Pavlina+

Newsletters and Podcast Transcripts


Overcoming Fear

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Download MP3: courage.mp3

Let's talk about fear, and specifically, how to overcome fear.

Just to make sure we're all on the same page—when I say fear I'm not referring to the biological fight or flight response, which is how you subconsciously react when you're in real or perceived danger. I'm talking about more of the low-level feeling of anxiety or trepidation you get, when you aren't in mortal danger. The kind that curtails your actions. For example, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success.

Now without fear, without this type of fear, we're not going to end up with total recklessness. Our goal is to overcome fear such that it doesn't get in the way of our intelligence. Our goal is to reach the point of what you might call "intelligent fearlessness"—where we're guided by our ability to make intelligent choices—not by our emotional fear, which can cause us to react, instead of to make our choices proactively and intelligently.

First you need to realize that fear itself is the actual problem, not the object of your fear. For example, if you are experiencing a fear of rejection—getting rejected isn't the actual problem. We don't need to work on trying to get rejected less often in order to reduce our fear, being afraid of rejection is the real problem. We don't want to avoid rejection, per se, we want to avoid having fear get in our way.

One of my favorite quotes about fear, comes from the book Dune by Frank Herbert. There's a character in the book called Paul Tradies and he recites this thing called the litany against fear. It basically goes like this:

°»I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.°…

This character in this book recites this litany against fear over and over again. What it does is, it helps him tune out the fear and regain access to his innate intelligence. We need to do this as well—not necessarily to recite this litany against fear, but to be able to tune out the fear and to regain access to out innate intelligence. So we can behave more like a human than an animal. Intelligence wise, isn't it stupid to be afraid of something; like getting rejected when you ask someone out on a date? Or, being afraid to ask your boss for a raise? There's really no serious negative consequence to the rejection itself, it's not like you're putting yourself in physical danger.

So the first step in overcoming fear, is to correctly identify fear itself as the obstacle, not what we're actually afraid of. Secondly, to overcome fear, what we want to do, is build up our resistance to fear. In other words, build up our courage. Think, of it like weight training—which is also called by the way 'resistance training'—so in this case, we're training ourselves to be resistant to fear. Like weight training, we want to train ourselves to be resistant to fear. The way we do this is the same way we would grow our muscles with weight training—you start with small weights, and you life them—progressively you move on to heavier and heavier weights.

It's the same thing with fear. You take your small fears and you face them, and as you do that you gain fear resistance, you gain courage—and then you can exercise your courage on a slightly more difficult challenge.Then as you keep going, and you keep building courage—you become less and less affected by fear. It's as if fear is a weight in your life, but it becomes easier and easier to lift it. The fear is still there but it doesn't curtail your actions like it used to. For example, if you have fear of asking someone out on a date, you're afraid of being rejected. Well, you might start by just walking up to someone and smiling at them, or just walking up and saying," hi". Once you get used to that, then you can start moving to try and initiate a conversation. Pretty soon, you're getting to the point where you can carry out a conversation, and actually ask for a date—but you don't necessarily jump to the heaviest weight at once. That would be sort of like, in weight training where you'd go to the gym and go straight to the heavies weights, and try and lift them immediately. Well, you're just not going to be able to do it necessarily, if you've never done any weight training and haven't built up your muscles. Same thing with fear.

You don't have to go out there and tackle on the very biggest challenges, well, sometimes you may be able to overcome them—what you really want to do , is to build up your courage. build up your fear resistance by doing this again and again. This is one thing I went through when I was in my late teens, I did it in a rather foolish way—and if you want to hear about it specifically, you can listen to podcast number 1, where I talked about it—but basically I did some foolish things as a teenager and got myself into a lot of trouble. I was doing things that I was previously afraid to do, and, which actually, built up my courage to a very high degree—because I was facing this fear again and again and again. Later in life I worked on more intelligent ways of overcoming fear, like doing public speaking, or joining an organization like Toastmaster's International. A great way to face a fear, and gradually to overcome it.

