'Fear is a Choice'

by David Ian Cowan
(Boulder, Colorado)

The other day I heard a political commentator mention how they noticed on a recent trip outside North America how comparatively happy most people are compared to those of us living in the land of the free. I recall having the same impression in my travelling days. In fact, I recall having a harder time adjusting and experiencing 'reverse culture shock' upon coming home than I did in experiencing completely different cultures and societies. Of course, the obvious question is "Why is this so?"
There are a number or reasons I'm sure. Is it because we are inundated by advertising feeding us images that of a lifestyle that hardly anyone has a prayer of actually attaining? Is is because of the unconscious guilt we hold for our growing suspicion that the policies of 'democratizing' the world has been a sham and thin veneer for a policy of economic neo-colonialism at the real cost of the life and liberty of millions of our fellow humans? We wonder why kids bully and cops kill while we celebrate the macho-driven militarization behind a foreign policy resented by much of the rest of the world. The absurdity of the positions of some of the candidates for the presidency boggles the mind. No wonder the rest of the world shakes their head in wonder for what has become of the 'bastion of democracy' since the 'glory days' of the post world war two years. And of course, as with all major regimes of the past, a main tool for compliance has been the manipulation of public opinion through fear.
It is not too hard to expand one's vision to realize the fundamental conflict being played out geopolitically is one of fear vs. love. We are seeing on a grand scale a script that each of us in the human condition has signed up for by being born into what appears to be a state of separation, struggle and survival.
The advantage of going beyond the strictly political or psychological viewpoint is that we can begin to appreciate the clash of principles (fear vs. love) as fundamental to our common predicament. Trying to solve the world's problems from the same level of mind that causes them is an exercise in futility, and in fact compounds the problem.
This is why understanding fear is so important now. If we don't understand fear, we will be choosing to remain in a state of emotional reaction to events rather than intelligent response. This is exactly that the 'powers that were' are counting on in order to sustain their own fantasy and addiction to power and control. So what is fear? Nothing in and of itself, other than a set of thoughts or beliefs entwined with certain biological responses to stress or trauma. As a mental construct, chronic fear states are enmeshed in deeply held, unconscious beliefs in the form of mental images. These beliefs, as noted, can stem from survival instincts, but once these beliefs are supported and reinforced by the deliberate means of media and constantly reinforced low-level cultural values, they can become so indelibly imprinted in the mind that many have built an identity rooted in the assumption of fear as natural, justified and even virtuous.
To put fear in it's place and returning it to the role of a simple biological reflex requires that we recognize the weakness of fear as a psychological state. What does fear accomplish? A contraction of consciousness, a reliance on conditioned assumptions and a furthering of the conditions that call for more fear. Like a mind-virus, fear can ultimately destroy it's host in it's all-consuming quest to infect all it surveys. Fear, then, is ultimately self-defeating and life-denying.
The notion of the fundamental conflict between fear and love is of course a dualistic issue. Duality is a state of consciousness where we perceive opposites as real. We have divided our minds to perceive both 'this' and 'that' as fundamentally separate. In separating our perceptions thus, we are ascribing to the principle of separation as real. And in doing so we inadvertently re-affirm the unconscious fear the we are somehow separated as well...separate from nature, each other and even whatever may have created us. Therefore the notion of separation and duality is inherently fear-causing, touching the deep unconscious nerve in our minds that tells us we are essentially weak, powerless and doomed to ultimately die, having lived a meaningless existence for no purpose but to suffer. This, folks, is classic ego propaganda, intended to keep you down, the ego being a 'thought made self' made up of separation concepts and the fear these promote.
I propose that the condition of our world as we perceive it through the eyes of duality are simply providing an elaborate mirror to each and every one of us as to the developmental state and cross-roads we find ourselves today. We are being pushed by circumstances of survival to grow to the next developmental stage of the species where we transcend the 'shell' of the individuated ego and it's fears to become a unified organism expressing both the uniqueness of its parts and that which connects us all, our common essence or Spirit, if you will.
Fear, thus, may be understood as a limited condition serving only to provide the impetus to go beyond fear. As fear is only ever contractive, so love is unconditionally expansive and inclusive. If the duality of love and fear is only an aspect of the condition of our minds at an early stage of development, can't we simply change our minds about the meaning of these seeming opposites and bring the whole issue to completion? Of the two, love or fear, which do you prefer? This may be one of the most important questions you ever ask yourself. Of the two, which do you prefer to give 'reality'? Consider that only one of these opposites can be ultimately real. If only fear is real, where does this lead you? If only love is real, what happens to fear?
Seeing that fear is contractive and love is expansive, which of the two do you think must ultimately 'win'? Do you see fear opening itself to embrace and devour love? This would not be consistent with fear's aversion to that which joins rather than separates. Fear, alas, can only destroy. Separation digs a hole to find only more separation; a seemingly 'bottomless pit' of hopeless endeavor. Love, however, looks at fear and considers 'this too can be loved into wholeness.'
Let's define fear then as a place where we have not yet allowed love to enter. Fear is an empty room with no windows or light to give it any sense of meaning. Love is the light that floods the room when we open to door to the possibility that fear does not even exist outside our imagination.
We are all such powerful beings. YOU are a powerful being. We have all been blessed with the power of decision. And now, hopefully, you see how fear is a choice, not a 'given', and you have the power to say 'no more' to fear, but rather to choose love instead. My personal guarantee is that you will never regret that choice, unlike the guilt and shame we feel, but often 'stuff' when we give in to fear. 'Stuffed' fear has a way of creating chaos and destruction in our bodies, our minds and relationships. Determine in this moment "I will do my best to realize when I have allowed fear to take over my mind, and I will exercise the power given me to choose love the best I can. And when I do succumb to fear, I will forgive myself and remember that I will always be given another chance to choose love."
David Ian Cowan

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