path of fearlessness (5)

[Image created from the book cover Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows, Peter Lang Publ. 2018; I added the details of the CAT and FAWN  components and 2-way arrows for this teaching blog version]


You may have seen the prior blogpost re: my book on Dr. Don Trent Jacobs' (aka Four Arrows') life and work as an activist-scholar and Indigenous holistic educator. I framed the book as an intellectual biography. I did not want to only create a biography nor merely an abstract intellectual overview of a scholar. I aimed in the book for another layer of reality and meaning that to me was more important than mere biographic facts, stories, or intellectual interests. I was looking to gather all I could from Dr. Jacobs' (Four Arrows') experiences and thoughts, his activism and his teaching, and make a powerful summary of it all in light of the context of a better understanding of Fear and Fearlessness for myself and for all others who read this book. The synthesis of his life regarding how he has studied Fear and Fearlessness with my own work ought to create a 'new' curriculum or what I call a liberational 'fear' vaccine (process). We really need this on the planet today. 

It is rare indeed to find an educator who gives so much attention to the topic of Fear. What is 'new' as a synthesis in this book is really exciting to me and I trust others will also find this to be so, however, beneath the layers of the 'new' is something revealed that is very 'ancient' and dare I say, universal to the human struggle to find the best ways to be in relationship with Fear. The way he points us is not merely a "psychology of fear" and that is what makes this critical educator very unique. He is more transdisciplinary, like myself, in approaching this subject. 

It is thus a book all about a holistic-integral approach to fear management/education, a point I make in my own work, whereby, any attempts at bravery, courage, fearlessness, etc. are all attempts at some kind of fear management [1] and transformation. And, as Dr. Jacobs and I see it, we really need a better fear management on this planet today.

Ancient CAT-FAW/N Dynamics: A De-Hypnotizing 'Fear' Vaccine (Process)

So, the 'ancient' part is what I wish to briefly introduce here as it takes shape from Dr. Jacobs' life and work, especially as it comes throught the most important finding in his scholarship, as far as I am concerned, and that is the finding that concentration is core to the processes and outcomes of fear management of any kind. In the book I overview in the Introduction his CAT-FAW/N model [2] , which took him 15 years to develop (and it is still evolving). And CAT stands for Concentration Activated Transformation, according to Jacobs. FAWN stands for Fear, Authority, Word(s) and Nature. I have in detail described this in the new book but more accessible immediately is my interpretation of CAT-FAWN Connection theory in a blogpost [3], where I suggest his model/theory is a praxis of Fearlessness and thus is a praxis of what I would add to my list of 'Fear' Vaccines (processes) [4] in the liberation work that I design and teach. 

This 'ancient' part of Four Arrows' (Jacobs') model/theory/praxis is represented on the book cover image as four arrows (triangles) around his portrait. These represent the colors of the most common Medicine Wheel in several Indigneous cultures in North America (Turtle Island). The CAT is placed in the image on his brain as controlling centre of his senses, perception and ultimately of how and where he puts his attention--that is, his concentration. The concentration is depicted nicely in this portrait photo taken by his wife the photographer Bea Jacobs. So this gives a little backstory to what my latest image adaptation is about. The significant point I am making with this teaching image is that the book is not just about a man named by the Lakota Sioux in ritual initiation with their community but about a universal context of the ancient Medicine Wheel--whereby, I believe this book has "good medicine" to offer a very ill modern and postmodern (Western) society, and, perhaps beyond that to the world.

My point, is that Four Arrows the man ought not to be the center focus of the book (only). That's only part of the picture. There is another layer of center focus that I bring out in the book and that is the "four arrows" as "four directions" as "four colors" (vibrations) --and, thus acting as an orienting model/theory/praxis as 'Fear' vaccine process. I took the liberty in creating this image to name the four colors and directions as Fear, Authority, Word(s) and Nature following the Jacobsian model. My interest is that readers and viewers will re-interpret the book's cover and this teaching image. I want them to see that the book is about the "fearless engagement" of "four arrows" and thus, of CAT-FAW/N itself. What does it mean to bring a context of "fearless engagement" [5] as a referent notion to the study of fear management/education, to Fearlessness, to the Jacobsian model? 