When you can do that comfortably, than everything else seems easy—because more people are afraid of public speaking, than death. So if a fear is too big for you t face initially, start with a smaller version of it. Start small, get progressively stronger, work your way up. Think of this as—you know how we have progressive weight training—think of this as progressive fear training. Now, facing your fears, will get you pretty far. Building your courage works very well, but you're able to do that, there's actually another—even more powerful step, beyond that. If were to carry the weight training analogy a little further forward, what this would mean is—you're not just building your muscles to be able to lift those heavy weights more easily, but now we're going to work on making those weights lighter.

So, in other words, we're not just building up our resistance to fear, we're trying to cause the fear not occur in the first place. This is what I would call 'fear transcendence'. Building fear resistance, building courage is great; but the only problem is we still experience fear. It's just not as much of a problem, because we're in a better position to handle it, we're stronger, more courageous. But wouldn't it be nice to get to a point, where we don't have to experience fear at all. Again, I'm not talking about the biological fear, fight or flight response here. I'm referring to those feelings of anxiety. The one's who overrule your intelligence a the most inopportune times.

Now, is it possible to transcend fear? Yes, it;s possible, but I'll tell you this; it is not easy. I've been working on building my courage since the late eighties, and it's only been this year, that I feel I reached a point of transcending it all together. Really making progress in that area. I think the reason it took so long, is because transcending fear requires a whole different strategy than building courage. a whole different paradigm in fact. So, you cannot just continue the same strategy, you cannot continue the strategy of building your muscles, and expect teh weights themselves to get lighter. You have to go to work on the weights themselves, you have to go to work on the fear itself; rather than on your own courage.

what you have to do is, you have to tackle the problem from a higher level. You have to understand what causes fear in the first place, and how to stop creating fear. Now, this part is much more complicated and much more difficult than building your courage. Fear transcendence , I would say is easily in order of magnitude, more challenging than building courage. So, you do your best to stay with me, as we dive into this, OK?

First we need to know, we need to understand, where does fear come from? Fear does not come from the object you fear, it comes from your mental model of reality; it comes from your belief system. Let me give you an example to explain how this works. Let's say you get assigned a project at work, and it requires you to do a presentation in front of a large group. In other words, public speaking. Like most people, maybe you're afraid of public speaking, so you have some anxiety over this assignment. So is it the assignment itself that's making you afraid? No, here's why. What if you misheard your boss and it was someone else who was supposed to tackle that assignment, not you. You would still have the fear reaction though, right? Because you would think the assignment was yours. You were incorrect, your mental model of reality was wrong.

So, how could it have possibly been the assignment, on your shoulders that made you afraid? It didn't actually exist. What made you afraid is that you created this model of reality, in which this assignment existed, and your reaction to that made you afraid.You see, it's not something in external reality that makes you afraid. In this case, the speaking assignment didn't even exist, it's your model of reality that creates the fear; and this can occur, even if your model is completely wrong.

So, convince yourself that this is true. Is it what happens in the external world that makes you feel fear, or is it what you think about it that makes you feel fear? What causes you to get nervous about asking someone out on a date? Is it the actual rejection? No, of course not, it hasn't even happened yet when you're experiencing nervousness. It's your own thinking that makes you afraid, it's not reality itself. Let me tell you something else that may be hard to believe. If you experience fear, any fear at all, then your mental model of reality is wrong. Your model is inaccurate, if you had an accurate model of reality, you would never experience any fear.

I'm saying, what creates fear then, is errors in your own thinking. So, if you're afraid, think of it this way, if you're afraid, you're wrong. You're not wrong in noticing that you're afraid, what I mean, is that your fear is a signal that you've made a mental mistake, you've made an error. Fear is not a signal to avoid what you're afraid of, it's a signal that you've made an error in judgement, and you need to go back and correct it.

