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Fearless motivation

Have been talking with my children about the cultivation of fearlessness, and so my 12 year old daughter shared this one with me this a.m.:

Will be easy to critique from a postmodern perspective, but hopefully can be appreciated as relevant for the adolescent level!


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And once inside, this photo captures much of what I found evocative during my stay so far in this space... The art piece (3 by 4 ft) of a black bear and human hand with a blue berry... on knee level.... This was the image that I found difficult to engage for the first while but then by day five I was able to get into it... I like the reflections on the glass cover over this print (entitled: "Blueberry", Oct. 1981, 8/10 print, artist illegible but begins with a 'W')....

Yes, this large print has one piece of color, a small blueberry in blue color in the human hand.... now, just take time if you will to imagine and interpret what this image might be communicating. I found it had so many many layers it was overwhelming.... but as usual, I just begin to work with it using spontaneous reflective writing and then began to add in the quotes I had recorded from many of Pete's books taken at (near) random from his shelves.... 

The following is the poetic inquiry (one of a series, I suspect) where I take the "random" quotes on fear and fearlessness that I found in Pete's book collection and then interspersed them with my own reflections on the "Blueberry" art piece in the living room. I am quite happy with the result in this first of what I'm calling BLACK N' BLUE MAN-I-PULATION. You can see what you get out of this poetic collage.... let me know if you like. I may write more in depth about this later. 

Black n’ Blue[1] Man-i-Pulation-1


They streamed fearless

from the forest[2] chanting

it is bravado

to believe that we are now immune to these killers[3]


desireless—virtually unmoved the beast of fears

shadows over the in-sighting of its seller


black-blue eco-stabilitation

a million, no a billion







of the



As we continued up the long aisle

the choir began

to sing

‘Be Not Afraid’[4] as artist-curator


tandem taught




at the level

of our



growth and resilience

an e-con-amie


have you ever been afraid of growing up?[5]


this in itself was enough

autoethnographically speaking,




to evoke in us


a deep


of pity and fear[6]


spherical terror-laden

stained of natural

blue ink


on the eyebrow


of the white-saited sheets….





delicate evolved




blue pearl

of want

a man-i-pulation


desireless instinct

population-- one













--this fear about inequality





much fear is



animals also







many island species have calmly



their doom







-R. Michael Fisher

June 5, 2015


[1] Inspired by the home library, the art piece (“Blueberry” by artist ‘W’(?), Oct. 1981, print 8 out of 10) in apartment 709 of Pete Sarsfield, Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

[2] Excerpt (p. 150), from Whitt, L. (2010). Tecumseh’s return: the quakes of 1811-12. Prairie Fire, 31(3), 149-50.

[3] Excerpt (p. xii), from Garrett, L. (2000). Betrayal of trust: The collapse of global public health. NY: Hyperion.

[4] Excerpt (p. 19), from Corkum, T. (2010). Notes toward a film about my childhood. Prairie Fire, 31(2), 17-27.

[5] Ibid., p. 19.

[6] Excerpt (p. 162), from Mitchell, J. H. (1990). Living at the end of time. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

[7] Excerpt (p. 259), from Gould, S. J. (2003). The hedgehog, the fox, and the magister’s box: Mending the gap between science and the humanities. NY: Harmony Books.

[8] Excerpts (pp. 53, 50), from Masson, J. M., and McCarthy, S. (1995). When elephants weep: The emotional lives of animals. NY: Delacorte Press.

[9] Excerpt (p. 61), from Livingston, J. A. (1994). Rogue primate: An exploration of human domestication. Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books.

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As Barbara and I have been on this sabbatical for five months in Canada, it has been our focus to embody the idea of 'artist-in-residence' wherever we go. Currently, we are in Winnipeg, MN, Canada for a few more days. We've stayed at Pete Sarsfield's apartment just off the Assiniboine River and near downtown. It is an exquisite location for us on many levels. Living (house sitting) in another person's dwelling, especially when you have never met them, and they are on holidays, is interesting. I have taken a rather anthropological (ethno- and autoethnographic) view to this ecology of experiencing, especially as Pete's apartment is so invested with his values, philosophy, care and aesthetic sensibility, as well as his politics. But this blog is not about Pete, rather it is all about the art I have engaged in while in his apartment and this area at this time in history. 

