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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Origin of Fear & Book Review

A few days ago someone asked me what my favorite "spiritual" book was. I don't have an answer to that. I guess, my "favorite" changes according to where I am in my evolution. I find that the right book comes to me at the right time.

However,years ago, I read Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" and "The Power of Now" books. I'm not sure why I even picked the first one up, but I did so before Oprah helped make it famous. I did follow along with some of her web casts with Eckhart when they dissected the book as well. For me,and many others I suspect, Tolle's books were trigger points that opened my mind to further development and expansion. I kept the books for a long time as reference texts, but somewhere along the way, I gave my copies away to someone or recycled it through the used book store. Months ago now, I bought a copy of the newer version of "The Power of Now" wanting to have it on hand as a reference text again. I didn't open it. It sat on my shelf until a few days ago. As I read through it again, I see this book in a much different light- perhaps because my own "light" has changed and I find it extremely useful and helpful once again. I am only half way through this time around because I want to absorb it slowly and much of the book has become highlighted and marked up as I read through it.

One of the sections that I have highlighted deals with the origin of fear. I find myself writing about fear a lot. A lot of Bach Flowers help balance various aspects of fear and I think everyone to some degree or another works through fear. Bach Flowers work at the real core or origin of the problem. They work on the "cause" not the effect, the disease, or a condition. Eckhart Tolle seems to be digging even further into this origin or cause and I find his concepts profound.

Tolle believes that fear is present in our minds when we think of something that might happen- we attach it to a concept of future, not the present moment. He believes fear develops when we listen to our mind that deals in future situations. He explains that we are here "in the now", yet our mind is off somewhere in the future, and that gap been soul and mind creates anxiety. He argues that you can always cope with the present moment, but you cannot cope with the future because it is only a mind projection of something that might happen. That inability to cope becomes constant anxiety or fear.

"The Power of Now", book is set up in a question and answer type format. So the question or hypothesis is posed that perhaps we need fear to protect ourselves. The example given is that we need to have a fear of fire or heat or we might burn our hand on the stove. That old "fight or flight" mechanism that due to a series of ingrained impulses and physiological responses, our mind instructs our body to run from certain signs of danger.

Tolle has a great rebuttal to this in my opinion. He says we don't need to FEAR the heat or the fire, we just have to KNOW or understand that touching it will cause a burn. He argues that you don't need to be afraid of something to avoid unnecessary danger.

That seems so simple and yet so powerful to me. Using that example of the hot stove, I think about how we teach our children to live in the world. We teach them a lot of fear. We ingrain fear into them in order to protect them from the things we believe to be dangerous. And once that's ingrained in us, it's pretty hard to work it out of there and to relearn the concept of knowing and understanding something instead of fearing it. A lot of times we teach fear because it's faster and easier to teach than understanding is. And because we have the fear and panic in us from generations before we keep the cycle of fear going and growing.

We still need to teach children not to touch the hot stove. But maybe if we could really live in the "now" as Tolle suggests, we could in that moment stop and teach understanding rather than fear. And in the process, let go of fear ourselves. Hmmm...

To really understand the concept and a multitude of others, I highly recommend you read the book. You might come away with a very different thought process than I did. I think that's part of the beauty of Eckhart Tolle's book, any good book for that matter, you take away what it is that you need.

Christopher Morley said:

"When you sell a man a book, you don't sell him 12 ounces of paper and ink and glue- you sell him a while new life."

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