In other words, the real purpose of fear, is to serve as a trigger for growth, it's to serve as a trigger to expand your conscientiousness to another level—where the fear will not exist anymore. Whenever you experience fear, treat it as a message, that, this is an area where you need to grow; and you need to grow badly. You see, if you avoid your fear, you halt your own growth, you hold yourself back. when you notice yourself being afraid of something, what you really ought to do is, trace the fear back to it's source the; and if you go far enough back, and get to the real source. That's where you're going to come, face to face with the error in judgement that you've made. Hopefully, if you continue to face that error in judgement and realize that it's an error, what will happen is that you'll have an epiphany that will allow you permanently allow you to eliminate that fear. You'll suddenly realize that your belief about reality was wrong, and when you're able to let that go; the fear itself will natural absolve.

Let's go through an example, let's go through the public speaking example. Let's say you have a fear of making a mistake in front of lot's of people, and that if you were to make a mistake while speaking in front of a group—or make a lot of mistakes—you would be embarrassed and humiliated. This makes you feel stressed and nervous, just thinking about public speaking. So, that's the basic thought that induces fear, and you're thought may be slightly different; but I'm just going to use this one for the sake of the example.

Now what we want to do is backtrack up the thought chain a little bit. What led to this thought? What led us to this point, what led us to make this conclusion? See, we need to break that thought apart, and question the truth of each part of it. Remember that our goal is to find errors. It's kind of like, debugging software. we're looking for bugs. So, first we have teh issue of making a mistake in this case. The fact that we're speaking to a group and we're worried about making a mistake. Sure, there's a chance that you'll make a mistake in front of your audience, even if you prepare really well, and you haven't done much public speaking. There is a very good chance you'll make a mistake. So that part's not really erroneous, that part seems to be correct. I know some very talented comedians, foe example, and they say the can't always tell when a joke will bomb. even though they have tremendous experience. So, there's not much you can do about the mistake side.

Now let's go to the embarrassment side. Here you have a thought that says if you make a mistake in front of people, you'll be embarrassed, which will be a painful experience. It seems accurate to say that feeling embarrassed would be a negative experience; most people would agree with that. I don't see any errors there quite yet, but is it necessary to become embarrassed? To enter that negative state when you make a mistake in public. No, you see, that's possibly your mistake right there, it's not necessary at all. Why? People make mistakes all the time and don't get embarrassed by it. People make mistakes up on stage in front of a group and don't get embarrassed by it. So, why do you?

Once you've identified one of these errors in thinking, then you have to dig deeper, and keep digging deeper until you figure out where it's coming from. What you're looking for here is ultimately a belief you have about reality. You're thoughts about whether or not something will be painful, will arise from your beliefs about reality itself. So, in this case one or more of your beliefs about reality, are leading you to this false conclusion that making a mistake in public should be embarrassing; that it should cause you some form of pain.

Sometimes you have to back track really far to get to the core belief. It can even take you into territory—in fact it will usually take you in to territory, if you go down far enough—that you might consider spiritual in nature. So, most of the time this is where you'll eventually end up, you'll be face to face with of your core beliefs about reality. The belief that's the true source of your fear, the belief that gives rise to all these other conclusions you make, that eventually leads you into a state of fear.

Now as I mentioned earlier, whatever this belief is—that's causing you to be afraid—it's an inaccurate belief. Most people get really attached to their beliefs, and are unwilling to change something so fundamental; they go a certain distance then they say, Oh no, I couldn't possibly change that belief, it's just who I am. The ,problem with this type of thinking though, is then you're trapping yourself in fear. The only way out of fear is to say, Do I want to be afraid, and keep this belief? or, am I ready to stop being afraid and let go of this belief? When you do finally let go a belief that's causing you pain, you'll find you develop a more accurate model of reality—and there is no fear, there is no pain.

I mean, after all, think about it, Is it an accurate conclusion that you should be afraid of public speaking? Of course not, there's nothing dangerous about it at all. it doesn't need to trigger your fight or flight response. It doesn't even need to make you embarrassed, it doesn't need to humiliate you. Even if you go up on stage and you screw up. Even if you make some hideous mistakes, you still don't actually need to be embarrassed. it is not an intelligent choice to do that—and if you had control of your faculties—you would probably choose not to be embarrassed, no matter how poorly you did.

