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What Scares Me.

"Should I fear what others fear?  What nonsense!"  Tao Te Ching

I am surrounded and almost overwhelmed by books, most of which have become unnecessary for me to keeps.  Some i throw in boxes to donate or otherwise dispose of; a few i am scanning or rereading to make sure i am really done with them.  This book on fear has a simple thesis which has come  to seem like common sense to me.  Most of our fears are blown way out of proportion to their actual danger.  We are manipulated by the media and other social forces to fear them.  These manipulators may be acting  in good faith as they draw on the culture of fear that we all share.  Culture, history, current events, and manipulation come together to determine what we fear.  Included among the "wrong things to fear" (as of 1999) were crime, drugs, teenaged mothers, airline crashes, road rage, Black males, vaccinations, crack babies, etc.  I suppose that in  the past seventeen years, some of those fears have subsided and replaced by  others: perhaps terrorism,
Islam, heroin, and whatever is in tonight's news or the morning paper.

Glassner says nothing at all about what. if anything, are the "right things" to fear.  Certainly, the "gift of fear" was given to us for a reason.  Our bodies often sense dangers before our minds do, and an early warning to duck or back off or run away or call  for help was an evolutionary advantage.  So i made a little list of some of the the things that tentatively, i think i should be afraid of:

1) Global Warming

2} Social Inequality

3) Greed

4) Fear, itself.

Certainly dishonorable mention should go to 5) the technological imperative, 6) bureaucracy, 7) government, 8) the idea that science will solve ethical problems (or worse, make them disappear). and 9) pride.
Since i have included two of the "seven deadly sins," i might think about some  of the other five.  And, of course, i am going under the assumption that this world of maya is real, and that might be the most fearsome thing of all, the fear that i might lose "the kindom of God.",


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
May. 26th, 2016 06:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you for those suggestions!

I am "shivering in my shoes" over the herd mentality. One day its "no more war," the next day its "attack." One year Trump is a joke, next year he's president. And we wonder how Germany got Hitler.
May. 27th, 2016 12:09 am (UTC)
I was just thinking about this topic the other day; some people were commenting on an online article about terrorism and fear, and one said the thing to fear is extremism of any kind, be it religious or political or anything else in that vein. Another person argued that greed was the worst thing, that it was avarice and consumerism run amok that was creating such inequality and unfairness and fear of not keeping up with the Joneses ruining everything from the environment to fostering evils such as child labor in poor countries, etc. And another person said it was the love of POWER that was the most fearful thing he knew of. Religious extremists wanting power to force everyone into their way of thinking, using terror to build their power base and to control others through fear; politicians craving power at the expense of morality and ethics and fairness, using whomever and whatever sources of power around them to build their own power and suppress the power of others. The playground bully craving power over those he or she can browbeat and torment into submission; corrupt police forces wielding unchecked power along with a healthy dose of contempt for those whose rights they trample on. Of all those I think I agree that the lust for power is one of the most fearful things because as they say absolute power corrupts absolutely. I also see extremism as a fearful thing especially in light of studying the Middle Way and realizing how logical and peaceful it really is to walk neither on the side of extremism and the lust for always something MORE nor on the side of apathy and indifference and complete self-absorption. Have you read Thich Nhat Hanh's book called FEAR: ESSENTIAL WISDOM FOR GETTING THROUGH THE STORM? It's very simplistic, maybe deceptively so, but has some genuine nuggets of wisdom and insight within its pages. I like how he urges us gently to confront some of our base fears through The Five Remembrances:
1) I am of the nature to grow old. I cannot escape growing old. (Unless you check out early like my son, that is!)
2) I am of the nature to have ill health. I cannot escape having ill health.
3) I am of the nature to die. I cannot escape death.
4) All that is dear to me, and everyone I love, are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5) I inherit the results of my acts of body, speech, and mind. My actions are my continuation. (That last sentence gave me a little shiver.)

He also talks about how mindful community building is, in his exact words, "the most important action of our century." He goes on to say, "For the 21st Century to be a time of spirituality, the spirit of togetherness must guide us. We should learn to do things together, to share our ideas and the deep aspirations in our hearts. We have to learn to see the sangha, our community of spiritual support, as our own body. We need each other in order to practice solidity, freedom, and compassion so that we can remind each other that there's always hope."

And for someone who is so caught up in this hunger for power and influence and control, such a mindful, global community will never be possible as long as power is so corruptive and distributed so unevenly and unfairly. We all have inner light, inner power, but the use we make of it and the manner in which we respect the inner light and power of all other beings as equal to our own is for me the number one mindfulness tool to escape fear and oppression and learn to walk in the light.
May. 27th, 2016 12:36 am (UTC)
Thank you, i must read that book. I am a fan anyway.

Yes, Power should be added to my list of scary things.
May. 27th, 2016 12:50 am (UTC)
Yes, he was one of my son's favorites, along with Shunryu Suzuki (who died in 1971), and I am reading and studying all these books Daniel left behind. He also loved watching Ajahn Brahm videos on youtube and the older talks on video by Suzuki.
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