On my way into Central London, the day after the Manchester bomb attack, I passed a newspaper stand filled with headlines screaming messages of fear: “soldiers on the streets, evil versus innocence etc, etc”.
In contrast, in Trafalgar Square, stuck to the pavement were messages of love for Manchester, Baghdad, Aleppo and many other cities where attacks have taken place. I was moved to tears by this simple and powerful response to suffering and fear.
And I reflected once again on the connection between love and fear………….
I have come to realise, hidden at the heart of fear is not the cold, hard, soul shattering pain we imagine, but in fact the soft, welcoming embrace of love.
It seems to me fear and love are intimately connected. Fear is born of great love. Without great and abiding love, fear could not exist.
Love of self, others and life is innate. This is our birthright. Fear manifests when we feel that self, others or life is threatened. The depth of our love is reflected in the depth of our fear. The greater our love, the greater the fear.
Why does fear drive great suffering, cruelty and ‘evil’ actions?
The logical outcome of the perceived threat to ourselves, those we love or things we love is, that, unless we act, the threat may manifest and destroy us, those we love or things we love. When you love something utterly, to see it destroyed, annihilated and turned to nothing is the greatest sorrow you can imagine. To cease to be is something one would fight against. An outcome one would try to prevent at all costs.
When someone or something we love is threatened, human beings will go to any lengths to protect that person or thing. We’ve all heard stories of mother’s displaying super human strength to rescue infants in peril.
Just as the lioness will protect her cub so individuals, families, communities and countries will act to protect that which they love.
Fear based actions cause suffering. Looking at the number of actions like the bomb in Manchester causing injury, death and destruction to selves, other and the planet, around the world, fear seems to have the upper hand.
Does it have to be this way?
To transcend fear, is to find your way back to the feeling of love at the heart of fear. The love that drives fear is the love we can experience but it is also the love that is our essence; the love from whence we came.
What if you realised that you and those you love can never be damaged, never be annihilated or destroyed?
I am not talking about the physical body which can of course be damaged nor am I talking about this human existence, which of course comes to an end. What I am talking about is the intelligence behind life, the innate essence, the divine spark, the life force, Buddhahood, spirit or soul. Call it what you will.
That part of ourselves, the fundamental core of ourselves is eternal. It is inviolate.
When we realise there is nothing, literally no-thing that can damage, hurt, annihilate or destroy the essential essence of ourselves and those we love, then fear dissolves and in its place we are flooded with love. As our heart fills and overflows, we see those who act out of fear with compassion.
Fear has a role and indeed it is a mighty and heroic emotion which will rightly take the stage when you are faced with an imminent attack from knife, lion or meteorite.
This primeval and instinctive fear will flood the body with adrenaline and lead to physical feats unthinkable in a calm state.
But the fear being felt around the world right now, is a ‘dread in the belly’ that comes from an innocent misunderstanding of where well-being comes from. And fear, as we see, causes all kinds of acts of violence.
No one with love and peace in their heart would think of killing another.
Does this mean we stand back and pretend suffering is not happening?
No. It means we disengage from the story of ‘dark times’, ‘worrying times’ and instead tap into the love and compassion we are made of. Or as Elsie Spittle, Michelle Obama and countless others have said,
From there, new ideas and actions will bubble up that bring light and love to yourself and those around you. It may move some to stand for office, others to begin programmes in their communities or schools, others to heal old wounds with family members or friends and others to lobby, write books, attend marches or just hold their loved ones close.
So don’t be afraid to reach into the heart of your fear to find the great love that dwells at its core.
This article was written in November 2016, but it seemed appropriate to publish it today 27th May 2017, with love, for all affected by the bomb attack in Manchester ❤️