Current Heightened Awareness of FearĀ 

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As I contemplated speaking with you today, I wanted to express that I felt good about being together with you today. I would say more than usual lately, people have been saying to me that they're having trouble sleeping, that they're scared. I think more people are telling me they're afraid, that they're scared than usual. More than usual, I'm feeling a lot of people are having great physical challenges, so-called


illnesses, a lot of people with cancer right now that I'm close to. Nobody I'm real close to, I should say that I know their names and so on, has committed suicide recently, but some people I am close to and know the names of, their relatives have committed suicide. And the world economic situation, and the situation of war, and the situation of a possible government change or not change, I guess there will be a change in the government, and there's various changes that people are afraid might happen, so lots of fear around the government, around the economy, around health, mental and physical health, I feel


a lot of that. And of course around the great harm coming to all these children who are armed and shooting each other, and being blown up by each other, and then being, surviving but being traumatized and disabled, and not getting adequate care, so it's tremendous suffering and fear, and I'm feeling a lot of it, and so I felt it would be nice to be together with you today, to sit quietly in the midst of all this fear and pain. And I wish to give the gift of fearlessness, and I don't want to suggest that I have fearlessness,


but whether I have it or not, and I don't really necessarily think that it's something that anybody has, but whether I have it or not, or whether anybody can have it or not, I still want to give the gift of fearlessness. I want to be close to all beings who are afraid. And I want to be mindful of loving all fear, I want to love all the fear there is. And as the last time we had, sitting here on the 6th of September, I spoke about loving


limits, and fear is a very powerful limit. It's a feeling, you know, it's a feeling, and it's a limited feeling, and it's a limiting feeling, and it's very difficult to love it. It's easy to hate it, it's easy to, I don't know what, try to run away from it, it's easy to be strategic towards, like trying to find somebody to blame for it, or think of something to remove so it would go away, but to love it is what I would like to promote and encourage.


And although it's limited, sometimes the limit is kind of, what do you call it, it's limited sometimes, but a sponge is a different kind of limit than a diamond. And fear sometimes is diamond-like, and sometimes it's sponge-like, sometimes it's like a fog of fear. And sometimes it's like a knife of fear, and sometimes it's like a baseball bat of fear, sometimes it's like a pool of fear, sometimes it's like a mountain of fear, sometimes it's a cloud of fear, sometimes it's an idea of fear, and it can come in many varieties, all of which are limited. And if I don't respond to them with compassion, then I regret that I didn't respond to them with compassion, if I notice it. Of course,


sometimes we meet fear, we meet the being, or many kinds of beings, many forms of fear, we meet them, and we don't even notice them. But lately, anyway, there's been a lot of the good news is, we seem to be noticing it. And so people are saying, I'm really scared, I'm afraid. Could you please explain what you mean by limited? Limited in duration, limited in location? Yeah, like limited in location, like that person over there is afraid, but the tree next to them I don't think is. Or this person is afraid for her health, and this person is afraid for her son, and this person is afraid for the economy, and this person is


afraid about the government. This person is afraid that McCain and Palin are going to get elected. This person is afraid that Obama and Biden are going to get elected. This person is afraid... those are different locations, different forms of fear. They have boundaries. They're boundaries that are put on the world, and they're called fear. And each fear is slightly different, it's unique, and it's connected to certain objects, not others. Some people are not afraid of these people getting elected, they're afraid of those people getting elected. So each fear has a different condition, and within ourselves, our mind is such that we often feel, if you look at it, your own fear, your so-called own fear,


is something which you think is something that you are separate from, usually. They see their fear as an object, they're afraid of an object, like they're afraid of their own sickness, or they have a fear which they feel separate from them, like they could get rid of that fear, or whatever. So fear involves usually objects in some sense of separation, but each one is different. And I myself maybe have some fears I feel in my body, however, I'm in a position where I hear a lot of other fears besides the ones that are so-called in my body, in my mind. In other words, they're the part of my mind called others, other humans, other mammals. I'm insensitive to, what do you call it, reptile fear. I don't notice