The de-hypnotizing component of the CAT-FAW/N model is based on many experiences in Four Arrow's life. It is also a professional and scholarly attained model, tested over the past few decades. Yet mostly, of interest to me right now is that it is a model that comes from the ancient (living and non-living) 'Ancestors,' a point I make in the Introduction of the book and which I have described in detail to some degree in De-Hypnotizing Technology blog on Four Arrows' work and my research on his work. He is a trained health psychologist, hypnotherapist and high-performance athletic coach for many clients. That's where he learned many things, including from his training free-roaming horses and competitions with them. But lest it not be forgotten that he learned his most powerful lessons on the origin of the CAT-FAW/N model from his Near Death Experiences and study and work with shamans in remote Mexico [6] and how he was transformed. He has been rightfully reluctant to call himself a "shaman" though he has not totally rejected association of his work with shamanic elements over the years [7]. 

At one level, I see much of the analogous relational transformative learning in Carlos Castaneda with shaman/warriors (e.g., Don Juan Matus) in his series of (non-fiction fictional) books in the 1970s-80, as with Four Arrows and Augustin Ramos. I think anyone reading my new book on Four Arrows will find it mystical at times as well as very pragmatic, logical and grounded. The diversity of areas and methodologies covered in this new book is enormous. However, the core of it is all about fear management/ education, about Fearlessness as a path and a standpoint of "fearless engagement" as the premise of how Four Arrows' comes to move in the world and teach. He clears the way of all dogmatism, and religion, of rules and regulations and any arrogance of "fearless" on this path. It is available, he suggests, to all who are capable and willing to pursue to knowing Fear better--to becoming "connoisseurs of Fear" as he says. CAT-FAW/N model and theory provides a way of engaging the "four arrows" of the "good medicine" required as we reassess our Dominant worldview in the context of a resurgence of the Indigenous worldview. All that is covered in the new book. 

If I have communicated effectively in this blog, I'll be heartened by those readers who do not take this as a book about "Four Arrows" only but about "four arrows" and the study of Fear and Fearlessness within a de-hypnotizing process. I have included in the prior blogpost the initial Introduction of Four Arrows' near clinical assessment of mass hypnosis that humanity is suffering right now (especially, those non-Indigenous and Indigenous moderns and postmoderns disconnected from the "old ways" of pre-point of departure worldview and values). This new book is all about assessments, diagnoses and interventions. Agree with them or not, my aim as author is to present them in interesting ways and to provoke further dialogues--and, yes, if we can find enough agreements on the assessment then we can find new ways to make holistic-integral interventions in the Fear Problem on this planet. 'Fear' vaccines are going to be very useful, and CAT-FAW/N is one of the most powerful, that, I have come across, no doubt. Indeed, still a good deal of work and development is required to make it even more efficacious to more kinds of people, leaders and organizations.  



1. See, for e.g., 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 America/Rowman & Littlefield.

2. I have taken Jacob's original model from his dissertation and 1998 book Primal Awareness and recently modified it with the /N for the Nature aspect which I believe is distinctly different in order of reality from F A W, and thus the /N signifies the entire model is underlain by Nature and comes from Nature as source. A few years ago he agreed with my adapted version, though he himself has not used it in his publications. 

3. See CAT-FAWN explained and another FM blogpost on "Indigenizing" Fearlessness

4. Re: prior writing on 'fear' vaccines see my FM blogpost 6 'Fear' Vaccines (book in progress). CAT-FAW/N is a 7th 'Fear' Vaccine recently added to the repertoire. 

