Saturday, November 24, 2007

peaceful warrior

the world holds many gifts, gifts that feed us and warm us and entertain us, but sometimes among all those gifts is a jewel that shines more brightly than all the others, a treasure that fills us and guides us. i have found such a treasure in the movie peaceful warrior, the story of dan millman and his teacher socrates. what a beautiful, unexpected gem this film is for me.

i saw this movie today (never even knowing about it until today); i will watch it again and again, adding it to my own library.

one of the lines in the movie reminded me of a discussion in my past several posts. dan comes to socrates with an insight claiming anger, hatred, and violence are only products of fear, and i realized he gets it! anger, hatred, and violence, when distilled, are proven to be merely expressions of fear. (this is not the theme of the movie, simply a single statement.)

i hope you will love the film as much as i do.

Friday, November 16, 2007

guest house

a practice that has had profound influence on helping me reduce fear and anger in my life is the practice to accept and welcome each, not resist it or hate it or deny it. i learned this concept first from a speech by Thich Nhat Hanh, and i have continued its practice. i talk to my fear or anger, acknowledge it and say hello, even thank it for its gifts (for everything has a gift, and even fear carries some kind of protection or help even if it is misplaced and even if it hurts more than it helps). i welcome this voice at the table and give thanks and somehow in the acceptance, the potency and the sting are diminished and then the fear or anger is dissolved.

i like the words of Rumi that seem to speak on this same idea....

This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

photography by permission

Thursday, November 15, 2007

fear, continued

a few days ago i started discussing love and fear as possibly our only two states of being, with every emotion emanating from one or the other of these two states. (it is important that we stop and feel whatever we experience to know if it is fear-based or love-based.)

during the unfolding of that writing, i began to sense fear as all coming from one of two: fear of not being good enough and fear of being alone. fear of success, fear of failure, fear of public speaking, fear of losing a job, fear of losing a lover...every kind of fear seemed to me to come from fear of not being good enough or from fear of being alone.

after further pondering, though, i narrowed down fear of not being good enough to being simply fear of not being enough.

fear of being alone then also begged being narrowed down to fear of not being enough (after all, if we learn/know we are enough, how can we be afraid of being alone?). so i began to see all fear being distilled to the fear of not being enough. all fear, every fear, has a foundation of our being afraid of not being enough. or so it seems to me.

but i failed to include a particular class of fears, and that of the fear of physical pain and fear of death. for some, this class of fears is overwhelming and crippling. this kind of fear might not be so connected with the fears that underlie our attitudes and behaviors and interactions, but it is a present fear for many nonetheless.

for me, i am becoming more of who i am meant to be as i explore each of my own emotions and actions as coming from a position of love or of fear. and in realizing those things with a fear base representing a fear of not being enough, i begin to deepen my understanding that i am enough.

it's kind of funny how it works, but it works. and i become ever less fearful. and ever more grounded in love.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


the minute i see myself as being arrogant,
i at once step into greater modesty.
the minute i see myself as being humble,
i am immediately less so.
i walk a razor's edge.

photography by permission
graham jeffery

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

love and fear

it seems to me that underneath every emotion and every practice, we have one of two states of being, and all that we experience stems from one or the other. those two states are love and fear. some may suggest love and hate but it doesn't seem to be so. we experience love or fear.

in my beginning efforts to understand my own emotions, i began to practice observing them and uncovering them at deeper and deeper levels. in considering anger, i looked more deeply and found hurt, but beneath the hurt i then discovered fear. can we have any emotional pain without fear being underneath it?

looking at my own tendencies toward procrastination, i found fear as its roots. studying arrogance, or depression, or the need to please, the need to be perfect, the need to be right, or the need to be in control, i found fear to be its base.

being afraid can come in the guise of fear of not being good enough or fear of being alone. until just now i had not thought about their being only two kinds of fear so now i'll need to ponder that too. we could suggest the fear of being wrong--but fear of being wrong has beneath it the fear of not being good enough (if we know the truth of our perfection, which is far more than being good enough, then we have no fear of being wrong). we could imagine the fear of getting hurt, but then the "getting hurt" that we fear is tied to fear of not being good enough or fear of being alone.

now then, it seems to me our work is to recognize and to acknowledge each expression of our fear, and allow it to transform into love. i begin by saying what i am afraid of, aloud, quietly and alone with myself. if i need to, i say it again and again. something about recognizing and acknowledging immediately begins the work. i begin to accept my fear and in the accepting, it begins to change.

love, then, seems to be the only thing that is not fear. and love is the source of everything beautiful, everything strong, everything good.

photography by permission