that reptiles are afraid, but with mammals I can tell, you know, that deer, dogs, buffalo, bobcats, rabbits, I can see foxes, coyotes, these are animals that I can see their fear. It's not exactly my fear, but they are the part of my mind limiting the world as fox, coyote, and then coyote fear. So that's what I mean by limits. My mind frames the universe in these separate frames, and then there's fear in a lot of them. And I am trying to be mindful of loving all those limited phenomena. Now there's also greed. Like if a frightened


child and a greedy child, I want to be compassionate with the greedy child too. But lately I haven't been getting, greed has not been, people haven't been coming and telling me so much that they're greed and lustful. It's mostly fear. People haven't been telling me I can't go to sleep because I'm lustful. Maybe next week, that will be the big one. I'm just saying now, the big one, the one that a lot of people are talking about, is these many varieties of fear, of feeling threatened, in danger, imperiled, vulnerable. Does that make sense? So again, I'm trying to be mindful of loving all these different beings. And right now, the one that's really coming on strong is fear. Not to say it isn't usually that way,


but, because it is, but it seems stronger now. Now if I'd been living in Iraq, maybe I wouldn't feel that way. But I'm trying to be mindful of loving all these different beings. And when there is the practice of being mindful of loving, for example, the fear which is in my body, or I perceive in other bodies, or I hear from other bodies that they feel fear, when I practice, when there's mindfulness of being loving towards these fears, to each one, not to each specific one, when I actually practice being mindful


and then I actually am loving towards it, towards this limited thing called fear, I never regret it. And I feel really good being with the fear. And I feel like the gift of fearlessness is being given, to some extent, at that time. It may not be fully received, but it's being offered. Offering to be close to the fear, right there is the place where the fearlessness is given. And growing closer to the fear, giving material things is a joy, giving Dharma teachings is a joy, and giving fearlessness is a joy. So there can be a joy in the giving close to the fear.


My daughter says, I'm really scared about this election. I don't tell her not to be scared. I don't say, hush little baby, don't you cry. I just try to be close to my daughter who is afraid of terrible things happening, if the government goes a certain way. Have any feedback from me? Yes, Gordon? You just love your daughter, and she's afraid of you.


My commitment is to be mindful of loving her, and then in that mindfulness, to love her in mindfulness. When I come in to focus on you, and I'm concerned about something, you encourage me to go back to the formula of the truth. And not get attached, or paralyzed, or grasping the idea that is bothering me. But you don't have those kinds of discussions with your daughter? Well, but you come to Dosan. No, but when you come is when I do it. I don't necessarily go over to your house, you know, but if I see you in the street and you tell me you're scared, I don't necessarily think that you're asking for Dosan at that moment. But when


you specifically come in and sort of offer yourself, and sort of request the teachings, then I would encourage you to do as you said. But my daughter grew up with her dad being the Zen teacher, and she has to feel like she can express herself without getting any teaching, unless she specifically asks. And once in a while she asks her dad for some teaching. But usually she wants to express herself and show her dad how she's dealing with it, and just have her dad be quiet. Because her dad is so overwhelming to her because it's her dad, right? It's dad plus teacher. So she does not actually ask me very often. There have been moments, which I'd be happy to tell you about, when she actually asked me. And those were wonderful, surprising moments. But usually she does not ask me for teaching. I think she wants to see, can I be who I am and have my father just love me, you know,


up close with me, not just love me sort of away, but can I be who I am and just let me be that way. So I let her be afraid when she tells me she's afraid. I wouldn't necessarily say anything, unless I'm specifically invited. But I feel like if I'm with her when she's afraid, and I'm loving her, and I'm also loving her fear, not liking it, but loving it, that I'm conveying fearlessness to her by being that way with it. And she's picking it up on her, and she can use it whenever she wants to. But she might not want to use it when I'm around. I've got to tell you that one story, which you've probably already heard, where I told her that I wanted her to move out of the house in a week, if she


