Tag Archives: terrorism

What Is YOUR Worst Fear?

Stay just the way you are,” pleaded a friend. Another graduating pal scribbled in my 1964 year book, “Stay as sweet as you are.” A third warned, “Don’t ever change!”

Looking back, the strange and impossible expectation that we live the rest of our lives frozen in time, forever unchanged, was at best, unrealistic.

What lurked beneath the surface was fear of the open-jawed monster – the Unknown – looming ahead, threatening to swallow up this class of bright-eyed but poorly prepared graduates, changing each of us forever in unforeseen ways.

Back then, we were as cocky-confident as the youthful Luke Skywalker who boasted, “I’m not afraid.”

Little did we suspect then, as savvy Yoda warned, “You will be.”

Had we been cavemen, our dreads would have been limited to the instinctual fear of loud noises or falling off sharp cliffs.

But we were born in the year nuclear bombs ended WW II with horrifying finality. The list of fears we grew up was quite different from those of our earliest ancestors.

Even so, following the example of our elders, most of us have continued to engage in daily tasks, hiding behind a hedge of busy-work to fend off the unacknowledged terrors that lurk on the furthermost edges of awareness.

Today, international leaders and the rogue terrorists of shadow governments continue to flirt with Einstein’s dreaded nuclear destruction. Horrific headlines have become so familiar that we’ve become numb to bad news. Likely outcomes of nuclear war are so horrific that the mind refuses to wrap itself around the possibility of a world suddenly changed forever.

We say to ourselves, “If we deny the possibility, refuse to even think about it, it can’t happen.”

But according to Plato, we’ve got it backwards. “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” For, seeking light on all levels – literal facts, metaphysical truth and inner illumination – leads us to recognize what inevitably changes as well as what does not. It secures triumph over petty fears and victory over illusory death.

Yet, rather than acknowledge danger and take decisive action to avert it, we continue to fend off awareness of the monster of all fears – total annihilation. Instead, we fritter away precious time and energy sweating over inconsequential “small stuff.” We allow ourselves to be seduced by the trivial and irrelevant . . . until, finally, inevitably, calamity strikes and finds us unprepared.

What is the greatest fear you allow yourself to be aware of?

Do you categorically dread any change to your comfortable (or at least familiar) status quo?

The list of specific possibilities is virtually endless. Fear of abandonment, of failure, of success, of poverty, of rejection, of ridicule. There’s the death of loved ones and finally one’s own decline and departure from the physical.

Importantly, are you aware of what you DO about your fears? For, in fact, you do have a wide range of options to choose from.

You can unconsciously project them onto others and make them happen. Or take responsibility to face and overcome them.

You can deny them, bury your head in the sand and hide. Or go to the opposite extreme and overcompensate: adopt a fatalistic hedonist “Eat drink and be merry” attitude. Or choose one of gratitude, focusing on and appreciating the good things of life now, while they last.

As ever, there are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, fear attracts danger. Dwelling on fears can make them come true. But, on the other hand, denying the existence of one’s fears invites danger as well.

Timing is also a important. Now versus later also factors into end results.

Where’s your balance point? It’s a puzzlement.

From Conscience, here are a few thoughts to help sort it out.

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Essay 34. FEAR

Tao does not seem to be something we need to acquire. We are already a part of it. We can, however, do a great job of blocking its manifestation within us. We primarily block the Tao through fear and tension. . . Fear is the source of blockage; it underlies our painful, negative emotions, even though its presence is usually hidden.” — Wolfe Lowenthal, There Are No Secrets

Ninety-five percent of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies, and we suffer because we believe all these lies. In the dream of the planet, it is normal for humans to suffer, to live in fear, and to create emotional dramas . . . If we look at human society we see a place so difficult to live in because it is ruled by fear.” — Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

Fear is an essential part of our nature, installed in our DNA, no doubt for very good reason. Fear is an alarm system. It is there to push us in one direction or another, out of harm’s way. . . it is part of our intelligence, part of an ingenious guidance system to help ensure our survival — as individuals, as communities, and as a species.” — Thom Rutledge, Embracing Fear and Finding the Courage to Life Your Life

THE FRONT

An Old English root means sudden attack, ambush or snare. Webster’s first definition is a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, or pain. It suggests doubt, timidity, dread, terror, fright or apprehension.

Alternatively, fear is defined as a respectful dread, awe, or reverence. Fear of God is often a combination of both types, including both awe for the majesty of God’s creation and guilty anticipation of punishment for wrong-doings.

