autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

On fear (Buddhism)

A friend asked me by email last night, “What does Buddhism say about fear?” I was tempted to tell them that I likely am not the one to speak on it, but then I realized that it doesn’t much matter since all meaning is made within and all inputs are helpful when driven by good intention. So, I answered:

Fear is just one aspect of suffering. There are a good many teachings in Buddhism that deal with fear, but most do not do so directly. They speak of how and why fear comes to pass, how and why people get all lost in it, and how to identify those who are so in order to either help or remove yourself from their sphere (if you cannot help).  
Buddhism asserts that all suffering rises from “clinging” – an attachment to OR an aversion from something:

  • Trying to avoid “the bad” and trying to obtain “the good” creates suffering (of which is fear). 
  • Being afraid of not having or losing “the good” or being afraid of receiving or being unable to avoid “the bad” creates suffering (of which is fear).

Buddhism teaches that learning to be fearless is a goal. One of many goals in the process of finding out how to align oneself with “the middle way” (the ability to delight in all things, just as they are, and be not attached nor averted from them).
Being fearless does not mean “having no fear” it means “being free from the affects of fear” — i.e. not allowing it control, not allowing it to color or affect one’s thinking or judgments.