Buddha said that—" all suffering is caused by a failure to understand our true nature"—and he's absolutely right of course. In that sense, fear is actually a pointer that helps us discover our true nature. In other words, help us develop an accurate model of reality. When you keep following fear back to it's source and question the beliefs that give rise the fear, and then one by one release your attachment to those beliefs—you'll gradually become less and less afraid. if you can take it far enough you'll ultimately transcend fear altogether. It's like pulling weeds out of your thoughts, it's like debugging your own thoughts. You have this model of reality—imagine it's the software in your brain—that has your mental model of reality and it's full of bugs right now. Those bugs are causing you to experience a crash , which is a fear, you crash in the sense that you do not operate intelligently. You make inaccurate, incorrect decisions, because your software is buggy. So what you have to do is, go back to your beliefs, and find out which ones are buggy; and pull them out. Debug them.

When you do that and get rid of those buggy beliefs, you'll have a chance to make intelligent decisions once again, and build a model of reality that's more and more accurate. This is an ongoing process. This isn't a process that you're going to do overnight, this is a process that could very well take you many years. I now this is a bit abstract right now, so let's go back to that public speaking example; and continue trace through these last few steps.

So, we left off with you identifying the thought that, making a mistake in public; will cause you to feel embarrassed. Now we have to ask why. Why does making a mistake in public, cause this effect in you?Actually , you haven't even made the mistake yet, it's your imagined mistake that's creating the fear. So, why are you imagining that making a mistake will embarrass you? What are your fundamental beliefs about reality that cause you to think this way? What is it about your brain's software that's producing this thought?

Name some of those things. name some of those beliefs—even if you think you have to be really obvious—in fact, you should be really obvious. Start with something really basic. For example, if you're making a mistake in public maybe you think you're wasting the audiences time. Maybe you feel you aren't doing a good job, maybe you feel you're letting people down. Maybe you believe people will think less of you, maybe you didn't do your very best is what you'll think. But go even deeper still, even more basic. How about something like this: you believe there are these other individual human beings in the room, and when they notice your mistakes, they begin to think negative thoughts about you—then you pick up on their reaction, and begin thinking negative thoughts about yourself; and that causes you to feel embarrassed.

Something simple like that, I mean it seems just a plainly obvious description of what's going on. but yet, somewhere in there, there's an error, somewhere in there is a bug. Now, we're definitely beginning to hit the edge of spiritual territory here, because when we question these beliefs—that seem very sound initially—that's where will run head-long into the resistance that's creating our fear. We said there are other individual human beings in the room with us, let's pick that apart a bit.

Well, we believe there's this 3d physical room and it's real, it's full of human beings just like us, and they're real too. These other human beings are all separate from us, they're not the same entity as us, they're all different. So, in a certain sense they're a threat to us. If they think negative thoughts while we're on stage, that causes us to feel some sort of pain. Fundamentally, public speaking then becomes a question of us versus the audience, us versus them. We do our part, the audience does their part; and we feel a desire to control their reaction. But we also feel somewhat powerless to do that, and that's what creates the fear, the worry—that the audience it out of our control. That the audience is separate from us, and can possibly be a threat to us.At the very least an emotional threat. So are these perceptions accurate?

See, Buddha would've said no. This is basically the fundamental spiritual problem of duality. The idea that other human beings are separate and distinct form ourselves; and that gives rise to the idea of competition, the idea that other people may be a threat to us. The idea that we can be harmed by other people, at least emotionally. Which then creates the tension and the nervousness about public speaking, about facing the situation.

In fact, if we have this belief in duality, than any type of competitive situation with other human beings, can bring on a sense of nervousness, can bring on a sense of fear. Now, Buddha's advice would've been to drop this idea of duality, and embrace the idea of non-duality. That other people are not separate and distinct from us. So, going back to that public speaking example again, one way that Buddha might perceive it, is that he could say; it would be like you're giving a speech inside one of your own dreams. So all the people in the audience are just a projection of your own consciousness. Again, it's like you're dreaming. You're not even the speaker up the stage, that's not really you. You're actually a conscious being on a bed somewhere, and this whole speech drama, is unfolding in your own mind.

