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How delighted, ecstatic, and trembling I feel at this response (within 1st 48hrs) to the first call to join the FM, of which came as I reached out to my mailing list and personal contacts with whom I have some caring connection. You may send the invitation out to your circles of care. In the end, neither I nor any of us is going to control who and what may come from birthing a site of sacred discontent as a space/platform for change, recovery, transformation... and all the 'messiness' of which such a birthing may be--and all the joy and sadness--and all the creativity I look forward to. Calling this site Fearlessness Movement will have its own amazing potentials, reactions from others, I'm sure.

In the moment at a loss for words, more with many spinning ideas and energies flowing... and gratitude... I decided to make a piece of art, and actually it is more than a "piece of art" it is an artful inquiry, an arts-based (1) response to all of what is happening to me as I am a nomadic artist-in-residence on this 2015 sabbatical trip with Barbara Bickel (who is now in Turkey). The art piece below connects in arrational, irrational and rational ways much of what is stirring and you all are included (I'll make more of these as new people sign-up)--as my artistic aesthetic way to 'greet' and recognize some choice you made to join the FM ning. I don't take it lightly, and yet I do as this art piece below may reveal. Here's what I created. Then, I offer below it a brief process description of "why" and then offer any of you to respond in any way on the ning as you can imagine. 

Some of this digitally-made image will be self-evident, and yet most will not know the context core of the image of the large blue (metal) circle sculpture that is a public art installation called "The Travelling Light" (2). In my 3 wks residency now in Calgary, AB, Canada (my place of birth and most of my life), there was this amazing image of a ring (reminding me of ning)... just off the major freeways at the N.E. end of the city, a place I am very familiar with, but thanks to this art piece installed in 2013, the whole scene of the area is now quite unfamiliar, or at least it is disturbed to raise my attention and curiosity, regardless of my feelings whether I "like it" or "hate it" aesthetically (3). It is public contemporary art, that's for sure. What does it mean? Is it worth the cost? and so on... the questions may fly. You can see many articles online about this controversy from the moment it went up.

But I want to dwell in this summary on how this image came about in connection with the birthing of FM ning while I am in Calgary. I look for analogies, visual metaphors, ideas, critiques, rebellions, and syntheses. I was thinking of an image for the FM ning a few days ago and it is the black egg-like shape with 'FM' inside it as if a mark(ing) of some great historical event--or more visually a semiotic echo of (TM) for trademark signification that is so important in our legal system and based on the political and economic issues of "rights" of someone's ideas, property, logo, or whatever. No one is supposed to copy it or "steal" it. There is great moral angst, if not fear and hatred in such a signification if you want to look in the shadows. I inserted the FM ning signification into the blue ring of the art installation--my fantasy of what I would like to see actually done, and hang there and let all the millions of drivers in their cars, and others contemplate what the hell is that?

I sort of playfully feel that is what the birthing ring of the FM ning is all about. Gosh, could write poetically around that. Anyways, FM is signifying a powerful disruption to the fear-based way of living that is pre-occupying just about everybody and their trade marks, logos, and proprietary rights of this and that and this and that... I wonder if all this legal protection is doing us any good as a society, even if it protects individuals and corporations or even tribes that want their "rights" of one kind or another regarded. That's not my focus, but rather I wanted to acknowledge the FM tribe signing-up, with names, with locations of belonging, and the right to be there, here, and everywhere sending a message to the world about Travelling Light--about fearlessness. You can make your own connections too of course about how this image I have constructed and the public art installation itself--both, of controversy--albeit, FM is at this time not so public and obvious or sticking out of the landscape, but I think it is a 'sliver in the mind' (a la The Wachowski's The Matrix film, 1999) of consciousness and sticks out as something very different--a very different container for a social movement.