5. In the book I make a comparable, parallel, case that "fearless engagement" for Four Arrows' is analagous (in part) to my own "fearless standpoint theory" which I believe is essential to better analyze fear management/education going on now and in the past and how to improve it substantially for the future. See Part 1 : FEARLESS, of the new book. 

6. I utilize here (and in the book) "shaman(ic)" with a due cautionary of contemporary (white man) mis-appropriations of these terms and traditions within an Indigenous context. I believe Four Arrows' has truly made a good effort for several decades to ensure his is not mis-appropriating (colonizing) the very Indigenous worldview he promotes at great length as a recognized Indigenous educator. Which doesn't mean that some Indigenous people and others have not criticized his approach and his mixed-blood heritage and background which is (potentially) inadequate to make him a "spokesperson" of the "Indigeneity" he teaches. I (as White guy) have followed the tracks of Four Arrows' careful situating of any of these Indigenous terms as best I can. I cover this problem in the new book, as does Four Arrows' in many of his writings. "Shamanic" however is still something very useful to understanding some of the phenomena Four Arrows and I discuss in the idea of CAT-FAW/N and de-hypnotizing technologies. He tracks out how the Indigenous Peoples, often had an intuitive sense of this de-hypnotizing as lived process, even though, apparently they have never written it down as a de-hypnotizing technology or theory or model as Four Arrows has. Clearly, beyond his scholarly naming and associating his name with this CAT-FAW/N dynamic, he'd be the first to declare it is not his model per se or anyone's but it belongs to Nature, to All Relations and to All Histories. He documents anthropologically (and otherwise) his experiences with shamans amongst the Raramuri Peoples of remote Mexico in the 1980s-90s, and especially of the 104 year old Augustin Ramos a most well respected shaman that he worked with there. This true story can be found in his dissertation and book that came from it, Primal Awareness: A True Story of Survival, Transformation, and Awakening with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1998). 

7. See his slide show video of his remote Mexico adventures and learning re: "Shaman's Message" on Youtube, as one example; his writing makes the connections continually re: the orgin of the CAT-FAW/N "vision" (shamanic-like and/or mystical) in a heightened state of altered consciousness when amongst Nature and the presence of shamans. My interpretation is that CAT-FAW/N theory is shamanically-imbued and offered to the world from the 'Ancestors'--a further explanation of this categorizing of his theory is in the new book. I treat CAT-FAW/N as a transpersonal "transmission" of teachings with all the shamanic overtones and undertones that I believe require due acknowledgement. I also respect that Four Arrows himself avoids any such direct suggestion of such. My assessment is my own based on studying his work and communicating with him, off and on, for the past 10 years. 

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Reductionism & Fear(s)

Distortion, or at least, inadequacy of representing the path of fearlessness (which this topic is my specialty) can be found in virtually every article, book, or video or course I have seen on the topic [1]. This continues in a recent video from a course by a young Zen buddhist practitioner who is very successful with some 2 million followers on the internet (apparently). He is putting out a new course "Path of Fearlessness"... so I took a short look at his write up on it at his website and then one of his intro. videos. I have so many critiques. But that said, I so appreciate the spirit of this fellow's offering to the world and his sincerity that is evident. I'll let FM ning followers decide their own critiques, if they have any or not. But just as a hint you will hear this Zen practitioner teaching that fear is such a great force and inhibition to humanity, then he immediately drops in to discuss "fears" (as concrete manifestations in the plural), and at that point, he has already gone off the road of authentic integral fearlessness critical inquiry as far as I am concerned. Another hint of the faux nature of this video and so many others out there is they all suggest explicitly in their introduction that there are no other tools or experts on the topic, other than themselves. The egocentrism and ignore-ance is very evident. Too bad they are so popular but that's the way consumerist society works, I guess. It is more what you can convince people of that "sells" than what is actually accurate and good depth offering.

p.s. I really like his policy on copyright and uncopyright, worth reading on his website! 