So, if you became lucid during this dream, you'd be aware that your dream body, you'll be aware that your dream persona wasn't the real you. the real you is what's sleeping on your bed, so if this was your perception of reality, would you be afraid? If you believed it was a dream, that you were some being elsewhere and in your mind was this person giving—was this body up on a stage giving a speech, and these other bodies listening to it. Would you be afraid? Would you feel fear? No, you wouldn't. Again, even inside your own dream, you could still experience the fight or flight response—if something triggered that reaction in you—but you wouldn't experience imagined anxiety or trepidation about giving the speech. If you new for certain you were just dreaming, you'd feel perfectly safe, no matter what you did, and you'd no if the audience booed you off the stage it wouldn't have to make you embarrassed; you could just laugh it off. You wouldn't even have to get nervous about the experience. However, you would get nervous and you would feel fear about the experience, to the degree, that you forgot you were dreaming.

This is what Buddha meant by forgetting you true nature. If you forgot your true nature—if you identified yourself as that body up on the stage and you thought that was the real you, and you saw the audience as separate people from yourselves, and you forgot that it was a dream, and if that was the reality you bought into, on other words objective reality, if you objectify everything in your dream, and saw it as separate actually existing objects—if that's the way you viewed reality, than you would have to feel fear. You would have no way to escape the fear no matter what you did. It would just naturally arise from that belief system. It wouldn't matter what you did, it wouldn't matter how much you develop your courage; as long as you held on to that belief system—fear would be a natural part of your reality, there would be no escaping it.

What's so amazing, is that it's actually more effective to view our waking reality in the same light. As if it were a dream. To realize that you aren't your physical body here any more than you are when you're dreaming. It's just a different quality of dream. You're actually a much vaster conscious being—imagine that for a moment, that you're actually a much vaster, conscious being. Somewhere beyond your perceptions right now; and everything you're experiencing is simply going on inside your own mind. So, there's no reason to feel threatened by other people, because they're not really separate and distinct objects from you. They're no threat to you because they aren't separate from you; you're all parts of the same whole. All of this is simple going on inside your own mind, including me. I'm just one of the many facets of your consciousness.

Now, you might think this last part's entirely nuts—and that's fine if that's the level of thinking you're at right now—unfortunately thought, this is the solution. Buddha figured it out, two and a half millenia ago, and his solution today still works today. All fear, all suffering in fact, is creating by a fundamental misunderstand of the true nature of reality. When you see the world, and everything in it, as something separate and distinct from yourself, fear is the natural consequence. Now following Buddha's advice is easier said than don—believe me, I know—but I can also tell you that it works. In fact it goes way beyond fear. It actually creates a pervasive feeling of peace. When you stop thinking of yourself as a separate and distinct biological being, and start seeing yourself as consciousness itself—that just happens to have a physical body walking around inside of, that you can control ¬≠- it will completely transform the way you think about your life. There will be no more sense of scarcity or competition, or fear. You begin relating to the world as if everything in it, were a part of you; as if all of this were occurring in your own consciousness.

So, OK, maybe you'll buy that fi you did think about reality this way, as strange as it possibly seems; that sure you wouldn't feel fear. OK, so it would be like being in a dream—but you might think that this would cause you to behave recklessly—not really, because you would be lucid. So it wouldn't just be a dream where you were buying into this illusion, it would be like a lucid dream; where you're in your dream and you're consciously aware that you're dreaming.

So, how do you would actually react in that situation? If you actually found yourself believing that you were dreaming, right now while you're actually awake. If you actually thought that you were in your dream, and you were aware that you're dreaming—how would you react? Would you suddenly become reckless? Probably not. I think how you would react, this is how I react, is that you'd be extremely curious, you would be really curious to understand the dream itself; and to try to figure out why, to try to explain it.

