THE WAY OUT OF FEAR

Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.

Source: Pema Chödrön
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
(Shambhala; Anniversary edition, 2016) pages 33-34

CONSIDER THIS

Fear whispers into your ears all the time and whether you listen to it or not is the choice that you get to make in your life.  Many of us make the mistake of assuming as true the fearful stories and fear scenarios that we confront in our imagination. Instead, what if you chose to befriend fear and instead of getting paralyzed by the stories, you decided to find out for yourself and did the thing you feared.  Fear is built on structures of assumptions, lack of action and lack of awareness. Once you move through the fog of fear and shine the light of awareness by taking action or moving forward, fear loses its power and efficacy.

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“When things fall apart or you feel fear, rather than feel you’re getting the short end of the stick, feel lucky. Only when you feel fear will you feel the opportunity to have the courage to grow. Being courageous and having a great life is all about being intimate with fear in a wise and graceful way. Feel the fear, and then do what needs to get done. Rather than being depressed about fear, lean into it, and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.” — Pema Chödrön as paraphrased by Cathy Chester (AnEmpoweredSpirit.com)

THE WORLD MIRRORS THE HEART

THE WORLD MIRRORS THE HEART

Su Dongpo prided himself on his wit and liked to debate Master Foyin. One day, over tea, he challenged the master. “Foyin, people think you are an enlightened monk, but to me you just look like a big, stinking pile of worthless dung sitting on your pillow all day long.”

Su Dongpo leaned backward and crossed his arms slyly.

Master Foyin placed his hands in prayer position, “My dear Dongpo, but to me you look like a Buddha.”

Su Dongpo grinned and bid Master Foyin farewell.

When Su Dongpo got home, he was wearing a triumphant smile. His sister asked him what happened.

“Today I outsmarted Master Foyin,”Su Dongpo replied, then recounted the events to her.

“Oh no, brother! I’m sorry to tell you this, but you lost badly,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you realize that the world mirrors the heart? Master Foyin sees you as a Buddha because he is a Buddha. You see him as a pile of dung. What does that make you?”

Su Dongpo turned beet red. Then, all of a sudden, he became enlightened.

Source: There are many versions of this traditional story, each with their own unique take on the tale. This is the version as told by Qigong master, Jihui (Robert) Peng, in The Master Key: Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love and Wisdom. (Sounds True, 2014) pages 223-224

CONSIDER THIS

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” —C.G. Jung

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” Hermann Hesse

“We discover in ourselves what others hide from us and we recognize in others what we hide from ourselves.” —Vauvenargues

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SINGLE HEARTEDNESS

A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master:

“If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen.”

The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”

The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then ?”

Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”

“But, if I really, really work at it. How long then ?” asked the student.

“Thirty years,” replied the Master.

“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”

Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

Source: As quoted in Saskia Shakin
More Than Words Can Say: The Making of Inspired Speakers
Ovation Publishers (November 2008)

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Here’s a shorter version of the same story

Student: How long will it take me to learn enlightenment?
Master: Five years.

Student: What if I try real hard?
Master: Ten years.

Source:  Melannie Svoboda
In Steadfast Love: Letters on the Spiritual Life
(Twenty-Third Publications, 2007) page 66

CONSIDER THIS

It is not about working harder, but rather about stepping back and gentle focus.  Stop trying  so hard and instead allow things to happen unto you.

When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle, he is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind or sees two targets –
He is out of his mind!
His skill has not changed. But the prize divides him.
He cares. He thinks more of winning than of shooting—
And the need to win drains him of power.

(Chuang Tzu : 19:4, p. 158)