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~ January 2008 Supplemental ~

by: Rev. Karen Tate

Cont . . . You know fear. We’ve all been there. At a minimum, it is a feeling of “otherness” that isolates us and causes us to doubt ourselves. Or it can elevate way beyond that causing us to impulsively act in ways that are illogical, life-threatening, and against our own long term benefit. Fear must be transcended - and can be transcended, but first we must understand the science of fear, and fear’s close cousins, hate and anxiety. It’s in our human DNA - it is a primary reaction for survival. If primitive man and woman didn’t pay attention and flee from the rustling bushes, they might have been eaten and humanity would not have evolved so we can be here together today. It’s as simple as that. We are wired to respond to fear more quickly than logic. Fear usually always overrules reason. It’s a powerful, primal reaction. When you feel your mood change and your body react and become tense, fear is taking over and needs to be kept in check. Knowing, logically, that this is the human condition, we have the first tool to battle fear.

Think about that the next time you open the newspaper or turn on the news. And dare I say, the POWERS THAT BE often encourage that fear within us with talk of World War III, with moronic suggestions that plastic tarps and duct tape can protect us from nuclear fall-out, or color coded terror alerts constantly raising and lowering awareness, keeping us on an emotional roller-coaster and off balance - even strategically timing alerts for political gain. When we constantly receive these pictures and take in these words and thoughts, our clarity becomes distorted - we are more easily manipulated. From this fearful place, we might be more easily duped to look for a white knight who can ride in and save us.

I’m going to suggest to each of you today, YOU ARE YOUR OWN WHITE KNIGHT.

If our leaders have failed us and there is no longer anyone in the public arena telling us or our children we are powerful, we are capable, we have nothing to fear but fear itself, then we have to tell ourselves. We have to value ourselves and step forward into fearlessness, removing the obstacles that prevent us from doing so. Perhaps that means creating a community of support. It might mean being a trailblazer yourself - even if you are afraid - because by your action, your seeming fearlessness, the very act of your trying, that energy is contagious and inspires and gives another permission to try, to risk, to act.

Maybe by now you see I’m not just talking about politics. I’m talking about stretching ourselves, challenging ourselves, trying to accomplish things we might feel are a bit beyond us. It is a journey of becoming, of growing, we all must take and we cannot be afraid of the journey because it is the journey that steels us, it’s the trying, the praying, the challenging, the seeking, the very act of DOING that staves off fear and fills us with hope and inspiration. The destination doesn’t necessarily hold the reward. The reward comes from that which has been gleaned from the journey. The destination is just where you take a deep breath, relax, and reflect - after the journey has molded you.

Sometimes, as we get older, we naturally become more fearless. We’ve weathered a lot of storms and we are not so easily daunted. We might be more willing to try things, to throw spaghetti against the wall and see what might stick. And if we are fortunate enough to be in that place or mind-set, it might be a good thing to help those around us to believe in themselves, to encourage and support one another, particularly women to women, rather than compete or diminish one another.

And we don’t want to spout empty platitudes. Neither are we going to tell you to go out and SHOP to ward off evil or to prevent bad things from happening to your family. The more aware and enlightened among us know the end game is not “those with the most toys win.” Was it Jesus who said the rich man has a better chance of passing through the eye of a needle than entering the gates of heaven?

We are going to give you a few options that you can carry forward with you into your everyday life that might be useful tools, or a springboard for your own ideas to keep yourself inspired and cultivating HOPE and thereby keeping fear and hopelessness at bay. And soon, if you take baby steps, it will become part of your psyche and your new paradigm. You’ll find yourself rising to challenges more easily, meeting bigger and bigger challenges with less and less fear and trepidation and you will not be so easily duped, confused or manipulated.

But remember, we have to work against our brain’s programming - and that’s all it is. The fear impulse sometimes keeps us safe, but it often has nothing to do with logic and may cause us to act against our own best interest.

According to Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University psychology researcher, “Negative emotions such as fear, hatred, and disgust tend to provoke behavior more than positive emotions such as hope and happiness do.”