Curiosity would become far more of a drive for than fear. You would still wonder about the parameters of the dream. See, you would come to understand that maybe this dream ha some rules, and there are certain consequences to actions you take—but you wouldn't be afraid of those consequences. You would begin to study them , you would learn about them. For example, you might go out and do something that would cause you to get rejected.; and you would think, Oh, OK, that causes a rejection. But , you wouldn't be afraid to try it, you wouldn't fear the rejection. So, it wouldn't cause you to behave foolishly, instead what it would do—is it would allow you to behave very intelligently, because fear would no longer be guiding you—so you could be guided by your own natural intelligence and curiosity.

Now, how do we know that this is actually an accurate model of reality? Buddha didn't just say that this was a cool way to think about reality, that will allow people to transcend fear. He was bold enough to claim that non-duality is the true nature of reality. He was saying that is really how reality works. Was he right? Well, if you're a Buddhist or have a similar belief system, then you would probably say, yes; even if you don't feel you're fully there in alignment with this belief system yourself. But, most people I would imagine would say, no. Perhaps definitely no. Now, I happen to agree with Buddha, but I'm not going to try to convince you Buddha was right; I don't think I can convince you that Buddha was right. Buddha didn't actually convince me he was right.

What I am going to suggest though, is that you approach this problem of whether or not Buddha was right, from a whole different angle. See, if you try to tackle this problem head-on it won't work. Why? or, Why not? Think about it, if Buddha was wrong; then perhaps he just got a really nice result because he was deluding himself. In other words, he had a false belief about reality too, maybe your belief about reality wasn't accurate; but perhaps his wasn't either. But his caused him to be able to transcend fear, and yours doesn't. Just because he got that result doesn't necessarily mean he was accurate. Right?

That's fair enough, and you don't necessarily want to follow that belief system because you don't want to delude yourself; and maybe there were some other consequences that Buddha didn't quite fully fathom. On the other hand, if Buddha was right then that would mean, that he understood the true nature of reality; and right now you don't. The problem there is that if you don't understand the true nature of reality—then your mental model of reality, right now, right at this moment—is wrong; it's buggy. Your brain is running buggy software, which means all of your thinking based on that model is potentially wrong.

Imagine, imagine if your brain's fundamental operating system was full of bugs. To what degree could you actually trust that you're correct? You couldn't know you were correct as long as you're running that software. The only way you could know whether you were correct or not—would be to unload that software, load up something else completely different, look at your old software from a new perspective, and see it from the outside looking in. In other words, unload the software, load up something else, and just look at it—and hopefully—if the new software was buggy too, at least it would not have the same bugs as your original software—and it would allow you to examine it from a new perspective; allow you to see the bugs there.

See, the problem is, if you understand the true model of reality is wrong, and all of your thinking based on that model of reality is potentially wrong—that includes your thoughts about Buddha's statements—your perception of reality may be so corrupted, that you may not even be able to trust your own judgement. in fact, this is where I ended up when I began thinking about his. I didn't know whether or not Buddha was right, but I could also see, that if he was right—there was a good chance I would never be able to see that he was right—as long a I remained, on the inside of my own—possibly buggy belief systems—looking out at his belief system.

It would be as if I was looking at the world through a red lens and trying to find the color blue—and Buddha is telling me that the world is full of blue—by my own lens, my red lens would prevent me from knowing whether or not Buddha was actually telling the truth. The only way I would be able to know the truth, would be to put down my own lens—and even if I was forced to pick up a different lens—by looking at his belief, it might give me the chance to see blue. It might not, but certainly if I did nothing—I would never be able to see blue, so my only chance—would be to put down my lens.

In other words, the only way to know, whether Buddha was right¬≠ is to drop the belief in duality, and see what happens. The belief that your separate from other people, the belief that reality is objective instead of taking place your own consciousness. So that's what I did. I dropped that belief in duality, and saw what happened. I didn't like that solution at all when I first started going into it—but I didn't see any other way to find out the real truth, and my curiosity was at least, greater than my fear. At least, I figured, if Buddha was wrong—I know soon enough, and I could go running back to the way things were. If I unload certain software from my brain, and replace it with other software, and I don't like the results I'm getting with that new software—I can always unload it and reload up the original program again. That's not at all what happened. As it turned out, I came to believe that Buddha was absolutely right.