The most provocative images, in my view as artist and a/r/tographer come from experiencing the environment on the way into his apartment and then the art and books he has that line his walls and floors. Yes, I said floors. He has mounted art pieces on the floor in the living room, so, without more text at this time as I bring in my interest in fear and fearlessness into this art project at apt. 709, let me show the photos I've taken to accompany this blog and give you a more full aesthetic sense of the ecology of experiencing I have been involved in for the past 5 days here....

First, the hallway down to apt. #709, and we can see the touches that Pete has added to the architecture of a rather bland 1950-60s type apartment complex:


Next, we get a little closer to see the additions he has made to the hallway of which no other apt. has such a deliberate signature as this one...

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If you don't already know, there are long ancient traditions (e.g., Buddhism) that highly regard "fearlessness" (or what are called "fearlessnesses" in Buddhism). These (primarily E.) traditions, secular and religious, teach that fearlessness is the virtue of all other virtues. Meaning, that if one doesn't get the base foundation of fearlessness down well, integrated, corrected, growing--then, the other virtues will collapse on this 'crack' in the foundation. I won't cite all the literature for this, but I have done so in my book The World's Fearlessness Teachings

I wish in this blog to briefly discuss a couple of things about fearlessness and its direct (and indirect) relationship to Buddhism (if such a generalization about "Buddhism" is feasible anymore in this postmodern world): (a) there are problems in teaching Buddhism to W. audiences in postmodern universities and higher education generally, (b) the Buddhist ancient concept of the ideal Buddha is founded on qualities of the "four fearlessnesses." I'll insinuate some analogies here with teaching Buddhism and teaching fearlessness, as this latter theme has been on my mind of late (see the prior blogposting as well). 

First, l wish to talk about a particular problem of teaching Buddhism in the W. in the modern and postmodern world/curriculum of liberal education. The analogy can be made that teaching fearlessness is virtually identical and so you can take the quote I am using here on this problem and substitute "fearlessness" for "Buddhism"--at least, I think such a juxtaposition creates interesting tension and spaces for dialogue that needs to be had. It helps problematizing any "ideal" curriculum on fear and fearlessness, of which I am so passionate about. 

I take the lead on this first, and pedagogically-oriented, problem from Hori (2002), where he argues that for many years Frank Reynolds,a respected scholar and practitioner of Buddhism in the W., has been writing critically about teaching Buddhism in the modern and postmodern university, as well as in wider contexts, especially in relation to the crisis in liberal education in general (1). Hori (paraphrasing Reynolds) speaks of the 4 Problems of Pedagogy in this regard: 

"He [Reynolds] cautions us against transmitting an overly simplistic picture of what Buddhism 'really is,' against depicting the history of Buddhism as either a one-directional degeneration from its originally pure form or a one-directional unfolding of its true essence into its modern form, against over romanticizing Buddhism in a way that caters to disaffected [disenchanted] Western intellectuals, and against emphasizing its 'other worldly' aspects while ignoring the social, political and economic forms in which Buddhism has actually appeared." (p. 170)

[again, try substituting "fearlessness" for "Buddhism" in this quote]

Second, I wish to bring "fearlessness" into the Buddhist context in one particular way (of many other ways), that is, re: the teaching on the "four fearlessnesses" of the Buddha. These are part n' parcel of the ideal qualities/attributes of the Buddha and thus, the goal of the initiate in Buddhism and one would suppose the goal of any curriculum of Buddhism at its best. Few people, even Buddhists I've met, seem to know about this teaching and/or they merely don't talk about it--and, they have not made the connection with my work on this over the decades--all of which I find extremely strange. Okay, to present the basic of this teaching I'll use one Buddhist scholar (Gold, 2007), among others, who articulates (in English transl.) the "four fearlessnesses" of the Buddha (ideal) (2): 

