fearlessness (79)

"Learning to Care in an Age of Insecurity"... these are the words on my tongue... *

OK. It's about time to renew this blogpost 3 yrs ago on the FM ning. It is on my mind these days to start-up with a group, or just lead it myself(?).. an iteration in the 21st century of The League for Fearlessness-II, and I'm imagining the content for this. [Note: I never did publish more of my research into the group from 1931, I guess there wasn't enough interest from readership in 2020 and after]. The intriguing thing for me today is thinking about how would I start writing such a brochure and what would be some of its key 21st century notions, much different but with overlap, from the 20th century version. Let me know if you are interested to work on this project. 

The League for Fearlessness- birthed in 1931


There's a long story behind my finding this 4 pp. fold-out brochure in a medical library in New York City. It is the only evidence currently available on this group [1] that was apparently started under the guidance of the famous theosophists, Alice & Foster Bailey. Since 2006, when I found this brochure (which I made in color, aged, and adapted with a few excerpts here only using photoshop), I have been searching for answers to the mystery of where this group and The League 'disappeared' and why no traces. Currently, the fine folks at Lucis Trust, NY, are attempting to search into this. Curiously, no body in the current big American theosophical organizations has heard of this League but they do suspect the Bailey's were quite likely to have taken on initiating such a project. IF anyone has any leads to finding out more about this group, let me know: 


But besides that fascinating historical evidence, and a story yet told, I wanted to share the brochure today, it seems appropriate as just 5 days away from one of the most important elections ever in U.S. history. The level of tension, fear, dread, etc. is palpable. It's also in my dreams. And, so, I thought it would be good to share these words, ideas, and spirit of fearlessness from this group in 1931, of which North America was deep in the Depression and fear was rampant. If you haven't already picked-up the nuanced connection between The League's mission and my own via the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989- ) and later, founding the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (1991- )--and, the uncanny sense of a paralleling historical soul-based work that is wanting to go on in this world, it is so obvious to me--and yet, struggles of resistances to manifest this Project effectively are so powerful as well. To say it bluntly, there is no such project that has such a systematic well-thought out "program" to improve fear management and remove fear on the planet as a barrier to the evolution of consciousness. This is powerful beyond words. I wished, in retrospect, I would have found this brochure in 1989--boy, that would have made a big difference! But, that's the way it is. 

End Note

1. Just recently, I have attained a few documents on this group, I am reviewing, and will keep you posted with updates, if you let me know you are interested. 

* A variant theme arrived after, which is more accurate to Barbara and my visioning and planning: "CARING ABOUT CARING, IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY" 


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The Fear Problematique: Fisher's New Book




A volume in the series: Studies in the Philosophy of Education. Editor(s): John E. Petrovic, The University of Alabama.

Published Nov. 15/23 2023 and for sale (see ordering flyer): SITPOE8.pdf

The author, with over three decades of focused research on fear and fearlessness and 45 years as an emancipatory educator, argues that philosophy and philosophy of education have missed several great opportunities to help bring about theoretical and meta-perspectival clarity, wisdom, compassion, and practical ways to the sphere of fear management/education (FME) throughout history. FME is not simple, nor a luxury, it is complex. It’s foundational to good curriculum but it requires careful philosophical critique. This book embarks on a unique transdisciplinary understanding of The Fear Problematique and how it can be integrated as a pivotal contextual reference for assessing the ‘best’ way to go in Education today and tomorrow. Educational philosophy is examined and shown to have largely ‘missed the boat’ in terms of responding critically and ethically to the insidious demand of having to truly educate ourselves when we are so scared stiff. Such a state of growing chronic fear, of morphing types of fear, and a culture of fear, ought to be central in shaping a philosophy of fear(ism) for education. The book challenges all leaders, but especially philosophers and educators, to upgrade their own fear imaginary and fear education for the 21st century, a century of terror likely to grow in the cascading global crises.



CHAPTER 1: Introduction.

CHAPTER 2: Philosophy and a Fearturn.

CHAPTER 3: Education Philosophy 'Misses the Boat.'

CHAPTER 4: Fear(ism) as Philosophy: A Transformative Paradigm.

CHAPTER 5: Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century.

CHAPTER 6: Fearlessness as Educational Philosophy.

CHAPTER 7: Recommendations.

Glossary. References. Index.

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The Fear Problematique: Fisher's New Book



A volume in the series: Studies in the Philosophy of Education. Editor(s): John E. Petrovic, The University of Alabama.

In Press 2023 and for sale: Information Age Publishing

The author, with over three decades of focused research on fear and fearlessness and 45 years as an emancipatory educator, argues that philosophy and philosophy of education have missed several great opportunities to help bring about theoretical and meta-perspectival clarity, wisdom, compassion, and practical ways to the sphere of fear management/education (FME) throughout history. FME is not simple, nor a luxury, it is complex. It’s foundational to good curriculum but it requires careful philosophical critique. This book embarks on a unique transdisciplinary understanding of The Fear Problematique and how it can be integrated as a pivotal contextual reference for assessing the ‘best’ way to go in Education today and tomorrow. Educational philosophy is examined and shown to have largely ‘missed the boat’ in terms of responding critically and ethically to the insidious demand of having to truly educate ourselves when we are so scared stiff. Such a state of growing chronic fear, of morphing types of fear, and a culture of fear, ought to be central in shaping a philosophy of fear(ism) for education. The book challenges all leaders, but especially philosophers and educators, to upgrade their own fear imaginary and fear education for the 21st century, a century of terror likely to grow in the cascading global crises.



