Osho, Eastern mystic, states the greatest human fear is our fear of the unknown.
To stand alone . . . the fear arises: Who knows whether you are right or wrong?
To stand alone, you stand in coldness.
To stand alone, you lose the coziness of the crowd.
To stand alone, you lose the faith of the fanatic.
To stand alone, you lose the authority of a long tradition.
But if you recognize your thirst [for truth], you have to stand alone and you have to walk alone, because the truth is never found by the crowd. It is never found on the superhighway. There are not even footpaths, which lead to it. As you search for it, as you walk, you create your footpath yourself. It is a very strange phenomenon. You don’t have a footpath ready-made, waiting for you, which will lead you to the truth, to the temple; you have to walk, and just by walking you have to create it. Osho: Light on the Path
Even though it no longer fulfills your needs and wants, do you choose the pathless way, the way of adventure, or opt for tradition? The challenge is to view the unknown as our next great adventure and to reframe our fear of death — which is the absolute unknown — into living each moment with joyful anticipation.
In his attempts to unearth the source of our fear of the unknown, Osho aptly states, “you have to know something to be afraid of it.” Since none of us knows death (the absolute unknown), he proposes it is our experience of life we fear; that is, what we know — intimacy, rejection, failure, commitment — not what we don’t know.
The hero’s journey portrayed throughout mythological and spiritual writings (Atlas, Alice in Wonderland, Buddha, Jesus) is our metaphorical search for purpose and truth. Each hero, in choosing the unknown path, unveils her/his truth. Each experience along the unknown path strengthens the traveler. This revealed truth, further unwrapped with each experience of fear, is our hidden knowledge of love.
Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here. Marianne Williamson
If, as Williamson states, we are born with love, then life is the learning journey in which we come to know and befriend love. When I first grappled with this idea that love has always been within me, a very early memory emerged — a deep yearning to feel love. Decades of subsequent experience taught me volumes about what love isn’t (intense, loss of self, desperate, needy, driven by passion). Fear, or should I say choosing to face my fears, taught me what love is — stable identity, inclusive, respectful, consistent, driven by choice.
My poem below is a reminder to me to always choose love.
No Matter What
Fighting for a life is sometimes
gasping for breath,
wrestling with self-doubt and worry,
walking the bridge between known and unknown.
Dying is sometimes a crisis of faith,
laying down the old ways,
standing solidly in the discomfort of uncertainty,
facing and falling forward into fear.
Living is always commitment, no matter what,
to one step at a time
A haiku version:
Gasping, bridging fear,
dying, falling forward that’s
adventure that’s love.
When we choose to fear the unknown — life and death — we are choosing to fear love.
The next time you feel fear rising within you, test out my statement above by asking yourself, “Why am I afraid of love?” Let me know your answer.