Fearing What Is

We are all born with some kind of unresolved karma calling us to take birth. Our karma shows us the way to liberate the traces of past experience by getting our attention. In my life I was born carrying profound distrust of the perceived world and had a father who mirrored that trace. Until I understood that echo from the past, I thought my distrust of authority and my worst case thinking was a virtue that would keep me safe from the challenges inherent in life. But I was mistaken.

We are usually mistaken when replaying the past. After all, it is past. When we use the past to filter the present, we cannot see the way to liberate where we are stuck. My distrust of authority became a distrust of my own wisdom. Worst case thinking became fear of whatever was happening, fear of everything in front of my eyes. This is what karma does: it gets our attention and shows us the way to liberate the habits of mind by pointing them out. We recognize our karmic default setting. We then have an opportunity to change our settings.

I tend to default into fear and anxiety. I can walk into a stormy early winter day and fear what may happen with the weather and distrust my capacity to deal with it. When I shift my perspective, I can see the same day as the beautiful way nature offers herself to us and know I can deal with whatever arises. I notice how I toggle between the darkness of past trauma and the light of clarity. I see how they interpenetrate: darkness is light, light is darkness. Then all distinctions cease, at least for a moment.

Our practice is to link up the moments of clarity so there are no more breaks. In the dzogchen teachings this is referred to as abiding in the natural mind. Our original unconditioned mind makes no distinctions between dark and light, they are of the same flavor or “the innermost one taste of the wisdom mind.” Everything has the same taste if experienced in the pure light of awareness. The fearing mind (aversion) recognizes itself and dissolves in the light of cognizance. It is the same for attachment, pride, envy, greed, and basic misperception. 

Fearing what is invites the fearing mind to see the light that illuminates the fear. What could be more simple?

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