Happy Bhakti Wednesday, everyone! I have a great question that someone sent in about the nature of fear and desire anxiety. So, today I'll speak to this from my own limited understanding and share what I've heard from sagely people much wiser than myself that has resonated with me.
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Hey everyone, this is Adam Elenbaas from Nightlight Astrology. Today's Bhakti Wednesday. And so we're going to spend time with a question that one of you sent in. I have a queue of questions you guys have sent in. It's a really good one about the nature of fear and desire, and anxiety. So we're going to take a look at that today. Before we do a few things, please first don't forget to like and, subscribe, share a comment in the comment section; I love hearing your reflections, especially on these bhakti Wednesday episodes where we're really sort of going more deeply into some of the topics or issues and challenges that we face in you know, everyday spiritual life. So be sure to do that. You can find a transcript of any of my daily talks on the website afterward if you want to reread something rather than take it in the audio form. That's nightlightastrology.com.
Well, a few announcements. Or one last announcement, I should say, before I get into it today. And that is that. You know, although I formally departed from the Hari Krishna tradition, you might be saying, a lot of people asked if I would still do Bhakti Wednesday might saying like, Well, why are you still doing a bhakti Wednesday talk if you're not, you know, if you're no longer identified as a devotee, or you're no longer, you know, a part of the Guru Parampara or, or what have you. So the answer to that is simple. And that is that I like the name bhakti Wednesday. And bhakti just means attachment, as in loving, devoted attachment. So, you know, for me, the loving, devoted attachment to the Divine. Whatever name we give it, and whatever tradition and the particulars of every, all the different traditions on the planet, the thing that first called to me about bhakti, the thing that I found appealing was that bhakti was about devotion to our source, that has not changed in my life. And I believe bhakti is still one of the most wonderfully evocative words. And you know, I spent a good amount of my life now in the bhakti faith tradition. And so we'll keep going with bhakti. But we'll broaden it so that we won't be just looking at things strictly from the standpoint of, say, the Bhagavad Gita or, you know, from strictly from within the yoga philosophy tradition, we'll sort of broaden it out a little bit and talk about the way that different people of different faith paths have addressed the different kinds of questions and issues of, of everyday life. So bhakti Wednesday will remain, but it will broaden in its scope somewhat. So I hope that that answers any questions that there might be about the nature of bhakti Wednesdays and, you know, kind of what's happening with them.
Alright, well, here's today's question. I have been having a lot of eighth-house transits lately. And I've been thinking about the nature of fear, why we fear, and at the same time, why we seem to desire what we fear and fear what we desire. And how can we eventually work to liberate ourselves of anxiety and fear? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Hope you have a great day. Well, thank you. You too. And, yeah, it's a good one.
I can speak to this from, you know, my own limited understanding, as well as the different kinds of things that I've heard, you know, sagely people much wiser than myself say about this and that I resonate with, right? So I will never forget when I was in the Amazon, drinking Ayahuasca and something that the shamanic lineage that I was working with and the teachers of that lineage had to say about fear. Because fear is a very common thing that you deal with in these ceremonies, in these ritualistic ceremonial settings, the fear of death, the fear of hell or damnation, the fear of yourself, the fear of the unknown, so many different fears that people I mean, one of the quintessential ways that people talk about or describe an Ayahuasca ceremony is that it is a confrontation with shadow and fear. And so, you know, with that, with that in mind, I found that some of what the shamans that I worked with had to say about fear were incredibly helpful. One of the things that I'll never forget was the idea that fear is what holds everything together.
That sounds kind of strange because when you think about fear, you generally think about something that you don't want to have like it's the opposite of peace. And you think about everything being held together, you typically think of it being held together in some state of blissful, peaceful unity in one on this. And it's not that this statement about fear contradicts that or cancels it out. There can be more than one truth about reality. And that's what's so profound about reality is that reality is very paradoxical in the way that it holds multiple different truths simultaneously. So that there is a sense in which properly understood the universe is held together by peace but also by fear. And this is something that Buddhists have said as well. So by that, what do we mean?
Well, as I understood it, it means that there is a, at least in this material universe, who knows about the realms beyond, but in this material universe, which is divine and good, everything is being held together by a kind of sacred tension. And that tension is inherent in all things. It's the vulnerability of death that is inherent somehow in life. And that, when we get in touch with this, and we become aware of it, and we learn how to carry it, that that is kind of the definition of initiation. Women, for example, many women, I think, have written this and said this, so I'm not saying anything new. But I don't want to mansplain something that, like, it's really a woman's wisdom. But I witnessed this in my wife, that giving birth because giving birth is so close to a death experience physically for many women. Some women have much easier, more graceful, beautiful, and uplifting, you know, labors than others. So I don't mean to suggest that there's only one way of giving birth. But many women experience birth as a kind of death. In fact, for many women becomes a rite of passage. Because not only in giving birth is your physical form, you know, feeling at times like am I going to die here, but also because once a child is born, as it's been said, and I can relate to this, even as a dad, it feels like your own heart is outside of your chest walking around.
