The Myth of Mastering Fear ...& Living in Fullness:
*NOTE: The conversation below is one shared between myself and a client/friend by way of e-mail dialogue starting with a personal issue of wishing to master fear.
However, this dialogue is much more than about fear and control. It is really about coming to a living integration of the bi-levels of ego/personality within Soul/Mindfulness. Also though, for anyone who has had some struggling in his or her life with addiction (be it a substance, a way of relationship, or a habitual way of thinking) I think this e-dialogue worthy of a read…
There are 2 e-dialogues that work well in sequence, or can be contemplated alone:
#1: “Mastery of” Fear, The Workings of Control
#2: Choosing Fullness: A dialogue on 4 Questions
E- DIALOGUE #1:
“MASTERY OF” FEAR:
The Workings of Control & Addiction
CLIENT: In my attention to personal unfolding I am struggling with a level of self-mastery I’ve never had to have in order to do other things successfully. And I’m having my doubts if I can ultimately be the master of my fears, doubts, frustration, etc. Any suggestions?
RONDA: Let me reply by way of a personal example: I suddenly quit my nightly wine with dinner, because I admitted:
1) it had become an automatic nightly habit, desire, “craving” (which is correctly labeled, an addiction); and
2) I realized that this habit was standing as an implicit “no” to Life: That is, it had come to stand in the way of knowing God/Source through the fullness of my presence for life. My nightly wine (as innocuous as it may seem) was, for me, a control lever – and way of controlling life toward the pleasure-seeking comforts I desired each evening.
By looking at this craving as an addiction to control my feelings, I realized that we are all addicted to control in order to avoid feeling painful feelings and fear. We have many ways of doing so: by way of our relationship to food/drink, people, work, etc. And these addictive controls we place over our lives cannot be healed by willfulness – by MASTERY (as you put it) – as this is merely another form of superimposed control.
I believe, and found for myself, that one must go to an entirely different place in this angst and struggle with mastering the fears to which you speak. In my own personal experience, as long as I placed my attention on the struggle with “getting rid of” my problem (be it wine, or fear, or depression, or whatever…) all efforts were doomed to merely more subtle and fear-driven controlling. Can you see this?
Instead of “mastery of the problem”, I went to the place of realizing that I want to know the fullness of myself. I realized that the only way to truly “know” God/Source/Life etc., is to know how God moves, breaths and has it’s Being in Me. I set my prayer (my intent, my focus of attention) to that deep desire.
It is a surrender of sorts — but much deeper than “trying to surrender in order to achieve” – i.e., control/master. Rather, it is totally aligning oneself with the wish to know the fullness of being alive – everything: the good, the bad, the ugly – and with the recognition, that there can be no strings attached to this.
So (to use your word) instead of “mastering” anything (which will always be there as an attempt to control and thereby deny the fear of meeting life unconditionally) I’ve come to realize that true authenticity and aliveness comes in wanting to experience and feel (rather than explain, understand or control) all that “IS”. It is a wanting to “know” what Life is, here in each moment as it presents itself – not what it is continually “made up to be” by way of one’s beliefs, explanations, and controlling actions.
Does this make sense to you?
CLIENT: I had gotten as far in my own awareness to realize that my perceived helplessness around my unconscious impulses was a dishonoring of Consciousness/God/Spirit. But that is still about smallness, not fullness. And it was still another subtle manipulation to subdue my impulses for the end result my ego wants…
RONDA: The ego will never stop trying (WILL NEVER STOP TRYING!) to create a feeling of safety vis-à-vis belief systems such as “finding it” through a teacher, church, psychic healer, etc. etc. etc. It will always try and “take” ones spirituality – It cannot help it.
There is no getting rid of the pain we fear. There is only stepping in to face it more and more directly (with less and less protective shielding). Paradoxically, each step toward authentic presence (as in vulnerable feeling) does release the fear within a larger context. It doesn’t “end it” – but it does release it into compassion and joy (which contain pain and sadness). This is a life-long (probably infinite) challenge and undertaking. To do this never ceases (as in “there is no resting place”). …This is one of those places the mind cannot grasp (the mind cannot even stand hearing this –and will keep trying to understand anyway – ad nauseam)!
I’ve come to see that all we do (on the level from which the ego operates) is to seek control – even to control our spirituality; – i.e., even finding the “fullness of our Being” can (and will) be used by the ego to try and stave off fear by “getting it right with God”, “feeling accomplished, special, one of the few”, etc.
CLIENT: …Yes I can see this. It is so obvious to me suddenly, that the ego will choose even a relationship to spirituality as away around having to face its primal fear!
