Why do we fear?
There are only two emotional states, love and fear, and every other emotion and feeling have their roots in them. There are hundreds of words that we used to label variations of them, they have their own contexts and subtleties, but rather like cooking that produces infinite variations on the themes of salt, fat, acid and heat. We take these two states and play an emotional symphony on variations of them, anger would seem to come from fear and yet the anger we use in self-defence, can easily emerge from a mother's love, and the wonderful sense of clarity that anger brings, is its loving partner. Like the fable of the Eskimos having hundred words for snow, when they are only accurately describing the distinct types of snow that have a real difference for them. If wet snow can kill you and dry snow is only an inconvenience, you would have two different labels too.
It simplifies the world, when you are not trying to identify the particular shade of grey that someone is demonstrating, and instead just identify them as either rooted in love or fear, means you have more energy to deal with them compassionately. Asking what state my actions are coming from, gives you a quick clue as to whether an action is positive or negative, if it is a poor decision or a better one. The follow-up question of what would this action would look like if it came from a loving state, gives your comparing mind a chance to do what it is best at and select the better decision or action. When we only have two states to consider it means you can sort through actions at speed faster than having to sort them into hundred different boxes of emotions, and then decide which ones are better or worse. It is the kind of simplification that aids our rapid assessment of any situation.
It would seem that in such an emotional world, you would try to only ever act with love and you would try to rise above any fearful action. That you would try to banish all fear and treat any outbreak of it like a deadly infection, quarantining it and cutting it away like dead flesh. However putting aside the fact that the perfect is the enemy of the good, that trying to be perfect is a fools errand, which can only lead to self disappointment and even disgust at yourself. When being less than perfect is just the human experience, trying to banish fear denies you that very experience. The world contains many things that it is useful to be fearful of, fear empowers decisive actions, clarity of thought and more than that it provides contrast. You should be fearful of distortions in thinking and suicidal impulses, fear for your own safety is useful for pushing you to seek out help and mental health professionals who can do so, fear can care and protect.
You can only recognise love because of fear, some have described love as the absence of fear I prefer to think of fear as the space in between love. In the same way that sound is mostly made out of silence, time emerges from timelessness, so love is the silencing of fear and part of our journey as humans is learning to listen to love rather than the wild improv-jazz of fear, a chaotic mishmash of random noises. Fear is something that only consciousness can recognise, fear is something that happens because we can see into the future and predict what the outcomes are likely to be, love on the other hand is only possible in the moment. When we think about love in the future, it almost inevitably is accompanied by fear, either that we will never feel it or what love we have will be lost. In The Power of Now, Tolle describes this process better than I ever could, he says that when energy is directed towards the future or past, we are taking away energy now and weakening our connection with love. That is the source of love within us and available to us at all times by concentrating our awareness into the moment that is Now, which we connect to by watching our internal energy fields or listening to our quiet voice, our intuition and the inner depth that we all contain.
Fear is full of a staggering amount of information, it is a patient teacher of lessons that is always available to us and will reappear whenever we needed. It is the source of our feelings of resistance, whenever you are feeling resistance to something, that is fear alerting you in its most gentle form. It can be just a subtle discomfort or you can recognise that the mind is trying to avoid the subject, by distracting you with a thousand other thoughts and feelings. In what should have been a fun thought experiment, I tried to imagine what my life would be like if I had a income of £10,000 a day, what would my thoughts, actions and habits be, what would my life situation feel like, and instead of imagining a perfect day, my mind kept on getting lost in unimportant details, whether I would have milk delivered, would I want the hassle of owning twenty different homes, which one I would actually call home and a hundred other silly little fears and worries. My mind refused to focus on the big picture and got lost in the details, I'm still examining that resistance and it ended up being the more interesting question and one I am still trying to answer. That is what good question should do, root up your resistance like potatoes in the ground.
Fear provides us with signposts of our life, it guides our actions as the topography of the ground guides a river. When we see fear as the land through which we are taking the journey of life, we recognise it for the ground it is, it is not us, it is not part of us, we are beings of love having a human experience, the human part lives in a very dangerous world, it is part of the game where our stake is our life and we are going all in everyday. To have that human experience is to gamble with our lives and it would not mean anything without the risk of loss and fear is there to protect us.