Fear - Fear arising as a self-preserving mechanism post-Awakening
Q: Following Kundalini awakening, I am often acutely aware of frequent fear-arousing messages, which arise as “warnings” seemingly conveying that the organism’s life is literally being threatened. These “warnings” spontaneously arise throughout the day and night as sudden, deeply physical impulses, which could be labeled as “fear,” with no apparent connection to any content of conscious thought. After hearing you mention the reptilian brain, could it be that these primitive types of warning messages have always been generated within, but simply not noticed until wakening has been shining the light of Awareness upon them? Or, could it be that the nervous system is simply ridding itself of accumulated vasanas? Can you shed light on this phenomena?
First of all, I want to reassure you that that fear upon awakening — that fear as you said earlier in the question, “arising as ‘warnings,’ as fear-arousing messages of being threatened” — it is like a scenario, it is like a script. It is like, “Okay, we are going to make a movie, and we have already been given a script.” That is what happens in most cases — you have to be absolutely sure about it. It is almost a symptomatic behavior of that structure, of that set-up, which is about to undergo qualitative changes — radically — radically altering changes. That fear of course, is a self-preserving mechanism…
So that fear is universal; that fear is existential, universal, and also very predictable. I don’t know anyone who had no fear of this kind; I know that some were braver than others, but in classical examples and clinical examples that I have been exposed to, I can see that almost as the pattern. I must say awakening has to be real, so you must have experienced a real awakening, because sometimes people feel “blissy,” people feel elated, “Oh, wonderful.”
That is different, that is lovely, that is wonderful, but it is definitely that the process is on the expansion, and there is something going on. However, that doesn’t necessarily bring in the element of fear or threat, because there is nothing being threatened. The element of fear arises only when awakening is deep enough to literally — as you said very, very, very intuitively — you said that, “When awareness Itself sheds light” onto the very core of existential fear that we have. What are the existential fears?
Existential fear is that, “This organism is all that I have; this organism is my entire life.” In the primitive form it has to have that, because that literally reassures that the gene can be passed on — and on and on. If I don’t care about this organism, then I am constantly in danger of it perishing in the environment — and I am talking about those thousands and thousands of years back, so it has to be that element. However, with the awakening Consciousness suddenly realizes that, “I am not bound by this organism; I am not bound by anything, because I am just pure Awareness.” Just suddenly coming out of that, it sheds light, and literally stumbles on that structure where that immunological functioning and all of these inherited responses are now being brought to the surface — and of course that fear arises…
That awareness itself — awareness of that fear arising — implements it and is accompanied by simply witnessing it, and is already diminishing its power. I remind you of that over and over, that there is no need to fight that fear. You may say that some of us might have another attitude; some have a bold attitude, “Okay, tear me apart!” Apparently Ramakrishna Paramahamsa threw himself at the altar of Kali, and in anger demanded Self-realization; he demanded it, he literally expressed himself in that manner that, “Now — or bust! You reveal Yourself to me now — whatever is the cost!” Sometimes this works, but we cannot muster that unless it is part of our character — part of our apparent personality, you see?
You have to work with your own limitations, so just maybe breathe with that — breathe with that; simply bring your attention to that breath which is absolutely — absolutely not at all — attached to the body. You see, that freedom of the breath — the very meaning of the Hamsa, the very meaning of that Soham meditation based on breath, is precisely because that breath is the breath of life, right? The reason that I am saying that, is that I know you are aware of what I am talking about. Although it empowers the organism, it empowers this embodied Consciousness, breath itself is unattached. Breath comes and goes, but it is not attached to anything, any sensations; simply universal prana flows in and flows out, flows in and flows out. You are that breath, you are that Consciousness, in the form of that pranic flow…
Fear can only be at the level of the junction where that vital functioning breaks down that connection of the vitality — that physical vitality, that raw vitality of the organism. However, as soon as Awareness — which is all that there is — enters that subtler domain, then all of this fear just drops, and it usually does. Even in the awakening itself, if you have enough courage to say to that fear, “Yeah, I’m here — what’s up? I am not afraid because I am that Consciousness.” That fear has no power because it doesn’t even have a reality to support that fear. It all happens in awareness — you see it all happens in awareness — everything is lit up by that same power of self-awareness.
This very fear arises because what is being threatened is the status quo —and rightly so. Of course it is threatened, and of course, at that point, we feel, “What is going to happen to me?” because prior to that, everything was resting in the basket of our limited awareness of just this identification with this body-mind organism. We literally lived in the glory of that — and suddenly that is being threatened — brought to question. What do we do with that?
Do we remain in that, “Yes, I would prefer to stay within the confinements, within the contracted state of awareness?” It doesn’t even matter what we want for ourselves; if the power of awakening is strong enough, it will carry on, and that fear would have to be faced squarely — sooner or later. So my only suggestion here is to literally witness it face on, like with an attitude even, “Okay, here I am! What? What?” Face it with an attitude of complete courage — and see what happens — amazing things usually happen.
~ Igor Kufayev, Online Darshan transcribed Q&A Costa Rica, August 23, 2014
Om Namah Shivaya is the ancient Panchakshara Mantra or five-syllable mantra, which is at the heart of the Vedas and Tantra. It means "I bow to Lord Shiva"; Shiva is the Supreme Reality, the inner Self – thus, “I honor the divinity within myself.”
Vasanas are behavioral tendencies or karmic imprints which influence our present responses and behavior. The accumulation of these habitual tendencies is said to predispose one to particular, ingrained behavioral patterns in the future. They can be seen as the automatic, mechanical, or habitual ways we have of responding to situations.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a great saint of nineteenth century India. At one point he intensely experienced that he could not live any longer without seeing Goddess Kali, and threatened to take his own life unless She appeared to him. He later described how the goddess appeared to him as an ocean of light: "When I jumped up like a madman and seized [a sword], suddenly the blessed Mother revealed Herself. The buildings with their different parts, the temple, and everything vanished from my sight, leaving no trace whatsoever, and in their stead I saw a limitless, infinite, effulgent Ocean of Consciousness. As far as the eye could see, the shining billows were madly rushing at me from all sides with a terrific noise, to swallow me up. I was caught in the rush and collapsed, unconscious … within me there was a steady flow of undiluted bliss, altogether new, and I felt the presence of the Divine Mother."
Kali is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death; She is the goddess of time and change.
Hamsa or Soham is the Sanskrit for “I am That,” and it is said that this is a natural mantra repeated constantly by the breath.