In my research in creating my art piece, I came across an art exhibition at the New Gallery in downtown Calgary (Feb. 28-Apr. 5, 2014), entitled "The Travelling Light Exhibition" and which there is a great essay online with that exhibition ("A Shadow Cast in the Travelling Light" by Steven Cottingham) that talks about the 6 artists who made it in this show reflecting their discontent on having "inherited economies and... administrative detritus that gradually accumulates and marks the passage of time, the loss of love, and the dissolution of dreams" (Cottingham). It struck me that if you added the word "fear" in there, that's what I am guessing is the real deeper shadow: as in fear-based economies we inherit with their administrative detritus--fear marking our insecurity of time, loss of everything... and in particularly, this is a sensitive (if not traumatizing) prospect as the new generations of children and youth face this world ahead... I loved the question the artists all came up with in this exhibition: "What do we do with a [fear-based] world we did not make but cannot escape?" They answer that artistically. I think FM ning is a public art installation for a fear-based world we did not make originally, but we are contributing to it. How can we stop that contribution in the best ways? How can we remake that world based on a new reference, rather than (pathological) fear? This question, implicitly, is behind all the Fearlessness Movements throughout time. Those I have studied and written about to some extent and participated in--go to the Wikipedia (time and again) to read about theFearlessness Movement histories, philosophies, theories. They are a counter Travelling Light in the darkness of a fear-based worldview and materialist-violent outcome of that worldview.   

Lest I stop before I get too pedantic... (smile)... 

End Notes

1. It is an application of a critical aesthetic practice in my repertoire, called a/r/tography-- the a for art, the r for research, the t for teaching and graphy for writing. I love to combine these, each as important as the other. There is lots on the Internet and books on this practice and theory and philosophy behind it--which formally came together in the late 1990s out of The University of British Columbia, from the lead of Dr. Rita Irwin, Prof. of Art Education & Curriculum and her students and colleagues. Barbara and I have been influenced positively by the spirit of a/r/tography as an integral practice. 

2. "The Travelling Light" is a collaborative artists' work produced by the Swedish organization Ignes Indee (design). It cost the City of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) $500,000 (and 80% of this apparently was spent locally in its construction). 

3. Aesthetic biases/judgments are incredibly powerful, the more I research this, and the more I find there is a fear-based aesthetic that is very toxic (see my A-D/ness research). Anyways, one newspaper article on the blue ring art installation told of the Mayor of Calgary, supposedly very art-loving, saying in public in the press "it's awful... it's terrible"--but more importantly, that superficial response led to the City elites deciding to change the public by-law on public art in the following year of the installation of The Travelling Light. They changed it to both cap the money to be spent on public art, but also that "public art projects will be more functional and more citizens involved in choosing them." This word "functional" (says Dormer, 2014, Calgary Sun newspaper) "meaning rather than just statues, installations and paintings, projects can [must] be designed for use by the public, like benches, bike racks, gateways, and windscreens." This is enormously disturbing to my aesthetic and artistic sensibility in terms of the negation in the use of "functional" criteria alone, as that is the sign of the loss of art that is about ideas and critique of the status quo. Very dangerous when we move in that direction of functionalism--a topic I have written about for over 15 years. 

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Introducing Myself

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself in this context.  I am a counsellor living in North Vancouver, Canada.  Married with three children.  Have studied integral psychology for about 10 years.  In terms of fearlessness, I tend to orient to the psycho-spiritual aspects and also the biological/neuroscience aspects, so Michael's broadening of the frame to include socio-cultural and critical theory perspectives is really helpful and much needed.  

I have struggled with "anxiety" quite a bit in my life, and so this topic has a personal relevance as well as for so many of the clients that I work with.

I have used Ken Wilber's AQAL quadrants to come up with an inquiry-based approach to working with fear or anxiety at the individual level.  I have uploaded a visual summary of it here.

We need to address fear collectively as well, which is what Michael addresses in his work (and he does more than this, bringing in a developmental approach).  Still working my way through Michael's book on the topic.

I am looking forward to learning here, and seeing what might emerge at some point in terms of action projects.


P.S.  In integrally-informed contexts, my major strength seems to be as a connector.  Malcolm Gladwell writes about connectors, mavens and persuaders in his book, The Tipping Point.  I appreciate Michael's "maven" role in this context!