didn't get a job, when she was still living with us. And the next morning she got up like before noon, way, way before noon, like around 7.30. She had been getting up at noon for the whole summer, and so she got up at 7.30, and she asked me if I was going to San Francisco, and I said yes, and she asked me if she could go with me. I said yes, and she said, I think I'm going to go look for a job. Before noon. And then she asked me something, which I don't know if she ever asked me before, she asked me for a consult on what she was wearing. She said, what do you think of this sweater? Which one of these sweaters? And I said, I think that one. And she wore the one I suggested. And then she came out and asked me about the shoes, which she never asked me about before, which girls don't necessarily ask their fathers,


but anyway, she asked me, and she wore the shoes I suggested, and we went to town, and I was going to go swimming in the bay, and so I went swimming and she went off, and when I came out of the water she was sitting at the club, and she had gotten a job while I was swimming. And then she said to me, do you think I got the job because of what you said last night? And I said, I don't know. And that was the right answer. In other words, she's not being controlled by her father. She has to know that. So if she's afraid, her father loves her, and hopefully he's there and loving her, but he's not trying


to get her to stop being afraid. And if she hates somebody, like if she hates certain politicians, and even some of her friends who are of a different political party from her, if she just cannot understand them, how they could possibly be in that other party, and she knows her dad would probably say, you should love George Bush. She knows I would say that. So can she say, I hate George Bush, or I hate Dick Cheney, can she say that and have me just love her and love her hatred? She wants to see. And so then I'm challenged to love George Bush, love Dick Cheney, and love that my daughter hates them. But not like that she hates them. I don't like that she hates them. Or you could say, well I do like it, because then she doesn't, I don't have to. But I think enough people hate George


Bush and enough people hate Obama. She gave me an Obama T-shirt, and I wore it on the airplane. And one of the flight attendants, when I came on the airplane, looked at me and said, did someone vomit on your chest? So, you know. She doesn't live in Marin. No, she doesn't. And also we don't have any airports in Marin. So anyway, I'm just saying, that's what we need to do with our darling daughters. We need to love them when they're hating people. Huh? What? Did you say something? No. We need to love them. We need to love all beings, and now we need to love a lot of fear, because there's a lot of fear. And so this is a great opportunity to give the gift of fearlessness. There's a lot of opportunity in my own gut, in my own


solar plexus, in my own mind, in my own eyes. A lot of opportunity to give the gift of fearlessness, to be mindful of the giving of the gift of fearlessness, which is the same as being mindful of great compassion. And if it shifts from fear to next week being greed, well then, we love the greed. But right now it's fear is the big one I feel. I don't know anybody, nobody's telling me that they're staying up all night with lustful thoughts. I'm not running found out where you are, and we're close to that place.


I feel somehow right on the edge. You feel on... I feel like I'm on the edge. The edge of a limit? Yeah. And I always receive more than... My limit of receiving is more than my limit of giving. Do you mean you're more aware of limits when you're receiving than when you're giving? Yeah, I receive more. I receive more. And then when it comes to give, I receive more. And then it just kind of washes me. It just washes, cleanses me. It cleanses me. And then when I want to offer that, I feel limited. I feel limited.


Okay. And I'm suggesting that you love that limit. I don't know if I can love it, but I can feel it. If you can feel it, you can love the feeling. Love that feeling. That feeling is something to love. It doesn't exist. It's kind of... Well, maybe it doesn't, but the loving it does. I don't know. I don't know. It's okay that you don't know. That's good too. That can be part of the love, is that you don't know. But feelings are calling out for attention. Feelings want to be heard. They want compassion. They want love. And somebody is loving them.


And I'm recommending to me that I remember that I'm mindful of the loving of all the cries of the world. All the feelings are crying for compassion. But I don't even know what love is. Pardon? I don't even know what love is. You don't have to know what it is. Well, like being close has something to do with it. Giving up trying to control. Now I'm not saying giving up trying to control is love. But giving up trying to control will open to you to what love is. Even though I don't know what it is, I still have confidence that if I give up trying to control, love is realized.


