...a man being chased by a tiger leaps off a cliff in his attempt to get away. Fortunately, a tree growing on the side of the cliff breaks his fall. Dangling from it by one arm--the tiger pacing above, jutting rocks hundreds of feet below--he yells out in desperation, "Help! Somebody help me!!" A voice responds, "Yes?" The man screams, "God, God, is that you?" Again "Yes." Terrified the man says, "God, I'll do anything, just please, please, help me." God responds, "Okay then, just let go." The man pauses for a moment, then calls out, "Is anyone else there?"
Brach can of course address this issue in her book far better than I can in a brief blog. I use it to illustrate, rather colorfully I think, how we hold on to our fear. It shows the lengths we will go to to avoid, as therapists and meditators say, leaning into our fear and finding out what it has to show us.
Our world is in the grip of fear. Some of the fears are real and others are sensationalized by the media. We have been conditioned to act out of fear. Products are sold to us out of fear. You don't want to be shunned for having bad breath do you? Or heaven forbid, body odor? We buy these things out of fear. There are minimal, if any, health benefits.
We have bigger fears parroted at us in the media. The war on terror. The war on terror is happening inside each person. We are told to be terrified of something out there, but what really scares us is what is inside us. If we look closer at those shadows, lean into our fear, we might find that we can see the world a bit differently. It's not a good axis versus an evil axis at all. It's simply a large number of people, with different needs, cultures, and beliefs trying to survive in a limited amount of space.