"Sa-pan begins the Gateways by praising the guru and Manjurri for possessing two lists of qualities shared in the essence of all Buddhas, the Four Specific Knowledges and the Four Fearlessnesses.... [Sa-Pan wrote:] own attainment of confidence in the four specific knowledges and [their use] for others [of] the four fearlessnesses to roar like a lion in the midst of the assembly [3].... the four fearlessnesses--realization, abandonment [teaching] the path to Buddhahood, and teaching its obstacles.... through this method, in composing texts himself, explaining them to others, and clarifying wrong views, he fears nothing.... the perfect Buddhas fearlessly engage.... The Buddhas are, thus, the paradigmatic scholars." (pp. 17-18)

To further implicate this ideal of the "paradigmatic scholars" (i.e., those on the path of fearlessness in the matured and advanced levels), and in the teaching of fearlessness and Buddhism, I draw on Paltseg (1992), another Buddhist scholar: 

"The four fearlessnesses of those who have gone beyond.... A. the fearlessness in connection with becoming enlightened through the understanding of all phenomena.... B. the fearlessness in connection with the wisdom that eliminates all contamination [4].... C. the fearlessness in connection with teaching others how to avoid hindrances.... D. the fearlessness in connection with the accomplishments of the state of suchness, which is the path of renunciation in order to achieve all excellences.... The four fearlessnesses are the aspects of the fearlessness that a Buddha has in terms of fulfilling his [sic] own excellent purposes as well as the excellent purpose of others." (p. 72)

A major point in Paltseg's description is that it is not so much a "fact" whether the perfect Buddha can accomplish any of the four fearlessnesses per se as described in the ideal but rather that the perfect Buddha "has no fear of these doubts" that are part of the path of fearlessness in regard to the four fearlessnessnes. I find that a refreshing and very intelligent notion of process, becoming, and not to get fixed on the 'end' but the way being most important--the methodology, the praxis--that is, "has no fear of these doubts" that arise inside and outside amongst those who argue about the four fearlessnesses and whether they are attainable and logical, etc. And all of these teachings, says Paltseg, lead fearlessness along the "correct path, which is the antidote [to fear = suffering]." (p. 74)

I won't go into more elaboration here, other than to leave these ideas and teachings up on the platform for further inquiry, especially under the agenda of a 21st century curriculum (integral, 2nd-tier, etc.) on fear and fearlessness. 

End Notes

1. Hori, like Reynolds, make the point that the postmodern university/culture cannot be ignored in teaching Buddhism; they also assert that many ideals of humanistic liberal education and philosophy are greatly under attack, much of it rightly so, by postmodern, postcolonial, poststructuralism, and other movements and philosophies. Liberal education they argue has largely disintegrated--and, is looking for reconfiguration or is looking at extinction. 

2. This teaching is from Sa-Pan and Gateways (text), neither of which I am personally familiar. 

3. "Assembly" refers to one or both of followers and opponents to the speaker/teacher (e.g., Buddha).

4. Although this is not clear in Paltseg's text per se in my brief scanning, it is to my mind referring to contamination as anything that is fear-based (i.e., could be called pathology = source of suffering).


Gold, J. C. (2007). The dharma's gatekeepers: Sakya Pandita on Buddhist scholarship. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Hori, V. S. (2002). Liberal education and the teaching of Buddhism. In V. S. Hori, R. P. Hayes & J. M. Shields (Eds.), Teaching Buddhism in the west (pp. 170-93). NY: Routledge. 

Paltseg, L. K. (1992). A manual of key Buddhist terms: Categorization of Buddhist terminology with commentary. [Trans by T.K. Rikey & A. Ruskin). New Delhi, India: Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, Dharamsala.

