The natural motion of life flows silently, with ease, simplicity and inner knowing.
What we call “the mind” is actually a limited faculty of our interpreting self, filtering the world solely through the dimension of thoughts and concepts. To a large extent, we conduct ourselves based only on that which we can grasp through this dimension.
This is not to say that everything which emerges from the mind is necessarily dangerous, complicated or complex. While it’s true that most of it is, especially the way we use it, it is also a dimension in which beauty, compassion, sharing, love and friendship can be found. In fact, the ability of my mind to interpret and contemplate is the very reason why I am able to even comprehend that I am not my mind. The very existence of such a thought allows me to distinguish between what is true and what is not. It allows me to listen to wisdom, to identify it and to know it. The awakened mind is that which agrees to surrender and be obedient. It allows me to submit to knowledge.
The mind is not the enemy. It is in fact the very tool with which I am able to see the confusion and awaken from it. Our very existence as “owners of a mind” is what allows us to truly see.
The importance of thinking and its impact on our physical life has long been known. It is a system of survival through which we form thought patterns that serve us and affect every aspect of our lives – but that in effect run our lives as long as we continue to follow it blindly and identify with it absolutely.
This system is what we call “the mind”. Its job is to protect us on a physical level. It ensures that both our body and our soul are kept safe, even if at the price of the most important ingredient of our being: The spirit. The mind sounds continuous alerts and analyzes the situation – past, present and future. It warns, deters, prevents, compares, draws conclusions, divides and separates – all while our true and natural voice, that part of our eternal and endless consciousness, is forgotten, abandoned beneath the heavy weight of the mind, as if cowering underneath it, either because of its endless noise or because of the lies and deception that come with it.
The “world of fear”, as we refer to it in this book, is the world as the mind creates it. It is the logic employed by people as they attempt to comprehend the world, give it meaning and make order; as they try to understand how things work and how they should conduct themselves. The world of fear is a world created by the mind in its attempt to give people a false sense of security and make them complacent.
Conditions Upon Which Fear Is Predicated
The world of fear relies on two basic premises that together form its base.
The first says: The world is complicated, complex and dangerous.
The second says: We are insufficient, “lacking”.
In other words, we do not have what it takes to be happy or move through this world easily, simply or harmoniously.
If only one of these premises were true, the world of fear could not exist.
If I was in fact “lacking” but the world was not a complicated, complex or dangerous place, I could still manage to live slowly, comfortably and without the thought that I must do or achieve everything. What I don’t know I wouldn’t do and what I can do would make me happy. When danger and complexity are not part of the equation, “lacking” is not an issue.
If the world was complicated, complex and dangerous but I was not “lacking”, the situation would appear to be an adventure – daring, challenging, educational.
But when the two beliefs co-exist, the mind clasps its hands together and says: “Okay, so listen to me. From now on, you do as I say.”
At this point the mind begins to give instructions, with two clear goals – to prevent pain and to avoid death.
The mind says to me: “Listen to me and you will be safe. If you do not listen, you will experience pain and you will die, but do not even think about complaining to me.”
I plead with it: “But what about simplicity? What about happiness? What about intimacy and mutual admiration?”
And the mind answers: “Sure, I’m all for it. I’m all for it. One day. But in the meantime, be responsible and disciplined, exactly as you know how to be, and just do as I say.”
I ask again: “But what about love…?”
And the mind roars in a reproving tone: “If you die, will you be able to love? If you are in pain, will you be able to be happy?”
I lower my eyes. How could I have thought that I am smarter than it? I apologize.
From this moment, the world of fear begins to exist.
From this moment, the mind is in charge. It shouts orders and regulates my emotions and feelings so as to reinforce its point. And I, for my part, obey.
From this moment, the mind employs four strategies.
Four approaches for dealing with the complex, complicated and dangerous world.
Four approaches designed for a world of lacking.
Strategies to “Protect Me”
Prevention / Avoidance
Since the mind wants to ensure minimal risk, it prefers that we employ a strategy of avoidance. The mind claims that since we do not know where we might encounter a threat, it is best if we just avoid contact with the world altogether.
The prevention / avoidance strategy says: “Don’t come close. Don’t do anything. Don’t make contact. This is the best way to ensure that you will remain safe.”
It offers three ways for doing this:
(1) Distancing yourself from others.
(2) Creating distance of others from you.
(3) Blurring your feelings.
The mind says that the goal is to avoid pain, either by totally annihilating it or, if you cannot do this, by blurring your feelings so that when a blow is delivered you will not feel its tremendous impact.
The challenge with this strategy, beyond the fact that it separates, isolates and creates loneliness, pain and fear, is that it does not allow me to get close. This strategy ensures that I am not given a chance to get close enough to see what is true, to see what really happens to me when I encounter the world. This strategy creates monsters and dragons. It tells a tale of blood and gore. It ensures that I am not able to get close enough to see that these dragons and monsters don’t really exist.
As a result, I do not touch or even allow myself to bring this close encounter to the test. The mind continues to tell me its empty, frightening tale of an alienated world in which love does not exist. And I, for my part, walk beside life – instead of in it, or with it.