Fears are part natural, part the result of cultural conditioning. Those which are unreal are best dispelled by analysis and understanding. Those which are justified are best faced by correcting and atoning for one’s own mistakes as well as preparing to meet and overcome external dangers.

Working with the I Ching helps us discriminate between appropriate fears which require positive action and illusory fears to release and forget. It is an invaluable aid in the process of cultivating self-honesty for the purpose of self-correction. It is equally useful in the process of articulating immanent dangers and deciding on the best strategies for effective response.

Primal fears are associated with correlative chakras. At the first chakra level, the fear is of physical death. At the second, loss of sexual prowess or family support. At the third, the fear is of losing of material and financial accumulations, along with social connections and influence. At the fourth, failure in love relationships. At the fifth, fears turn to losing face or being judged wrong or inadequate in intellectual matters. At the sixth, one fears loss of connection with the creative source.

As one ascends the evolutionary ladder, emotion-based fears lessen, seen in larger perspective. Integrating and balancing the levels reduces the influence fear has on decision-making.

Some fears have physical causes. For example, habitual muscle tension packs lactic acid into the fascia, producing chemically-induced anxiety. Relaxation and stretching exercises which release tension and reduce acid levels relieve tension anxieties.

Fear is also stimulated by abusing internal organs. Excessive sugar and/or alcohol intake causes metabolic imbalances. The kidneys and liver are stressed by the burden of excess toxins and fluids. The nervousness, anger and fear associated with imbalance in these organs is corrected by improving lifestyle choices.

Cultural conditioning causes still other kinds of fear. Authorities who use terror as a means of control instill a sense of inadequacy and helplessness. Hitler, for example, was the product of an authoritarian, fear-based culture as well as the embodiment of its shadow opposite, destructive megalomania.

Fears denied or unresolved undermine self-confidence, sabotage love relationships, and turn life against itself. They manifest in the physical body as heart disease and cancers.

Fear of God, meaning awe, on the other hand, is life-protective. Direct experience of divine connection (the timeless heritage which everyone everywhere shares in common) overcomes ephemeral fears with the larger light of wisdom and higher love.

Awareness of unseen benevolent powers standing by us on all sides though danger and distress restores strength and courage. It is also the ultimate deterrent to wrong-doing.

THE BACK

Ignorance is the root of fear-caused suffering. Its antidote is confidence gained through inner knowledge and direct experience. Trust that deep within, we each hold the answers to every question and solutions to every problem is the beginning of wisdom.

Terror is a perversion of natural fear. Terrorists may believe playing on fear is the best way to control subordinates or get the attention of unjust leaders. However, unlike math, where two negatives make a positive, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Put Terrorism in Larger Context

Recently, much commentary has been focused on the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris. Most are asking the wrong questions. Many look to place blame. There are exceptions however. Looking for lessons to be learned which might lead to hopeful solutions is the rare but positive approach.

Why do either/or-thinking journalists fixate on assigning or denying blame? Like spoiled children, they squabble and point fingers. “He started it.” “No, it’s their fault!” It’s time to grow up! Expand our way of thinking to recognize the all-inclusive pattern in which everyone is partially culpable and equally responsible for positive change.

The prevailing materialistic paradigm of empirical science limits the questions which can be asked, which in turn limits the places where viable solutions are to be be found. If the middle and innermost levels of the Life Wheel are ruled out, analysts are functionally blinded to the dynamics on all sides which perpetuate back-and-forth bickering, throwing self-righteous excuses for hatred and violence. When underlying motives which drive these dynamics are ignored, the parties on all sides of escalating world conflict place human survival at risk.

Terrorism is a surface symptom of much deeper problems. Attacking symptoms of disease without correctly diagnosing root causes can quell specific symptoms. But the cause, unseen and untouched, simply mutates into even more dreadful symptoms. Destroying terrorist cells is like surgically removing cancer from an affected organ, only to cause its spread throughout the body.

Intent is the WHAT, the outcome or end result that resides on the outermost level of the Life Wheel. In this case, the Paris murders and kidnappings are only the visible end result of a much larger and more complex process.

Deeper than intent is purpose, the HOW. Purpose resides at the middle, energy level of the Life Wheel. For example, one purpose of terrorism is to use violence as an instrument of economic or political upheaval in the name of “social justice.”

Still deeper than purpose is motive, the WHY that leads to violent methods resulting in death and destruction. In some very twisted way, the motive may include setting perceived wrongs right, asserting self-respect and restoring violated human dignity.