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The Ideal Course on Fearlessness

The simple logic of one initiative I started in 1989, and it has not by design changed one bit since, is that there "must" be some group of people in the world today (and from the past in continuity) that wants action... that wants what I want: [i.e., the FMning descriptor] "better, and more critically, understanding the role of fear and fearlessness in our lives and world is critical to healthy sustainable life". For various reasons, to date, 19 members (myself included) have signed-up for this initiative, simply called the Fearlessness Movement. That's interesting, but what does it mean. 

Last summer I began writing a novel (fiction/non-fiction) on this topic of finding the "Ideal Course on Fearlessness" (implicit in the novel)... the ms. never got past the 150 pp. mark or so as I recall, much like many of the ms.'s I have cluttering my library. Oh, well, unfinished works, are types of "failures" in the good sense in that they carve a groove but there isn't the "supports" to bring the groove to become a highway. It remains an old trail in the dirt, not unlike an over flow of water eroding soil down a hill side, but it only happens once in a few years or decades, or centuries. The remains of the water can be seen, but it is hard to tell what it was there for, other than to just follow gravity and the principles of force and erosion. I feel like that as a writer of 'new' ideas. What was that ms. there for? 

Beyond my own struggles as a writer, back to the simple logic of this fearlessness initiative (by its many other names)... If 'we' want better more critical understanding of fear and fearlessness (because we think it is crucially important to life and sustainability on this planet)--then, 'we' ought to want better more critical ways of learning about fear and fearlessness--thus, we need a better more critical curriculum than the one we have now. Okay, if that is a general orienting logical deduction based on an intuitive passion (e.g., the FM ning being one such manifestation), then (to be logical again) there ought to be such courses (curriculum) available-- and, for the life of me in all the research I've done for 26 yrs. all over the place... there is no such curriculum (other than the few "bits" I have created (1)). The "supports" for such a developmental and design effort are just not there--not yet... the traces of the stream flowing over the soil are there... little water flows in them these days however... 

It is no surprise that drought, desert, and exile have been terms I seem to embody in my initiative. Fine. If that's the way it is then that's the way it is. When the rains come there will be floods. I trust you'll get the immediacy of this metaphor (e.g., Houston, TX disaster) and other potential meanings for this (if not archetypally, historically, evolutionarily). 

Back to the design and construction of an "ideal" course on fearlessness. Well, the good news is that (with the help of Durwin Foster, a member of this FMning) I have been in contact with a person at Ubiquity University (a very interesting venture in higher education online), who is showing some initial interest to talk about my course for their platform. I have not yet had that conversation as I am traveling right now, but will soon. In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to ASK YOU ALL if you'd help my thinking around this course and various options for where to best teach it online if that comes to be (which I would like). So, give me your thoughts on this course in terms of content you'd like, design of it, and where it could best find a platform (of which one option is to use the Center for Spiritual Inquiry & Integral Education (CSIIE) platform, which I founded some 6 yrs. ago).

I have been writing and thinking about alternatives in education since the late 1970s. That's a long time. To say the least, I am still searching. I have explored how others have done this, and how the new digital revolution of online learning is shifting the playingfield. All good, and yet, all still working through a lot of growing pains as well. The basic thrust or discourse of my own initiatives pretty much revolves around the "slogan" (of sorts) that sounds like this: Help Students Get The Next Generation Skills Needed to Survive and Thrive in Today's Hyper-Complex World (that is a direct quote from Ubiquity University website but it is one that resonates with CSIIE and some other online learning sites. The exciting thought has been for me Help Students Get on the Path of Fearlessness (as core foundation for the "skills needed", etc. etc.)... I, and many other critics, have seen fear increasing in every sector of society, as crises begin to cascade across the planet-- no attempt to fear-monger in this observation, it is merely what a lot of research shows me as a fearologist specializing in this phenomena. An "ideal" curriculum on Fear and Fearlessness seems ideal for our times and the future. 

Let me know what you think...

