ear: it gets a bad rap in many spiritual communities. In fact, it’s often seen as anti-spiritual — “the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s fear.” “Wherever there is another, fear arises.” And so on.
All of which is absolutely true — on an absolute level. On another level, the level of ordinary, everyday relative truth, fear is a powerful motivator — and when it’s properly managed it can even be a superpower, allowing you to respond to danger with greater speed, strength, and agility.
Imagine your car breaks down on the highway. You get out to inspect the damage, and as you look up you see another car barreling down the highway right at you. In that moment, you have two choices. You can drop your fear, knowing that ultimately there is no separation between you and the speeding car. And the good news is, in just a few seconds you will be proven right. Or you can listen to that ancient feeling of dread rising in your body, and get yourself out of harm’s way just before you actually do become one with the car, smeared across the windshield.
So fear is an incredibly important evolutionary defense. But when we are not fully conscious of our fear states — when we find ourselves in fear, rather than finding fear within ourselves — it robs us of our ability to respond. And when that fear begins to move through the collective it becomes an ever-present background radiation in our lives. It clouds our judgment. It makes us suspicious of other people and perspectives. It becomes an ongoing source of cynicism and despondency. It erodes our capacity to listen and empathize.
Sound familiar? Welcome to life in 2020! We are surrounded by truly terrifying realities, and regardless of your own ongoing sources of fear — whether it’s COVID, climate change, your health, your employment, or culture war issues like MAGA extremism, Antifa violence, white supremacy, or cultural Marxism — these fears tend to haunt us from somewhere in the background of our consciousness, exerting a corruptive influence that can distort our lens and pollute our informational terrain. We search for a sense of certainty, some solid ground where we can find traction against our unconscious fears, often resulting in an elaborate labyrinth of half-truths, false equivalencies, and confirmation biases that cause us to overemphasize certain realities while dismissing others.
Which is why Ryan and I wanted to do this episode. Because when you do not allow yourself to confront and fully own your fear, you immediately push it into your shadow, where it begins to infect and reorganize your unconscious attitudes and biases in order to protect you from some looming, unseen threat.
This is how we bring natural evolutionary fear and spiritual fearlessness into alignment. You don’t need to push away your fear, neither do you need to surrender to it. All you need to do is to consciously inhabit your fear – allow it to freely move through you, allow yourself to respond however you need to respond in the moment, and notice any interior frictions as it passes through your system so you know nothing is getting “stuck” or pushed into shadow.
So we hope you enjoy this very special episode of Inhabit, and that it helps you to use your own fear as a superpower to get you more engaged, direct your skillful action, and create a better and more just world for everyone else.
Previous Episodes of Inhabit
About Corey deVos
Corey W. deVos is the proverbial "man behind the curtain". He is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996.
About Ryan Oelke
Ryan Oelke is a co-founder of Buddhist Geeks and founder of Awakening in Life. He has an MSEd in counseling psychology and is contemplative teacher of awakening, healing, and embodiment. He has 18 years experience in meditation, particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist and Dzogchen lineages, he is a Buddhist Geeks teacher, and is a certified teacher in Judith Blackstone’s Realization Process. Ryan teaches meditation and a way of living dedicated to revealing natural presence and awakening in each moment of our lives, regardless of how it appears to us. He lives in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC with his partner Alyssa and stepdaughter Fiona.