But I'm not saying that that's love. I'm just saying that trying to control isn't. And giving up trying to control opens the door of this love which I don't know what it is. I want love to be realized in everything. Ok, that's fine. That's a desire. And then you should love that want you just told me about. That's a very good want. Now, in relationship to that want, give up trying to control. I don't even know how to control it. Well, that's good that you don't know how. That's good. That will make it easier for you to give up, perhaps. Was there someone else who had their paw raised? Yes? There's a way that sometimes I look at things that help me deal with fear, my fear and other people's fear.


And that way is that, let's say I think, there is an illusion of how far we are from death and suffering, things we don't like. And I think that distance doesn't really change as much as we feel or as much as we suspect when we're in happy times versus more distressful times. I think that distance is always immediate. And if things are going my way and I feel I'm very, very far from suffering and death, I think that is also somewhat of an illusion.


I agree. And it helps me in happy times to be happy but maybe to be a little less euphoric about how things are going. In distressed times... You can say less euphoric but another way to put it is, as I mentioned to somebody recently, that the Sanskrit word for compassion could be etymologized as dented happiness. Compassion is happiness. Loving is happiness but there's a dent in it. And the dent keeps it from turning into excitement. It's love that's not agitation. Love that's excited becomes a pitfall. So it still might be euphoric but it's a grounded, dented euphoria. It has infinite dents in it and all the dents are all the suffering beings.


But it's a happiness. And for me, the dent is maybe the same as what you're saying, just in a different phrasing, but the dent is also the distance from death. I am on the verge of death even though I am on the verge of... The dent is the distance? The dent is the lack of... The dent is also the knowing or the perception that I am... I feel I'm at the top of the world in a sense but I'm also very close to the bottom at the same time. Because I can be happy and content and die in an instant or things can change in an instant. And to me, this is part of the dent in happiness which I don't see as a depriving dent.


I see it as a supporting dent. It makes the happiness compassion. There can be a happiness that isn't compassion. For example, the happiness that you defeat someone in a game. You could be quite happy that you defeat them. That's not compassion. But when you're happy that you did well and your happiness is shaped, if the other person is unhappy, that their unhappiness shapes your happiness. In other words, your happiness is closely related to them. They're touching your happiness. And it would be differently shaped if they weren't suffering. And just to bring it back to the fear... To bring it back to the fear, so when I face fear,


I try to keep remembering that I was as close to death before when I was really happy, and I'm not really much closer, I'm just at the same distance but not afraid. Which puts fear as less of an indicator and more of just an experience. And I think it helps me love the fear because if I were to see it as a true indicator, I'd probably need to get up and do something, which probably would involve some leading somewhere. If you love the fear, then you can act from the love rather than from the fear. And that would be another branch of compassion. So first we love the fear, and then that love blossoms as who knows what. Maybe like, oh, I fear.


Yes? When you mentioned that grade is not so much up this week, it occurred to me that under the fear that I'm experiencing is a good does grade, wanting something that isn't forthcoming, fearing something I want won't be forthcoming. And then under that, my own fear, there's like an implosion that happens there for me, that I become very self-involved as opposed to... Okay, so that is being pressurized by that I feel that I need to make a decision in a certain situation,


a very, very serious one. And that I've lost that still place that you talked about so much. And now around the edges, all these words and all these things are kind of coming a little bit clearer in the relationship of faith to stillness. Yeah, yeah. As a friend of mine says, I'm getting the feeling like stillness has something to do with love, or that love has something to do with, or is kind of close to, or the same thing as being still. So if the fear comes and you're still with it, it's kind of the same as the fear comes and you love it. And then when you're still with it, then sometimes you see that under the fear is greed,


and then if you're still with the greed, you see under the greed is more fear. And if you're still with it, you see under the fear is delusion. If you're still with it, you see that the fear and the delusion are dancing. So the love brings more and more layers of understanding opening up. Any other feedback this morning? Yes, Forrest? I've been getting lured into the suffering as well, the climate, the politics, just like you were talking about. What I've been trying to practice is, I'm always amazed at how the lure, how suffering is such a lure. Like I know if I turn on this NBC or one of these shows or channels, I'm going to begin to suffer because of my attachment to my opinions. So what I've been practicing is trying to let go of my attachment to those opinions and also remembering... Did you say regulate your attachment?