Here is the video blog you can check out on his work if you wish:

As well you can read any of my other writing on "fearology" as a nascent field of inquiry (e.g., see note 2) and for another critique of writers/teachers on "fearlessness" see Fisher (2010), pp. 22-25. [3]


1. See prior FM blog critiques I wrote on the "many" courses on fearology and fear management at and epistemological issues re: fearlessness


3. 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 America. 

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If you read my historical summary on Wikipedia of the Fearlessness Movement you will get the jist that what is being spoken of is a (r)evolution in which we as individuals, and/or collectively, can begin at any time to consciously resist, subvert, and re-construct a new society based not on the 'Fear' Matrix but a path of fearlessness. I would offer that we use the language from a philosophy of fearism, if you wish, so that we can identify ourselves as Fearist (R)evolutionaries.

Watching the great movie "Clandestine Childhood" last night (directed by Benjamin Avila, 2012) as I wrote and made an image of it in the Photos section today as well--it occurred to me to spend some time writing out a plan for the (r)evolution in steps of praxis (theory and action). This would be designed for students from as early as grade 1 on up to university. And, what is below also can be for anyone in societies anywhere (of course, in their own language and images; I will give English version here).

So, look at the Photo image "Tools for Students of the Fearlessness (R)evolution" (Aug. 31, 2016) on this website. You'll see the film cover I mention as being so inspiring because I watched this true story unfold and this boy of pre-pubescent years learning the good and the bad of revolutonaries work in tough circumstances. There is one scene where the boy is watching his parents smuggle several companeros (fighters of the cause) into their house and giving them the lecture on what work they are about to be involved in to undermine the current regime of Argentina. They pull out a box of guns and ammunition and each gets their "tool" for the revolution. It is not the only tool they use, in fact, all the brochures, magazines, money is being stashed in fake chocolate covered peanuts boxes as if these people were running a legitimate business. The boy watches the guns and takes in the gravity of what these people are up to. He also watches all of them, including his parents be killed by the end of the film.

There are many ways to fight a revolution, and for me, I have always fought as a (r)evolutionary, where the evolution of consciousness is primary to the battle against oppression and repression dynamics that both invade our exterior and interior experience. So, now for the tools I would hand off to my companeros of this battle of the Fearlessness (R)evoltution, return to the Photo image again and you'll see what I have prepared as a plan and set of basic tools. The student of this velvet revolution (some would call non-violent revolution) are a pen (mightier than the sword), index cards of multiple colors and always carried in one's purse, pockets, etc. And quotes from books, articles, anywhere on the Internet or from daily life, that you as a (r)evolutionary find inspiring and that challenge the old ways that we have thought about the world. I have always liked using these Fear Quote Cards since In Search of Fearlessness Project began in 1989.

And what about the paper clips in this Photo image? They are what you use (could also be tape, or staples, or glue) to attached the fear quotes on the index cards to anything and everything in your everyday environment. And, of course, you can merely hand out the cards, or leave them loose, like at a bus stop or in the school lunch room. But here's the idea I had this morning (and there are hundreds you too can think up; and even share them on this FM ning):

Whenever you are at school (yes, grade 1 on up to university) and have to hand in a test, assignment project, or anything like that, you automatically as part of your practice of fearlessness, attach one of your fear quotes from the deck of cards you've made. No explanation. Nothing. You just do it. There's no law against it. Now, the teacher who gets your assignment and/or test has to confront this quote. I love this idea. Perhaps, in its interesting "gifting" gesture [1], the card acts as a catalyst for dialogue with the teacher, and perhaps the teacher will bring it up to the class--yes, even in a math class. There is no place in our society where it ought to be a taboo to talk about fear and going beyond it. That is, these are cards that raise the issue, create space for, fearlessness to unfold. Just think of how many assignments/tests etc. that children have to hand in during their entire schooling, on up to university. Add up all those and over all the years, in every place in the world. Now, just think of one or more students attaching a fear quote card to them. This begins a (r)evolution in the way we educate ourselves about fear and the way we manage fear, and ultimately transform it.

