Articles

Practical Companion – 4

Let us continue our exploration of negative mental states that can make us give up our practice.

FEAR

Fear is associated with an aversion to unpleasant situations or losing precious ones. For most of us, unfounded fear causes us to lose faith in our practice because unfounded fear is a result of ignorance. When that happens, we say the mind is deluded. A deluded mind becomes irrational.

For example, when a person faces difficulties in life and pins the blame on Buddha. This is due to superstitious beliefs and is hard to correct once that belief becomes a conviction. However, there is no logic in such a conclusion because Buddhism is all about mindfulness, mind-training, compassion, wisdom, patience, and such positive qualities. How can trying to be a better person be harmful to us?

Fear from lack of information.

Such fear can occur when we engage in intensive mind-training without qualified teachers to consult. Our identity is created by our minds. All those memories, influences, education, culture, etc “programmed” us to be who we are. In short, it is all in our minds.

Mind training, “re-program” our beliefs, our emotions, our feelings, principles, etc Sometimes, fear arises because we can clearly perceive the changes in our minds. For example, a short-tempered person may start developing patience and tolerance. And for some people, that can be scary.

When we practice meditation correctly, our grasping starts to reduce and we may find ourselves less bothered by impermanence in life. We may discover that we no longer grieve at death and that can also be worrying for some people.

As we engage in Buddhist practice, we will notice changes in our personalities. For some people, this may also create fear. THAT IS BECAUSE we are grasping onto our past persona and feel alarmed by the truth of non “I”.

Fear from real threats

You may be shocked that such threats still happen in our modern days. I am referring to opposition by others to our practice. Due to karma, we may find ourselves in a country or society, or family that opposes our practice. Consequently, our practice or faith in enlightenment may threaten our family’s happiness, and in some cases, one may even face prosecution by the authorities.

When we encounter such dire situations and feel threatened, it becomes very difficult to practice. One will require bravery and strong conviction to overcome such challenges. More importantly, I think one will require wisdom to overcome such obstacles.

In Buddhist lore, there are accounts of secret practitioners who practiced secretly. They appear to conform to social pressure outwardly but are practicing in secret. This is possible because Buddhism is all about mind training.

May all be well and happy.

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