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Lions Roar : March 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2011 90 my companion never did really like me, but in that situation she became my teacher. when none of my cute words and jokes and compliments worked, i had to deal with what was under all of that—someone being harsh with themselves for no good reason. it takes guts to get to that place. i can’t say that i did it willingly, and i’m not sure that anyone would do it willingly, but situations like that can help us to see why we need to look into our fear. it’s not so easy to do, but fortunately we have a method that can help us discover the courage to smile at fear. meditation practice is a method for being with ourselves fully and com- pletely, allowing the time and space to see it all with gentleness, kindness, and dead honesty. it is the safest environment within which to undertake this mission impossible. and when medita- tion practice has helped us to be honest and courageous enough to know ourselves in a deep way, we can begin to extend out and help others, because the things outside of us that appear threat- ening seem that way because of the fear within, the fear we have been reluctant to look at. the things that unnerve us, that trigger feelings of inadequacy, that make us feel that we can’t handle it, that we are not good enough, lose their power over us when we learn to smile at fear. it’s not a one-shot deal, as trungpa rinpoche was fond of say- ing. there are many reruns. we go through it again and again. we feel uncertain, we busy ourselves, we become frozen, we are lazy, our fear escalates. But our practice also makes it possible for us to notice it happening again and again, and to allow fearless- ness and genuineness to emerge from the very act of going into our fear. while fearlessness may be our goal, so to speak, the basis of fearlessness is knowing fear, and that knowing takes place over and over again. Fearlessness and the compassion that arises from it are not solid and permanent. they emerge when your fears are triggered. i’m sure that if i had to go on the bus with that same lady tomorrow, it would be a very different experience, yet i would still be uncomfortable. But when my fear was inevitably triggered, warriorship would be triggered as well. and a smile might more easily cross my face. if you touch the fear instead of running from it, you find ten- derness, vulnerability, and sometimes a sense of sadness. this tender-heartedness happens naturally when you start to be brave enough to stay present, because instead of armoring yourself, in- stead of turning to anger, self-denigration, and iron-heartedness, you keep your eyes open and you begin, as trungpa rinpoche said, to see the blueness of an iris, the wetness of water, the movement of the wind. Becoming more in touch with ourselves gives birth to enormous appreciation for the world and for other people. it can sound corny, but you feel grateful for the beauty of the world. it’s a very special way to live. your heart is filled with gratitude, appreciation, compassion, and caring for other people. and it all comes from touching that shakiness within and being willing to be present with it. ♦ smile at Fear continued from page 52