How to Defeat Fear
Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave instructions for the battle.
The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?”
Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.”
Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?”
Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.”
In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear.
I love this story. It points a basic Buddhist teaching of embracing not only all of our emotions and thoughts, but especially the most challenging with tenderness and compassion. The young warrior acknowledged her anger, bowed with respect and became curious by asking herself how she might defeat or “work with” the anger she was experiencing. Once she explored this, she realized the “story” or in coaching terminology, the disempowering belief that was holding her hostage, keeping her stuck and feeling small. She learned how to defeat fear by staying with the feeling of fear and not believing or identifying with it. Making the fear all about her or who she is.
There’s a powerful tool called R.A.I.N. that has been getting a lot of attention lately in the world of psychology and Buddhist practice.
The acronym stands for
R – Recognize
N- Non- Identify
This is basically what happens in the above fable.