So there's something just very natural about fear. Fear is why we love things because there's always that built-in tension and anxiety existentially that life is fragile. That the more that the farther away from that truth of how fragile and vulnerable we all are that we get, in some ways, the more ignorant and closed down, the more our consciousness is darkened. And so it's something that the shamans were explaining in these Ayahuasca ceremonies as a way of saying what most of you are getting in touch with right now is the fear that we are, in this modern world, accustomed to being protected from. Where we push it, we have so many comforts and conveniences which are blessings, but also, they can keep us from this inherent fragility that life is.
There's a lot of death around us. If you go walking in the woods for very long, you're going to see or experience or sense death from animal to animal, trees, plants, and manure smells; you just sense that it's there. You can imagine living in a time where that would have been more prevalent in our mind and our imagination, religiously and spiritually. There's a, there's always the subtle vibration of death and of ending, and it's so closely related to life that you can't separate them. So life is held together in this beautiful way by both the presence of kind of like that, peace and beauty and sense of Divine unity and harmony, but present within it like one of the notes carrying through, you know, like in a perfume or a wine or something like that one of the notes that's there is death. And so there's that tension, the muscles can get tense at any moment, right like that. So, to understand that fear is a part of life, first and foremost, as a basic part of what makes life sacred, it's really important to have that kind of relationship with fear.
Initiations for men, in many parts of the world, traditionally would involve exposure to death or the elements or rituals that were meant to bring someone close to death. They would even, in some cultures, mark cut a womb open on a man's leg, or inner thigh, as a way of replicating the womb and as a way of trying to artificially bring a man close to the experience that a woman might have during labor.
So why, why intentionally? Because there's something about that, that we have to come to accept if we get allergic to it, anxiety, not the sacred kind, but the real problematic kind, tends, it tends to be a byproduct of not having an incorporated understanding of fear, of danger, of impermanence of that sacred tension, of what makes this place real. So getting to know fear and being in right relationship with it has been a part of many spiritual and religious traditions.
Now, there's also the kind of fear that needs to be transcended, you know, living in fear, living in anxiety, where it's almost like that little element of the truth. It's not the whole truth, but it's an element of the truth of what makes everything sacred comes to dominate. And when it comes to dominate, and it takes over our mind, our body, our relationships, we might act possessively, obsessively, we might act kind of develop neurotic, you know, complexes, we may start to become delusional. And we may cease to trust ourselves, our experiences, or others. So, you know, that kind of fear is often the kind of fear that you'll also hear people talking about in spiritual and religious traditions as the fear that needs to be overcome.
But that does not mean that there is no place for fear or there isn't a difference between this kind of agitated state where the element of sacred anxiety has, like, taken over, you know, it's so that we need to make sure that we're aware of like, there's, there's a whole ecology and ecosystem of fear. It's not just one fear; it's not just one type of fear; there's not just one reason or purpose for fear. So right relationship with fear so that we don't fall into the byproduct of fear, when it takes over and becomes the lens through which we see and experience everything or a lot of things and like that.
Now, some of us may have more karma around fear than others, and some of us may naturally struggle with it more than others, the same way of saying the same thing. In which case, some of us may need to seek more aggressively the kinds of therapies, whether it's breath work, or healing work, or you know, physical modalities that can help us or therapy or even medicine, you know, different kinds of medicine. For, there's allopathic medicine, and there's herbal medicine, but just the point is seeking help. And some of us may need that. And it would be the worst thing in the world to tell someone struggling with fear that, well, you know, fear is part of nature, you know, just it's sacred, man.
Do you know what I mean? That would not be very compassionate. So, you know, a big part of the of dealing with fear and when we say being liberated from anxiety and fear, when you ask that question, how do we liberate ourselves from anxiety and fear? I don't think it's something we're meant to be liberated from. As much as it is something that we come into right relationship with. We're hence me mentioning the idea of initiations. Spiritual initiations can happen in big dramatic ways through rituals and ceremonies. They also happen just through living life, through going through trauma and finding positive ways of processing it and letting it inform our understanding about reality.
That doesn't happen for everyone. Sometimes it's, you know, you have a trauma happens, and it is not like an initiation. It's like just trauma, and there's no real silver lining. So I don't like to say unanimously that all trauma is initiating it can be, but sometimes it's just really damaging. But I don't think we want to liberate ourselves from anxiety and fear as in rid the world of it because it's here. It's part of what is its part of, it's the like I said earlier, it's the tension built into things that allows for, I'll never forget, like one of the images that just popped into my mind was when I was in a ceremony, and I had this Shaman was talking about fear, and I could hear all of the frogs croaking, like tons of them, you know. And because we were near a lagoon in the Amazon, and I remember hearing the frogs croaking. And this just sort of like it was just sort of like in a felt like very intense sentinels, like just croaking at attention. And I just felt this; I'd never quite heard it that way before. And as he was talking about fear, I just felt like, you know, fear is the tension that's there, you know, when someone's playing violin and hitting a high note, it's, it's in everything. And it's just not when we think of fear, we're like, I'm afraid of the dark, or I'm afraid of the boogeyman, or I'm afraid of making a mistake, or I'm afraid of, you know, I've social anxiety.