Then the questions become, What is justice? Wherein lies valid self-respect? What is the basis of true human dignity? Can these valid motives possibly be served through acts of violence that destroy lives on all sides? Sounds like a fundamental contradiction to me.

If the deepest, underlying motive is to set wrongs right, that opens many doors for alternative approaches to satisfying these motives, ones appropriate to the basic human needs crying out for expression, ones with some valid ways for actually fulling them, instead of the self-defeating methods and results we see now.

World leaders, and each of us as the leaders responsible for doing our best within our limited spheres of personal responsibility, would do well to rethink recent Paris events by putting them in larger perspective. Use the MPI (Motive-Purpose-Intent) standard to look deeper into the heart of terrorism as the first step in making positive responses leading in new directions.

Here as food for thought is an earlier essay on motives. It seems timely and may prove useful.

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ESSAY 18. MOTIVES

Although the feelings mentioned above [sadness, pessimism, guilt, emptiness] may accompany a depressed mood, the most prevalent effects usually involve low energy and lack of motivation . . . An effective way of lifting these moods involves using music to activate our resources.”  — John M. Ortiz, The Tao of Music: Sound Psychology

It occurred to me that the only way to figure out what had happened at a crime scene was to understand what had gone on inside the head of the principal actor in that drama: the offender. And the only way to find that out was to ask him. . . If we could give the law enforcement community some insights into the process, the internal logic, of how violent offenders actually decide to commit crimes and why they come up with their choice of crimes — where the motive comes from — then we could provide a valuable tool in pointing investigators toward what for them must be the ultimate question: Who? Stated as simply as possible: Why? + How? = Who.” — John Douglas, The Anatomy of Motive

On some level, you are meditating all the time. One goal of meditation practice is to become aware of that. Another is to extend that awareness to more and more areas of your life. . . It takes practice and conscious effort to restructure the mind and move it from habitual patterns.” — Andrew Weil, 8 Meditations for Optimum Health

THE FRONT

The root of “motive” is “to move.” Webster’s single definition refers to “some” inner drive, impulse, or intention that causes a person to do something or act in a certain way. It’s an incentive or goal.

Motive, purpose and intent explain human behavior. Unless viewed as a whole, what we see is taken out of context and misunderstood. You see a man take someone else’s car. That’s intent, the WHAT. You see him grab the keys and drive off. That’s purpose, the HOW. But unless you know his motive, WHY he did it, the picture is incomplete. Was he desperately racing to save his beloved child’s life, escaping from vengeful gang lords, or simply lusting after a fancy new car?

We are fascinated by crime. Mystery novels, detective movies and sensational murder stories on TV news are big business. We stretch our minds to second-guess the ending, figure out who committed the crime, and why. We look for the mistakes that reveal dark secrets and lead to the criminal’s undoing. We’re satisfied only when truth is revealed and order is restored by justice.

At heart, what we’re really trying to understand is ourselves. We’re haunted by a pervasive sense of wrongs committed against us, or by us. We can’t quite bring ourselves to recognize what they are, or to admit our own mistakes. But a nagging sense of unfinished business leaks out as voyeurism.

Ultimately, it is the stifled voice of conscience that persistently calls us back to our neglected dreams and deepest longings for fulfillment. Those who allow themselves to be defined by others, who live in habitual fear of people’s opinions and fail to honor their inner sense of calling commit a soul-searing violence akin to suicide. The crime they commit is against their own true selves. Failing to be true to oneself can be the hardest crime to detect. Finding one’s true calling can be the greatest mystery of all.

People who march to others’ drums, unconscious of their motives and what moves those around them, live in painful confusion. Only those who know how to listen and dance to the inner music of their soul’s desire live in joyful harmony with themselves and the world around them.

The I Ching is a means for turning the camera around, focusing in on ourselves. Uncovering hidden motives might cause initial discomfort. But it can lead to positive changes. After analyzing them, we have the option to decide on better ways to accomplish intentional ends. Our What and How isn’t always appropriate to our Why. Other solutions may accomplish our goals without committing crimes against ourselves and others.

THE BACK

The opposite of motive is motiveless, to be without awareness of calling, any conscious purpose, or impulse to action. This condition is sometimes an extreme reaction to an extended period of frenzied, excessive, forced action. People experience it as apathy, shell shock or burn out.

When crazed criminals go on sprees, kill strangers and wreak havoc on public property, their acts are regarded as random and senseless. To all but the most highly attained, the subtle laws of cause and effect are incomprehensible. There’s wisdom in accepting the unfathomable as Job did, saying, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.“