Fierce Fearlessness

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I thought about making this a Buddhist Reflection because the concept materialized during my retreat.  But I realize that this idea of fearlessness applies to every aspect of life, not just spirituality.

This insight of fierce fearlessness happened  during a conversation I was having with one of the dharma teachers. I was discussing a particular difficulty I was having during the walking meditations. As I mentioned during my previous post about this retreat Spirit Rock is in the middle of a very large natural reserve, with all wildlife that comes with that. Being that it was also the beginning of summer one can imagine all the insects crawling and flying everywhere. Now I’m not the skittish type. I can typically handle bugs but there are two things I cannot stand, roaches (which there were none of thank goodness) and flying insects. It’s that buzzing noise that flying insects make that creeps me out. The louder the noise the more it freaks me out. So there I was. Out walking amongst the serenity of the retreat center and trying to maintain some level of equanimity while ginormous  flying monsters set about attacking me. Ok so yeah I’m sure I’m being dramatic but at the time I was painfully aware of the rising panic I was experiencing every time an insect would pass by me and this being a silent retreat, it was all I could do to keep myself composed enough to not scream out loud. It got to a point where I couldn’t do the walking meditations anymore.

When I brought this up to the dharma teacher he told me that he could sense a fearlessness in me and that I should meet this particular difficulty in a way that demonstrates that part of my character. He called it fierce fearlessness. A fierceness that wasn’t aggressive or angry but rather one that was rooted in the confidence of knowing that what I am doing is skillful and that no harm could (or would) come to me in the process. I carried his words with me throughout the rest of the retreat. I still had some trouble dealing with the flying insects during my walking meditations (after all, our conditions and habits are hard to get past) but I was at least able to respond to my experience with more courage and awareness.

I’m learning that as we grow into adults we develop more fears. When I look back at a lot some of my antics as a youth I know for a fact that a lot of the things I did I would not do now. It has nothing to do with me being (supposedly) wiser and more mature and everything to do with the simple fact that I wouldn’t have the balls to do the things I did as a youngster. I was the true definition of fearless and I was fierce with it. Then over time things changed. I got older. I learned some very hard lessons that castrated my fearlessness a bit. I’m not as bold with it as I once was but it’s still there. Must be if a teacher that I only met once during a six-day retreat can sense it.

With all the things I want to do I cannot afford to give into fear because it will hold me hostage. I also cannot allow fear to influence the woman I see myself developing into. Besides, what exactly is it that I am afraid of? I honestly couldn’t answer that question if someone posed it to me. All the more reason to let it go.

 

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