CHAPTER 1: Introduction.

CHAPTER 2: Philosophy and a Fearturn.

CHAPTER 3: Education Philosophy 'Misses the Boat.'

CHAPTER 4: Fear(ism) as Philosophy: A Transformative Paradigm.

CHAPTER 5: Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century.

CHAPTER 6: Fearlessness as Educational Philosophy.

CHAPTER 7: Recommendations.

Glossary. References. Index.

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Here is my latest FearTalk in the series I started some 4 years ago, whereby I wanted to have the most honest conversations possible with people I knew, or don't know that well, and merely talk live and unedited on the topic of fear. Here is the link to this recent video on my Youtube Channel 

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Buddhism: Compassion Plus Fearlessness

In an intriguing article 13(3)+Buddhism+Moral+Courage+Perspective+on+Fear+and+Truth+(3504-3516) (1).pdf on Buddhism and fear (and fearlessness), I have taken one extract here :

"Compassion (Karuna) is at the heart of Buddhism, as it aligns with the fundamental teaching of alleviating suffering for oneself and others. Engaged Buddhism emphasizes the active and practical application of compassion in the world. This includes empathetic concern for the welfare of all beings, especially those who are marginalized, oppressed, or facing hardship. Engaged Buddhists critique the application of compassion by encouraging socially engaged actions, such as advocating for social justice, promoting environmental stewardship, and providing aid to those in need. By cultivating compassion, individuals are inspired to take positive action to address societal and environmental challenges. Fearlessness (Abhaya) in Buddhism does not imply the absence of fear but rather the capacity to confront and transform fear (Fisher & Kumar, 2021). Engaged Buddhists critique fearlessness as the willingness to challenge oppressive systems, social injustices, and unethical practices. Fearlessness empowers individuals to speak out against injustice, even when facing resistance or threats. By embodying fearlessness, engaged practitioners promote change and transformation within society while upholding the principles of non-violence and compassion.

Explore how compassion and fearlessness are critiqued for application in engaged application in social activism under the context of engaged Buddhism, compassion and fearlessness serve as guiding principles in social activism (Dickman, 2022). Instead of passively accepting the status quo, engaged Buddhists critique complacency and apathy, encouraging active involvement in addressing societal issues. By combining compassion with fearlessness, practitioners can effectively engage in social action while maintaining ethical integrity and promoting non-harming. Buddhism cultivation of empathy engaged Buddhists emphasize the cultivation of empathy, which is closely related to compassion (Zalta, 2022). Through empathetic understanding, individuals can better grasp the experiences and suffering of others. This understanding informs compassionate responses and drives transformative actions to address the root causes of suffering in the world. Encouraging non-attachment to outcomes engaged Buddhists actively work towards positive change, they also critique attachment to specific outcomes. Recognizing the impermanent nature of the world, they emphasize the importance of practicing with a non-attached mind. This approach allows practitioners to continue their compassionate efforts without being disheartened by potential setbacks or limited results. Compassion and fearlessness in engaged Buddhism extend to embracing diversity and inclusivity (Das, 2023). Engaged practitioners critique discrimination, prejudice, and exclusionary attitudes. They strive to create inclusive spaces and advocate for the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or other social identifiers.

The critique of applying compassion and fearlessness in engaged Buddhism revolves around actively embodying these virtues in compassionate action and fearlessly challenging oppressive systems. Engaged Buddhists recognize the interconnectedness of all beings and engage in transformative practices to alleviate suffering and promote justice, peace, and environmental harmony. Through the integration of compassion, fearlessness, empathy, and non-attachment, engaged practitioners create positive impacts within society while upholding the core principles of Buddhist ethics and wisdom."

Res Militaris, vol.13, n°3, March Spring 2023 3507

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Fearism, Fearlessness, Love and Trauma

“When the artist understands fear as a mental construct at the root of everything,
when she understands that fear is a choice that dictates all, her path to love opens up. She chooses to move into a state of fearlessness (e.g., see R. Michael Fisher, who is a Fearlessness philosopher from Canada)--and, one choice at a time continuously creating life from a place of core stability. Fear cannot be eliminated as everything stems from it. Yet the artist knows that by removing all fear-based conditionings and attachments that no longer serve the transmuted self, she advances into enlightenment. She becomes love. She becomes limitless.
Desh Subba’s in dept study of fear (Philosophy of Fearism) should be taken as a serious guide to help one go deeper within to heal traumas rooted in fear as well as to move into a new state of reality where fear is seen as a choice to master rather than an emotion to fear. To see fear in its truth, accepting it as the fire that ignites our journey to love is remembering that love is the all.”
Roxy Genier
Philosopher of Luxury
Global Citizen
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Over the 34 years studying the way people perceive, think, talk, teach and preach about fear (and fearlessness), has led me to many conclusions, hypotheses, theories and a philosophy around this topic. It has never ceased to amaze me how difficult it is to find people who really want to learn something fresh and new about fear (and, typically, concomitantly that means they are likewise not very interested to learn anything new or fresh about fearlessness or fearless). 