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On Sunday (Apr. 12/15) I invited, after some earlier conversations, Jan Sheppard and Madelainne K. Joss to the 'table' or you might say to the 'altar' to share our past, present and future relationship with In Search of Fearlessness Project. In particular, our focus was on the In Search of Fearlessness (Calgary) initiative, with ISOF Center and Community and Research Institute. It was good to do this in Calgary, AB, Canada, where it all began, and where I was born, and so many wonderful and difficult things happened in those years 1989-1999. There's so much to attempt to gather from what we shared, and I won't even begin it here. My purpose is to say it happened, and there was a real strong connection and understanding after that night that 'we' (at least the 3 of us) are joined-at-the-hip in terms of this experience and we are going to be in each others lives hereafter in a more significant way than we have been since the closing down of ISOF (Calgary) some 17 years ago.

We each are going to take the "spirit of fearlessness" forth, and continue the work of liberation, each in our own ways. We're not sure what forms that will take, but we feel the energy from all the ISOF (Calgary) happenings are still flowing and moving and bringing transformations in various ways, personally and globally. I was glad personally to be able to share with Jan and Mad. the most recent work I have been doing and how the shape of the Fearlessness Movement itself has been the larger umbrella of my energy and how I 'fit' in the ISOF (Calgary) project. It's all about expanding contexts and for each of us to get beyond our "me" picture of what ISOF was about, is about, and could be about. Who knows where another version of it may show up.

And on that brief introduction, let us know what you think, and if you'd like to be involved in future conversations, and most importantly check out the FORUM on this site to see some prompting questions where ISOFers can further dialogue and process on our relationships and whatever else we'd like to manifest. It's a beginning and I look forward to more people involved in the sharing.

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I am delighted to share with you my book review of Fear: Across the Disciplines by Plamper & Lazier (2012) (Eds.). For lots of reasons this is a very important scholarly work, not the least of which it goes after the epistemological problems of knowing fear, never mind managing it well. It's a long book review and sort of says it all. So, let me know what you think.

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E-W Dialogue on Fear With Desh Subba

I want to share my excitement and some research going on through co-writing, where Desh Subba (author of Philosophy of Fearism) and myself are joining forces across the world, he in Nepal/Hong Kong/India (with a following) and me in North America (with a following). I won't say much except you can look him and his book up on the Internet to know more, and I have written a book review of his work on Below is the rough draft Abstract to a long technical article on how my own philosophy of fearlessness is blended with his philosophy of fearism, and I have adopted his term as well because it is a spin of a new branch of existentialism, which makes a lot of sense. I'll let you know when we publish this full paper. I am convinced it is one of the most important documents out there 'leading at the edge' of thought on fear and fearlessness today. I look forward to your comments, as does Desh.

The Basic Epistemological Problems of Fear in a Philosophy of Fearism


R. Michael Fisher[1] & Desh Subba[2]

© 2015




The philosophy of fearism (coined by Subba), is arguably the newest branch of thinking from roots in existentialism, giving focus to the nature and role of fear as the primary shaper of human life. However, the major question behind this paper is the epistemological problem of how do we know fear? Knowing it better will lead to managing its shaping power better. Collaborating for the first time, each author brings forth a unique perspective (E. by Subba, W. by Fisher) to this radical philosophy for the 21st century, which they argue is practical, social and ethical in philosophical orientation. Building a holistic understanding, the authors use four strategic contexts in which to unfold their research and experience with fear and developing their philosophies: (a) Autobiographical and Philosophical, (b) Anthropological and Cultural, (c) Epistemological, and (d) Educational and Ethical. The focus of this essay on (c) and the epistemological problems behind such a new philosophy and fearist perspective, has to do with both disrupting habitual, and taking charge of, the ways we know fear. Epistemological issues blend into political issues because the power of fear is a great power that has to be worked with mindfully and critically. The educative and ethical point of their work on a philosophy of fearism is to not participate in fear-mongering about the future and crises we face as humanity. The authors’ outlook is revolutionary, positive, and yet realistic. They argue that we require a critical philosophy of fearism, with operational studies and practices from (at least) new fields of fearology, fearanalysis, and feariatry. As well as helping people to manage fear better and suffer less, they want to expand and diversify who controls the knowledge about fear and how it is managed and brought into our socialization and education.


