We spoke yesterday about how sometimes we choose fear.  Why would anyone choose fear over love?  Sometimes, to make money.  Big money and big power. 

“Fear.” Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash

Riling up fear and hatred can appeal to a lot of people who have not learned to love themselves very well and whole corporations can choose to sell fear and arouse fear to get rich. Fear sells. Unfortunately.

Looking for the causes behind fear, Aquinas offers us insight when he observes that “all fear arises from love because no one fears anything except what is contrary to something he or she loves.”  Fear can sometimes give us a clue to what deep down we love but feel inadequate for the task of loving.

The cure for the wrong kind of fear is courage (a “big heart” in French) or fortitude.

“MISSING HEARTS: A man steps over a bundle of people sleeping on the sidewalk.” Photo by Kat Northern Lights Man on Flickr.

Strength stands up to fear and sees one’s way through it.  Indeed, Aquinas believes that “fear is repugnant to a magnanimous (or big-souled) person.”  

Fear, because it comes from the heart and can loom so large in our worldview is a direct enemy of compassion. Aquinas says, “Those who are in great fear… are so intent on their own passion that they pay no attention to the suffering of others.”  Fear can destroy our capacity for caring and compassion.  It follows that moving beyond fear can open floodgates of compassion.

Ignoring the suffering of others is a way of denying one’s own humanity—it is part of all sadism and was intrinsic to the modus operandi of fascist powers in the last century. It still is.

Wilmington Chester Mass Choir sings “Fear Not”. Video by Tony L. Fisher.

The Biblical tradition has always attacked fear as an enemy of the spirit. Rabbi Heschel says that the prophet “casts out fear,” and the historical Jesus talks more than once about “fearing not” and observing the sparrows and others who survive quite handsomely without great fear. The epistle of John says that “love drives out fear.” Love does drive out fear.

All these teachings are proposing that love and trust are the cure for fear. Joanna Macy says, “Have confidence in the Buddha nature in all things.” She teaches that realizing the Buddha nature (or Cosmic Christ) in every being—including indwelling in ourselves–is the way to sustain ourselves when fear arises.  The Holy Spirit, Aquinas teaches, is what makes people strong.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, pp. 296ff.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Divest from Fossil Cruel NOW” Paramilitary employees of North Dakota and Energy Transfer Partners fire tear gas upon unarmed water protectors in the freezing Cannonball River as they resisted the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, ND, 2016. Photo by Alane Golden on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Is it your experience that “those who are in great fear… are so intent on their own passion that they pay no attention to the suffering of others?”  How to create a culture where fear plays a lesser role than it does currently?

Recommended Reading

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

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5 thoughts on “Moving Beyond Fear”

  1. Avatar

    “The Plant That Grows the Seeds of Faith in Something So Wonderful it is Beyond Our Current Comprehension”

    People need to see what it is like not to live in fear, not to live in judgement. People need to be shown love and unrequited service, foot washing, acceptance of who they are deep down and not who they profess to be and represent. One needs to let down their guard and get to know and experience the freedom and relief that comes with that. The heart of love and compassion that Jesus brought did not look to identify ‘the bad’ and convert them into anything. There is another way, the way of love and truth, in which when one gets a taste, a craving for more, that has the capacity to grow within us like a plant rising up out of the ground and seeking out the sun.

    Today, the soil, the culture, we find ourselves in, needs more tending. These are the required conditions which are best suited for love’s growth. Moving away from divisiveness and the need to win every ideological battle and argument is a start. Love and its fruits are a ‘magnet’ unto themselves. Let us be the ‘magnet’, the flowering plant that attracts the bees and allows God’s love to cross pollinate across our community and the planet. The example that Jesus sets forth for us is the plant that grows the seeds of faith in something so wonderful it is beyond our current comprehension. — BB

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    The root of fear stems from lies, believed to be true. There is usually a life experience of a thread of wounding attatched to these fear-filled lies; that weaves its vine into our story; which we keep feeding into, strengthening the entanglements of lie, believed to be true. It takes courage, love, compassion and vulnerable open-heartedness, to untie these knots of lies believed to be true as well as unravel the memories of our woundedness that are attached to these, that have binded oneself in fear.

    The living Spirit of the Cosmic Mother, as The Untier of Knots, is She Who Loosens Contrictions. She invites us into the Sacred Grove of Her compassion and unconditional love, assisting us in identifying these threads of lies. She then speaks truth, supporting the undoing of what one once believed to be true. Through this sacred process are wounding begins to heal, as She helps us discover some wisdom to be gained through the pain.

    As we surrender our concerns and open ourselves to all the places where we have created false divisions within us, rooted in fear-filled lies; through Her truth telling, She inspires a deeper alignment with our true self and nature; in which we discover Her gifts of grace, the jewels to be found within the wounds. Holy communion with our Cosmic Mother and the Spiritual reality of this relationship participated in, slowly frees us from our fears, through love, compassion, forgiveness and truth-telling!

  3. Avatar

    There seems to be a fundamental fear in letting go of our surface, conditioned self/personality that we’re accustomed to acting unconsciously and habitually without being aware that we may have a deeper spiritual True Heart Self/Sacred Eternal Soul that unites us deeply and compassionately with one another, Sacred Mother Nature, and our co-Creating~Incarnating~Evolving Cosmos of Loving Oneness in the Sacredness of the Eternal Present Moment… These limiting false identities (egocentricity) that we cling to selfishly, fearfully, and unconsciously have historically been caused and perpetrated largely by sinful, toxic, unbalanced patriarchal beliefs and values that have infiltrated human society and institutions, with their consequent destructive effects and suffering, both personal and social, up to our increasing world problems today. Fortunately, the Divine Spirit of Love~Wisdom~Truth~Peace~Justice~Strength~Healing~Transformation~Creativity~Beauty~
    Joy~Oneness… has been kept alive by many faithful, holy, compassionate, heroic human individuals throughout human history up to the present day who inspire our own unique faithful spiritual journeys and meaning/purpose in our earthly lives with one another. We’re All daughters and sons (sparks of the Divine) of Our Loving Mother~Father Creator within our co-Creation-Evolving Oneness….

  4. Avatar

    When people feel fear or anxiety, they often search for quick relief and turn to self-medicating, e.g. alcohol and cigarettes. They may also, however, turn to behaviors and justifications for beliefs that serve to alleviate by distracting and/or re-directing their pain. They may subconsciously rationalize their outward-projected cruelty, contempt and domination.

    Confronting our inner narrative of excuses and rationalizations for our thoughts and behaviors is difficult and painful, and so it’s not something we joyfully jump into. But if we work on letting go of our shame-based inner judge and allow the fear, sadness, and hurt to speak to us, while questioning or unpacking their rationale, and if we meet our pain with God’s love and forgiveness, we can give ourselves room to move, bit by bit, away from fear. (For some people, though, anxiety is a brain-flood of misfiring circuitry, and may also need medications targeting the depression, anxiety, bipolar condition, etc.) And if we realize that (almost) everyone else around us is wrapped in the same fear, insecurity, anxiety, tension, and uncertainty, we can forgive them, and ourselves, more easily and be better channels for our inner angel-nature to reach out to help others. If we all did this together, as a nation dedicated to inter-healing and love, just think of how many miracles could be accomplished!

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