Fear and Practice in 2018

I’ve attempted to write a blog post about the slaughter that happened over the weekend in Pittsburgh and how much it really shook me the core. The words to describe what I was feeling didn’t really resonate with me. Something about what I was trying to say just felt … off.

Not being a Jew, to a certain extend my emotional reaction felt borrowed, like it wasn’t my place to feel that. To a certain extent I still feel like that, as if my grief isn’t real, just borrowed. Along side my feeling of being a pretender, I felt something else — fear. How long before someone whom I’ve never met decides that gays need to die because of some percieved slight? It’s already happened once in a night club, but there was something about the sanctity of a house of worship the reflected on the deep dark depravity of the shooter.

I should be clear – I’m still afraid. The nation we’ve shown ourselves to be is not a place I’m sure I’ll be welcome in a few years time. I fear losing the wonderful life I have with my family. I fear that my life won’t be what it is now, and could in fact be far worse. The fear was growing in no small part because I could take no real action to soothe it and so I sat down for my practice. And in the stillness and quiet of my meditation, I remembered a phrase that has givem me perspective in the past.

The Litany against Fear
Dune, by  Frank Herbert

I must not fear

Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.

Only I will remain.

Fear with perspective, left unchecked leads to the domination of the little self, the emotional monkey on the inside that doesn’t understand anything beyond pleasure and flight or fight.

I am still afraid. But I will wake up every day and face my fear. I will let it pass through me until only I remain. Its an exercise I might have to do everyday, or multiple times a day for the foreseeable future. But I remind myself that this is the practice–the challenging parts are the journey and the moments of stillness and presence are the destination.

To borrow from another favorite author of mine,

Journey before Destination
Stormlight Archive, Brandon Sanderson.