Basically, it is not their fault they are so unwilling and uninterested to learn anew and to even transform their thinking and imaginaries about the nature and role of fear (and fearlessness). What I see over and over, generally, is their fixing in on some fav definition and conceptualization or even a theory or implicit philosophy that has grown. They have adopted such a philosophy and they teach it with such confidence. 

On one level, you'd think as an educator and human potential advocate that I would be happy that people learn anything about fear and then teach it confidently. You'd think. But that's where the subtlety comes in and disrupts what might be my easy default position to take on individuality and human expression and opinion. I am all for such a beginning of that individual attitude and teaching, even preaching, as long as it is not oppressive and "demanding" (as Yahweh recently uttered on their post here)--but that alone, that free speech agenda, and tolerance, is not what makes a systematic study and learning about fear happen. No, it will not go far. 

That limitation is part of why I began the Fearlessness Movement and its mission "to better understand..." (that's exactly what this website is about)-- and, I'll leave you all with the educative challenge as a community of learners to really look at our self, our conditioning, without blame and attack or loathing, without fear that we are doing something wrong IF we are not so confident in preaching about fear. Good intentions to give advice about fear, a mainstay, of the teacher or preacher, is often a shallow pattern of knowledge pretending to be way more than it is because the intentions of goodness and helping are seen by the individual as their motivation for "sharing." 

True fearlessness work, as a path of learning and transformation, requires so much more than that "sharing"--I guess that's my main intervening point in this short blog. After 34 years of fear study, I can tell you, and I publish on this all the time, there is less confidence I know what I am talking about or even preaching about. 

One of the things that regularly disturbs me in the common discourses that have shaped people's minds, is they think they know what not only "fear" is all about but they utter the term "fearless" or even "fearlessness" as if they know exactly what that is. Maybe they do, in their own minds. But I ask, what theory of fear(lessness) are you utilizing to make your truth claims, your offerings of advice and your expressions? I am not saying here nor have I ever said, "stop sharing people because you don't know enough" and I am not saying either "you should listen to me because I know better." That said, some will definitely interpret that is what I am saying and publishing about in my work. 

The nuances of my points above, could be debated, and I'm glad to do so as part of the learning here on this FM ning. To offer but the most basic outline of a "theory" and a good deal of how I think about these topics, go to my book The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century" (2010). That publication is one of many of mine. It also lists hundreds of references I have looked at and suggests where you can learn more about these topics. To end here, my short thesis in that book (based on 20 years of research) is that "fearless" is quite completely misunderstood by most people and "fearlessness" is even less understood. I create an integral developmental theory (from a fearlessness perspective) in that book. The theory says that we need to speak much more carefully about our ideas re: fear and how we manage it and educate ourselves and others around it. I call for a new improved and critical Fear Education 101. 

My basic developmental (evolutionary) theory of fear (management) goes through several distinct (albeit, overlapping) phases or stages--each with its own particular intelligence and adaptive strategies to manage fear:

Stage 1 - No Fear,

Stage 2 - Bravery,

Stage 3- Courage(ous),

Stage 4 - Fear Less,

---------------'Fear' Barrier (abyss) ----------

Stage 5 - Fearlessness

Stage 6 - Fearless.

I ask people to look at the data, the arguments, the references, the logic and the intuitions behind why I have used this language and these categories. I want to upgrade our poor fear education generally to get it up to snuff with the 21st century demands upon us as a species. 

Let's learn more together! 




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Our Fearlessness Movement: 138 Members

Hi all, just wanted to encourage you all to take time to look through this FM ning site, to search in the upper (right hand) box on the front page for topics and see what shows up here, and/or start your own Blog writing and sharing, and of course Forum Discussion threads are also available and sharing Photos. Look forward to what 138 people can do IF we decide to work and connect and play together to revision a world that is not "fear-based" at its core, but shifts to a "fearlessness-based" approach to everything! 

Of course, then we have to study and learn and create, and check out reflectively what it iis we think we already know about fear and fearlessness, and that maybe we don't agree with others' views about these topics and/or we may have to be honest we don't know as much as we think we know. We can co-inquire, debate, dialogue, and travel respectfully, together, or alone or a bit of both--that fact is, this is an online community that can work for us or it can remain a 'shell' with little life in it. Our choice... 

Looking forward to continuing the sailing... 

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Marianne 2024 Has Started: Nonviolence

10972523656?profile=RESIZE_584xHey, wanted to share my latest video from my Youtube channel entitled "Marianne Williamson 2024 Has Started: Leader of Nonviolence" 

Marianne has officially announced her candidacy to run for President of the USA in 2024. I talk about a number of qualities she brings to the political sphere but also beyond that in terms of her emancipatory project for humanity and this planet. She is a very unique leader. I am most taken with her putting "fear" and "love" at the center of her philosophy, spirituality and politics. 