RONDA: I think a key is to simply be aware and observe this never-ending need of the addictive ego to “master” – to master “whatever, and everything – in order to try and calm our deeply seated fear of non-being.
This ego-driven desire to master cannot perhaps ever be stopped. But we can be “above it’ (as aware observer) – and then we are shining a light on it. I think by this placement of observation, the fear-driven controlling is transcended and healed in a certain way. We haven’t “gotten rid of it” – that is the ego’s need! We have looked at and acknowledged it’s existence, which is a form of surrendering to something “more than”…
I feel there is only to recognize and accept (forgive) that “the smallness” will always be present – and by recognizing and accepting this, you are actually in the Fullness of your Being! …This is a kind of subtle shift. …Where does this take you?
CLIENT: Ok, now I have four questions to begin with: 1) Do you have a sense of what brought you to the realization that the only thing that mattered to you was living as a mystic? (I may have phrased that incorrectly, but you get my point).
RONDA: Yes, it was asking the “ONE QUESTION”. I asked myself: What really matters in Life — REALLY Matters? Which leads to: “how alive can I truly be (as in present to all that life is, without the blinders of belief, illusions of control, etc.)?
I found, when I asked this question, everything started to unravel. It is a forever process the asking of this question (not a one-time deal). It is the mantra of awakening – and everything of illusion and grasping starts to fall away by these questions, because to try and answer it, all the fears and pain and ways we “say no” to life keep coming up before the question and ask: “even this? Can I even bare to let go of this?” ; which leads to: “..Can I bare not to let go of this, knowing that I would be implicitly saying “no” to Life by keeping up this illusion, by refusing this surrendering?” This never stops….
CLIENT: What moved/changed/arose in you such that you answered YES to the question: wanting to experience “..the full nature of God through your own being” (and all that we both know goes with this–i.e. utter acceptance of the unknown and awareness of ultimate death)?
RONDA: I still (as reflected above) must continually ask this question and continually decide if I can say “yes” to life. This never ever stops. That is why “awakening” is also deeply painful. It is not that we enter into “conscious suffering” in order to finally breakthrough into an ultimate “yes”. It is a forever process – forever! We simply become more consciously aware of the “yes’s and no’s” we are invoking all the time. Once one commits to the question (and realizes there really is no other question to ask or reason to live) then one will be continually called to be conscious of more and more levels of “yes’s and no’s”… I don’t sense this will ever end – at least not while we’re in the physical form.
CLIENT: Why did you stop drinking wine? (Is it anything like–once we come to truly know a thing, we cannot unknow it — So drinking just simply lost its ability to any longer 'work’ for you?
RONDA: For me personally right now, this is a most interesting question. I think it is best answered by the above. I came to see it as a very clear “no” to life. It is not as you suggest that it came to lose its ability to work for me. It could work just fine for me to numb, tranquilize, relax, hide, feed and nourish my ego-identity. No, “the One Question” simply brought to my consciousness the need to be conscious of another layer of “no” or “yes” to life.
I saw that I couldn’t go any deeper in a continual process of evolution, revelation, and God-Consciousness while keeping that “no” operational. I saw that I do not want to die one day having said such a “no” to life – having refused to know life more intimately, more directly. I want to know what it is to be present to life – which means present within myself. I want to know what it is like to be capable of truly being alive and present to life each moment. There is nothing else to dedicate to – AND – it’s a life-long process….
More pragmatically, I learned something very interesting about addiction (which all our automatic and habitual illusions of control are -be they substances or beliefs): I have fought with addiction for 25 years. I have watched my deeply acknowledged need and desire to quit its hold on me be met with failure time and time again. I have suffered the loss of the integrity of my word (my promise to quit) and the loss of will and confidence that comes with a continual failure of this sort.
This time I surrendered it to my higher being. I sent a very powerful prayer (which is another whole topic of dialogue). My focus is not on “not drinking wine” – which carries and keeps its power. My focus is on life – and being present for life. Seeing what is really here without the shields. Too (and again paradoxically) I am trying to remain uncontrolling about this – i.e., I am not standing in dogma of “I quit” — that’s just asking for it. I’m standing in awareness to Life; from there I am free to move. This is a key…
CLIENT: What have you committed/dedicated yourself to by desiring to experience the fullness of being — “are you saying you want to have/will receive the experience of anything that arises in you?…
RONDA: In short, YES. I, very simply, want to know what it is to be truly alive (as truly as I can come to know and be in this life – and again, this is a never-ending enfoldment of conscious evolution).
