09 Jan 2013
January 9, 2013

Embracing Fear


Generally I think that the first level of fears are concerned with the part of us which is in nature, the unconscious impulses that Freud talks about. And I think that there is a fear that if one lets go of rational control, surrenders that, one will be animal-like in the sense of antisocial impulses. I think that’s the first fear – that there are things in oneself that are ugly, untenable, unsociable and so on. That’s part of the fear, part of one’s own animal. The fear is the loss of the separate entity, the loss of one’s individuality, the loss of one’s identity, the psychological dying, the loss of the experiencer or the knower. That’s part of what that fear is.

Fear is perhaps a frontward or a front emotional reaction for man’s lack of readiness to deal with the higher energy states and higher input and output that is connected with these other states of consciousness. The fear is a protective mechanism in the sense that he experiences a kind of free-floating anxiety or ambiguous fear about it. And that keeps him from getting too close to it. He isn’t ready, or able to get close to it because he can’t do the necessary things to be able to live in those state of consciousness without doing destructive things to himself. He’s not pure enough.

I think fear is a result of impurity. And impurity means, thoughts that define oneself in a “profane” sense, that is, thoughts which define oneself as separate. As long as you are attached to those thought forms, you are going to fear, because it involves the extinction of that separate being, that separate conceptual entity. In my experience through guiding people through LSD experiences, there is the fear that many people experience as this chemical transformation that occurs in their bodies which leads them to the breakdown of all existing models that they had about how the universe works. As that happens there are many people who experience intense fear, which makes them want to hold onto the structure they had. And they could say, “I am afraid, I am going insane,” meaning I am going into another space that I don’t have any control over on this level. In general I would say, “Well, groovy, let’s go insane together. Here we go.” In other words, it is my feeling that the only thing you have to fear is fear, in that sense that to the extent that you have enough faith or trust to let it happen, you always go through the next one and the next one and the next one.

In the Tibetan literature they say, “Embrace your ten thousand horrible demons and your ten thousand beautiful demons.” You’ve just got to take it all and keep going. All your fears have to be embraced, entertained, honored, and you go on with them.

There is a qualitative difference in my life now, in that I do not experience a fear of death as a real fear when I get into situations where death seems a real possibility, or violence, or something like that. I don’t have any of the usual or earlier kinds of reactions of anxiety or fear and yet I do what is adaptive to protect the temple or body I’m working with. But I don’t do it out of fear, because the fear of death seems somehow to have flown the coop somewhere along the way in this game. It certainly changes the nature of my living experience every day because each day can be whatever it is, and it’s all alright.


-Ram Dass, 1970

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  • Kimberly Neak

    I found this article very poignant and speaks very well to my own personal experiences. I am not yet sure how to embrace my fears. I am a little stuck and it is keeping me from moving forward in my life. This article helped me reflect more on this. Thank you.

    • Myra Noll

      That is so true! I am in the same spot. Not just embracing the fear, but accepting it and moving past it. It helps to have a good teacher, such as this group of people.

  • Aidan

    This is marvelous, I can relate to this very well. I experienced the fear on a wild shroom trip, I grasped myself before I slipped into that particular void, luckily. It ended up being the most beautiful experience for me.

  • matt

    very true. you have to recognize your fears. I used to be someone who pushed them away and ignored them as a way of dealing. wasn’t a good idea..

  • Jane Jones

    Even though I appreciate those ten thousand beautiful demons (should they not be angels?) I have to learn to embrace those deeper-seated fear demons that are truly frightening. I guess the beautiful demons are seducer-thoughts, that try to make us think the duality’s illusion is the only thing, and misguide us in doing this. Yes, nothing to fear when secure in the knowledge that we are centred in the moment that has no fear.

  • Nancy Pontius

    fear due to ptsd and such is not in my opinion an impurity. but these neural pathways in the brain can change so there is less fear. but like you say you can not force the snake to shed its skin any faster than it is going. it is good to confront the fears but this is not a purity/impurity issue.