The paradox

As spiritual seekers, we live with the challenging paradox of love and fear. It often seems as though the world is a scary, threatening and fearful place, and yet our spiritual teachings – and sometimes our own direct experience – tell us that the basic fabric of the entire universe is actually an infinitely kind and luminous love. If everything and everybody is actually an expression of this infinite love, then why are we so often fearful, anxious, nervous and afraid. Surely there should be nothing to fear in a world where everything is made of the sweetness of love.

We’re out of touch with love

What seems to be happening is that we are usually out of touch with this fundamental ground, the sweet, kind love and holding of Being. Separated from the Source, we end up feeling as though we are completely on our own, like cold lonely planets floating in space. We feel alone and disconnected, with no real support and no firm ground to support us. We feel as though we are solely responsible for our own existence, and yet we feel inadequate to properly take care of ourselves. We feel that no place in the world is perfectly safe, and that even our existence sometimes is threatened.

When love is absent, fear arises

When we are so completely separated from the ground of love, life cannot help but become a fearful thing. Understandably, we start taking steps to protect ourselves in what looks like a menacing world.

We’re afraid that others will hurt, criticize or control us, so we hide the parts of us that might attract negative attention. We’re afraid that we will be lonely and friendless, so we hang onto friendships that no longer serve us. We’re afraid what the neighbors will think, so we don’t raise our voices in either anger or joy. We are afraid that we will not have enough money, so we stay in employment that’s stifling our souls. We’re afraid that our partner might leave us, so we repress our frustrations and annoyances. We’re afraid our emotions will overwhelm us, so we push them down and put on a brave face. We’re afraid that we’re inadequate to meet the demands of life, so we rehearse new situations over and over again. We’re afraid of illness, decline and death, so we try to stay young as long as we can. Some of us are even so afraid of our fear that we convince ourselves by daredevil acts that we’re totally unafraid.

The list goes on and on, because there’s a way that fear is our basic emotion, and is a part of every layer of our personality.

Reconnecting with love

So how can we start to reconnect with the true ground of Being? First, we need to simply acknowledge the truth of our fear. Given the pervasiveness of our fear, this is an enormous challenge. And we so often end up being afraid of our fear, which adds to the demand. We’re afraid that we will be seen as weak and inadequate if we let all our anxieties hang out. We’re afraid that if we feel all our terror, we will be totally frozen or completely overwhelmed. We are tempted to try to overcome our nervousness by rationalizing, or by trying to override, overcome, dismiss or let go of it. We steel ourselves up to be strong while we’re really quaking inside. But these kinds of actions are actually driven by fear of the fear itself, and can only worsen our plight.

We cannot begin to work with our fear until we stop pushing it away and pretending it isn’t so. We need to accept that we actually are afraid, and that’s how it really is. Only then can we start the process of unwinding our fear by starting to get to know it. And as we bring our kindness, compassion and curiosity to those terrified places inside, they do start to relax and reveal themselves to us. Eventually, piece by piece, we come to understand them, and they slowly lose their hold on our souls.

In time, as we continue to dissolve our fear with curiosity, compassion and understanding, we start to reveal the true ground of our existence. We discover that there is a true ground, and it is made of a delicately sweet, light and luminous love which supports and permeates every atom of the universe and every cell of our being. We understand that there is no separation between us and the ground, or between us and anything else.

There is only the oneness of our bodysoul with all that is, and in that oneness, it is impossible for one part to harm another.

We feel totally safe and held in a tender, loving, gentle embrace, and we relax completely in the abiding sense that we will always be taken care of, and that no matter what, we will be OK. We understand that there truly is nothing to fear, we are completely safe, and that we can trust in a loving, benevolent universe. It is the trust that even if we fall, we will be held. If we let go, things will be okay. If we let ourselves not know, we will be guided. If we stop trying to take control, things will unfold as they should.

We finally experience a universe that is not only pervaded by love, but actually is love. We come to know that everything within it, including ourselves, is a manifestation of love. We finally understand that even our fear, which has tried so valiantly to protect us from harm, was always motivated by love, and like everything else, in the end is made only of love.


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