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)

WAKE UP

It was this very first class on a Monday morning. The wise teacher, a couple of years shy of retirement, started the day by asking her class of high school students: “Here is a quiz for you. You are sleeping. You are dreaming. A big tiger is chasing you. You try to run away and you see a tiger coming in front of you. You turn sideways, but every side you turn to, you find a ferocious animal coming after you. How can you escape?”

There was silence in the classroom. No one dared a response.

So finally the teacher said, “There’s only one answer: Wake up!”

Source | Philip Chircop. This is my own retelling of a story I heard years ago.

CONSIDER THIS

It’s all about waking up.  Waking up one enters a whole new world of reality, different from that of the world of dreams. What was a huge problem in the dream state often becomes a non-issue in the waking state.

“Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don’t know it, are asleep. They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence. You know, all mystics -Catholic, Christian, non-Christian, no matter what their theology, no matter what their religion — are unanimous on one thing: that all is well, all is well. Though everything is a mess, all is well. Strange paradox, to be sure. But, tragically, most people never get to see that all is well because they are asleep. They are having a nightmare.” | Anthony deMello,  Awareness

I’M NOT HENRY, I’M JOHN.

A woman suddenly stops a man walking down the street and says:

“Henry, I am so happy to see you after all these years! My, how you have changed! You were so tall and you’ve grown so short. You were so well built and you’ve grown so thin. You were so fair and you’ve become so dark. Good grief how you have changed in five years! What happened to you, Henry?”

Finally, the man got a chance to interject: “But ma’am, my name is not Henry! My name is John.”

To which the persistent woman calmly responded: “Oh, so you changed your name too!”

Source | Adapted from Anthony de Mello, Awareness, page 28.

 PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • We all have our positions, don’t we? And we listen from those positions.
  • How do you get people like that to really listen?

BEYOND ADORATION

A story told my cardinal Martini SJ, has to do with an Italian couple that’s getting married. They have an arrange­ment with the parish priest to have a little reception in the parish courtyard outside the church. But it rained, and they couldn’t have the reception, so they said to the priest, “Would it be all right if we had the celebration in the church?”

Now father wasn’t one bit happy about having a recep­tion in the church, but they said, “We will eat a little cake, sing a little song, drink a little wine, and then go home.” So father was persuaded. But being good life-loving Italians they drank a little wine, sang a little song, then drank a little more wine, and sang some more songs, and within a half hour there was a great celebration going on in the church. And everybody was having a great time, lots of fun and frolic. But father was all tense, pacing up and down in the sacristy, all upset about the noise they were making. The assistant pastor comes in and says, “I see you are quite tense”.

“Of course, I’m tense. Listen to all the noise they are making, and in the House of God!, for heaven’s sake!”

“Well, Father, they really had no place to go.”

“I know that! But do they have to make all that racket?”

“Well, we mustn’t forget, must we, father, that Jesus himself was once present at a wedding!”

Father says, “I know Jesus Christ was present at a wed­ding banquet, you don’t have to tell me Jesus Christ was present at a wedding banquet! But they didn’t have the Blessed Sacrament there!”

Source | Anthony de Mello,  Awareness. Page 65 ff

PONDER AND CONSIDER

You know there are times like that when the Blessed Sacrament becomes more important than Jesus Christ. When worship becomes more important than love, when the Church becomes more important than life. When God becomes more important than the neighbor. And so it goes on. That’s the danger. To my mind this is what Jesus was evidently calling us to – first things first! The human being is much more important than the Sabbath.