I have had many encounters with 'men of the cloth' so to speak, from many traditions, over the years (East and West). Although, I rarely have ongoing dialogues with them about fear and fearlessness. Often we conflict and there's no interest on their part to continue connecting. I lament. I believe religious and/or spiritual leaders of all stripes are important 'voices' to engage and to explore how they "teach" fear management/education, among other things that are supposedly about some kind of liberation path.
On a website blogpost not too long ago, I included a rare trialogue with two priests, Terry Biddington and Emmett Coyne; now, I have begun a new dialogue with a Swami who lives in St. Louis, MO. To begin following (and/or participating) I recommend you first read "Toward an Integral Yoga of Fear" which is my long written response to attending a 2 hr talk and experiential session with the Swami in Carbondale, IL less than a week ago. So, since I wrote that piece, the Swami has graciously engaged me and wishes to carry on our inquiry, so, here below is the collecting of our recent emails (I will post any other exchanges in Comments section to this blogpost). Enjoy. -M.
Dear Swami Sankarananda,
In sincere gratitude, and with my own take on the "teachings" you presented, perhaps you would like to take a peek at my initial responses in a blog I wrote this morning "Toward an Integral Yoga of Fear". Feel free to pass this on, also feel free to sign-in to this blog, whatever the case... it will be what it is... and we'll go from there my friend...
Hello dear Michael,
Thank you. I'm happy that you joined us and that our discussion provided something for you to work with. I understand your perspective, certainly the study of Fear and Fearlessness can be a productive engagement.
I agree with you regarding the cause for fear that you enunciate; I'll call it conditioning from past experience (as reflected in society... all is based upon past experience). There is a deeper cause though, these ancient teachings will point to our idea of being separate from the source of happiness (and from all of the objects). It is interesting that you seem to dismiss spirit, or spirituality (study of one's own spirit self, or soul). After all we live in a world in which self existence can be proven ("I am" is true) but existence of a physical world cannot be. Indeed even our thoughts are relatively more real than the physical world, for they are the cause for it. And, it is posited by the sages of Yoga, the cause for fear is separation from the Truth... and this separation is only perceived. It seems that if we dismiss the subjective truth (which can be proven, albeit only for the subject) for objects, which cannot be proven, that we leave out what might be the most important field of study. And, from my experience, the most fruitful, the only one that will actually provide us with complete peace and fearlessness (the same).
I love the topic you research by the way, most of the discourses that I am sharing are on the topic, "From Fear to Peace". There is one this evening at 7PM at Yoga 7even in Springfield, IL... not too far from you. And again in Normal, IL on Friday. Please join if you would like to discuss, or like some more grist.
Bless you dear one, Om Shanti. May all know peace.
"The way of peace is the way of love. Love is the greatest power on earth. It conquers all things." - Peace Pilgrim
So pleased you took time to read my piece and respond so generously. No doubt we have some different 'takes' on some things... and, for the record, I do not leave "spiritual" and self-reflection out of an integral approach, so it is interesting you never picked that up in the piece, and, that's always a problem of interpreting only "parts" of one's writing... anyways, I'm digesting and reflecting on your further thoughts. At some point, I'll respond further, I suspect. Would you mind if I posted your response on the Fearlessness Movement ning (as a Comment) on my blog. This would be great for readers and members to see your views with mine. Let me know. (btw, you could also sign up on the FM ning and post it yourself). -thanks, M.
p.s. I won't be able to attend your upcoming talks in Illinois but thanks for the reminder and I'll keep in touch with your various travelings so at some point we may meet in person again
Om, good morning dearest Michael,
Thank you. I've just read your piece again and I must say again that I quite like the focus on "from fear to fearlessness", this dialogue is so important, and I both appreciate and respect the perspective that you present. It is balanced and helpful. Yes, of course it is fine if you post the response, furthering the dialogue is also beneficial. A key point that I want to share is the view that it is possible to transcend fear. Now this can only be treated as an individual statement or theory for now, as it can only be transcended fully one person at a time. Coming into alignment completely with our own inner truth (which is said in the eastern teachings to be a common truth - this is my observation as well) is the way. The nature of That truth is fearless, and one who transcends the control of the subconscious mind to reside in the intuitive Self is indeed fearless.
Bless you dear one. I do intend to visit Carbondale again next year, God willing, and would certainly love to see and visit with you then, or any time. God bless you.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
And to you blessings ... thanks for this note, and permission to reprint this dialogue and continue the dialogue... I will say, in short, I agree vehemently with the "fearless" Truth you and your ancient tradition speaks of. I had heard in your Carbondale talk you referred to meeting a saint in India or maybe it was your yogi teacher (?) and you said "he was fearless"-- I heard that and applaud such attainment; and, I have no doubts that is a claim you make, an interpretation, worthy of your naming it--albeit, there would be other factors I would bring into how we talk about "fearless"-- of which I also have both experienced momentarily and seen/felt/realized being around others (including archetypal beings) where "fearless" is the best word to describe what is going on... I also, theorize my work for research and educational purposes--writing about a continuum of developmental fear management systems that people move into and through, and transcend (that is, if all goes well and they are encouraged to develop so, and/or rare magical moments of 'grace' takes them through without seeming any willfulness on their part)... yes, all the way to "fearless" (which is a stage beyond fearlessness). Anyways, I have conceptualized a "fearless standpoint theory" to work as a referent for this scholarship and way of being--a view point of Truth, Real, even if we are relatively living a long ways from it in the worldly world of experiencing that tends to dominate individually and collectively. Again, further fodder for other dialogues... -best, M.