Fear is a very timely topic now, because fear these days seems so palpable, so atmospheric. You can almost smell the fear around you. The polarization, fundamentalism, aggression, violence, and unkindness that are happening everywhere on the planet – these bring out our fear and nervousness and make us feel that we are on shaky ground.
The truth is that the ground has always been shaky, forever. But in times when fear is prevalent, that truth is more obvious. All this fear surrounding us may sound like the bad news, but in fact it’s the good news. Fear is like a dot that emerges in the space in front of us and captures our attention. It is like a doorway we could go through, but where that doorway leads is not predetermined. It is up to us. Usually when we’re afraid, it sets off a chain reaction. We go inward and start to armor ourselves, trying to protect ourselves from whatever we think is going to hurt us. But our attempts to protect ourselves do not lessen the fear. Quite the opposite – the rear is actually escalating. Rather than becoming free from fear, we become hardened. As our fear spreads within, it makes us harder and more set in our ways.
…Becoming more in touch with ourselves gives birth to enormous appreciation for the world and for other people. It can sound corny, but you feel grateful for the beauty of the world. It’s a very special way to live. Your heart is filled with gratitude, appreciation, compassion, and caring for other people. And it all comes from touching that shakiness within and being willing to be present with it.
– Pema Chodron, “Smile at Fear,” Shambhala Sun, March 2011
This month Santa Sabina Center’s online retreat is “Grounding Ourselves When There is No Ground: A Buddhist-Christian Perspective on Living in Interesting Times.” So this month’s quotes will be related to groundlessness and how we meet the unexpected in our lives.
To learn more about our retreat and/or register, please go to: http://www.santasabinacenter.org/retreats-page