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Diamond Approach

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

From the teachings of A.H. Almaas

What is Fear?

Diamond Approach Teachings About: Fear

Allowing Fear to Reveal what It is About

Resistance implies a division inside of us. It signals that we are not recognizing that what is arising is a manifestation of our own consciousness, of our own awareness. When hatred arises in us, for example, or fear, it is our soul, our consciousness, taking that form at that time for a reason we perhaps don’t understand yet. If we are able to allow the fear or hate, embrace it, hold it, and feel it fully in its totality—in all its texture, color, and vividness—we will give it the space to be itself. And that will happen naturally because it is the nature of our True Nature to move, to unfold, to illuminate itself, and to reveal what it is about. And as our experience reveals what it is about, it will at some point reveal its True Nature because each experience we have is somehow related to our True Nature. And by understanding it, seeing the truth, and following the thread of truth, we are following that connection to True Nature.

Conflict Stimulated by Others Desiring Us

We have fears about the erotic just as there are fears about love. Love is very scary because of how vulnerable we are when we feel it, how undefended, how delicate. But our erotic side, our desire, brings in the animal part of our nature. Our fear about that is partly due to the possibility of rejection by or the loss or unavailability of the other. Yet desire is also a force that can bring us in touch with our sense of power. This can feel good and, on the other hand, it can bring out our aggression, our anger, and our hatred, which we might be afraid of. We can also be scared of the desire and aggression of other people toward us if we show our excitement, our heart, or our desire. So inner conflict can just as easily be stimulated by other people wanting and desiring us. Dealing with either the love or the desire can bring up strong feelings of resistance and defensiveness, along with many other emotions, conflicts, beliefs, and ideas, as well as much of our own personal history. In particular, when we get what we want—or what we don’t want—in the territory of love or desire, what is often evoked is pain, difficulty, and frustration.

Confronting the Truth of Our Fear

Instead of disguising our deficiency with excuses about money and time, we need to confront the truth of our fear. We feel small and inadequate; we’re chicken and refuse to act. What if we live with that truth for a while instead of believing we’re enlightened but other people are not allowing us to live in an enlightened way? This deep identification with inadequacy is covered up by all kinds of excuses. We think we have to resolve that inadequacy, get rid of it somehow before we can act in the world. Otherwise, life feels too overwhelming, too big. Most of us put off living according to the truth we know until we feel big enough, strong enough, and adequate enough to act in a more grown up way.

Fear Acts to Repress Will

But now we understand that a person cannot use his will if the will is blocked or repressed. We know that the will gets blocked and repressed for specific reasons. Our work in this group has shown us that one of the many causes of this repression is the fear of feeling castrated. This unconscious fear is well known and documented in the psychoanalytic literature, though its connection with the will is generally not seen. The moment a person tries to use his will, he begins to experience a terrible fear, the fear of castration. It may be sexual castration or the castration of one’s self, one’s energy, one’s will. The person doesn’t even know this fear is there. He only knows that his will is not available, that he cannot act with determination, cannot do difficult things.

Fear and Desire Cause Attachment

Ultimately, attachment is caused by desire and fear, desire for the good and fear of the bad, desire for pleasure and fear of pain, desire for life and fear of death. If you examine fear and desire you will see that fear itself is based on desire, fear of death is desire for life, and that its opposite, fear of life, is desire for death. Desire is there because of the absence of understanding. What will free us from attachment is understanding, or knowledge of how things really are. So we could say that attachment is based on fear and desire, fear is based on desire, and desire is based on lack of understanding or ignorance. If we are ignorant, we end up being attached. We are ignorant of the actual fact that union is the absence of boundaries. We create more boundaries with our attachments, which then stop us from getting exactly what it is we think we want.

Fear as Resistance

Experiencing the empty shell is a major development in a student’s process; it arises at several junctures in the process of resolving the narcissistic constellation. It is most intensely experienced around the breakdown of the mirror transference, because mirroring is the only major support left for this structure of the self. Although it is most intense just around the breakdown, it may manifest a long time before it, or even after it. It will continue to arise every time one recognizes the identification with a self-representation. It is the primary narcissistic structure and the main barrier to self-realization. There are many resistances against experiencing and acknowledging the shell, some of which are: (a) fear of being nothing, or having nothing, (b) fear that if one looks deeply he will realize that he is not important, not significant, that he does not count, (c) fear that one really is just an empty shell, and (d) shame.

