Driven by Fear
by Antonio Dias
Coercion, hostility, anger, rejection; are all signs of fear. They cease to exist when there is no fear.
These are paraphrases of points Krishnamurti made repeatedly. The dynamics surrounding fear cannot be ignored. They inflect not only how we react and respond ourselves, but hold some key to how we can find ways to speak to those around us and expand the spheres of compassion.
Here is a related question Krishnamurti also brought up. What do we have to offer to people caught up in Enormity and trapped by fear?
We are all scarred by our situation and the conditions in which we’ve lived. This blocks our access to compassion. We are unable to extend compassion to our own organism. We bounce off the suffering of the world. Our sense of guilt at this pushes us back into fear.
There are innumerable related cycles that tend to derail our questioning and return us to fear. Once there, we are griped by despair and anxious for security. We crave and strive after power to compensate for these lacks we feel. Our failure to find satisfaction in these quests does not resolve itself. We double-down at every opportunity.
Within these dynamics what passes for society in our world remains on the level of dysfunction. We look for confirmation that our choices are the right ones. In our desperation we don’t acknowledge the greed and self-interest of those who push their solutions on us. We gain some level of intoxication from the disintegration as we find allies and discover enemies, and rally around the former and seek to destroy the latter. That this only furthers our descent into yet more disintegration is lost on us. It is the others fault, never our own. Unless it is “All my fault!” Another way this can go as our frazzled organism remains latched to the blandishments of Ego. Ego would rather we punish ourselves than ignore its charms.
Connection between people within this dynamic takes stereotypical forms. Judgements revolve around confirmation and consensus as we negotiate with others to find a relative advantage. “Yer either with us, or ag’in us!” As the old cowboy saying goes. Defensiveness, either passive or active, blurs into aggression, either active or passive. Everything or nothing is taken “seriously.” Narcissism is cloaked in religion or in nihilism. We strive after satisfaction and hunger for salvation. Our attention is directed “outward,” yet it is held by projections. Our conditioned thoughts and feelings are taken as insurmountable fact, while the results and consequences of our actions are judged malleable to our interpretation.
This whole dynamic is exhausting! People are driven by fear to keep at it. Fear and exhaustion work together to close down any faculties of genuine awareness. We become deadened. We strew death and destruction about us through everything we do. We see no other alternative but to press on. Futility haunts us and in our fear we refuse to heed its warnings. Opportunities for disillusionment abound, but we fear them instead of embracing them as the founts of joy they can be.
With this as our social reality, how do we find ways to connect with others so that we can meet people where they are and be of some use to them?
People have their coping mechanisms. These are drastic, tenuous, and people feel they are holding on by a thread. Throwing disillusioning information at them is perceived as a threat. Attempting to interact with them outside of the realm of negotiation is at best confusing and at worst seen as yet another random, disquieting gesture.
Those of us somewhere along this path of disillusionment appear to them as outcasts. We seem to offer loneliness, as Krishnamurti once put it, Why should we be surprised when this is rejected?
A salient point seems to be how compassion is misunderstood and misapplied. Without experiencing it directly, I do not know how anyone can be free of the expectation that compassion is not just another demand imposed on us, another thou shalt or I must! Addressing this might be straightforward in practice, but no prescription comes to mind on how it might be done. This may just be a clue!
What good does it do, beyond confusing everyone involved, if we attempt to practice engagement in the moment while we continue to turn every which way looking for recipes for how to do it?
Staying with the question and attending to specifics leads us to understanding. This is what we need to share. It is not programmatic. It cannot be.
Trusting in one’s organism. – This is the somewhat awkward term for that which we perceive as an “us.” It includes all that is wrapped up in the envelope of cells and matter and energy within an expression of a form that inhabits the space taken up by our physical bodies. – Trusting in one’s organism, and trusting others. Doing this while appreciating the truth of our vulnerability and understanding the corrupting effects of any coercive act. This is implicit in the statement that there is no fear where there is no coercion. This is not a riddle. It is straightforward. Remove coercion and fear dissolves. This requires an awareness of the many ways we carry on coercing our selves without the need for another to dominate us. These insights may lead us into a holographic experience in which we are the sign for what we enact. This has a power to penetrate people’s shells.