Let go of my attachment. Let go of your attachment. And remind myself about the suffering of samsara and how, since it is such an illusion, why do I continue to try to go back and engage in it again? And I guess if you could give me some advice if I'm kind of on the right path as far as to try to take a step back from... I mean, I know to take a step back... Well, it depends on what path you want to be on. If you want to be on the Bodhisattva path, you don't take a step back from samsara. And you don't take a step forward from samsara. You're already there. So Bodhisattvas live in samsara and they don't go forward or backward. They just love it. And then the reward is they get another dose of samsara. So you just keep loving it. That's the Bodhisattva way. There are other ways called get me out of samsara. I want to get back from samsara. But that's also samsara.


So you can move towards it or away from it. You're still there. So then we basically got the basic same situation. The Bodhisattva way is to love samsara. If you love samsara, it becomes nirvana. Or you realize that it's nirvana by loving it. Samsara is a name for the total mass of limited forms of existence that are projected by unenlightened beings upon unlimited existence. Unlimited life. So if you want the path of compassion, the path of enlightenment, the path of the Buddha, the path of freedom, the path of peace, then the recommendation of this tradition is love samsara. Which means love every single being who is participating in cyclic existence.


I think it was yesterday I was also at this club where my daughter told me she got this job like 22 years ago. I was in that same club, I was by my locker and I was thinking, you know, it really is kind of, it seems to be fairly consistently said, and kind of amazing, that we have this tradition where the founder said, love everybody, don't hate anybody. Don't have ill will towards people. Give that up. Now, of course, ill will does arise in our mind sometimes. Like some of these people we are afraid of, like some of my family members who are afraid of some people they hate those people. Right in my own Buddhist family we have haters, or we have people who talk like that.


But the tradition is very clear. Like this person who tells me that she is afraid and hates, she can also say a disciple of Buddha does not harbor ill will. She knows that phrase, she learned it when she was a little girl. And she knows that phrase, she is smart. You know, children, they pick that up quickly. What was the 7th one again? What was the 8th one? What was the 9th one? The 9th one is don't harbor ill will, that's right. But little kids, you know, the Zen center kids, they learn that like that. They know, disciple of Buddha does not harbor ill will. So when they have ill will in their mind, you don't have to tell them that a disciple of Buddha does not harbor ill will. They know. They know. So, but they still harbor ill will. And we have this tradition where the Buddha is actually saying, give up harboring ill will. Don't have it. But when you have it, love it. And if you love it, you won't have it.


You won't identify with it. There won't be any that you are holding on to, and it will be disempowered. So it's just really clear in this tradition that we're really being told to love every being. We're actually being told this outrageous thing. But we're also not being told that we're different from who we are. We're not being told that we don't have ill will arising in us. We're just told that that and every other being should be met with compassion. Except for the Buddhas who don't need it. And the Buddhas, we just, rather than being compassionate towards them, we just remember them. We just honor them. And honoring the Buddha means honoring, loving every single being. Human, non-human. Living, non-living. Everything. Feelings, all the feelings, no matter what they are. And I think what made me think of that while I was sitting by my locker


was I think maybe a little flash, not a big one, it wasn't a big one, but a little feeling of ill will arose in me towards something. I don't remember what it was. There was nobody else around my locker. Nobody came up to me and said, I'm feeling ill will towards blah blah. My daughter didn't say I hate so-and-so. I was there all by myself changing my clothes and there was some ill will in the neighborhood someplace. And I thought, it's very clear, it's very clear, our love is here to stay. Not for a day, but ever and ever. In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble. They're only made of clay. But this love is very clearly here to stay. It's the main thing in the tradition. It's to be friends with everybody, to love everybody. It doesn't mean you don't say I disagree with you. It doesn't mean you don't say stop that please.