How alive can I be?… Here we are in a most amazing and unfathomable intelligent universe. And most of us, most of the time, are barely alive at all and yet grasping on to life for all we’re worth! We’re shrouded in what we hope are self-protective illusions of control and purpose. But these things that “protect” the personality must, by their very “closed-system” nature, deny the larger language of LIFE. This larger language of life is beyond (literally) anything that a closed system can understand or know. This is why the mind must be blown. You said in your previous email that this conversation what “blowing your mind”. I say: “great!”. It must be blown so that another entire way of knowing can slip in…
What could it mean to be alive? What could it mean to know life? What else is there — really and truly? When I looked at the possibility of my dying (which was quite stunning during the vertigo experience) I came to see that there really is no other question (or reason to live) than to ask AND live this question….
CLIENT: I’m stunned. At the moment I have no sense of what I really want, or how deep my commitment is to experiencing the full nature of God through my own being.
RONDA: Perfect! That is the one primary question. It is what ushered in my awakening experience. …What other question (really and truly) is there to concern oneself with in life? ….Every other question, concern, and focus, seems to me, secondary to that ONE! It is the question I’ve come to call “The Original Prayer” – and I believe it is the seed from which we each (“in the image and likeness of God”) create, in each moment, our destiny…. And THAT IS ONE HEAVY DUTY QUESTION!
CLIENT: I have been thinking all day about what you’ve said in your latest email. First, all day I have been considering your assertion that the ego will flee from certain feelings so as to avoid the deepest feeling for it of all—non-existence. And what I can see is that this fleeing, this avoidance is everywhere in my life–it just looks different these days. It’s no longer coffee, or food, or TV. It is more insidious.
And so today as I relaxed every strategy of control/avoidance that rose to the foreground, I could follow the sad and painful feelings that inexorably presented themselves to their source—the death of self. And it seems to me that that fear is always there, sometimes very far off, sometimes so close that only the most radical control strategy will hold it in abeyance.
And seeing it so directly today makes me feel there is nothing I can do in life, no project to undertake, no new thing to accomplish, no new place to get to or foreign country to visit that has any meaning. And yet when I let that ‘wound’ arise in my awareness, there also followed an aliveness I have not felt in quite some time. It’s a strange kind of aliveness–I can’t name it. It is not joy, or peace, or tranquility, or any emotion I can name. It just seems I now have the capacity to experience what is occurring around me more intensely. But even as I write this, I can feel it slip away somewhat….but even that feels ok…
RONDA: Yes! I think fear is always there – at least on one level of our being. As you say quoting Richard Moss, “somewhere in there is the ‘wound we cannot heal’”. To that part of us which has differentiated into individual consciousness (call it ego, or personality) it is absolutely unfathomable terror to face it’s fear of non-being via the unknowableness of death. Somewhere deep in the subconscious, we know this and fear it as the ultimate stalking predator (to continue a Richard Moss analogy). And our whole lives (when living from the level of our ego/personality) we are forever afraid – and forever “hiding out” behind diversions, distractions, and belief systems…. It is truly endless. This cannot be “controlled” (or mastered). More on that later…
And yes: “There is nothing to do – no thing to “accomplish”! No “place” to get to. This realization initially seems and feels intolerable (And to the ego it is!) This fundamental “breakthrough” realization that there is no-thing to accomplish will never be accepted by the ego/personality – it is the wrong vehicle.
In the truth of “Who we are” as living Conscious Creation, there is no-thing to accomplish – there is only ever deepening conscious awareness and presence within “what is” – to what is moving through and around all that is. …Ever increasing sensitivity of awareness (God knowing itself) is all there really is.
When our conscious attention is continually brought back to Presence rather than the addictive need of personality to “believe”, we find (as you realized and say so poetically above) a paradoxical aliveness.
I believe this place of which you sensed is the transcendence into higher consciousness. You speak of it beautifully. It is stepping into the place before “the word” …before “the naming” – before the ego/personality separation. You see? It is that which “we are”. It is here that you meet eternity. And yes, it will come and fade – and (as you say) even that is “Ok”.
There cannot be “enlightened”. I believe it is fundamentally impossible within this particular flowing dynamic of separation and re-membering that is this physical Creation so that God can reflect and see itself in what I’ve come to call The Great Godly Game of Hide and Seek! There can only be the constant falling into personal identification and slipping back into God-Consciousness, again and again – forever the breathing of God. To me (at this stage at any rate) “enlightenment” is the possibility of simultaneously holding in consciousness both the forgetting and remembering. It is, I believe, one’s growing ability to live on the razor’s edge of paradox where both form and formlessness coincide simultaneously as this great breathing consciousness. (But that’s another dialogue, and in essence the topic of the book I just wrote.)
I look forward very much to hearing your response, feelings, what you come to ponder as we remember together the magnificence of All that is forever already right here!
Love to you.
– r. larue
copyright ronda larue, 1999
myth of mastering fear non duality series