The cave you fear to enter
The best-selling poet in the United States is a 13th century Sufi named Rumi. The Sufis are the mystical sect of Islam.
Rumi wrote, “The cave you fear to enter may hold the light you seek. Jesus says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, it has pleased your father to give you the kingdom.”
In spite of these teachings, we do still feel fear at times. Our fears can be a warning to protect us from danger. At other times they are an invitation to growth. Fear in itself, while unpleasant, is simply a feeling, and therefore an object of attention of the ego self. It’s all right to feel afraid but like any object of the ego self, we need not identify with it. This is because it’s a passing thing. It’s not of our essence.
A conservative relative of mine told me that “conservatives don’t like change.” That’s another way of saying that they fear change. The Buddhists, though, say that “impermanence is life.” So, fear of change goes against the nature of life.
The path to growth, then, for my relative, is to explore the grounds of his fear in the recognition that change is in the nature of things. What might be the source of this fear? In essence, it’s a fear of the unknown, with all that that implies about what might become of the status quo. Will he lose power? Comfort? Convenience? A sense of competence? A sense of the familiar? Will he know who he is? Will he know what to do?
There are also control issues here. What gave birth to his need to control life? Perhaps an alcoholic parent? Maybe a string of very bad luck?
Flipping the political coin, liberals yearn for a politics based on truth and justice in which the cornerstone of our national psyche, that all “men” are created equal, is honored. Yet in their fear that this will all go down the drain if the electorate does not support it, some liberals work themselves to burnout, not trusting that there is a divine wisdom managing things. Along the way, they can forget to love themselves and become judgmental toward others.
The cave they fear to enter is failure. There is, then, a process of growth for both sides. On the other side of this process of growth comes new life, in the form of a rebirth of trust in the universe, a peacefulness in going with the flow. It looks like happiness, peace, confidence, liberating interior freedom, awe before the universe and a contentment by living in the all-important present moment. It is also characterized by a lighthearted sense of humor.
For the conservative, peace in the face of change they fear; for liberals, patience in the face of the slow pace of change. And so, whatever cave any one of us may fear to enter may hold the light we seek.
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.