I also share my new project to support this movement, she represents, and have named it the Canadian Coalition for Marianne 2024. 


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Vision for 2020s: A Summa Fearologica

Historical Background for the Project(s)

For a few decades I've had an impulse and vision and budding passion to make a grand synthesis of all humankind's knowledge on Fear. After various fits and starts at different forms of research and writing, none ever published, I saw that I had not the resources or energy and time and space in my life to accomplish this. I sought out other's to help with this project and envisioned several volumes would be needed to cover the topic. 

By the time I had finished my graduate school years (1998-2003), it struck me that I just had to publish a compendium of (at least) all the theories on Fear, and make some kind of classification of them, if not some critique. I began that research and building more forms for arranging this material but quickly, again, I realized it would be an exhaustive project to do alone and I even wondered at that point, with less enthusiasm than when I was younger, IF such a project would even been read or appreciated by the readers of the day. I concluded also that it would end up being quite a "negative" sounding set of volumes--as Fear is still perceived mostly negatively by humanity. So, I put the idea away and after several experiences working with a shawoman in Vancouver, doing healing work, a vision came to me. It would be better to research and write a compendium on what the world teachings are on FEARLESSNESS. Thus, a few years later, I published an ambitious (albeit, not exhaustive) volume, The World's Fearlessness Teachings [1]. 

That was 13 years ago. It's the best resource available for humanity on Fearlessness as a topic but also on my theorizing. I was less negative in outlook with addressing the Fear Problem humanity is facing and not well dealing with. The book title itself seemed more positive--fearlessness. All those things led to my great expectation for a great book to be recognized and utilized by humankind. This did not happen. No one has ever done a systematic in depth book review. And, the disappointments go on and on since it was published. I was not working in an academic institution, so as an independent scholar with no extra money to mass advertise this, and the publisher did little in distribution, I was left with a book that sold few copies and was 'dead in the water'. Which, didn't mean I was completely dispirited. Always, in the back of my mind, and I mention it in the Preface of The World's Fearlessness Teachings, that someday, I will write a companion two-set volumes on (a) The World's Fear Teachings -- a version of a kind of Summa Fearolgical (playing off the grand project of St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century with his Summa Theologica) and, (b) a friendly smaller popular version of both the essence findings of The World's Fearlessness Teachings and The World's Fear Teachings. 

Books of World Great Ideas

The World's Fear Teachings, encyclopedic kind of enterprise I initiated, soon ended, re-started [2] ...and again ran out of 'gas' at several points over these years. And still it is not near able to hobble out of my old files and basement and see the light of day. I realized I would need several assistant researchers and secretaries to help with this project and preferrably some big publisher interested too, whom would provide the pre-publication funding and support to make this come about. Of course, I dream of some angel donor coming along and paying for such a massive project. I have not found any of these supports yet. 

It was only this past month that I found a good book to read, which is an intellectual autobiography by Adler, entitled Mortimer J. Adler: Philosopher At Large, by Mortimer Adler (1902-1976) [3]. Adler inspired me and he shared about St. Thomas Aquinas's massive project to summarize all the great knowledge on certain topics in the 13th century work, Summa Theologica. Adler had an encyclopedic mind for collecting and organizing, classifying and analyzing human knowledge. It made me think more vividly that I have in my own humble way being trying to construct a Summa Fearologica (a term that I just coined while thinking of writing this blog). The essence of Aquinas, and then the modern Adler, was to validate there are great ideas of universal interest and wisdom to pass on from generations, knowledge from grand scope and depth, and summarized for others to read and study and apply to their current times. I definitely have always wanted to do that with the Great Idea: Fear (and Fearlessness). 

Back in 2004 when Corey Robin, a political historian at NYU, published his book Fear: The History of an Idea [4], this notion of "fear" being cast as an "idea" and not merely as an emotion, feeling (as psychology and philosophy and theology have done for centuries)--was very radical and I attempted to have conversations with Robin over emails but soon that was not mutually fruitful and my ambitions to be supported by someone in academia fell off again. I yet, knew that there was something there to continue to promote and re-think about. So, in the end, that is what I am putting forth to the world once again. Writing this blog to let you all know. The Summa Fearologica is real in my imaginary and I'd like to pass that on to others. Someday, maybe this will manifest, before I die or after. 

Addendum 1: 

In my current research/writing with Prof. Arie Kizel (Univ. of Haifa, Israel), we are going to attempt to write on the topic of "pedagogy of fear" as a concept (big idea) and analyze it. I have proposed to him, with his agreement to pursue it, that we include a section of that book on pedagothealogy. This large awkward sounding term is my formation of a pedagogy + theology perspective toward the nature and role of fear. Stayed tuned for more on that venture. 

Addendum 2: 

Do we need a 'Fear' Bible? [go to my article several years ago: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/big-d-discourse-do-we-need-a-fear-bible


1. Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of American/Rowman & Littlefied. 