Purging, purification, cleansing.
This strategy is similar to the prevention/avoidance strategy except that here, it is done retroactively. After the fact. “You fell asleep on duty! Something happened and danger is already here!” says the mind. “The uncertainty has created a threat, and now your job is to distance yourself as quickly as possible. Close off all options. Do not be tempted to stay. Just get away! Flee!”
With this strategy, we will once again not stick around to see what is going on. We will not get closer to examine what is really happening. Rather, we will be obedient to the mind and remain its slave, stuck in the story that it has written and the limitations that it has set.
Forming of conditions and stipulations
These strategies are different from the first two and it can be difficult to recognize that they also come from the world of fear – from a place of emptiness, negativity and lacking. In fact, we have come to think that they come from a “yes” place. That they are forms of motivation.
The first is “I must have” and the second is “I must be”.
…..Because if not, “then I won’t be ….” / “I won’t have… “
“I must be soft, wise, assertive, worthwhile, desirable, admirable, a mother, a wife….”
“I must have a red convertible, a PhD, security, money, status, children, a life partner…. “
All of these things are very nice on their own, but what is hidden beneath “I must” is a long list of conditions.
When I believe that “I must” do or have something, I essentially believe that these are necessary contingencies for ensuring that I love or am loved; that I am happy, secure, worthwhile, and successful. In other words, if I don’t have these things, then I will not love or be loved. I will not be happy, secure, worthwhile, and successful. It is as simple as that.
The world of fear wants me to strive endlessly to ensure that these conditions are met. It tells me that if I do not meet these conditions, I will not love or be loved. I will not be happy, secure, worthwhile and successful. It tells me that being responsible means upholding these conditions at all costs; ensuring that they are met, no matter what.
As soon as I am convinced and uphold these conditions, two things happen:
The first thing that happens is that I believe these conditions are real. They are not. I love and am loved even if I am not married, even if I do not have an advanced degree, even if I do not hold a high status in society. I am happy even when things that I want to happen do not happen. I can be happy for no reason.
The mind acts as a responsible adult. But it has no way of fulfilling the role that we have asked it to fulfill. It can’t know what is right for me and it can’t see my spirit. Moreover, in its attempt to create false order for me – in order to protect me, as I have asked it to do – it seeks to control my actions, to guarantee that I do as it says.
The mind wants to create enough fear and enough motivation to ensure that I have no doubt, to make certain that I will not veer under any circumstance. And I therefore begin to operate blindly. The existence of these conditions becomes the very core of my existence. My dependence on them becomes all-encompassing and I cannot give them up or see any other possibilities.
I believe wholeheartedly that happiness and security depend on the existence of these conditions and I therefore create friction with the world – quarrels and calculations, anger and resentment – when these conditions are not met; or in other words, when things don’t go my way.
The anger and, especially, the desire to uphold these conditions (which we often confuse for our heartfelt dreams or wishes) turns the mind into a trusted confidant guiding me through the intricacies of life using a variety of precise strategies and calculations to help me reach my destination but never really succeeding. Not because I am incapable, but because the conditions are imaginary and because my happiness is not dependent on them or any other condition.
The second thing that happens, and plays a significant role, is that when I truly believe in these conditions, I stop seeing reality as it really is. Instead, I begin to understand my reality only according to the mind’s reading of it. As a result, I might end up in a situation where what I want in life is exactly what is happening and yet I nevertheless find myself endlessly striving, fighting and expending great effort to uphold these conditions.
I am loved even if I do not give what is asked of me, but I just can’t see it. I am safe even if I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but I just can’t believe it. When I am under the mind’s authority, following its laws and guidelines, I am too busy upholding conditions that are not even real to see that what I want is what’s already happening.
From the mind’s point of view, these four strategies are for our benefit – but in reality, they create pain and fear in our world because what stems from fear spreads more fear. We become even more afraid and in even greater pain. And we find ourselves returning to the mind, listening to it even more than before. With greater adherence. At an even greater cost.
The first thing we need to know about the world of fear is that it is a hallucination. A complete delusion. A hologram. A picture created by the mind to trick us into believing that we are protected within this eternal system in which anyone who knows what to do, is safe.
I use the word “delusion” because the world of fear only exists when we think about it and believe in it. When we do not believe in it, it does not exist. It’s not that we are just looking the other way and not paying attention to it. It simply is not there. When we do not believe in it and do not think about it, the entire construct disappears, complete with its rules and regulations, and everything is returned to its natural state as pure particles of energy. Vibrant and very, very much alive.
The Fear Intensifies
As long as we believe in the world of fear and are subservient to it, the fear will intensify.
The second thing we need to know about the world of fear is that if we continue to accept its rules, we will become more and more afraid This is the exact opposite of what the mind had promised. The exact opposite of what we so greatly desired.
