Tuesday, November 25, 2008

our greatest fears guarding our greatest treasures


Our

greatest

fears

are
like

dragons

guarding
our

greatest

treasures.


- Rumi



1.
The great mystic, poet, theologian, scholar and above all a great lover of God, Rumi is never short of eloquence. Sometime his words open the doors of heart to illuminate and help us see the reality with a newer vision, sometime his words drown us with an unknown nostalgia and other times it's purely distilled wisdom for life.

The above statement by Rumi where he speak the language of a psychoanalytic and nails to the point. Even without being an expert in psychology or in psychoanalysis one can still feel the pregnancy of meaning hidden in this aphorism of Rumi from the perspective of our depth psyche.

2.
According to psychologists, Fear is an unwanted, unpleasant feeling of anticipated or perceived risk or danger, whether it be real or unreal. Fear also can be described as a feeling of extreme dislike towards certain conditions, objects or situations such as: fear of darkness, fear of ghosts, etc.

International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis says: The term fear, whose metapsychological status remains uncertain, was used by Freud, in contrast to anxiety, to refer to the reaction to some real danger. In 1920, in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), Freud emphasized the difference between fear and anxiety in terms of their relation to danger: Anxiety is a state characterized by the expectation and preparation for a danger, "even if unknown," while fear implies a determinate object. Freud, referring to the use of these terms in popular speech, indicated that "anxiety is related to a state with no direct allusion to an object, while in fear the person's attention is precisely focused on the object."

3.
Putting aside the jargons of what 'Fear' is if we look carefully and probe deep within, we might be able to discover from our own life experience that the very 'thing' which causes fearful reaction contains the key, the answer to a side of our self / psyche which we are mostly unaware and need to know. This unknown side of our psyche is like the hidden face of the moon - its always there but never seen. Life gives us a chance or invite us to dare to look at this hidden aspect of our psyche by putting us face to face to some fear. We know every single emotion has it's use and purpose. Fear is no exception to that. Know that when the fear is the greatest of anything, the greatest message is waiting beyond the veil of that fear. I remember a popular song where among a list of recommended life lessons, its also tell us to "Do one thing every day that scares you!" What it imply is that by doing what we are afraid or sacred of, we help grow ourself. If we don't do it voluntarily, we will be forced to do it by the very fascinating journey we call life, in one way or another.

Its not only applicable to conceptual level or psychological abstraction but also on very practical, in world of doing too. If you study the life history of scientists, inventors, thinkers, conquerers you will find ample example of the cases where what was the most feared, the aspect kept aside from consideration, after many iterations only that which was feared, which was disliked - like a full circle brought the glad tidings, the discovery, the answer in it.

4.
... And perchance that you dislike a thing
while it is good for you,

and that you love a thing
while it is evil for you;

and God knows, while you do not know.


- The Quran 2:216


5.
Mystics always like to speak in paradox and Rumi is no exception. Look at the paradox in this statement here. Where our greatest fear is, behind the dragon's guard, behind the maya (veil, delusion) of that fear is our greatest treasure to be found! The use of mythical figure like dragon is an indication of universality of the veiled perception. Just like the dragon being a legendary creature of which some depiction appears in almost every culture worldwide - similar the the veil of ignorance and illusion is present to every human mind in different degrees, from the wise to the laymen.

Isn't it always the case in life that it's infused with paradoxes? You try to talk about certain aspect of reality, you are inevitably brought face to face with paradox. Why it happens all the time? Because parts of the Whole of Reality or the facets of it (lesser reality) always present us with fragments of the truth. Thus you look from one side, its true; you look from another side (if you are successful enough to do that) you will find its truth and value too. One sees fear from this side of the veil, remove the veil, look with clarity and behold! once the cloud of fear goes away you see the greatest treasure from the other.

The greatest treasure could be many things depending on person's context or where they are or what the situation surrounding the triggering of the fear is. But the matter of the fact is that uncovering of the fear always will uncover something which has value to us, which is useful to our journey, which helps us grow and evolve to a more whole human being.

6.
Talking about inherent paradoxes of life, beloved poet Khalil Gibran in his master piece work Prophet describe the paradox of joy and sorrow in this wise way:

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."

And he answered: "Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater." But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."

7.
Whatever our greatest fear or lesser fear is, may we all be given the light and vision to be able to transcend beyond the fear and be able to perceive our unique treasures waiting to be recognized.

blessings be with you.


# via Psychology Today
. The Fear of Fear Itself
. Where Fear Lives
. Facts and Factors of Fear

# J. Krishnamurti on Fear: part1, part 2 (video talk)

. Psychology of Fear and Anxiety (youtube)
. Fear, Stress (youtube) Pin It Now!

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