Excerpted from the Podcast, Buddha at the Gas Pump #267
I often talk about the three stages of fear. There is the tangible fear–“I’m scared of dogs.” We can see what it is and we’re scared of it. But there is a more neurotic fear–where we have fear of fear! And often this fear is a by-product of suppressed emotions. This is when we have to ask ourselves “What kind of motion or action am I repressing?” And then there is also an existential fear–when we don’t know who we are. When we are longing to know who we are. This includes the fear of death and the fear of life. Both are existential. We have the fear of death because we do not know who we are. This existential fear can lead to a Dark Night of the Soul.
The dark night of the soul.
I’m reminded of the Sufis. They say you come to a state in your life when you realize that the whole of your life is meaningless. At this point you’ll either commit suicide or wake up! And as Warner Earhart says, “If you don’t see that life is meaningless you miss the point.” So the deeper and deeper you go into life, you start seeing that you’re never going to find the meaning of life here! When you see how meaningless life is in a profound way–your mind stops! You stop your desiring–otherwise you will desire into the future all the time. But if you start seeing life for what it is–hopeless, and that it doesn’t lead anywhere–then you can come into an awakening.
I want to tell you an authentic story. I had an old friend who looked around one day and he said, “My God, my life is so meaningless and has been so wasted.” And he felt like killing himself. So he brought a rope and was going to hang himself. And then he remembered that his father had also committed suicide–and thought “I can’t do it!” So he laid in his bed for three days looking at the ceiling. And then it came! His mind stopped! When the door closed and he could think of nothing left to do–his mind stopped. And that is when he obtained his liberation.
I very much encourage you to listen to the Buddha at the Gas Pump Podcasts.