It doesn't mean you don't say if you do that I'm going to walk out the door. But it means you actually do not hate people. You do not have ill will towards them. And if anybody has ill will, including yourself, you love yourself. It's very clear, very clear. And it's totally amazing that this tradition would be founded by such people. Isn't it amazing? It's just amazing. And yet, isn't it clear? And isn't it hard to practice? When you're surrounded by fear, it's hard to practice. So it's not an easy practice, but it's very simple. And this is the gift of fearlessness. Yes? I appreciated the question and answers.


Because when you just stopped, it felt like the title of the talk was Love the Fear. And the bottom line was Love the Fear, but the middle fell empty. So this is adding some bulk, which I'm certainly appreciating. But what feels different to me now that I'd love to have you talk about or riff on or just... You know, when I have my little fear and she's got her cancer and he's got his kid who's running away from home, those little pockets, this last week feels like a sea change in the environment, in the cultural environment we're living in that I don't think I've felt or experienced very much. Maybe around the Vietnam War there was some. And I've got what you're saying about loving, and I've got stillness, and I've got who I can be and how I can be in the face of it, but it feels like there's more either being asked for or that we can do or be besides be fearless


in the face of our own fear. Do you have anything to say about that? Yeah, I would say I don't agree with you, but the way I would put it is that there's more. I don't think there's any more. I just think I'm hearing more. I don't think there's more fear, but I think I'm hearing more. And I feel like maybe some other people are hearing more too. The fact that they're telling me that... The fact that I hear more people saying they're afraid makes me feel like more people are hearing about the fear. So I don't think there's more fear, I just think there's more awareness. Okay, even so, my question is still the same then, if it's just people are more aware of the fear, it changes the environment we're all living in right now. That's right, it does. And then because the environment changes, I'm made into a person who wants to give the gift of fearlessness more than I would if I wasn't hearing all these cries of fear. So now those cries make me,


help me, make me into a person who feels helped to stay focused on giving the gift of fear. Less. Hm? Fearlessness. The gift of fearlessness. Oh, and also the gift of fear too. But fearlessness is the one that I want to give more. I also want to pound this nail in here. But it didn't work. What? Well. Yes? This is my last question. You mean this morning?


I don't know why I keep coming up with it. Because it's noon. The ill-will and the love. Yes. Where there is love, there is no ill-will. I don't know if that's true. That's not really true. No, that's not true, Oma. You can have somebody who is full of ill-will. Okay, get this. Get this, kid. Listen to this. The horse arrives before the donkey leaves. Okay? That's the teaching. It isn't that when the horse of love comes, the donkey of ill-will is gone. The ill-will donkey is here, the horse comes, they're together. The love loves the ill-will. The ill-will is not gone. They're inseparable. If you don't have any ill-will, that's one big job that love doesn't have anymore.


But love and ill-will live together. And so, when there's ill-will, it doesn't mean there's no love. Now, love is not ill-will, that's true, but they're not separate. They're not one? Love and ill-will is not one? They are one, yeah. The loving beings, the bodhisattvas, and all the hating beings, they're one. The bodhisattvas are meditating on that. All these people who are hating, they're me. I love them. I give my life to all the people who are filled with ill-will. I plunge into the sea of ill-will and swim in the sea of beings who have ill-will. This is my life. This is my happiness. This is the bodhisattva. It isn't I dive into the sea of ill-will and all those people are evaporated. No. These are my children. These are my babies. These are my babies, these hating, frightened babies.


These frightened, hating babies. My grandson, boy. He asks me for a banana. I give it to him. I start to peel it. He hates me. He hates me. I have so many stories I've told you about my... I'm trying to serve my beloved grandson and I serve him a little bit not the way he wants and he hates me. So then I love him. I love him before he hates me, while he's hating me and after he hates me. This is my happiness. But he keeps hating me. But then sometimes there's a break in the hate and then that's not bad. What happens then is not bad. I accept those breaks when something else comes. But of course I don't attach to that, do I? Love comes to meet the hate.


The donkey and the horse are working together or the donkey and the mule. They work together. Well, may our intention equally extend to every being and place with the true merit of Buddha's way. Beings are numberless. I vow to save them. Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable. I vow to become it.