2. I have never, since late 1989 found any publisher in the wide-world interested in publishing my "fear" books until 2022. However, when I found a publisher for my book The Fear Problematique--a book specifically dedicated to philosophy of education in a culture of fear today, it was a first of such sincere interest.. Thanks to Information Age Publishing, this book ought to come out on the shelves in the end of 2023 if all goes well. As far as the world's fear teachings, the most I got done was the rudimentary beginning of what I was calling The 'Fear' Encyclopedia. And it stalled; but I did publish in 1998 very small version of a 'Fear' Encyclopedia, which I self-published just as photocopied text and a cheap spiral bound booklet. This latter book really should have been entitled a 'Fear' Vocabulary. It has a good amount of research on words modifying "fear" and words "analogous" to fear that exist in English language. And, I explain each of them as part of humanity better understanding the "Kinds of Fear" that exist and with the aim of establishing a "Fear Nomenclature" as part of "Establishing a Common Language" for humanity (at least in English language). It was my fascination with taxonomies that led this book to be of some value. Again, I could not promote this book well and it went no where in public circulation; albeit, I have 14 copies of it in my library at home. All these self-published efforts are published by the Canadian publishing house, In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute (owned by R. M. Fisher and B. Bickel, registered since c. 1991). 

3. Adler, M. J. (1977/92). Mortimer J. Adler: Philosopher at large: An intellectual autobiography. NY: Collier Books. 

4. Robin, C. (2004). Fear: The history of an idea. NY: Oxford University Press. 



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Love-Pleasure-Dopamine Addiction

For a good short explanation of a theory that explains brain functioning and dopamine release process and regulation of that ...

go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Zd9qvJUr-o

Dr. Anna Lembke, psychiatrist who also points out the social-cultural habit problem of "too much pleasure" available and digested today in the postmodern world--it is literally making us more and more anxious-depressed and dysphoric and suffering more physical pain. Our brain system didn't evolve with so much access to pleasurable thoughts, substances and behaviors. Now, I would add the problem of "Love" (especially in contrast to Fear)--and, how I am quite sure that Fearlessness IS a much healthier pursuit and path that does not get caught in trying to always get to the "Love" side. Lembke, at least physiologically, speaks to this and the vicious cycling of "always searching for love" --and, it creates huge problems on the other side (via, what Lembke calls "opponent process reaction").

Note, "Fearlessness" gets us beyond this opponent process reaction triggering mechanism (at least theoretically) because it gets us beyond the binary-seeking of pleasure over pain or equally in parallel the love over fear (e.g., positive over negative). "Fearlessness" paradigm unhooks us (albeit, slowly often) from the binary obsession and problems of opponent process reaction in the brain-emotional system. 

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Meditation: Be Fearful and Fearless


A Talk By R. M. Fisher, @ Meditative Inquiry Conference, Aug. 18, 2022 

The link here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2H8yByGFYw&list=PLfVjDB_dQhEomgiYYmBJKj1nvD1oGBwaf&index=14

gives access to a Talk I did on the Fearlessness Worldview and its critique of Meditative Inquiry as is being promoted by several people, especially in E. Canada and the field of Education. This is part of a movement of spiritual education and its branches of holistic education, transpersonal education, contemplative education, mindfulness education, peace education, love education, etc. I critique the bias of perspective of all these movements that like to focus and collectivize their "corrective" for the world around virtues signalling and aims of hope. The Fearlessness Worldview, a liberation praxis itself and education process, takes another route, one that is arguably less fear-based, more integral-holistic and wiser than the fault of running after the next fix of 'escape' from fear and suffering and a world so enmeshed in the making of its own crises--at every level and especially at the level of the institutions that fall within the Dominant Worldview and its self-deception and corruption. 

After a brief meditation I offer at the beginning (photo above), I am 2nd to speak on the panel and I start with critical commentary about the problems I see in the book "Meditative Inquiry" based on the conference leader's work. IF you only want to see my teachings go to 25:38 on the video for a 20 min. rather improvisational lecture. And go to 1:10:45 for picking up on comments (Q and A) at the end of the panel session, in which you will hear one philosophy professor from India makes comments on my talk and concludes fervently "we need to be fearful and fearless" --then, I come on and comment on his comment and take the discussion further based on a question someone asked in the panel "define fearlessness." Of course, of which I didn't in a nice clean linear way! I give some reasons for why that is so, and the problem of my topic and this question in the context of having one or two minutes at most to engage it. I really find these rushed-time conference presentations as a format a horrid way to actually do serious scholarly work or dialogue. Oh, well... take this for what it's worth.... 


Of course, in only a 20 min. talk on a panel, it is near impossible to set up my arguments for a Fearlessness Worldview and 


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[The following article is reprinted with permission from X. Yuan.] 