[1] R. Michael Fisher is a Canadian, an artist, educator, scholar, lecturer, author and self-proclaimed postmodern fearologist with graduate degrees in rehabilitation studies, adult education and curriculum philosophy and design. He is co-founder of the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989-) and founder of the Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education, and Department Head of Integral and ‘Fear’ Studies, htttp:// He currently researches, writes, and consults as a private human development consultant ( living in the USA. He can be reached at

[2] Desh Subba is Nepalese, a poet, novelist, philosopher and public intellectual. His leading work on a philosophy of fearism has led to his involvement in setting up the Fearism Study Centre in Dharan, Nepal. He is currently working in a security company and lives in Hong Kong with his family. His website is and he can be reached at

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For decades I have been arguing that our society (I mean in the W. world, at least) has a very confused sense of definitions and meanings about both "fear" and "fearlessness." It has been disturbing to see W. scientists of a variety of kinds attempting to construct a research construct whereby "fearlessness" (or "fearless") is pathological. The accusations, in this particular biased framing, has led to linking fearlessness in individuals with highly aggressive/violent behavior, and most recently I came across a couple recent journal articles that link "fearlessness" to higher rates of suicide (see references below). 

IF there is one 'enemy' of the Fearlessness Movement, it is this confusion. For sure, you'll also find Westerners also liking the concept of fearlessness and giving it a positive value attribution, but then you can find just as many folks giving it a negative one, and no more is the latter evident than in the W. sciences and fields like criminology, for e.g. This latest set of studies linking fearlessness to suicide is in my view very twisted with a biased conception that mis-uses the term "fearlessness" and doesn't define it in terms of all the literature on fearlessness E. and W. from many cultures, including spiritual traditions (e.g., Sacred Warriorship). I won't go on and on, but to point out this problem as a reminder of what we are up against in promoting the Fearlessness Movement (and it is not that I want us to not critique fearlessness notions, but I do want us to do so by being informed of a much larger data base than what is presented by W. scientists). 


Bryan, C. J., and Cukrowicz, K. C. (2011). Associations between types of combat violence and the acquired capacity for suicide. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 4(2), 126-36. 

Witte, T. K., Correia, C. J., and Angarano, D. (2013). Experience with euthanasia is associated with fearlessness about death in veterinary students. Suicide & Life-Threatening Behavior, 43(2), 125-38.

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I was just opening a page in my book The World's Fearlessness Teachings: A Critical Integral Approach to Fear Management/Education for the 21st Century (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2010), and this is what I thought was worth quoting today re: ISOF Project (In Search of Fearlessness): 

"After ISOF's rise (1989) and fall (1999) as an organization, I had been researching and writing to figure out what went wrong: why did it collapse, at least, in its first community manifestation in Calgary, Alberta, Canada? This is not the first time in history (herstory) that various visionary leaders [like myself] have witnessed the painful collapse of a radical movement. Usually they follow that with a reflective incubation and exile. They attempt to think through and write about their theories of revolution once again, before they pass away. ISOF Project is still going strong--in spirit--in the spirit of fearlessness. I expect new forms will emerge in the future; its inevitable, no matter how much one sees Fear's Empire growing and dominating (e.g., post-9/11 era). That said, it gives one great moral strength to carry on a Tradition (still unrecognized), when one finds that other's have acknowledged the importance of fearlessness in our future and attempted to lead movements to make that known." (p. 172)

It is now 2015, and as I reflect on this passage, sitting in Calgary at the computer awaiting emails from people I put a 'call' out to here, there is a sense that a lot of folks have more or less folded into a practical (pragmatism philosophy of life) way to be. I'm still appreciative that we have to be pragmatic to survive, I should know as a person who has been underemployed and unemployed for 22 years or so. Yet, I am still a critical thinker not willing to fold under my essential rebel spirit (of fearlessness). I am still willing to lead this fearlessness movement in some form, somewhere. 

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