Thoughts on Facing Problems and Fears
What is the best way to face our problems and fears? We are told many ways not to face them. Do not dramatize them, as that makes them bigger. Fighting them also makes them worse. If you push them down, swallow them, or run from them that makes them bigger too.
Everyone knows ways to run from things. We can use drugs, over-working, alcohol, relationships, games, or other entertainment. We can use food, illness, denial, anger, humor, or neurosis. It becomes obvious that running is rarely a good idea.
By facing them properly we are told, the fears and problems dissolve and you see that they never were anything at all. At least, that is what Gangaji and other great teachers tell us. It sounds good but quite frankly the author of this post just isn’t there yet. Are you?
Ultimately we lose everything. Everything we fear must eventually vanish, but we also lose all we hold important. Our jobs, our homes, health, our mates, our children, our possessions, our friends, and our pets; we lose them all eventually. Nothing lasts forever and no one gets out of here alive.
We understand these things intellectually. They are obvious. Still, it is not so easy to actually live these ideas at the higher spiritual levels. Instead, all those things become even more problems and things to fear.
We can remember Ramana Maharshi, in “Who Am I?” We grasp the realization that we are not our bodies. We realize that we are not our thoughts and emotions. We are not even the air that we breathe. We discover that we are is that force which animates or allows all those things.
Can’t that just be another intellectual layer? A person can say I’m not this body and the problem is only an illusion, but if the fear or problem remains, the process is only another layer or a cheap mask at best.
The intellectual realizations may calm us in many instances. But how do we know we are really succeeding? How do we know we are facing problems and fear properly? The answer would be when they no longer consume us or cause, fear, worry, anger, or any other negative emotion. The answer is when we stop replaying them within our minds, in a repetitive loop.
Somehow we are to live, love, and experience both good and bad, but yet let go once the experiences are over. We are not to attempt recreating things the great teachers tell us. But we do try. We experience fun, love, or joy and we try to recreate it. We have a special moment with someone and try to relive it. A couple has a special moment with the first child, they try to replicate it for the second child. Often it is not the same. Sometimes it is a disappointment. Clinging to happiness, we are told, chases it away. Misery appears as the joy vanishes.
We also recreate problems and fears. We humans like revisiting them too much to let go. We do it constantly. We worry. We obsess. We replay our fears and problems over and over in our minds. It’s almost a bit masochistic, isn’t it?
Some people carry their problems, pains, and fears so proudly they tell everyone they meet. You would think they were medals of honor they received for heroic deeds. They can’t stop trying to relive and recreate the problems, the fears, or the pain. It becomes their identity. Still, embracing them and clinging to them is not truly facing them. “Emotionalism is the avoidance of the deepest emotions,” Gangaji tells us.
We also try to recreate spiritually. Meditation is an example. If we achieve a great feeling or realization, we keep trying to get it back. The chase almost always ends in frustration. We are told that we are not to do that. Krishnamurti instructs not to expect anything when we meditate. If you are expecting, you really aren’t meditating. You are chasing, or running. Trying to relive the past experience is not meditating. Furthermore the more you chase that blissful feeling, the more it eludes you. Only when you let go and let go of the grasping and expecting are you meditating he tells us. Many of the great teachers go on to tell us that life is the same way.
Problems, fears, happiness, life, and meditation seem to have some commonalities. Running from any of them seems futile. Nothing is gained. Clinging to them does not bring happiness or solve things either. It is opposite. Clinging to any them makes you feel worse or backfires.
It seems like you need the same approach for all of them. There seems to be a middle road that is difficult to find. Do not cling. Do not run. Do not overanalyze. Do not recreate. Do not expect. Do not force. Do not fight. Do not judge. Do not justify. Do not regret, Do not repress. Do not hold grudges. Do not blame. Do not hate.
There seems to be no escape. The only way to approach fear and pain is with a calm level mind. “No matter how much you try to run away from hurt, you still experience it.” Gangaji
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