Fearless Conversations in Curriculum as a Wayfinding Amid Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Xuechen Yuan
Lakehead University

JCACS Musings, Apr. 19/22


I fear many things amid the crisis in Ukraine when the immediate future is so unknown. Being immersed in mainstream news media makes me even more fearful. As a graduate student in Education, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the uncertainties of global consequences makes me very pessimistic about curriculum reform these days. At a time when collective trauma and fear coexist within the bodies of the world’s citizens, stories symbolizing backwardness are constantly told, and voices of hope for global justice are silenced. With the current nuclear terror in Europe, information warfare, the deteriorated NATO-Russian relationships, and the Taiwan Strait Crisis, news media induces a global mass hysteria of World War III. While people around the world stand in solidarity with Ukraine and others who are affected by Putin’s tyranny, I fear that humanity is headed for a more nuclearized, militarized, competitive, and backward situation. While looking at history, I realize that many of the decisions that led the world to being in an arms-race situation could have been avoided long ago. Decades of mistrust between the U.S. and Russia destroyed any hope for turning Russia into an ally and for democratic reform in Russia. Russian civilians’ distrust of the hypocrisy of democracy and freedom of speech has been reinforced since it does nothing to prevent millions of children from being malnourished, starving and dying.

To be fair, I’m writing this post out of fear. As someone born in an authoritarian state like China, I have always been discouraged to raise adverse opinions of sensitive issues on any platform. Especially in the face of the invasion, Chinese leaders have been siding with the aggressor, and have mass media intensifying toxic nationalism against the West. After an in-depth discussion with renowned fear scholar R. Michael Fisher, I realize that we could explore opportunities in fear. In Chinese, we often say Weiji (危机) — opportunity in crisis. I like how this transforms the relationship to fear rather than assuming a reductive and functional view that defines fear and supposes that it’s the best way to make sense of things (Fisher, 2010). We must understand fear, not run from it. The mainstream news media coverage of the current crisis in Europe has left us with a victim-type of fear, building curriculum that does not endow or inspire any practices of fearlessness. The American imperialism of news outlets has been inducing mass hysteria of nuclearization and Russophobia across the globe. It is not the future that haunts us but the fear of the future. But isn’t that what we fear every day? We fear what we are not prepared for (that we lack agency and readiness), but isn’t that the point of curriculum, to prepare us to face those fearful uncertainties during our apprenticeships, rather than spoon-feeding our ways out of fear?

Economic and political competition might seem like a ‘game of thrones’ for many conventional wisdom holders, and to many who view history as an objective truth. But I think of curriculum as being ‘agentic,’ a way-finding that can shift the narratives we tell of the past. A lot of us might be let down by the injustice in the world today, but we need to continue to find our ways amid fear, acknowledge and feel the fear inside of us, and then become courageous to face the fear. During this invasion, countless netizens, activists, and civilians around the world rose against Putin’s brutal actions. The borders between nations are no longer defined geopolitically, but agentically by conversations. In an internationalized and democratic world, conversations enable us to readjust and destabilize the conventional, now ever-changing borders (Pinar, 2004). The next step of curriculum for us is to define borders ideologically with depth imagery. An authentic conversation requires “going beyond the surface to take into account ‘unspoken’ and ‘taken-for-granted’ assumptions, including ‘ideology’ […and] must be guided by an interest in understanding more fully what is not said by going beyond what is said’’ (Aoki, as cited in Pinar, 2004, p. 159). So far, our democratic discourse/conversations have been based on denouncing Putin’s behaviour, which can be done intuitively and without much effort to engage in deeper conversations. Many who are sceptical of the ideal of democracy perceive it from the frame of reference of cognitive imperialism — ‘fast-food-like’ pedagogy embedded in empty words that lead people into a fallacy that they are endowed with greater freedom than institutions actually allow. Cognitive imperialism largely obscures the construction of conjunctive ‘inter-space’ in conversations while diverting public attention to shallowness of conversations — freedom of expression and individual liberty. What is beyond the unsaid, however, requires a curriculum of critical literacy in which people work together to co-create reciprocal and complex conversations. Our curriculum needs to create democratic agents, not agents in a democratic political structure. Conversation represents a relationship between spaces (not just ‘spaces’), where people engage in mutuality rather than dichotomous struggles of viewpoints. Therefore, when world crises happen, we do not just condemn the aggressor with empty words but act ahead to prevent it. This is how our curriculum can truly be agentic rather than being reactive (to fear).

From the emergence of COVID-19 to the humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe, it has become more necessary than ever for curriculum changes to address how the trauma of war, the separation, and the isolation of life, have lived in and affected our bodies, so we can hold each other’s hands and find our way out of the hardships collectively, rather than kill each other. Ironically, we can learn a lot from coronaviruses; even viruses know how to converse with each other and change according to different situations to achieve their survival goals (Chambers, 2022). I don’t know what the curriculum will look like in the future, but I do know that our curriculum should inspire people to share difficult knowledge, memories, stories, and to explore and confront their fears, not run from them. The purpose of this post is to find ways to encourage people to lift the veil of these unspoken fears, to engage in deep (as opposed to dichotomous) conversations with each other, and to prevent hatred, phobia, and mistrust toward others. To end this post with an excerpt from an interview done with University of Lethbridge professor Cynthia Chambers (2022), “The truth about maps is they’re only useful when you’ve already been somewhere, they’re not really helpful when you’ve never been anywhere [… We have to] find our way collectively and to learn together [under difficult circumstances], rather than looking to authorities for the final answer or being angry that nobody knows” (26:44).