This podcast is already long enough by now, so I'll say that when I adopted Buddha's beliefs in this area, out of pure curiosity I had the chance to experience them from the inside—I could see instantly the truth of what he was saying. Unfortunately, as I mentioned previously, I don't think there's any way I could convince you of it—unless you were to happen to try it for yourself. As long as you hold on to a red lens, I cannot show you the color blue. I cannot get that lens away from you, you have to decide to put it down. Even Buddha wasn't able to convince everyone that he was right. Again that problem is that red lens, and Buddha's trying to describe the color blue—there's no way he can convince you of blue's existence, as long as you're holding up the red lens. So if Buddha wanted you to experience the truth, that blue exists, he would have to work on your attachment to your lens, and to help you put it down long enough to see blue. Than once you'd seen blue, no further proof would be required. You'd have seen it for yourself. So this is the case where you only get results, if you have enough curiosity to want to see it for yourself.

At best, what I can do, is work to increase your curiosity, enough to encourage you to take a look. What does it mean to take a look? It means to relax your belief in duality, to let go it go just a moment. To unload it. But I'll readily admit that this is not an easy thing to do. Most people are so entrenched, in the belief of duality—that it would be very painful to let it go, even for a brief moment. It's like that red sense is glued directly to your eyeballs. So, unfortunately, if you're one of those people—then I'm sorry to say that your, well, doomed to experience fear for the rest of your life. Hey, it's the 'in' thing to do anyway, right? I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but I really don't see any other way around it. As Buddha figured out, that sense of duality is really the source of all your fear and suffering.

The more your life is rooted in the sense of separation from others, the more you believe in this objectified sense of reality, where people are separate beings—unlike in your dreams—where you compete wit other people, for scarce resources. Where when you succeed, somebody else has to fail. the harder it will be for you, to embrace non-duality—which is in fact the solution. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said, "It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than it its for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." That's a metaphorical way of saying, that the more attached you are to your belief in duality—for example, by thinking that money is something you have to hoard, in order to feel secure—the more impossible it will be for you to transcend suffering.

That doesn't mean you can't be wealthy and be free of fear. it just means that you won't be able to experience true abundance, if your model of reality is based on separateness and competition. Another thing that helped me begin this experiment, was just to imagine what it would be like to adopt this belief in non-duality.What would it be like to walk around believing, that I was some greater conscious being, and that my own physical body was really just like a dream body. There were these bodies of all these other people, and they really weren't separate and distinct from myself—they were just other programs running around in my own consciousness. That I actually wasn't, my identity, my real identity; was not this physical dream body I seemed to be able to control. But, it was actually this greater conscious being that was having this dream experience. the when I go to sleep, and have a dream ; it would be like I'm having a dream within a dream.

There were some clues that led me to believe that maybe this is actually accurate. One, is that when I go to sleep, I can actually have a dream within a dream. There are times when I have been sleeping, and I dreamed, in my dream—that I went to bed and fell asleep—and then I had a dream within that dream. Then I had what's called a false awaking, where I wake from the dream within a dream—and now I'm still in the dream, then I have to wake up again—in order to be in what you would consider this reality. Some people I know, have gone multiple layers deeper. I have gone three levels deep, and I know people who have gone four levels deep doing this kind of thing. So, I sort of thought, well maybe it works both ways.Maybe there's another way to wake up. Maybe I am this conscious being, and maybe I do have some form of access to everything that's running around inside my own consciousness. Maybe there's a reason it's going on, it's like dream interpretation, maybe there's a message to be found here.

By looking around a reality, by observing everything with an incredible sense of wonder and curiosity. Questioning why, every little, possibly insignificant, event is happening. Looking for some evidence that maybe this is some type of dream. that maybe that belief in objective reality is actually real, and that maybe there is a way to become more lucid. One of the biggest clues for me, was that, I can perceive my own body, and I can perceive the bodies of other people walking around—but for some reason my consciousness, seems to be connected with my particular body and I only have access to one consciousness. I can see people walking around, but I can't seem to access their consciousness. I mean, I can walk up to their bodies, I can touch them, I can look at them and I can listen to them. I can smell them, I can taste them, but yet, I can't quite perceive their consciousness.