Edmund Burke, 18th century political theorist observed, “No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.”

We must act to transcend the fear, and there are many coping mechanisms.

∙ Contemplate Goddess and/or the Divine Couple and your connection to

  Her or Them
∙ Use meditation to go within and find stillness
∙ Use breathing techniques or physical activity to ward off anxiety and

∙ After a good night’s sleep, everything looks better in the morning!
∙ Recall images or thoughts that make you feel powerful

Some of my favorite images are Sekhmet’s fiery eyes like lasers removing obstacles, or two scenes from The Lord of the Rings movies. One is where Gandolf stands before the demon, alone, with only his personal power and staff. He commands the demon, “You shall not pass!” Gandolf prevails. The second scene is in the final movie of the trilogy when another demon beast is coming for one of the warriors and tries to intimidate with, “No man can kill me!” The warrior reaches up and whips off her helmet to reveal she is a woman and shouts, “But I am not a man!” and she slays the beast dead.

Gandolf and the female warrior transcended fear in their doing as we too may do our best work and accomplish amazing things once we are no longer afraid of death or failure.


For information and location for Sacred Sundays go to:


Eat, Pray, Love by: Elizabeth Gilbert
Penguin Books, 2007

Cont . . . She is far stronger than she sounds in the first section, pandering to her passionate love of food, and wandering the streets of Rome. I admire her devotion that gets her up at 3:00 in the morning to chant and meditate (and scrub floors), and doesn’t end until 9:00 pm. We move through the days with Elizabeth, watching the sun rise, meeting fellow Ashram visitors from around the world, and her struggle with remaining silent (boy, do I recognize that little negativo!) She had first thought to live a short while at the Ashram, then travel to other sacred sites in India, but decides to stay the whole four months.

Next stop–Indonesia for the Love section. She arrives in Bali to find out that she’s only allowed to stay in the country for one month, not four. Stepping into the real world, she realizes she hasn’t a clue how to contact the Balinese medicine man whom she’d met two years before in the states. Was he even still alive? Because the Balinese are ultra friendly and English is widely spoken, she finds out where Ubud is, where the nearby (she has forgotten the name) village is, and most importantly, where Ketut Liyer, her medicine man is. She must find him since he predicted those two years ago that she would come to Bali and “live with him”. Of course, she has no idea what “live with him” means in this foreign country. “Maybe I should have thought all this through better,” she cleverly decides. You think? The people she meets in Bali are wonderful, colorful, newly found friends.

Eat satisfies her taste buds. Pray satisfies her soul. Love satisfies her emotions. This book is set into 108 chapters, or tales. It matches the japa malas found around Indian Yogis necks and in practitioners’ hands as they chant. The beads number 108 because according to some Eastern philosophers, it is an propitious number–a perfect three-digit multiple of three (a sacred number in many religions), its components add up to nine, which, of course, is three times three. So, a very sacred number. And the tales in this book are 108. It is a perfect, sacred book. If you’re looking for a ‘how to’ book, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for reading about one woman’s spiritual adventure moving around the globe, this is it. Enjoy the journey, then give it to a friend.

In the introduction, Elizabeth explains the japa mala’s 109th bead. “In any case, every japa mala has a special, extra bead–the 109th bead–which dangles outside that balanced circle of 108 like a pendant. I used to think the 109th bead was an emergency spare, like the extra button on a fancy sweater, or the youngest son in a royal family. But apparently there is an even higher purpose. When your fingers reach this marker during prayer, you are meant to pause from your absorption in meditation and thank your teachers. So here, at my own 109th bead, I pause before I even begin. I offer thanks to all my teachers, who have appeared before me this year in so many curious forms.”

I thank Elizabeth Gilbert for her 109th bead. I learned from her teachers, through her. I also thank her for the laughter and the tears I shed while watching her grow.

Reviewed by: Jeanne Clark. Now available at Temple of the Goddess Bookstore.