February 5, 2017

Satyagraha and the Nature of Fear

A well known and respected guru, (Yogi Bajan? Dalai Lama? Luther Vandross?) was pointing out that the source of all human suffering is fear.

Reiki teaches a path of liberation from suffering based on a reiteration of the Eight Fold Path of Buddhism, and in turn summarised as Right Mind, Right Perception, Right Speech and Right Action.

Within the Five Principles of Usui Reiki we find a road map to a specific state of mind, an enlightened mind. One that is without the shadows of the material world, it exists in Light and shines in its own right. In the embodiment of Light there cannot be darkness.

In his recent book “The Inner Heart of Reiki”, Frans Stiene shares that Mikao Usui taught his Buddhist students a variant of the Gokai that translates as follows:

Do not bear anger, for anger is an illusion
Do not be worried, for fear is a distraction
Be true to your way and your being/True Self
Show compassion to yourself and others
Because this is the center of Buddhahood

The first two principles guide us to break the metal shackles of anger and anxiety. These are the great disturbers of our mental clarity- they are the shadows cast on our innate Great Bright Light. We can see a reverse progression of negative states of mind; from worry, to distraction based on illusions which in turn devolve into anger.

But let’s take a minute to think about that. What is fear? Fear is rooted in our human ability to create theoretical models of the future, and our inability to be certain of their outcome. It’s fundamentally engrained in our survival programming, to identify and assess risks. Fear is the result of doubt, the unknown result. Donald Rumsfeld famously referred to “known unknowns and unknown unknowns”, at face value a meaningless jumble of words but in essence a deep acknowledgment of our bounded rationality. We strive to act rationally based on a limited data-set, and worry about the rest.

Let’s look at those first two principles:

I. Do not anger

II. Do not worry

They are the outcome of expectation and the possibility that our preferred scenario will not manifest. That is fear. We worry, because we fear something will not happen. Our anger reaction is the bastard child of our ‘fight or flight’ programming. We become angry when there is a perceived (even if subconscious) threat. If you are assured of your existence, of yourself, of Truth… there is no fear. There is no anger. There is no worry. Those disturbances are the result of fear. Jealousy, greed, insecurity.. the children of Fear. And so, in each grand tradition we are solemnly and repeatedly, pointed toward one absolute principle. A sort of magical palliative of the spirit- Truth.

Truth in thought, word and action. Truth in being. The concept evocatively named in Sanskrit, Satyagraha, or, the insistence on truth. Why is Truth so important? Is it because we identify Truth with Divinity, or something else, equally powerful and mysterious? In a profound way, yes- by embracing truth we come closer to the infinite nature of the universe. But practically, it is much more simple. Truth removes uncertainty, in truth we can identify each other as brothers and sisters. We remove the ambiguity of complex representation and twisted motivation. We gain that mystic clarity of seeing things as they are, how they have been and will be forever. When faced with truth, one can choose only between acceptance and a drawn out and more tortuous acceptance. By insisting on Truth, we remove worry. Without worry there is no fear, without fear there is no anger.

Okay, one more thing.. since we brought up ‘the mysterious’, I won’t pretend to resist poking at it. What is Truth? It is that which is. Nothing more or less could be “Truth”; it is whole and complete, indivisible and all encompassing. All that is not- is not “Truth”. While we can conceptually imagine something that does not exist-it is still Not. So it’s a dichotomy of 1(existing/Truth) & 0 (non/Illusion). Numerologically, even if you have two digits, in their sum- only 1 will exist, as when there is Darkness and you add Light, only Light remains.

“Fear is the mind killer” Dune, 1984