Rise up, Ukraine. We stand with you!


Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world’s fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st Century. University Press of America.

JCACS Curriculum Without Borders. (2022, February 23). JCACS interviews Cynthia Chambers: Curriculum as wayfinding. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNAxSJbdBPo

Pinar, W. F. (2004). What is curriculum theory? Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.



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Figure 1  Philosophical Treatments of Fear (Historically in the Western World) 



-R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D.

Every philosopher, theorist, practitioner in any field of inquiry and endeavor ought to eventually come to a time in their life and career where they re-evaluate their work. This year has been a good one for me as a fear critic to assess what has been happening since I joined the stream of thought throughout time that has investigated "fear." I am feeling like there's a big transition, a growing doubt of some of my premises, and a suspicion that my fearwork may have 'taken a wrong turn.' The longer story is yet to be written. But I at least here in this blog want to offer Figure 1 as a preview of my mapping the historical moves and movements of various philosophers that I believe are quite important to Fear Studies in general. The main aspect of Figure 1 shows the "Positivization" of agendas of various thinkers and their movements as they worked to make the concept and experience of "fear" more positive than was the case for the majority (of their times). They all, more or less believe (and rightly) that "fear" has too often been given a negative valuation over it being positive in humanity and Nature. Although, since 1989, I have been aware of this positivization in various discourses on fear, I was never quite taken-up into the enthusiasm of the positivization movement in Fear Studies. Now, I am re-evaluating that choice on my part? My motivation? My insistance that there was a skewing of reality by this positivization, of which I wrote many critiques of what I called the "fear-positivists" (and/or "fear-positivism"), was maybe a good track to take philosophically but in 2022 I am starting to really wonder if my choice was a good one. 

Therefore in Figure 1 you can see that I have put the "Fisherian" camp of fearwork outside of the main field of positivization of fear camp. You probably know that I chose "fearlessness" as the core strength for my study of fear ('fear') and fearlessness. The others in Figure 1, all whom I respect (and other writers are not shown just to keep this diagram less complicated), are distinct in their working with the fear-fearlessness relationship. To be clear, most all of the fear-positivists are anti-fearlessness (except Subba and some of his followers, and except Four Arrows). The main reason for my re-evaluation at this time is that I have re-discovered the work of Sam Gillian Jr.(1939-2016) in recent months and have begun a serious study of his unique Beckerian and Black existentialism that leads into his philosophy and fear-pedagogy--all of which I believe is so uniquely constructed that it deserves the categorization of Gillianism of Fear. Gillian was not aware of the liberalism of fear and fearism of fear and other writers in the list above, but he was aware of existentialism in general and especially he was influenced by Ernest Becker's work. The latter, I greatly admire and have been studying off and on since the early 1980s before I even began the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989-). 

I've been reflecting on my own path of fearlessness approach to fear. I have made various philosophical moves and created methodological approaches (e.g., fearanalysis) to accomodate my interest to camp more in the fear-negativist discourse but with a good deal of revision of those discourses that come from history. By no means, was I conforming to only making fear negative--yet, I was compelled to construct 'fear' as a postmodern concept, and situate Fear Studies within a "culture of fear" (and/or 'Fear' Matrix) and thus fearlessness as the main approach gave me a decided edge of negativity towards fear and knowledges constructed on fear. I also felt I was somewhat fear-positive and still do, but lately and with the work of Gillian, my critiques have turned on my own work. I do not believe my trajectory has been very effective, and there is a lot of evidence since 1989 to prove to me my work has faltered in having any real impact out there in the world, in the field of Education or anywhere else. The Fearlessness Movement (and this ning under that name) have been luke-warm to non-existent in real impacts and growth of a powerful modeling of fear mangement/education and/or of liberation in general. It's been a sobering reality of watching this non-productivity of my fearlessness-oriented fearwork. I am seeing that fear-negativity still is strong in my work and that must change to be more effective. Gillian especially has argued persuasively that a truly simple and productive fear management begins with fear-positivity and of course, many others have said this too (see Figure 1). Yet, for various reasons, it was the combination of Ernest Becker's philosophy and Terror Management Theory that arose from it; and then the application of the philosophy and pedagogy of Gillian (a Beckerian) that really made the difference. [see the prior FM blog on Samuel N. Gillian for more background]. 

Basically, the fear-positivism camp offers (likely) 'the best' treatment of fear philosophically, theoretically and practically--for where the "populus" and society as a whole is at. My own work is 20 yrs. ahead (i.e., 'out there' in the stratosphere)--and, I have to admit not very useful at the moment. In the end, I envision a more productive fear management education for the world that the fear-positivists will lead, and I can help serve that movement as well but I will always have my biases--and, perhaps, my fearlessness work will in some way hold a larger perspective for all the good of the fear-positivists; perhaps, my work will keep the fear-posiitivists from falling into traps of their own ideology and shadow(?) I can only speculate, my work has been in an important fear-negative camp for a reason and it is not just some personal fettish but only history will "test" that. I really don't know. What I do know is that there is still a good deal of synthesis required, and good critical analysis, to make the fear-positive camp stronger and more effective. And, really there is not a lot of time to waste for this to happen. If I can help out, do let me know. 