So I think, again, I think just starting with the very basic definition of fear that's inherent in this divine creation, that that helps, I think it really helps to start there, and to, to work to find its place in our psyche, and in reality, to give it sacred place, once it has sacred place, then you can assume that when it shows up in a way that is really overwhelming, that in a state where you desire to be free from it, that it, that it's a little, it's something different from it's like becoming a perversion or distortion of that sacred tension. And then I think, you know, it's all about strategies, whether it's meditation, or prayer or medicine, or you know, and it's like, everyone needs something a little different to help overcome anxiety or fear, the destructive kind, the kind that, I mean, let's, let's face it, fear in creation it has a destructive role to play. But creation entails destruction; they're part of each other.
But what we're talking about really is like, again, I would say it's like when you fall out of right relationship with it, and then it's like, it's different for every person, we know what we need to what we might need to help us overcome it so that it's not taking the steering wheel, we're not making choices from that space all the time, which as you mentioned, is very can be a very eighth house like it was a house that was associated with fear and dread specifically, of the future, and of the things in life that may be inevitable that we resist, or try to run from sales related to the eighth house.
Now, as to your question about why we seem to desire what we fear, I think that has to do with change. I don't know. It's a great question. But it's true. It's like what we fear is something it's often closely related to what we desire. Now, sometimes, that's a good thing, like sometimes being afraid of what we desire is a natural way of our conscience, or our higher self, our soul, our guides being like, don't go toward that, because well, what you desire seems like it's good, and it could be really satisfying. It will destroy something. For example, you might fear, you know, you might be attracted to something that you fear when you're in a relationship and you're thinking about someone else. Okay, well, in that case, you may be attracted to something that you're also afraid of, but that fear is probably, in at least in many cases, it's going to be enhancing a boundary and being like, don't go there, you'll destroy your whole family, you'll destroy so many other aspects of your life that are so good, that your fear is a way of checking your desire. So there's always that possibility that the fear and the desire are put next to each other because what we desire is not always good for us and comes with consequences. And the fear is a way of making us alert to that.
But on the other hand, sometimes we fear what we desire because it will create within us the need to change or transform, and we fear the change; we fear the death and rebirth entailed in moving towards something we desire, which might be inherently very good for us. For example, I know that when people well when people go to drink Ayahuasca or when people go to rehab, it's scary when people get ready. I remember I was terrified to propose to my wife. I was just scared because I was like, Well, this is like a forever commitment and, you know, like, I love her to death, you know, but like, what if something bad happens or you know, like, just all of the unknown ones that come with like, a commitment like that, or drinking Ayahuasca, I know this is going to be really good for me, but it's gonna be hard. And that's terrifying.
So the other thing is that I think in the opposite direction rather than fear, just checking a desire, because it may have a consequence that that fear is trying to protect us from. On the other hand, the fear can also serve the role of trying to, you know, holding us back from something that we may need to move toward, that will be beneficial for us, but we're scared to change, we're scared of the pain that may be involved in change. And that's an interesting thing that so many positive changes are scary because it involves, you know, a certain kind of letting go. So I think that that's the most basic reason why fear and desire are related to one another.
So I hope that this has been useful for you. Thank you for submitting the question. And I would just close by saying that if one of the roles that our spiritual activities should be playing in our lives, whether you go for a walk every day or whatever your rituals are that you include in your week or your month, things that you do in order to check in or take care of yourself, that one of the things that our spiritual practices should be doing for us, is making us more aware and more comfortable of the tentative nature of our condition. Because the more that we're aware of that, and okay with it, the more that fear and beauty, fear and sacredness, pain and beauty, they're, they're not in totally different, you know, like, like hemispheres or stratosphere is or something there. We see and understand that they live closely with one another. And the more that we understand that in our consciousness, the easier it is for us to embrace moments of anxiety because we understand they're beautiful and sacred; even if they're still anxious, it doesn't change the anxiety; we can also appreciate that, you know, the quivering of the heart, the racing of the mind is the same thing happens when you're falling in love with someone, why couldn't that be evidence when we experience it, that reality is worth falling in love with it, we're falling in love with it right now.
So but my point is, how can you really even get to that space if you haven't been through your daily practices, your rituals that you include in your life if you're not moving somewhat closer to a space where you can say like fear is a part of it, you know, fear is a part of this world in a, in a way, that's good. So anyway, that's what I've got for today. I hope that this was useful. Much love and prayers, and blessings to all of you guys. I hope you guys are having a great week, and we'll talk to you again soon. Bye.
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