In an early post, I discussed freeing myself from fear ... in that instance the fear of moving someplace new, facing the unknown. And in my most recent post, I discussed how I was freeing myself from my fear of death.
But I realized that morning that there were other anxieties that I had not touched. And that I needed to name them and meditate on them in order to free myself from them. For myself at least I have found that I cannot free myself from my anxieties globally. They must be addressed one by one, even though the process for each may be very similar.
Two of my most compelling anxieties are the fear of losing my health and the fear of losing my income stream and becoming not necessarily poor but unable to live the type of “comfortable’ life that I have lived for most of my life. As with all fears, these are based on my learned experience ... what it means to be in chronic ill health; what it means to not have the resources to surround yourself with a certain level of creature comfort and beauty.
The images I have of the chronically ill are pain and depression, of being incapable of partaking of many aspects of life. The images of have of being financially challenged is living in an unattractive neighborhood, in not-well-cared-for housing, surrounded by indignities of various types and not able to partake of things that nourish me. These images come from my personal experience and the media. And they are overwhelming.
But as I meditated on these fears, I knew that as with all things these perceptions lack any intrinsic nature. Yes, there are many people who are ill or who don’t have money who live dire lives. But there is also no shortage of examples of people who are full of life and positive energy despite being ill. Who despite their financial circumstances maintain a good spirit and offer others joy and help relieve the suffering of others.
Why do I not have faith in myself that if I were faced with such circumstances I would find the strength through my true Buddha nature to be present in the moment free of the intervention of thought, to continue to offer others joy and help relieve the suffering of others? To respect my mind and my body by engaging both to the extent possible? And regardless how meager the circumstances may be, to create for myself a physical space that is nourishing and peaceful?
The answer is that I have always run from these anxieties and fears. I have not faced them and tried to imagine myself in those conditions. But facing them now, I do have faith that in these situations as in others I will be able to be present free of thought, free of fear, knowing that my purpose is to offer others joy and help relieve the suffering of others, knowing that if I live each moment well the future will take care of itself, all will be well.
But as I’ve said many times before, what we are trying to do in walking the path is change the habit energies of a lifetime. This cannot happen overnight; our fears are too entrenched, too strong. They will not dissipate in a flash, but with discipline and attention in my meditation they will slowly subside.
Even so, I must always remember that while my faith in traversing whatever life throws at me will increase with meditation, this does not mean that my thinking mind will not arise again with these fears. We cannot retrain our thinking mind, nor negotiate with it. All we can do is learn to discern the difference between what it, our ego, is telling us and what our true Buddha nature tells us. And so when my ego or thinking mind arises, I will acknowledge it, have compassion for it and where it’s coming from, but firmly say that that perspective is a function of the past and that I am now looking to my true Buddha nature for guidance.
Postscript: I have now from within realized that fear and all skandhas are just a product of the mind and so their power has all but disappeared. See my post, "Proof of the Nature of Mind - Fear, Ego, and Buddha Mind,"