Blog entry by Alan Chapman
(This is an greatly extended/refined/improved version of my article originally posted on Linkedin 28 February 2020.)
We must first consider that Fearlessness, like any other human quality, is within us all.
Then consider that everyone sees and senses the world and everything/everyone in their own individual way, and this means that everyone changes and makes choices (even choosing to make no change) in their own way too.
Fearlessness seems an important key to being part of, and making, an increasingly civilised and loving humanity, which implies and requires living in harmony with the universe, and more understandably, the world we call Earth.
Fearlessness enables us to choose how to live and be.
Fear is the opposite and 'contra' (opposing) emotion to love.
Fear fuels insecurity.
Insecurity is the opposite ('contra') emotion to vulnerability.
Vulnerability, in varying degrees, subject to keeping as safe as you think sensible for yourself and your loved ones, seems the most important enabler of peace and contentment.
It's about trust. Trusting others, so that they then trust you.
And this opens all sorts of miraculous doorways.
The quality of fearlessness emerges and grows in us according to our experiences, which includes how we 'process' (think, feel, reflect about,) our experiences, and what happens in our 'environment', i.e., the situations and people and wider factors around us, as we live and react and learn or change in other ways.
All human beings possess the potential to become unimaginably fearless, immediately, when a situation calls for this to happen.
I suggest that a definition of fearlessness in this context is "...being prepared to die, or putting our life at risk, so that something can be achieved..."
Common examples are rescuing another person from a burning building or car crash, or saving a drowning person in a stormy sea. Soldiers and civilians and emergency workers in conflict and disasters commonly show this sort of fearlessness. I suggest this potential is in every human being.
I'm intrigued at how this sort of fearlessness - facing the fact that we might die within a few minutes - can be understood and fostered...
Assuming that we all want to live a good life, is it unreasonable to suggest that we could consider risking our life to achieve this? Otherwise, what is the point of being here at all...
The original Linkedin article began....
"An Einstein quote, explaining why life is infinitely beautiful, and death is infinitely more beautiful than life..."
Below the quote are some of my own thoughts... teachings if you like.
As ever, make what you want of this. Everyone is different.
We are one humanity, made of billions of unique individuals.
Billions seem fearful, which makes life difficult.
Instead we can all be fearless, and make life beautiful.
"A human being is part of the whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He expresses himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest ~ a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons near us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of concern to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature for its beauty." (Albert Einstein)
The quote appears in the introduction to The Life of the Buddha and the Four Noble Truths, by The Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Geshe Lharampa.
The brilliant William 'Bill' Tillier sent me the book (thanks Bill), which prompted my original Fearlessness article, which led to this expanded version.
Bill's extraordinary work includes PositiveDisintegration.com, assembling and extending the original work of Kazimierz Dabrowski. See https://www.businessballs.com/blog/personality-development-through-positive-disintegration/
This is a wonderful example of a giant standing on the shoulders of a giant.
Note also that in the quote above Einstein uses 'he'/'him' to represent a person, whereas nowadays 'he/she' or 'they' are often considered more appropriate.
This quirk of language reminds us that language in words, especially when translation is entailed, which inevitably it is at some point, can distract us from the meaning that was intended.
People of different ages and cultures use word language in different ways, and we must be careful to focus on the meaning, rather than on the 'correctness' of the word language.
Language changes. Few English speakers nowadays easily understand Shakespeare's words, and far fewer people understand Chaucer's. Similarly the English of 2020 will seem very strange to an English speaker of 2070, or 2100, and throughout the generations most parents do not understand the language of their teenage children.
Anyway, back to the question of fearlessness and the universe...
The universe, time, space, life, death - notional constructs
The Universe/universe exists because this is humanity's best attempt so far to explain the inexplicable.
In the original article I called the universe a 'notional construct' - i.e., something that human beings have 'made-up'.
And then crucially, we make it real because we accept the explanation.
This is like anything else.
We make our reality inside our heads, and humanity does this too, collectively, which we teach to our children, and so on.
Why is the universe inexplicable?...
The universe - or 'everything' - is 'inexplicable' because it's so complicated:
It all came from nothing, or from a 'God' or 'gods'. Whatever, the universe and everything (including us obviously) is made of 'something' that's impossible to comprehend - countless trillions of trillions of trillions of sub-atomic particles of energy - which came from nothing, which arguably does not exist anyway unless we exist to imagine it.
Scientists debate whether the universe is 'infinite'. This alone means that the universe is complex beyond explanation.
This is more prosaic (more beautiful words perhaps), from my original article as to why the universe is inexplicable:
" 'Inexplicable' because of the complexity of so many atoms and sub-atomic particles, and any 'particle' is actually more like 'energy' anyway, as are we all; and because of the collective consciousness of all 'life', far beyond the trillions of synaptic connections in each human brain and between us all; and because of how we are moved by the sun, moon and stars; and by the seasons, cycles, and hurtling spirals of what we call history, time and space... and so how can we possibly ever explain anything, except perhaps to say of everything, simply, that: 'It is what it is.' "
There is no law or rule that says anything or everything must be understood or explained, unless we adopt/make/accept such a rule or law.