An outstanding final grade, an unexpected and flattering promotion at work, a birth that goes smoothly – these can all cause us to feel a sense of achievement that often passes quickly, giving way to greater concern. Can I continue to meet these expectations? Will I regret that they saw in me such potential? Will I be a good mother? Am I able to repeat these successes and continue to achieve so as to prevent future pain or fear?
You Can’t Escape It, You Can Only Witness It
You Can’t Escape It
The third thing that we must understand about the world of fear is that we cannot escape it. The more I attempt to break free, the more I am held hostage within it. If I say: “I must not be so driven by the world of fear; I must stop being afraid all the time” – then I have returned to the “problem-solving” strategy. The difficulty already exists. Now I want to make it disappear. Again: The world is complex, complicated and dangerous and I am lacking. It is clearly just a matter of time before I begin to feel pain. And so I try to get away from it, from the fear that puts me in danger and causes me damage.
When I think that I need to be more assertive, that I need to be braver, I again find myself held hostage by the world of fear. I am once again employing the strategy of “I must be” and “I must do”. And as my identification with this thought becomes more entrenched, I become more enslaved to the conditions of the mind and further distanced from true freedom. I then identify even more with this thought, having received proof that the world is complicated and dangerous and that I am not good enough, that I do not have what it takes to succeed.
And thus begins the spin cycle – I return in fear and frustration to my starting point and I can’t understand how I got back there. I had worked so hard to get out!!
You Can Only Witness It
So if we can’t escape it, what can we do?
The fourth and final thing to know about the world of fear is that while we cannot escape it, we can witness it. Any attempt to escape the world of fear brings me back to those thoughts and approaches with which I have become so familiar, the ones that say that there must be something wrong with me or the situation, and that I must find a solution or a method for coping. This is how the world of fear ensures that I remain stuck in a closed circuit, upholding its instructions.
However, since I am not my thoughts or my fears, I can identify the world of fear and see how it works – because it has been created by the mind, because it is nothing but a thought.
When I witness the world of fear, the mind becomes frozen in terror. To the mind, it is as though I have taken my legs, put them at the edge of the room, and walked back to my chair. It, having confidently believed that we were one, now finds itself an object of observation. As an object. Not as me.
It quiets down and remains silent. It is left wordless.
This is an extremely rare occurrence and an opportunity.
When the mind becomes silent, I can shift my attention to the world as it truly is, not through the lens of the mind but in a direct encounter. The world ceases to be complicated. Urgency and intensity disappear and I become closer. Responsive. Steadfast. Experienced. I find myself free from the mind’s rules and regulations, free from the brain’s logic. I become one with what is happening.
It is as though I am flitting through a glistening meadow. Everything seems simple. I am in a state of love. Things that used to be difficult become easy and happen quickly. Things that were once so important to me now fade away. And I am just me. Purely me.
The mind now awakens from its initial shock and is very, very frightened. And with good reason. When I move through this world with love and tranquility, the mind realizes that even when it pushes those buttons that are meant to trigger me, I will not be triggered. I will not believe it. I will not do as it says.
The mind then moves into a state of emergency. It attempts with all its might to force me into believing that what I am seeing right now – this beauty, this wisdom, this simple joy – is in fact confusion, disconnection and deception, and that I would be better off returning to the mind’s safe embrace. The mind does this using three advanced techniques for luring me in, techniques that only those who truly know me can use.
The mind says: “This good feeling that you are experiencing right now is purely coincidental. Beginner’s luck. Perhaps your imagination is deceiving you.”
The mind will then do everything in its power to convince me, again, that the good that I see is nothing but a passing delusion. That the mind is the real truth.
If I am not tempted (and we are so very often tempted), something beautiful will occur. I will meet someone who has been there all along. Words cannot adequately capture her beauty and her wisdom. The brain cannot conceptualize her within its clearly defined constructs, and the mind is unable to trigger her. She doesn’t make noise. She doesn’t need to try. She doesn’t need to sell herself. She has no desire to be seen or recognized. She is simply here. She hopes, for my own sake, that I will notice her. And I finally do. And I am enchanted. She is me and she is not me. I am she, but I’m not the me that I once knew. I am in awe.
At this stage, the mind fears for its life and attempts at all costs to change my new outlook and distance me from her, from myself. And then, in its distress, it employs its final temptation, the strongest of them all.
It says: “I see that you have met someone who really excites you. From what I have noticed, she really is something special. My dear friend, might you be willing to introduce me?”
What the mind knows is that in order for me to describe her, in order for me to introduce it to this wondrous being that is me, I will need to speak its language. To use words and describe features, patterns and rules. And the mind is right. If I want it to understand, this is what I must do. And so the mind sits quietly and waits. There is nothing further for it to do. When I finish describing this wondrous being in terms that are familiar to the mind, the wonder no longer appears nearly as wondrous. The magic is gone. The power has been undermined, shaken to its core. The wonder now seems terribly familiar. And I have no idea what I had been thinking earlier when I was so struck by her.
And that is it. I have been returned to the mind’s embrace.
This book describes the dance that takes place when we truly meet life and learn to live it to its fullest, free from any need to report back to the mind.