How Training To Remember All That You Have Is Right Now Can Completely Change Your Life And Make You Truly Fearless
by James Eke
From Warrior’s Way Podcast Episode 117
What are you afraid of? What fears occupy your mind, even unknowingly?
Think about it.
Don’t tell me for a second that you don’t have any fears because, frankly, you’re lying if you tell yourself that.
Here is what I want you to do. Spend a day keeping track of all the things that come into your mind that have even the slightest tinge of something fear based.
This means things you are afraid to lose. Things you are afraid to let go of. Most of your anxieties. Probably a good chunk of your motivations too.
For instance you might workout like crazy but while this is definitely a positive thing I don’t want you to stop, you might be doing it because you are trying to keep old age away, sickness away or negative images of self. All of this is actually fear-based thinking. Personally I think some fear based motivations are positive and working out to keep yourself and healthy and biologically young for as long as possible is one of the best things you can do to improve the quality of the time you have here so don’t stop that, I’m sure not going to, but understand where it is coming from.
So I want you to truly examine your life and be honest with yourself and examine the things going on inside of you. See what comes from or fueled by fear. Don’t judge it, just examine it, write it down so at the end of the day you can see a bit more clearly what the truth is for yourself.
Here is the thing. Whether you are you, me or some sage sitting in a cave meditating all day, we are stuck clinging to our view of ourselves, the big view of ‘Me’ with a capital M.
This view of Me is something that we have been each indoctrinated with since we were tiny and we cling to it like it is the only think keeping us sane and safe. The thing is, it is all a bit of a convoluted bunch of BS that we tell ourselves and believe.
Some of us believe we are our job or our career – heck there are tons of people who go out of their way to remind us of all the things they did in their career that somehow should mean something to us. Think of all the people who tout themselves as somehow a cut above because they are a doctor, a politician, former special forces, actor, singer or whatever else. If you think about it from a Zen or just a common sense perspective, what the heck does any of that have to do with you or how you should truly see life and your place in it? It doesn’t mean anything. You can’t tell me that because someone did X that they are somehow far greater than someone who quietly picks up your garbage. For that sake, the garbage-man may well have some far deeper insights into not just their own life but reality as a whole than Mr Special Forces or Mrs I’m A PhD.
I’m not saying don’t listen to these people, I’m just saying that belief in our own hype is, from a certain perspective, completely ridiculous.
So if you aren’t your job or your education or your… whatever you want to fill in the blank here with, what the heck are you?
Well that is the best question you could ask yourself to get started on truly understanding your place in this universe.
Look at your hand for a second or two. Is that hand you? What if you didn’t have it anymore? Are you now less because you don’t have that hand? Now take that same experience and travel throughout your body. Is any of the physical aspects that you would believe yourself to be actually you?
Mind blown a little? Good.
Our physical view of ourself is part of this whole delusion of the capital M, Me. This Me is actually something that has never, ever remained constant. Think back to a year ago. Are you the same person you were back then? What about a week ago?
If you are catching my drift you’ll start to see that this view of Me isn’t all that solid. This Me has changed every single day – though more accurately it has changed with each moment in the present, in the now.
Yet we all cling to our view of Me. We live in fear of letting go of all of that. We live in fear of there not being a capital M Me. Here is a little whisper of a secret though – there never was any real capital M Me, it is just smoke and mirrors that we have bought into our view of ourselves.
Within us all though is something else. If you learn to practice stillness. If you learn to sit and breathe and let go, with time what you’ll find is that there is something hidden in there that is actual truth – and that is Truth with a capital T now. What you’ll find is just as there is this illusion and delusion of a Me there is also an I.
This I is an aspect of you that touches the universe, is in contact with all things, all places, all times. It has been called a whole lot of different names but don’t get yourself too caught up in that. Keep it simple and just understand that it is there, in the background, it is the aspect of you that is at peace, the aspect that feels the interconnection between the world around us and what lies deep within, it is that part of you that will suddenly smile when you are sitting outside and your thoughts drop away for a moment and see a leaf blowing in the air, a butterfly flutter by you, sunlight dancing in the dust.
You might think, wow this guy sounds like he has somehow transcended fear. Anyone who tells you they have transcended fear is probably full of it or full of something else. We all have fear. I’m sure that even the most enlightened among us still have fear at least to some degree. What they probably have in equal measure though is the ability to see it for what it is and either let it go or turn it into something to help them become more liberated.
I might have mentioned before that during the height of COVID I had a period of time that was deeply existential and wasn’t exactly fun. I saw vividly the mortality of not just myself but every single thing around me. I’m talking my home, the trees in the backyard, my dog, you name it, we were all going to be dead.
At first I was like, ‘Eke, what the heck is going on with your brain.’ And I didn’t like it.
Then I started to understand that my training brought this up from the mud that lays at the bottom of the pool that is that Me with a capital M. It was fear of losing not just the things around me but fear of losing myself.
As with all deep experiences, this one hasn’t completely gone. It still drifts back to remind me of the reality of life, the impermanence of all things. Here is the thing though, what it taught me after a lot of sitting, a lot of letting go, a lot of questions and swallowing the answers is that truly all we have is right now. It is all we have ever had. Now.
When we were children we lived in the now. That is why afternoons playing seemed to last forever. The same with summer vacation. It was because we let go of thoughts of the future and fear and were simply fully 100 percent in the now. Enjoying the sun. Enjoying our games. Enjoying our lives fully.
At some point we replaced all that with fear of the future, dwelling in the past, afraid of everything people might think, holding ourselves back until all there was left was fear that we didn’t really want to ever admit to so we just bury it.
Fear though is darkness. Fear grows into other things. What we need to do as people who are training on this path is let it go. Breathe. Let it go.
Examine that Me with the capital M and all that you cling to. What is its purpose? What false faces does it wear that you no longer need?
Examine the I that dwells beyond that. What does it say to you?
If we want to let go of our fear and find out what this universe is truly about and our place within it we have to do the work. It won’t be easy at first but it is a path of small steps. You’ll succeed lots, fail tons but just stick to it.
Understand that there is nothing at all to fear. Everything in life is change, constant, unending change and all that there is truly is right now. In this now is everything you could ever need but you have to embrace it, love it, appreciate it and give back all you have to it. Here it comes, right now. Oops it is gone you missed it. How about right….now.
Listen to the full podcast episode at: Warrior’s Way Podcast
In this week’s episode we discussed an excerpt from Normal Fischer’s book, When You Greet Me I Bow: Notes and Reflections from a Life in Zen (please click link and pick up a copy).