Fear is a Reaction to the Absence of Love

A person who does not have a heart cannot hate, cannot be angry, cannot be hurt, cannot be jealous. Without love there is no such thing as jealousy, hurt, fear, hatred, or anger. All of these things are reactions to the absence of love, to the blockage of it, to the non-perceiving of it. To be aware of the real relationship means that there is always awareness of love. This never goes, in any relationship. There is always the lovingness, and love has understanding in it. Love has forgiveness and acceptance in it. Love has compassion, appreciation, pleasure, happiness, strength, and gratitude. All these are elements of love, and it is there all the time; it is part of our nature. The courageous heart is the heart that is always present, regardless of what happens. If your heart is present only if good things happen, your heart is not yet free, not actualized. You are still a coward, still afraid. You have a heart, but not yet a courageous heart. So to have a true relationship, a real relationship, means to manifest the courageous heart.

Fear Results from an Attitude of Conflict

We know fear in terms of an emotion, but if you look at it closely, you will see that fear is really based on an attitude of conflict. Fear exists as long as you want something and don’t want something else. If you want something, then you’re afraid you won’t get it. If you don’t want something, you’re afraid you will get it. Fear is the same thing as desire. Fear and desire are two ends of the same stick. If you are afraid of being hurt, then you desire not to be hurt. If you are afraid you’re going to be rejected, then you desire acceptance. So fear is like desire, based on a rejection of what is now. And that goes through all the levels, all the way. Some parts are difficult to see, like fear of death and things like that, but still it’s the same. Fear of death is ultimately fear of life, or desire for it. If you fear the truth, you are afraid things will happen in a way that you don’t want them to happen. You’re afraid if you see the truth, you will feel pain. There is a judgment of pain. There is a rejection of the truth at that very moment because of fear of the pain. If there is fear of truth, it does not need to be rejected, it needs to be understood. What I am saying is something to be investigated. You do not need to accept it on faith. See for yourself.

Fearing the Loss of the Body

That is one of the biggest fears. When we explore the insight that the physical universe is not ultimate, we are afraid we’ll lose it, that there will be a loss of the physical component of our existence. If we go beyond the body, we will lose the body. This fear makes us feel that we have to hold on to it, we have to keep it solidly there, or it will fall apart. That is because we are holding the sense of the body together with our minds. We are not holding together the real world; we are holding together our idea of the world. So the mind can’t let go of it. It says, “If I let it go, it will fall apart.” If you just allow it to fall apart, you begin to see the real world. What will fall apart is the world you usually see. But we believe that is the real world that will fall apart, and this is why we’re afraid. We believe that’s it! We will be completely annihilated. You fear that you will lose physical reality, or you will lose your mind, you won’t be able to think straight.

Living with Fearless Spontaneity

Recognition of this radical maturity indicates that it is possible for us to live with absolute fearless spontaneity. The fearless spontaneity will manifest as love, truth, confidence, and goodness. We are usually afraid that if we are spontaneous and fearless we will do bad things, we will make mistakes. But we need to learn why we think this way. What are you afraid of doing? What do you think is going to happen? All these doubts need to be thoroughly looked into and understood, for such fear and uncertainty only points to some undigested material in our mind. We probably have not seen and understood something about our motivation even though we might dimly intuit it. This lack of understanding appears as uncertainty, as fear of spontaneity. As I’ve said, we need both to learn and to mature on the path. There is no end to it. There does not come a time when you completely mature and you finish. I don't think that is possible. As long as you are alive you mature. You can be awakened but this does not automatically mean there is no further process of maturation.

Relationship Between Fear and Desire

Fear and desire are two ends of the same stick. If you are afraid of being hurt, then you desire not to be hurt. If you are afraid that you're going to be rejected, then you desire acceptance. So fear is like desire, based on a rejection of what is now. And that goes through all the levels, all the way. Some parts are difficult to see, like fear of death and things like that, but still it's the same. Fear of death is ultimately fear of life, or desire for it.

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