~ January 2008
HOPE AND FEARLESSNESS
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
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
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
∙ Contemplate Goddess and/or the Divine Couple and your connection
∙ Use meditation to go within and find stillness
∙ Use breathing techniques or physical activity to ward off anxiety
∙ After a good night’s sleep, everything looks better in the
∙ 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.
and location for Sacred Sundays go to:
Eat, Pray, Love by: Elizabeth
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
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
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