Genuine ‘fearlessness’ is never without fear, just as silence is never without sound, light never without darkness, and life never without death. They come as a pair and to see them as somehow opposed or antithetical is to buy into a worldview that posits separation as ultimately true. From this viewpoint one tends to cultivate an attitude that ignores and or devalues one when striving for the other.
What is fear? Fear in its gross outer form is an emotional reaction to the perception (real or imagined) of impending danger, doom, evil, pain, etc.. Fear in its most subtle form is a root ‘cramp’ in the mind/body and intellectual/emotional complex of an individual that has the power to motivate the willful and habitual ignorance of things as they are, here and now.
The fear of death seems to be the most universal and all encompassing fear that human beings experience. For that reason, death seems to be the most important event in life to not ignore. Since fear is most often in relation to impending danger, evil, or pain, to fear death seems to posit death as something that is dangerous, evil, or painful. Now of course, one may die in a painful way, though there is no evidence to the truth that being dead hurts, or is evil, or dangerous. Even as I write this I cannot say with confidence or honesty that I do not fear death. I can say though that the fear of death seems to be in ignorance that ‘I’ am just as much the darkness after the moment of death as I am the light of what I call life.
Fearlessness is not the experience of being absent of fear. Fearlessness is the experience of being willing to act in the face of fear. Fearlessness is the experience of motivating one’s actions in life from the recognition of non-separation, which obviates the truth that death is not the opposite of life, not anti-life, or somehow not life. To strive for fearlessness as if it were without fear seems to invite calamity for there is a razor’s edge between fearlessness and recklessness. Reckless behavior whether on a mountain, on a bike, driving a car, or on a yoga mat does not exemplify fearlessness. It seems to me reckless behavior is far more to ignore and/or avoid the presence of fear. When fear is happening it is best to be honest and not ignore it. It is a signal from Nature that ‘this is real’ and meaningful. It is a part of life that when not ignored and gone through can produce profound insight, maturity, sympathy, empathy, wisdom, etc.
As fear motivates one’s life, the tendency will be to grasp, to protect, to put up barriers and guard, to hoard possessions, to waste all energies in self-defense, and many other unnecessary actions and uses of resources.
The path of Yoga can strengthen a human being at the level of the nerves, and build one’s character and presence of being in such a way that when death comes, instead of going out the way I came in (kicking and screaming), I might meet death as a friend and happily allow the last exhale to be in the mood of wonder and delight, as if going over a waterfall being present and relaxed.
Yoga offers a viewpoint that simultaneously allows fear to be what it is and allow for life to not be motivated from it. It will take work, courage, boldness, the willingness to let one’s guard down, to be vulnerable, to listen and feel deeply, to be relaxed and honest, not try to fix every damn last thing, and above all to not judge one’s self or another for the presence of fear being real. Fearlessness is not something you need for to walk the path. You need to walk the path for to experience fearlessness.
By Brent Kuecker: Yogi. Musician. Educator
Join me for a bold adventure in the heart of the Rila Mountains in Borovets, Bulgaria! Udaya Live, Yoga and Music festival is sure to share with you many adventures give you the opportunity to share your fearless heart with others on the path!