End Notes

1. I admit there are other people designing and teaching courses on fear and fearlessness but they are not what I am thinking and they are not based on a design I call a critical integral perspective (a la Ken Wilber's integral philosophy, etc.). 

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How fear and fearlessness move, an endlessly dynamic duo, and particularly complex in the sociopolitical and cultural spheres of reality. The recent news of the choices that politicians have made (and, ones that are heavily supported by their constituents)--have led Canada to more or less follow the American way--into a growing culture of fear. 

Here is just a beginning of the thread on this topic (below), by NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. FYI, it was not long ago in the famous speech by Justin Trudeau (Leader of the Liberal party), Trudeau was castigating the Conservative party leadership (Harper et al.) for their choosing to follow fear in their political policies. Now, as Mulcair points out, Conservatives and Liberals are (apparently) going the way of fear, at least, in this C-51 issue. Here is an extract of Mulcair's recent letter: 

"It's done! Conservative and Liberal MPs joined forces to pass Bill C-51, the so called anti-Terrorism Act.
New Democrats worked hard to amend C-51, and strongly condemned it passage. However, with no regrets about keeping the worst aspects of the bill, the Harper government and Trudeau Liberals came together to vote for C-51. Watch the vote here:*&lang=en&startposition=14932
While we tried everything to make the government backtrack, and to convince the Liberals to do the right thing, in the end Mr. Trudeau and his MPs chose fear over defending our way of life."
As a researcher, fearologist, it intrigues me as to what exactly is meant when we say someone "chose fear over defending our way of life." It is a veritable Fear Wars, each accusing the other of fear-based politics--neither, really giving us a clear definition of the meaning of these terms. But, whatever the case, fear is now a political football in Canada, something I witnessed in the USA since 2001 (post-9/11). A lot more nuance and discussion among Canadians would do well to look at this closer, and then, give our political leaders feedback on the kinds of choices they make in this regard to motivation and outcomes--that is, construction of a fear-based reality and priority in public policy and law. 
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These thoughts for the Fearlessness Movement on-line community come from having grown and benefited from the lived community learning and personal liberation experience of the In Search of Fearlessness Center and Research Institute (ISOF) in Calgary Alberta from 1991 – 2000. Followed by living into more theoretical and arts-based research with Michael, as both he and I pursued doctoral research at a higher education institute (The University of British Columbia) from 1999 – 2008 and more deeply researched our understandings and experiences of fear, desire, community and love. Living and teaching in the United States since 2008, at a State University in an economically poor area, and taking on dual citizenship as a Canadian American I find myself living in the midst of a community of fear. A community that does not have a perspective or language to see outside of its situated fear-based life style and habits.  I do not like living in this way and yet I do not think there is an escape from it. There is only living with it and working to not feed and extend its grasp further.

I have had the opportunity to take a leadership role in my university as the Director of a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program.  In my job interview I made a commitment to create a sane interdisciplinary space for students, faculty, staff and any others that may connect with the program. I have been able to create a space that has qualities of the first ISOF supported by my dissertation findings of restoration being as significant as transformation in living a life of love and compassion for oneself, the community and the more than human world. This is not easy work to do within an institution, yet I know the struggles of developing and carrying out this work independently. It is my desire that the Fearlessness Movement community on Ning be a space for people to share their successes and struggles in doing this worldwork. Offering and sharing practices that support, critically think through and surprise.

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FM Admin. Transparency & Menu-1

Well, 15 members at this point (now 35) are taking a trip with the Fearlessness Movement. As administrator of the site, I like to give the 'passengers' a little orientation tour, before we actually unhook anchor from the shore. Yes, I like this metaphor. My experience facilitating groups has taught me many things. I'll share a few highlights here, and set out some of my own offered Guidelines for the voyage (on this unique ning in unique times we live). I'll attempt to be transparent about my power on this site--yes, I do have some, and it is unique relative to others. The distinctions may serve us well as an online imaginary community behind the scenes of this incredible historical social movement called Fearlessness Movement (for lack of a better name). I'm open in all these blogs to your feedback--nothing is written in stone. 

