Pema Chodron on Embracing Fear

*** Excerpt from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chödrön ***

Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.

Fear is a universal experience.

Even the smallest insect feels it.
It’s not a terrible thing that we feel fear when faced with the unknown.
It is part of being alive, something we all share.

If we commit ourselves to staying right where we are, then our experience becomes very vivid.

Things become very clear when there is nowhere to escape.

We cannot be in the present and run our story lines at the same time!

When we begin our exploration, we have all kinds of ideals and expectations. We are looking for answers that will satisfy a hunger we’ve felt for a very long time.

What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear, looking it right in the eye — not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking.

So the next time you encounter fear, consider yourself lucky.

This is where the courage comes in.

Usually we think that brave people have no fear. The truth is that they are intimate with fear. The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought.

Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.

This is where tenderness comes in.

When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something.

Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it.

To stay with the shakiness is the path of true awakening.

Sticking with uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic – this is the spiritual path.

– Pema Chödrön


*** Read more from When Things Fall Apart.