Fear of the Future – A New Approach

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ELIZABETH: Sometimes I feel such fear of the future. It is overwhelming.

STEPHEN: This is a common experience for us as human beings. It requires a very difficult discipline. I don’t intend to make this sound easy, but I do intend to make it sound very simple. The fear about what is to come next, the fear of the future is a mistranslation of a rich, creative possibility. You are being grown; you are being expanded; you are being given direction, always. This direction is toward greater evolutionary possibilities and greater acts of creativity.

Energies come to meet the body, and the body has been taught habitually to close down, in various ways, on these energies. At the same time, the mind seeks a certain kind of ownership of these energies, and the mind can actually translate creative pulsations into: Fear of the next step, fear of the future, fear of what is to come. This process becomes self affirming because the energy has become roped in and tied up by the mind, and therefore, the energy can only be limited in its creative possibility.

What we are talking about in this work is: Coming to the fear, experiencing the fear aesthetically, feeling the fear without the meaning and being offered someone’s support in doing that. This moves you toward the place where the fear – or what appeared to be the fear – is transformed into the next step instead of getting locked into the fear of the next step.

What is the fear of the next step, is also the next step because the next step must always be the expansion of a place that is less expanded. This is what the next step is; it is an expansion of the present step. This expansion occurs as the creative, evolutionary energies press against our slightly closed door. Unless we understand what is occurring, we make something up. That making something up can be fear. But the very energies in that fear are the same energies expanding the step we are on, to become the next step.

A lot depends on, when we come to the so-called negative things, negative feelings in our lives, whether we trust that we are being moved, that we are being lived, that we are being expanded toward greater possibilities or whether we believe that the functions of the body and the functions of the mind are to protect against an unkind, haphazard universal experience that is, “out to get us” in some way. A central belief of the ego mind is that the outside is a frenzy of attack, “out to get us.” It believes the only recourse is to build to a defensive structure in the mind and a very stiff and tough defensive structure in the body. When this is done, the guidance itself becomes fearfulness. The guidance itself becomes guilt. The eros of life becomes anxiety. If our choice is to go to the anxiety or to the fear, without getting consumed in meaning, we will discover, right there, the next step and not the fear of the next step.

Oftentimes, the mind, having nothing to play with and fantasize about except truth, can give you a very clear indication of something sublime about yourself even in its negative conclusions; that is, I am afraid of the next step; there is a next step coming; I know that; I am defending myself against it through this anxiety. We just work with this patiently. There is no moral failure if we go back into thought. There is no failure at all in the entire process. It is a matter of continually offering the possibility of growth through spacious attention and through allowing, what we call fear, to become creativity.

There is a great, great opportunity for each human being to understand that the next step always is accompanied by some form of pain. Therefore, the pain is not our shortcoming. It is not our neuroses. It is not our weakness. It is the healing process. It is the place where we have been tied down being expanded. It is the place where we have been wounded receiving life giving energy, receiving the life current. It is only when we defy the natural ecological and evolutionary process with our own personalized ego slant that we suddenly see something uncreative about the majestic, creative possibility at hand.

The pain is always the process of expansion. The pain is always creativity meeting the place that is not quite ready for it to express smoothly. The pain always the greatness working through the body that has been hurt and toughened and tied down in various ways. The pain is always a message: Return to the radiant center; return to the grounded space. The pain is nothing other than this. It is always an evolutionary message. It is never a message of hate. The universe does not send messages of hate to the human body. It says: Return, return, expand, create. It says this even in its pain.

As the process of caring for oneself becomes built into the system, there are shorter gaps between getting involved in what you would call a real mind trip and coming to explore the possibilities. There are times, when we practice, that it happens more automatically than others. It is often true that the biggest step is accompanied by the biggest flurry of confusion. We can, in a sense, know the power of what is at hand for us by the dimension of our confusion because we have not been there before. The mind operates only by reference points lodged in the past. So if we have not been there before, and it is much bigger than where we have been standing, there is a natural inclination to try to make it into something we know. And that process does not work.

We have to come back to the body and be willing to open into an experience where the reference points are dissolved and where a kind of spaciousness exists. This is the ignition from step one to step two. It is built on the primary understanding that, in this ecological and evolutionary universe, nothing is wrong except what we are telling ourselves is wrong. If we are going through a major crises, it means we are going through a major dismantling of reference points. There is nothing more creative than dismantling reference points because those reference points do not represent the truth.

Evolution, in this sense, is the movement toward the body, is movement into the Presence, is the movement away from reference points and into creative expansion. Our role in the evolutionary process is to cooperate and not congest. Our role is to cooperate with these energies no matter how often we have told ourselves that they are dangerous, that they are wrong.

What we are speaking about here, in the end, tests the metal of a so-called spiritual belief that many of us have been given and want to hold, which is: We are innocent; we have not changed. To know that as an idea is hogwash; to practice it is a living truth. The danger with so much spirituality is that the most sublime ideas get lodged in the information container and never get translated into the nitty gritty practice of what it means to live in community on this earth. This is what we are doing here: Affirming innocence, affirming over and over again our innocence. It is the mind itself with the claws suggesting we are wrong or guilty or inadequate or a failure or any of these other things.

At the very same time, if we go into that dance – I am no good, I am wrong, whatever it is that we fall toward – it is not a failure either. There is no failure in this system. It is just staying with it. It is just cooperating with the energies. It is just being with ourselves.

Copyright 1993: Estate of Stephen Robbins Schwartz. All Rights Reserved.

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