The second part of this blog is the Menu (first go at it), where I lay out some of the real things (if not duties) that are options for people on the ning to engage with (or not). You pick and chose. Now, at the 

A. GUIDELINES for this particular FMning--a global community

1. Ask for what you need, one or more of us may be able to help--that means, everything from how to work the ning logistically and all the way to how to help you get out of bed in the mornings (etc.)...

2. At this point, get your Introductions up on the blog so we all can learn a bit more about each other, and begin some connections and exchanges that are not necessarily to everyone, but could even be between individuals (even private, I believe is an option on settings). 

3. Be patient and aware that all of us come to the Fearlessness Movement ning from diverse backgrounds with diverse motivations, not always conscious to everyone. It may take time for some to be drawn out, or experiment, or even disturb other people by being "off topic" or whatever. 

4. No spam (which means, no overt advertising of business services and products, be they yours or others)--with the provision, however, where it seems relevant, indeed to share your website or other resource, based around the Fearlessness Movement, more or less... and sometimes, it is good to share this so we know what you do in the world as well--and, sure, we want to support entrepreneurial ventures, and yet, it's a matter of 'balance' in that you are not JUST ADvertising here on the site, but actually engaging in the content and process of this movement.

5. Help out defining (making meaning and sense) of what the Fearlessness Movement is to you--so, you both read what others have written on it (and I encourage that over and over) but also to 'own' your particular understanding, and/or posit questions, and critique, and ideas... etc.

6. It's fine to bring up discussion about "other movements" as long as they don't take the focus away from the FM on this ning site.

7. How we'll handle difference of opinions, and/or more complex arguments with back-up and research, is an unknown. I like to let this unfold, and we can develop specific guidelines for that, or people may suggest other resources out there that may be applicable and we can check it out. I personally "like" conflict, as long as it is balanced with support and validations so people feel nourished, even if uncomfortable with challenges--after all, this is the Fearlessness Movement ning, not some "support group" ning.

8. Ask every once in awhile, not just what can the FMning do for me, but what I can do for it. And take action, alone and/or in collaboration, to help the movement.

9. Remember, I have the control of the controls of the ning, in terms of "delete" function (even though, I actually don't know all the logistics of how to manage it). Any of you can challenge and suggest to me how to better manage the site administratively. I'll listen and see what fits for me too. 

 10. Be aware, I in particular, wear many hats in the developing work of the FM, so I have an extra-intense commitment and also at times various role-hats may clash about or be confused by members. I think you'll get this soon enough. I'm a scholar-expert on the topic, as well, I am a practitioner and global citizen, etc. I also am some people's friend, allies, lover, and on and on. I am a mentor and leader for some, and I am not for others. There's not need to 'peg' me as "only" a this or that. I realize I may have privileged power and I trust you'll keep me in check on that. I don't need people to defend me, per se. I do though, like to have people support me (who doesn't?)... again, it will be complex, and I'll attempt to be as transparent as I can in how I lead the FM or administrate this ning. I am not wanting to "overload" you all either--that's really hard because I have so much pouring out (smile).

MENU ideas (this is just a start of real practical things that would help the FM, as I see it... you may have other ideas, or questions about this list... go for it):

1. someone (or some peoples) links this FMning on other social media like Fb or Twitter (either as a "job" regularly, or whatever)

2. members (one or more) take on the task of reading some of my book The World's Fearlessness Teachings and write a book review, endorsement, and post it (especially would be good on 

3. some members consider gathering in a special mtg. now and then, with some regularity and commitment (e.g., skype, or group telephone, or retreats, etc.) to discuss the vision and progress (or not) of the FM... how can we grow this baby across the lands and oceans of the world... the sooner the better... 

4. write a blog, post a photo, comment on other members, share resources and experience relevant to the FM

5. take on researching and writing Wikipedia entries: (a) keep the current Fearlessness Movement wiki pages updated and expanded, (b) start a new wiki page on any other term or concept (or add to wiki pages already up that could be supplemented with FM material), etc. (e.g., like a Fearlessness page)... 

