of consciousness. While fear is a natural, intelligent emotion, when it goes into overdrive, we are in a trance that contracts our body, heart and mind. Our resistance to fear sustains this trance and perpetuates our suffering. As we learn to attend to fear with mindfulness and care, its grip loosens, and we reconnect with our full aliveness, wisdom and love.
My analyst once said to me, “You must make your fears your agenda.” When we do take on that agenda, for all the anxiety engendered, we feel better because we know we are living in ‘bonne foi’ [good faith] with ourselves. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the perception that some things are more important to us than what we fear
James Hollis, Swamplands of the Soul
Healing depends on listening with the inner ear – stopping the incessant blather, and listening. Fear keeps us chattering – fear that wells up from the past, fear of blurting out what we really fear, fear of future repercussions. It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now that could lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present.
Marion Woodman, 1928 – 2018, Canadian author and analytical psychologist, The Pregnant Virgin
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