There was a monk who pestered Buddha about the finer points of life, philosophy and the universe.
He felt that Buddha had the answers, and with a little more knowledge, all would be sorted.
Clearly he couldn’t make any commitments yet; he’d need time to assess and consider the information given.
But when he knew everything, then he would commit. Then he would start the journey.
Buddha gave him short shrift.
He rudely told him he was like a man wounded in battle, who refuses treatment for himself until he knows the full name of the person who has injured him and which village he comes from.
He will die before he gets his useless information.
‘Do not fear to live the teaching just because you do not know all the answers yet,’ he tells the monk.
And we might go further. Do not fear to live, full stop, for we cannot live in fear. Fear is an illusion and there can be no life in illusion.
Fear is no recent arrival on our premises, of course, and will not quickly leave.
It developed layer upon layer in our childhood as we learned the art of survival.
The first part of the human brain to develop beyond the womb is that which deals with fear, anger and satisfaction.
When we were at our most vulnerable, it was fear that alerted us to imminent danger.
It was fear that encouraged us to contort ourselves in order to survive. And those contortions became our very texture.
Fear was important, fear was our friend. We are alive now because we were fearful people.
But what helped us then does not help us now.
Fear is a foundational part of our personality; but not presently an energy for our well being.
Our substantial self knows no fear; unlike our personality, it is unscarred by life. It remains hopeful, vibrant and strong.
Life emerges as we respond to this truer self and allow the unfolding. In such submission, there is no one who can hurt you.
So you step out now.
You start from yourself at this moment in time, and meaning and truth are discovered in the journey, whether it brings mountains, shipwrecks, buried treasure, dead ends, sunsets, wounds, avalanche or rainbow.
It may bring all of these.
(This is an extract from my book ‘The Journey Home’ published by Bloomsbury.)