6. take on projects like researching and writing a history of fearlessness

7. offer editorial and other skills to work people are doing

[I'll leave it up to you to add... you can see my biases... so, go for it]

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Crossing the bridge to a better world begins with crossing a bridge inside myself, from the addictive mental patterns of fear and separation, to enlightened perceptions of unity and love. I have been trained by the world to think fearfully, and today I choose to think with love.   - Marianne Williamson, A Year of Miracles

Over the decades I have become a kind of archivist for the Museum of Fearology, you could say. I collect quotes on fear and fearlessness and a number of people know that and send me stuff when they find it. A colleague (1) out on the W. coast sent this to me today, he's been looking at the FMning and then got this inspirational quote from Williamson in an automatic e-mailer he has signed up to with a spiritual organization. She is one of the current leaders of the teachings of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and other things very interesting on top of her ministry she has recently ran for a govenor post(?) in politics in California (with no success per se). I have admired her writing and punchy 'out there' leadership, especially encouraging women leaders. I also want to support her initiatives generally (via ACIM) as part of the Fearlessness Movement & Tradition (see my Wikipedia entry on Fearlessness Movement). It arose in the 1970s and is going 'strong' as far as I know, but I don't know that much in details up to date.

So, I also thought this was a timely quote to put up, as it is one of the things we all can do on our blogs. And then, as well as sharing interesting quotes on fear and fearlessness, etc., we also then can ask about their usefulness in terms of the FM. We can study these quotes and movements they come from (if they do)...and, add this to our education process on the FM. I see us all, potentially, as "architects" in the FM, a kind of meta-movement on fearlessness movements for the 21st century, as we attempt for the first time in world history to bring together the information on these movements and what these movements "teach" and have accomplished, or not. It is this synthesis that I see as essential to the future evolution of the FM (and any sub-movements that may spin off of this work). As well, we can also be out there scanning and seeing if there are other FMs that have not been documented as such. We can discuss these findings and ideas, as part of our building the knowledge-based (and archives) for future manifestations.

One question on my mind is: "What would the best fearlessness movement look like for the conditions of the 21st century?" 

End Note

1. Ian Wight, Senior scholar (retired) in City Planning, Faculty of Architecture, U of Manitoba; he wrote to me: "sounds like [FM is] a great gift to yourself and the wider field of fearlessness aficionados" (pers. comm., Apr. 20/15).


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Durwin's Integral Working Out of Anxiety

  • I was interested in Durwin's "Introduction" of himself through a graphic expression of his passion, and real challenges in life. You can read his blog posting and comments to follow. I highly recommend this short read of his article he is discussing and excerpting with his "Introduction" diagram see link below (article title: Integral Inquiry for Anxiety: Approach Your Fear with Mindfulness, Creativity, and Courage")... this is a working counseling model he's developing and would like feedback.

    I have read his piece, and have lots of notes and revisions of the diagram I would suggest... this is based on both my long experience of working with people with so-called "anxiety disorder" and or we could just call it "Fear Problem" issues... which our entire society (world) has as well-- I won't go into my comments right now (but soon)... and I'm thinking it's a topic that could maybe go on a FORUM or DISCUSSION platform here on the ning (?)-- among other topics over time... 
    Note: There are a few people who have signed-up, that I know of, like Durwin, Cecile, Janet, Barbara and myself who have a background for many years in "integral theory" (often associated with the integral philosopher Ken Wilber, but not restricted to his work)... and, this may surface, as I suspect, more than a few times, and just to be sure... this is not an "in-clique" or "club" of experts or esoterica... all of us are interested in better understanding integral approaches (which is like holistic) and to engage with others who don't know much about it... we are all here to learn, as far as I can tell... so, let's ask questions, be curious and sure, read and learn more... but there's nothing like "applications" to make it more fun to explore the integral perspective and its capabilities and limitations... 

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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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