I'll leave this introductory confession right here... for discussion, if anyone is interested. There is a whole course I could teach on Figure 1--that would be a fantastic addition to Fear Studies and fearology, etc. Maybe some day, if there is interest. P.S. the International Journal of Fear Studies is homeless right now, but I am working closely with some colleagues (especially, Rayson K. Alex) to re-locate and re-structure the journal (it may be a year or two down the road before it is operating again).


To be sure there are sub-branches of philosophies and thinkers not mentioned in Figure 1, for example, a fascinating movement by Sijin Yan (et al.) on a Levinasianism of Fear and Four Arrows (Wahinkpe Topa) and an Indigenism of Fear, Libertarianism of Fear (Frank Furedi) all could easily be added; and, I suspect there are others I am missing too; note also there are Asian and African variant branches of Fearism of Fear (spurred on by Desh Subba but also some quite independent streams of thought). Also, missing here, is discussion of the role of religion (especially, the Abrahamic traditions) in securing the effective dispositions of a fear-positive theology (e.g., it is good to fear God, Allah, Yahweh)--that these religious discourses are core to cultural development and health is an area for debate. There is also missing here the debate on what a good "pedagogy" re: fear ought to be (?). Typically, the "pedagogy of fear" (e.g., Arie Kizel and others) is always constructed as a fear-negative discourse, for the most part. This really all needs to be unpacked further, and I think Figure 1 offers a larger framework for the evaluation on the nature and role of fear and education (learning) overall. As well, there is the Indigenous (and pre-colonial), post-colonial, Matrixial (feminine), and nondual, pragmatism (Barbara Stengel) and holistic and Integral perspectives (worldviews) that I have left out here--they are not to be taken lightly in their importance for the future development of philosophy of fear (fearlessness). And lastly, I apologize for the largely "Western" slant on this whole discussion and Figure 1 representation. Eastern (and Northern, Southern) perspectives need to map their own field of orienting the major branches of fear-positive and fear-negative discourses. 


1. Fisher, R.M. (2002). On being a 'fear' critic. Technical Paper No. 14. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.










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Glad to announce this new book, initiated and led by B. Maria Kumar and most of his essays, and I respond to them. (Indra Publishing House, 2022)

I think readers will find us as two fearists in a creative exchange that was a lot of fun for me to be involved. One may even learn something new about the "human" from this book. 

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This excerpt (first draft only) is a small piece to give you a sense of what I am 'onto' these days, especially in writing this tenth book (to be published later this year by Information Age Publishing, in their Philosophy of Education Series, Ed. Dr. John Petrovic) [1]. I have been working months and months, and it has been quite a ploughing the soil. Hard going at times. This Chapter Five took weeks to complete, as I just did this morning. Wow! It is by far the largest chapter in the book (coming in at a heavty 25,000 words itself, without the references). Yikes.

A number of fresh insights came from the writing that I could put into it, so that was good. It is never a boring writing because I risk all the time, on the edge of not knowing what I am doing and not creating chapter outlines. I just start writing. 

As always, I trust this bit of expository on fear will intrigue you to critique, to commnent, here on the FM ning. And/or you can always email me directly: 



1. Excerpt from Fisher, R. M. (in progress). The Fear Problematique: Role of Philosophy of Education in Speaking Truths to Power in a Culture of Fear. 

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Christine Breese, Ph.D., University of Metaphysical Sciences, and from Wisdom of the Heart Church (non-profit 501(c)3), offered in 2011 a free book entitled: 

"Fearlessness In the 2012 Paradigm Shift" (here is free copy in pdf.

I have not read too much detail but scanned her Table of Contents --and it is interesting for sure. A few highlights: "Paradigms Are Built to Fight Change, It's Natural" and "Hypnosis in Fear For The Masses" and Chapter 5 "Facing Fear" and "What Does a Fearless Life Look Like?" 

Those are all topics that interest me a lot as a fearologist. I'm writing my own book now on The Fear Problematique, and a core of what I need to articulate is the importance of what a Fearlessness Paradigm, contra a Fear Paradigm is all about. And, then link that to a fearlessness philosophy and theories and finally to education as a field. 

Anyways, you folks may want to check out her book here. It's historical of course, that 10 years ago there was a lot of 'new age' hype, especially in the astrological and metaphysical communities about some critical juncture of alignments and ancient Mayan calendars, etc... whereby, a "quantum leap" in the evolution of consciousness and humanity was being predicted--albeit, Breese admits in the book apparently, one cannot ever totally predict such things in terms of when--yet, there is a transformation going on she asserts, along with many others. And, I have been hearing about this since at least the early 1980s--and, especially with another big celestial and astrological event in 1987, of which I found so many new ager types of folks way too optimistic about what was going to happen at that juncture on a particular day, etc. I think the evidence is clear that these people exaggerate things yet, I am also not one to put them down for their enthusiasm generally for the need to transform the paradigms of the day. I like that Breese in particular has identified "fear" and "fearlessness" as significant vectors for this transformation. I agree!. 



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