This may appear tremendously difficult. But once we are aware of the truth behind futility we can summon the energy to do that which is simply hard. What we gain from this act of compassion is to deepen and extend our understanding of being. It challenges us to extend the truths of direct engagement to our every interaction. What it does for others is to give them an opportunity to witness action outside of the circles of striving. No one has any assurances. No one has any control. No one is demanding anything. No one is wrapped up in expectation.
Expectation is how memory acts to condition us. We become Pavlov’s Dogs. It locks us into psychological time in which striving to be different somehow “in the future” appears a reasonable course. This despite the fact that “the future” is not. Our expectation of how others will receive us has a tremendous affect on how we are received. Dropping expectation and going where our interactions lead us extends our awareness of how we are limited by our conditioning. Once we shine awareness on limitations our organism responds by wiping them away. These are psychological limitations, not facts of physical reality. Awareness of our inability to fly will never lead to flapping our arms and taking off! We tend to conflate the two, even turn their realities on their head! We believe that will can overcome reality and we ignore that awareness can dissolve psychological limitations.
We cannot know where such interactions might lead.
We’ve all heard of the plasticity of the brain. Changing habits; changing patterns of perception, behavior, or thinking; will physically change our brains. Certain actions, repetitions, obsessions; establish ruts in our neuron networks that literally disintegrate our brains. Other actions will generate new connections and strengthen our brains.
What if we look at this from another angle? We could say that attention generates form. Where we focus our attention upon aspects of perception, thinking, understanding, the habits of our conditioning; these all generate the forms our brains will then take. Through a myriad of interconnections these affect the form of our organism, and these changes spread outwards to affect the world entire. In this way awareness does affect physical reality. Though it is a far cry from wish-fulfillment!
We don’t acknowledge this power. Unlike the power we strive after this is open to our influence, if not our control. We can direct our attention. As I see it, this is the function of intention, though we tend to forget this and expect intention to have some direct power of its own to affect our surroundings through acts of will. Intention is misconstrued when we expect the world to obey our intention as we throw will and violent force behind it. There is one thing we can intend. We can intend to aim our attention. This matters! It results in directly perceivable outcomes. We enter into a realm in which we do have a power that affects our organism and the world as well.
These are a series of examinations directed at the situation we find ourselves in. We may describe others as vampires or zombies. We may gain some momentary satisfaction from this. It always feels good to appear clever! Yet, this is just another case of succumbing to conditioning. It comes from our fear. And not without reason! But this becomes a trap of reason leading down the path to righteousness. Cloaked in justification we strive to proliferate disintegration even further.
We complain that these others act the way they do out of fear. If we respond to them by categorizing them this way we are also acting out of fear. On the level of opposition we may have reason to fear, this is not an illusion. It is real. Fear has a reality we need to acknowledge and understand. We see fear as the reason why we must divide the world between us and them. This is not the reality of fear. The reality of fear is that it is a form of limitation It leads us into reacting from out of our conditioning and limiting ourselves to programmed, stereotypical responses. It is like a trigger to one who is hypnotized. We feel fear and we fall into its trance.
We desire to defend this stance! We say, “What else should I do? Should I just lie down and take it?” as we imagine whatever horror our enemies have in store for us.
This defensive posture and its straw-man alternative should give us pause. It is yet another example of the way rationalizations hold us within our conditioning! Put up a preposterous alternative and we must be right to hold onto its opposite, no matter how preposterous that might be!
Recognizing our own fear as we approach those we recognize to be driven by fear directs our attention at the dynamics of fear, not safely projected onto the other, but where we can have some affect on it directly, within our selves. This does not in any way limit how we will respond to fear. It allows our organism to recognize another limitation and dissolve it. As with any case where we open ourselves to the possibility of creative action, we cannot predict where this will take us. The only thing that is certain is that it will move us away from being driven by fear.