I suppose that “quote” is really inappropriate for today’s post. In actuality, it is a passage from “The Pocket Pema Chödrön,” which contains excerpts from the various books that Pema Chödrön has written. This particular passage is titled “How to Defeat Fear,” and it struck a chord with me, largely because fear has been a constant companion since childhood. It bears noting that fear is a useful and necessary emotion that, among other things, protects us. Without fear, in the face of clear and present danger, our innate ‘fight or flight’ response would not be triggered and we would fall prey to any number of dangers. This is not the type of fear referred to in this passage.
The passage refers to those fears that prevent us from taking risks in our lives and from living life to its fullest. These fears cause us to act against our own self-interest, and as a result, if not defeated, deprive us of reaching, or even knowing, our full potential. Fear is risk adverse, and commands that we wait until the time is right, which in most cases, never comes. From personal experience, I know that fear has, and in some cases, still does, control my actions. On the other hand, there are countless obstacles that I’ve faced and overcome, in spite of fear’s taunt that “I’d fail.” I believe that defeating all my fears will be a lifetime endeavor and that this passage provides me some insight into achieving that goal. Perhaps, it will help you too.
How to Defeat Fear
Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do her battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and she gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat her fear. ~“The Pocket Pema Chödrön,” Shambhala Publications