Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Terror
An Adventure Full of Thrill and Terror
The unfoldment of the soul is an adventure full of thrill and terror. It magnifies various life conflicts, as it discloses the essential manifestations that resolve them. This process exposes character deficiencies, ignorance, and wrong beliefs and positions. It involves intense pain, rage, terror and uncertainty. For one who truly pursues truth, however, these difficulties are not obstacles but occasions for further revelations of truth. Inner conflicts and difficulties always turn out to be caused by ignorance.
Luminous Night's Journey, pg. 50
Reactions To and Associations with Deficient Emptiness
The recognition of the need for support, specifically, the need to support our sense of self, will naturally precipitate the feeling of no support, as we saw in the cases above. If this feeling is not defended against, it will reveal an underlying emptiness characterized by a sense of deficiency of support. The emptiness may provoke many associated feelings and self-images, as we have seen, like feelings of helplessness and weakness, and images of smallness and lack of structure. This usually brings up from the unconscious deeply repressed, painful object relations and their associated emotional states of abandonment, betrayal, depression, terror, even fear of death and disintegration. These are reactions to and associations with the deficient emptiness. We must then clarify these reactions and associations in order to understand the genesis of the emptiness. This process requires awareness of, and disengagement from, judgments and superego attitudes about the deficiency.
The Point of Existence, pg. 252
Recognizing Our Lostness
When we recognize that we are lost and that we cannot move out of our lostness with the conventional knowledge we have, we become aware of the terror of our situation. We recognize just how lost we are and how scary that is. We realize that whatever we try to do—read books, practice this or that technique, attend this or that workshop, try to figure out things ourselves—we do not feel any less lost. Our situation really is much more difficult, much more profound, than we allow ourselves to see for a long time. That’s why we speak of the terror of the situation—because it is so frightening to finally realize and admit how lost we are, and how at the mercy we are of so many elements that we have no handle on. The terror of the situation has a lot to do with how much we believe what we think we know, with how much we are caught in the gravity of our planet of conventional reality, believing it to be the center of the universe—and sometimes all that exists. We usually do not realize that our experience of reality has to shift only a little bit and all will disappear, leaving us totally terrified. Our only hope is a guidance, a discernment, an indication that comes from a realm beyond. There is no other way, there has never been any other way. What you know can only take you further into what you know. Your mind can only take you to another component of itself, it can never take you beyond itself. If we don’t open ourselves up to guidance—whether it is coming from the outside or the inside—we are bound to remain stuck. We are doomed to go in circles, orbiting the same planet over and over and over again, gravity-bound.
Spacecruiser Inquiry, pg. 210
Sequential Loss of the Sense of Self
Terror usually has to do with survival, so it is not just a matter of unconscious material. When people have terror, they are afraid that they are going to die, or that they are going to disappear. The loss of the sense of self comes after that. The self in the beginning is an ego self, what is called the personality, with its identity. If you follow it, you realize that it can go, disappear, and there is a terror about letting go of that. That is when you shake in your boots. When that goes, there is peace. Then there is the discovery of the essential or true self. The real self is made out of pure Essence and consciousness. It is luminous and pure and the source of love, compassion and goodness, with a sense of timelessness and spacelessness. That identity can go to. When that goes, there is another experience of peace, which has to do with nonexistence. When that happens, there is the possibility of the arising of another identity, which we call the Supreme Identity, for this identity is the self of the whole universe. The true identity is a reflection of a more universal, boundless identity, which is the nature of all that there is. You see yourself as everything, as the source of everything not merely the source of your own body and thoughts. Then there is the possibility of losing even this cosmic self. This results in a new experience of peace, which is the experience of selflessness. Then there is no self to see you or anything: all that exists is ultimately empty and selfless. Then even that can go. The selflessness can go, which means going through fear and terror again. The selflessness goes because even selflessness is a concept. What is left then is absence, which is not anything left.
Diamond Heart Book Four, pg. 130
The Source of Terror
When you see how fundamental, how pervasive, how deep and entrenched your physical orientation is, you will notice that you don’t look at even your deep experiences from a total perspective. You look at them from the perspective of the body, from the physical perspective. Most of your issues arise from that perspective. When you feel that you are disappearing, what is it that is disappearing? Usually, it’s the image of your body You are terrified because you believe your physical body is the most important, fundamental, lasting real, fundamental, solid you. If that goes, you go. You don’t think, “I’m just seeing myself from a different place. My perception is detaching from the physical senses, and as a result, I am seeing something deeper than the physical.” If you do see it that way, you won’t feel that you are disappearing. You will be aware that you are not just seeing through your physical senses. Then there will be no fear, and no reason for the terror. So the source of the terror is our belief that the physical body is who we are—fundamentally and ultimately.
Diamond Heart Book Four, pg. 309
There is Terror in Having No Supporting Mirrors to Give Us Meaning
It is not easy to look clearly and sincerely at ourselves. Most of us don’t even know what is difficult about it. We just find our minds dodging in all directions to avoid it. I break up with my boyfriend, and suddenly I’m eating. If I’m not eating, I’m doing my paintings that I haven’t touched in ten years. Or I am just divorced or retired, so I’m going to travel for a year or so to see what’s there in life. Now this may be a great idea, but what is motivating you? Our minds are clever at avoiding the feeling that arises at the end of anything, because there is a terror of having no supporting mirrors to give us meaning. Just to exist as we are brings up a big fear of the emptiness. There is usually a fear that we don’t really have any Essence, and that we don’t have an identity. We may believe that the emptiness is all there is. This might be reinforced by early childhood experiences involving a panic about being different from others, about being different from our parents, for example, which creates a
kind of self-consciousness.