Now, when I take this objective model of reality, I assume that they're conscious—just like me—but I don't actually know that, do I? You don't actually know that. You don't know that I'm conscious. You don't know that I'm a conscious being just like you, you have no proof of that whatsoever. If this really were a dream, it would be impossible for you to prove it. The only way for you to prove it would be to try to wake up, and to actually succeed at waking up. That would be your proof, but as long as you're within the dream and as long a you buy into it—you have no proof. So, I thought, maybe I shouldn't make that assumption, maybe I shouldn't make the assumption that everyone else is conscious, just like me. Maybe there is only one consciousness.

That doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to relate to the dream characters in some sadistic way—it simply means that I'm not going to assume, that my source of consciousness comes from my physical body. Because as far as I'm concerned, for other people walking around in this reality it doesn't seem to, it doesn't. They can walk and talk and they seem to have minds—but I only have access to my own sense of conscious. My sense of awareness is all centered on me, that's my perception. It's just like being gin a dream So, if this was an objective reality, why wouldn't I have access to the consciousness of other people?

Just like I can walk up and touch there bodies, why can't I walk up and touch their consciousness? Why can't I be aware of their consciousnesses, like, I'm aware of my own? So, that part seemed very puzzling, and that was one of the clues that led me to think that maybe, just maybe Buddha was right. When I adopted his view point—and it certainly wasn't easy to do so, it created quite a bit of upheaval in my life—he was right. All fear completely disappeared, there's no reason to be afraid at all. How could you possibly be afraid of your own dream, especially if you cease to identify yourself as your physical body. Start to realize that everything that you perceive as existing, is all taking place within your own consciousness. That consciousness, that higher awareness is you. Now, if you happen to be one of those rare people that is ready to experience this shift in consciousness, then you probably already know it. All of this will make a lot more sense to you, than someone who is nowhere even close to being ready for it.

If this is your situation then you might find it helpful to go back and listen to podcast number 5, which will give you some ideas on how to actually change your beliefs. Ultimately though it comes down to a question of choice—and having made this choice, I'll tell you that living without fear is more wonderful than you can possibly imagine. When you get rise of this unnecessary mind killer, once and for all—it's as if an avalanche of greater intelligence suddenly comes online, suddenly becomes available for you. I mean, imagine, that's like you debugged the software of your own brain, suddenly it starts running more efficiently.

No more crashes, you could finally start behaving like a fearless human being should behave. Totally unafraid. Driven by a sense of purpose and curiosity and wonder;and after that transition, it will become clear to you—just how tremendously limiting it use to be, when feared ruled your life. You'll be able to see that fear very clearly in other people who still cling to a belief in duality—and you'll see how a belief in duality creates the feeling of fear—and that as long as you believe in a sense of objective reality, you will never escape fear. You'll notice how other people behave as if they're afraid of their own shadow, afraid to set goals. They're afraid to set goals, they're afraid no to set goals. They're afraid to fail, they're afraid of being rejected, they're afraid to speak up, afraid to say what's on their mind, afraid to talk to "strangers", afraid to live as the great spirits they truly are.

Instead, they live like frail shells, that they think they are. They identify themselves as their bodies. Then ,you'll realize as Buddha did, that perhaps the most important thing you can do with the rest of you life, is to follow your own curiosity—and to help others awaken to their true nature, just as you have—and especially to work on waking yourself up. In fact, you'll come to see that all these goals are one and the same. That there is no difference. That working to raise your consciousness, is the exact same thing as raising the consciousness of other people. Because that is all there is, there is no difference between raising your consciousness and raising the consciousness of others, because there is no difference between you and others. It's all part of the same program. All part of the same consciousness. All you have to do to transcend fear then, permanently, is to realize that is a more accurate view of reality, than the one you have right now.

Until next time, live consciously.