Conversation with Buddha and TMichael: Fear of Death and Life
TM: How does one accept death and the will to live at the same time?
Master Buddha: That’s not so easy to explain or understand. The reason is because of attachment to living and then attachment to accepting death in order to be free from fear. There is, in between the actual truth of acceptance of death and the first step, a period of elation at no longer sensing any fear around dying. When the fear of dying has so long ruled the physical life it is quite a relief to no longer walk in fear of it. However, there will come a test. And that test will present an option to die or an option to live and that is when you’ll discover how attached you are to the notion of dying versus the notion of living and which one actually carries the most fear. There are two parts to the fear aspect of living in the flesh. The first is fear of dying and that preoccupies all your thoughts, emotions and energy to avoid its actuality. Then there comes the fear of living, which exposes all the painful self-inadequacies. That’s enough to make one embrace death, now no longer feared, as an escape from the fear of living.
Just as one has to face the fear of death, one has to face the fear of living. The fear of living is the more difficult of the two because it is more difficult to imagine. Death is universally the same, except perhaps in the actual method or circumstances of death. Living on the other hand can be a slow form of death or a joyous expression of all that is. You can choose which it is. Again, just because one has the power to choose doesn’t make it easier. You must understand what it is that you are choosing and have the skills to choose according to your individual nature.
TM: So, my question assumed there was no fear of living, only fear of dying. How does the will to live then resolve with the fear of living?
Master Buddha: The will to live requires no effort because it is your innate spiritual will, which in the flesh is instinctual. The fear of living is concerned with those matters of quality and choice. How shall one live? What occupation shall one choose to provide the essentials of living? Shall one create a family, a marriage? What will engage my thoughts and my energy? Those are the questions of living that determine the quality of one’s life.
TM: Where do the self-inadequacies come in?
Master Buddha: That is the lifetime struggle for most humans. It depends greatly upon the wisdom of one’s parents and the living environment that one is exposed to during one’s formative years. But even under the best of circumstances it is unavoidable to deal with self-inadequacy to some degree. In the middle, that which is normal, one sees that before a child reaches school age already the seeds of self-inadequacy are planted and many more shall also be planted during the years of attending school. This is a tremendous challenge to change because parents are still struggling with their own self-inadequacies while trying to raise children, schools are populated with adults who are struggling with their own self-inadequacies and of course the children are in the thick of it as well.
TM: So, if I understand what you’re saying, it is self-inadequacy that is the root of our fear of living, not fear of dying.
Master Buddha: Fear of death is first, but it’s a mask for fear of living based upon self-inadequacies. One must first confront fear of death and then begin the process of awareness of self-inadequacies and correction in order to reach the joy of living instead of the fear of living.
TM: What similarity is there between self-confidence and self-adequacy? In Western culture anyway, adequate is mediocre and not good enough if one is to get ahead in life. So where does this reconcile?
Master Buddha: Well, adequacy is a relative term in this case. If the standard in Western society is excellence then that is what is meant by adequate, that is one must be excellent to be self-adequate.
Self-confidence can be genuine or a rationalization that one has created to cover for self-inadequacy. There are only a handful of truly self-confident people, those who have mastered the fear of death and the fear of living. Most people are spread along the spectrum of self-confident, yet still self-inadequate underneath, to self-inadequate as a constant in their daily lives. The meaning of self-confident is to be truthful with one’s self. So, in that case, there can be a conscious level of self-confidence and fears around self-inadequacy at the same time. What I mean, is that you can be aware of your perception of self-inadequacy and still be self-confident in an honest way. That is the point of transition that many people find themselves now. They are exploring self-awareness, which leads to coming face to face with their self-inadequacies, which is giving them a genuine self-confidence that they are progressing toward joy in living. It’s not always perfect and there is still illusion, but it is in the right direction.
TM: Can any of us really be inadequate?
Master Buddha: That’s for each person to determine.
TM: Yes, but we’ve determined for the most part that we are inadequate and you’re saying that’s a problem. So, clearly we’re incapable of making this judgment.
Master Buddha: And by what standards have you determined that you are inadequate?
TM: We set the standard by looking around us and seeing the ones among us who are adequate and then compare ourselves to them.
Master Buddha: And how do you know what makes someone adequate?
TM: We’ve determined through our social consensus the traits that are desirable and those are the ones that form the foundation of our adequacy. Then there are individual traits that one can have that deviate from the social norm that enhance our adequacy.
Master Buddha: So, under your system the guidelines are derived by social consensus and then measured by each of you as you see it in others in contrast to yourself. Do you see others who are less adequate than you are?
TM: Of course we do. There are others who are more and some who are less.
Master Buddha: Have you ever heard someone say really flattering things about you and you felt those things weren’t true?
TM: At first it feels good to hear those things, but there have been times then when I doubt those things are entirely true, maybe a little.
Master Buddha: Do you tell yourself about your qualities that make you adequate?
TM: Not often, but sometimes.
Master Buddha: Do you tell yourself about the times you are inadequate?
TM: Probably more so than the other way.
Master Buddha: Why is that?
TM: Because I’m inadequate more often than not?
Master Buddha: Well, you were a good sport to fall into my trap on this one. Although I know that a part of you believes there is much truth in what you said. It’s hard in this world to counter the many messages of self-inadequacy. And that’s what everyone wants the most, to feel adequate and have others recognize them for this. It’s understandable that if you are telling yourself than you are inadequate that you would turn to others to get the feedback that you are adequate. What happens though when they confirm your belief that you are inadequate?
TM: That’s the worse when it all coincides to tell you that. That’s the worse kind of depression and despair I think; to feel worthless and incapable of living a good life.
Master Buddha: You have a fairly simple prayer that you recite to accept yourself as you are and know you are loved. Because ultimately adequacy has to do with being lovable, don’t you think?
TM: Are you saying they are synonymous?
Master Buddha: I think so, even though adequacy has to do with a performance of talents that in total can make you lovable, what is someone if they are adequate but unlovable? Are they happy? What if they conform to all of the social standards of adequacy, yet they don’t feel others see them in that light and they don’t experience love in their lives?
TM: Well, that pretty much sucks. So you become bitter or you try harder and harder to prove your adequacy, and lovability I guess.
Master Buddha: What is the prayer that you recite?
TM: It’s Love in Abundance. There’s one line in particular that resonates with me in terms of self-acceptance and self-love. “I am that I am and thus receive the blessings of love in abundance.” If I’m feeling critical or judgmental of myself, I often recite that line with a substitution for “that I am”. It could be, “I am selfish and inconsiderate and thus receive the blessings of love in abundance.” It has the effect for me of embracing the worse things I could think about myself in love and then I just feel love and not the power of the criticism or judgment.
© TM 2015