It is okay - and is arguably wonderful instead - for each of us and everything simply to 'be'.
" And so being 'alive' and having 'life' as a human being, not unborn or dead, is defined and understood by notional constructs such as time and space, and the inadequacy of words, again to explain the inexplicable, mostly determined and made real and unnecessarily fearful, by our fear of dying and death."
"Do we make life hell because we fear death, that is not."
This last 'quote' is maybe my best attempt (so far) to reduce some quite profound ideas into as few words as possible.
Often, less is more, especially in word language, which is open to infinite interpretations.
I'm asking do we make life much more difficult for ourselves, and importantly do we teach our children too, to live in fear of death, and importantly therefore to fear everything that we imagine might harm us?....
.... so that we deny ourselves the simple trusting that life is actually beautiful; every tiny moment, every snowflake, every raindrop, every grain of sand, blade of grass, every ray of sunshine...
and significantly every pain and hurt; every heartbreak, every bruise and cut and scab and scar...
every trauma, every mountain climbed (for 'real' or in our heads, it's just the same), every raging river crossed (FROIOHIJTS)...
...every cat and dog and horse and flea, and every speck and cell of life...
...every angel borrowed here on Earth now gone because his/her work is done...
...because, really, this - the brightest light and blackest dark - is how we grow.
And perhaps (I do believe), when we are grown and our own work is done, we discover that death indeed is infinitely more beautiful than life.
And so, why wait until the deathbed or the burning rescue.
I'm simply planting the seed, opening the door, let it come to you, in your own time.
Meanwhile know and believe and therefore make it your reality that you are fearless in your core, your heart and soul... you have this fearlessness whenever you want/need, and you can help teach others too, the children especially.
You see (from a song, a work in progress):
"To live a good life, foster your dreams,
Cherish every second, there's no repeat.
Follow your heart-beat, and vulnerability,
Be kind to everyone, then you'll be free..."
Love is the answer, as ever.
Love yourself, and so, everything.
In other words...
What I'm attempting to convey is that because we rely on time and space to understand/explain life and death, and because time and space are notional constructs, then so unavoidably our understanding of life and death is a notional construct too.
A newborn baby does not fear death.
The newborn baby naturally resists death, because it is designed by evolution to do so, but - ask yourself - what happens to us that we grow to fear death so much, so that we increasingly live in fear? And teach our children this, and support the systems that confine us to these false beliefs and ways of life, and death.
Is it unreasonable to suggest that the conditioning of our fear of death taints or ruins the beautiful life we're born to enjoy?
There is huge evidence - in studies, and everywhere around us (because we must be careful of studies and research) that many people start to live a beautiful life when they are given a terminal diagnosis, or after a near-death experience.
Some people, of course, are able to find a gentler way to peace.
Whatever, there is huge evidence - real and all around us if we look - that many people have a 'good death' and a beautiful last few weeks months or years, when they 'come to terms' with dying.
"So why wait until the deathbed. Love life now. Love everything."
Writer/philosopher Anais Nin's quote is apt: “We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
And so we see and act according to our self-imposed limitations.
Nobody and nothing can control our emotions, unless we allow it.
Viktor Frankl's wonderful book Man's Search for Meaning is perhaps the only book we ever need read.
And yet, as Einstein knew and explained, our 'optical delusion of our consciousness' becomes our reality... (from my 28 Feb article)
"...individually, collectively, systemically; and this indeed is like a prison, because it constrains us from growing, and it keeps us fearful, so that humanity embeds fear into life, and so we teach this to our children, until/unless some traumatic intervention or disintegration forces us to face the infinitely more beautiful reality than what we fear and make believe to be true..."
We can without any doubt at all make life what we want.
It can hurt, but we can do it. We are fearless in our core.
Trauma and grief are not the only paths to truth, growth, and to unconditional love and fearlessness, but in a risk-averse world, they are commonly the doorways.
So perhaps start to open the door before a storm comes, or worse, before systems take over, and we lose our power of choice, as happens unnecessarily for so many people.
"By implication it is not easy to break out of any prison, especially when we are also the guard that holds the keys."
"We each of us are all of humanity, mirrors, infinitely more than we are individuals, and we are part of everything, beyond our imaginings, that we do not need to explain."
"We simply can be free and fearless, because we can each feel and think for ourselves, and make real good."
Cherish every moment, every teardrop and every sunray, and fearlessness will come.
N.B. Language in words cannot explain these ideas fully because every word is open to different interpretations and definitions (see above). However, actually we do not need to explain anything; we can simply to 'be' and 'grow', and to help others do this too, in our own ways. Love everything. It's perhaps that simple.
This is a refined and improved version of my article originally posted on Linkedin 28 February 2020 - https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fearlessness-alan-chapman/