|About David Spangler|
David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole.
If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is © 2014 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org.
~ David’s Desk, Current Issue ~
David’s Desk is my opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are my personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2014 by David Spangler.
The Center for Disease Control or CDC has been much in the news of late, primarily due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. This is an organization whose task is to monitor infectious diseases and prevent them from developing into epidemics or worse, pandemics.
The work of this organization is vitally important, especially as our world becomes more tightly knit together through the ease of air travel, allowing a disease to spread with unprecedented rapidity. Microbes do not respect political boundaries, and why should they? In many ways, this is their planet, making up by far the bulk of the biomass of all species; we just rent space from them!
The need for an organization such as the CDC arises because of the interconnectedness of society and of life itself. But we are equally if not more interconnected these days through the Internet, our minds and emotions in touch with other minds and emotions in distant places of the world. We can witness events occurring anywhere on the globe and feel their impact as if they were happening locally. Furthermore, if I’m mystically inclined, then I realize that as souls we have always been interconnected, part of a universal oneness. What happens to the least of us happens to all of us through the cosmic web of life.
With this interconnectedness in mind, it seems we are as fully in need of a “Center for Fear Control,” a CFC, as we are of a CDC. Maybe more so, for given our mental and emotional interconnections these days through media, fear can spread more widely more quickly than any disease, and it can create just as much if not more havoc. Under the right conditions, fear can be an ally informing us about danger and helping us to escape it. But it can also be a contagion, spreading from one person to another, sometimes directly but often indirectly along the invisible psychic web that connects us all.
We live in a fear-saturated society. Oh, much of this fear isn’t in the form of abject terror or unreasoning panic; the bulk of it is probably felt as a low-level but constant sense of anxiety and stress, often for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. All may be going well in my life and yet I can still be aware of feeling anxious.
This isn’t surprising. Just as there are sources generating physical pollution on a daily basis, so there are sources deliberately pumping fear pollution into our collective psychic environment. The most obvious are those like ISIL or Al-Qaeda, organizations who use terror as military and political weapons. Then there are governments who generate fear because a fearful populace is easier to manipulate and control. More subtly are modern economies that depend on fear to keep the wheels of commerce turning. Corporations may not use out and out terror to advertise their products but they play upon and even stimulate our anxieties to be accepted, to do the right thing, to look, smell, dress, and eat right. And then there are the religions that for millennia have used fear of God, fear of eternal punishment, fear of damnation, fear of the world to keep believers in line.
All of this stems from the very human idea that fear can be a tool to accomplish other ends and from a willingness to use this tool. It’s an ancient idea, one that any one of us may employ from time to time whether as parents, as bosses, or just in the struggle to get our way and to feel safe ourselves. Of course, as long as this tool of fear is an accepted and even applauded mode of human behavior, none of us can ever feel wholly safe for long.
The impact of the use of fear as a tool on human wellbeing is every bit as disastrous as any pandemic. It is a disease of consciousness, and its toll is greater than any disease of the body. And it makes us more vulnerable to those fears that arise from non-human sources, from viruses like Ebola or from the effect of earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, and other natural disasters. If we’re busy making each other afraid, how do we develop the calm, the resilience, the awareness, even the sanity to deal with something as monumental as climate change?
As I said, we live in a fear-saturated world. We need a Center for Fear Control every bit as urgently as a Center for Disease Control. We need to stem the spread of fear and develop ways of spreading courage and peace instead.
It’s not as if we have no tools to do this as well. We all know the power of compassion, of love, of kindness, of collaboration and goodwill. What is needed is the willingness to marshal and apply these tools at the right time. Perhaps what is needed more deeply is an understanding of their power. Right now, it can seem more reasonable to use fear to combat fear: make those who are terrifying us afraid instead and they will stop. But fear breeds fear the same way a virus breeds new copies of itself in different hosts. What we all have experienced is the power of fear; what many of us have not experienced in any meaningful way is the power of love or compassion, kindness or goodwill. Nor will we as long as we regard them as ineffective or otherworldly tools in the face of terror.
The Center for Disease Control, when faced with an epidemic, tries to find “Patient Zero,” the person in whom the disease first manifested and from whom it spread. But where fear is concerned, we are all Patient Zero. Humanity itself is Patient Zero. We don’t have to go further than our own hearts, our own minds, our own lives to find where fear can originate and a source from which it can spread.
But this is good news, for just as Patient Zero helps the CDC understand the causes of a disease, by looking at how fear lives in us, we can come to understand this psychic virus as well and learn how to deal with it in our own lives. We can become a CFC within our own lives.
There are many techniques for dealing with fear, some psychological, some religious and spiritual, some drawing on other resources. For years, I have recommended to my classes a book by Dr. William Bloom for those wishing to develop the skills of being a Center for Fear Control within themselves. This book is Feeling Safe, and I believe it’s one of the clearest and best books on this topic that you can find. It is a joy to read, for William is a writer of rare skill, and it is filled with wise insights and advice as well as practical exercises. William is one of Britain’s finest spiritual teachers and the author of many fine books, but for me, this is his best.
In fact, for anyone wishing to explore how to become a Center for Fear Control, there are many excellent resources available. As I said, it’s not as if this is a new or forgotten skill. It’s been at the heart of most of the world’s great religious teachings for millennia. What is necessary, though, is a willingness to forego fear as a tool, and this includes habits of self-fear—that is, habits of frightening ourselves to do what we think is best through any number of techniques of self-flagellation, judgment and criticism.
Indeed, one of the most powerful ways to start building a CFC in one’s own life is through forgiveness: forgiveness of others and forgiveness of self. We need to practice how to love ourselves in healing ways. It’s hard to be a Center for Fear Control if we fear ourselves because we see some part of who we are as an adversary.
In a future David’s Desk, I’ll look at some of the ways I go about being a CFC. But this month, I’d like you just to consider the idea and to imagine the possibilities of being a powerful Center for Fear Control in your own life. What would this ask of you? What would you need to do emotionally and mentally to make this happen? What changes would you need to make, if any?
There are many dangerous and life-threatening places and situations in the world today. Those who are in such places have real fears to worry about and to deal with. The challenges are neither subtle nor imaginal but very physical. Overcoming fear and becoming a CFC may take extraordinary courage and presence of mind and heart in such a place where conditions may make simple survival one’s first and main priority. It may be beyond a person’s capacity.
But many of us do not live with such genuine terrors where our well-being is under daily siege. Our lives are not routinely threatened. For such blessing, we can be thankful. But living in relatively peaceful surroundings, we have the ability to go beyond the fearful images and subtle energies our society generates and tap the deep sources of joy, love, calm, and compassion. We can be Centers for Fear Control, standing in courage, standing in joy, standing in peace, and radiating these qualities into our collective unconscious in ways that those who do live under threat have a greater chance to feel their blessing. We are all interconnected, after all, and if these connections can spread fear, they can also spread calm and steadfastness, love and forgiveness.
If we are collectively Patient Zero, then individually we are the vaccine that can cure this disease. We have immense inner resources to stand in the midst of the fear saturating our world and begin to transform it. We can each be a CFC individually, and we can be an even more powerful CFC together. Right now, I can think of no higher or more urgent calling in our world.
To learn more, explore this website, read the Lorian blog, view a short video, read past David's Desk posts or engage self study work. View the Calendar to learn more about other classes.