The Sum of All Fears

A solid case can be made that the fundamental core motivation underlying virtually all human behavior, personally, socially and culturally, is fear.   And the most basic fear, lying at the heart of all their many forms and varieties, is the fear of death.   Let us now ask:  What is the source of this nearly universal fear of death?

Obviously, the thought of personal death can only arise in the mind of a body/mind organism that has learned that all physical bodies are mortal, and that his body is no exception.   But the fear of death can only appear if the body/mind in question has first believed the thought that he is the body, or that his life is absolutely dependent on that body for its existence.  The fact is that it is not death per se which is feared, but the apparent end of “one’s consciousness” itself;  which signifies, to “our self,” the end of our life, our identity, our story, and our world.

Non-duality tries to bring us to an experiential living appreciation of the essential “empty nature” of physical reality which modern nuclear physics and quantum theory have already discovered and demonstrated.   The “substance” of the world is not matter, but a complex dance of subtile energy patterns in a field of awareness.  All we can ever know of “the world” is based entirely upon sensations, which are only experiences in conscious awareness itself.  Consequently, all our perceptions and “experiences” of an “outside world” consist only of inferences, projections, and beliefs within consciousness itself.  How then does this dream or illusion become the real, solid and tangible world of our experience?  The trick is accomplished when the psychic belief system (of thoughts) of a body/mind organism inhabits the belief and sense of its self as a separate, discrete and autonomous entity.  As such, all that appears “outside” its arbitrary borders and boundaries now becomes the “external” world.  From the point of view of an imagined separate entity, the experience of its complement, an imagined separate world, could not seem other than absolutely solid and real.  This co-appearance (by imagination, in consciousness) is called, in Buddhist teachings, an instance of “mutual arising.”

This leaves us in the unenviable predicament of having the full-on living experience of being a vulnerable, pathetic and tragic human figure engaged in its long and painful slog to an almost certain pitiful end.  The Buddha called this condition suffering.  What is always possible, however, is finding a crack in the cosmic egg – a psychological quantum leap into a radically new life of utter fearlessness, unconditional love, freedom, spontaneity, gratitude, and absolute peace.

Fortunately, it is possible, though not always easy, to follow the advice of legions of mystics and sages throughout history, to learn to “die before you die.”  This means to surrender your attachment to and your identification as the limited mortal body/mind, which is clearly the most blatant and insidious case of “identity theft” which has ever been perpetrated.   It is necessary to awake to the realization that the conscious awareness you mistook to be a characteristic of your “body/mind self” is, in fact, your only true identity and timeless essence.  It is only that in which the appearance and the experiencing of the body, mind and world could ever have seemed to take place.  And it is only that spaceless and timeless aware presence that has ever truly existed.   Its eternal nature is intangible being, conscious presence, and immutable peace. [In sanskritsatchit, ananda.]  It is that which preceded your “birth” and survives your “death.”  And it is only that which has seen every sight, tasted every taste, had every experience, and felt all the love you have ever known.  It is God.  It is Life.  It is Heaven.  It is now and it is here.  And, of course, it is only that which is reading this.


Les Collins

About Les Collins

Lifelong student of world spirituality, the perennial philosophy, and eastern religions. Facilitator of "There Is Only God" weekly non-duality discussion group which meets in Rochester, New York, USA. For more info on meetings, click on ABOUT section.
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2 Responses to The Sum of All Fears

  1. I’m inclined to think, in addition, that fear of death is actually fear of life, or more truly fear of being. When we can stop terrorizing ourselves and each other, we will be able to hold the experience of being, & the stampeding fear associated with most things human will evaporate. Thanks for doing your blog!

  2. Les Collins says:

    Thanks for your comment! Being itself knows no fear and cannot be threatened. What knows fear is the limited and fragile personal identity masquerading as the Captain of this ship of self on its heroic voyage. It fears drowning in the ocean of Being as it means the end of its pretense of separate autonomous existence. By resting knowingly as impersonal Being itself, nothing remains which could be terrorized, as the lifeblood (belief and identification) has been cut off from the phantom self which has vanished like a puff of smoke. [However, a latent self-image remains in conscious awareness which can be “inhabited” from time to time, when required, on a “need-to-appear” basis.] Namaste.

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