I look forward to hear from anyone who has thoughts on this. Basically, there are "tools" for practical application of all the philosophy, theory, and ideas I have ever written on the topic of fear and fearlessness. One merely has to "act" and put them out into the world. Here is one way to do this. In my experience, there is something quite transformative (acting like a 'fear' vaccine) to putting these fear quotes out into the world. Too bad I never learned this "tool" when I started school!

End Note

1. The "gift of fearlessness" tradition has been studied by scholars, especially as this tradition has emerged in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in the East for millenia. I first came across this literature in a great article by Hibbets, M. (1999). Saving them from yourself: An inquiry into the South Asian gift of fearlessness. Journal of Religious Ethics, 27, 437-62.

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New 7th 'Fear' Vaccine Added

The 'Fear' Vaccines as I have called them going way back to the early 1990s (In Search of Fearlessness Project or ISOF), are intended, just as they say, to counter the oppressive effects of 'fear' (and fear). I have written a good deal about these notions, including the distinction of "fear" and 'fear' (as a culturally modified fear patterning). I won't repeat that here and you may want to check out my other writings.

The 'Fear' Vaccines (which is really a process of "soft technologies") are intended to be practiced and studied. With time, patience and experience, they will counter-act to free you (and organizations) from any fear-based domination. They are essential "tools" in that sense to working one's way out of the 'Fear' Matrix (or 'Fear' Project, or fearism-t). These include 6 in their original configuration that evolved in ISOF (Calgary): (1) quality information on fear and fearlessness, (2) Liberation Peer Counseling, (3) Spontaneous Creation-making, (4) Community-building, (5) Sacred Warriorship, (6) Vision Quest.

The 7th vaccine has just been discovered in its latest form in the last 20 years or so by Dr. Don Trent Jacobs (also known as Four Arrows). I am currently writing a book on his life and work, but most importantly I have followed his work as a researcher and educator because of his discovery of a great model for working with decolonizing the mind, or de-hypnotizing ourselves from the dominant (and largely pathological) Western worldview. His model is defined in a mnemonic form: CAT-FAWN. There is a fascinating story behind the years of discovering this model, with roots of its "teaching" coming from ancient ancestors in remote Mexico and the shamans of the Raramuri there, as well as from the non-human spirit teachers-- and to be clear, it has not yet been put to full use (not even by Four Arrows), and I am just in the early stages of understanding it. I will write more on CAT-FAWN but not in detail here as I merely wanted to officially recognize it in my mind as the 7th 'Fear' Vaccine.

CAT-FAWN = Concentration Activated Transformation (CAT) and FEAR, AUTHORITY, WORDS, NATURE (FAWN). The basic principle behind this CAT-FAWN connection, as Four Arrows calls it, is that in any concentration state (subtle and light, or dramatic and heavy) we are in "trance" and in that state the human (and many animals) are highly susceptible to learning, for good or not so good. The point is to recognize with great critical awareness when one is going into a trance-state (i.e., CAT), it may be as simple as when you are watching TV too long, or driving a car, or working on an art piece or listening to music or when you have been injured and are fearful and/or terrorized... etc. By recognizing and predicting the high learning potential in this trance (CAT) state, you will be able to ensure you are not going to let Fear, Authorities, Words, or Nature be used against you and your current state, but be helpful as guides to move you along (in my words) the path of fearlessness of development.

More on all this as time goes... just also want to let you know that Barbara Bickel (my partner) has initiated with me to co-author a book on the 'Fear' Vaccines and all our years experience with them, and ensure they are documented for history. You can bet a final chapter will be on the latest addition of the 7th to the traditional 6 that we have the most experience with in the ISOF Community especially. Stay tuned...

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