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Fear and courage


In my text on silence of the soul, I posed acceptance as the opposite of fear. Perhaps, to some, this might seem somewhat counter intuitive since in general it’s ‘courage’ which is seen as such. But courage stems from acceptance and not the other way around. You have to accept the possibility of losing the fight before you can go to battle truly courageously.

When you recklessly charge without having accepted the possibility of failure then you’re either naive because you simply didn’t realize you could lose or you’re faking it and only acting tough while deep down you’re still scared. Without acceptance of possible weakness, courage is nothing but shallow stupidity or a futile attempt to hide your fear.

Silence of the soul

One weekend I shared a couple of silence and fasting days with some friends when a funny little Zen story kept popping up in my mind: There once were four monks that lived in a small monastery. One morning they decided to remain silent for the rest of the day and spend it meditating. They entered the meditation room, placed several candles around themselves, closed their eyes and submerged into meditation. After a couple of hours some candles began to go out. One of them remarked: “Look. The flames are dying out." The monk sitting next to him immediately replied: "ssssh!

Life does not go on

On the days before and after the funeral of my father-in-law – a very good man who, sadly enough, died rather young – people tried to console my wife and my mother-in-law by saying: “What can you do? Life goes on, doesn't it?” I kept silent not to offend anyone, even after hearing it about twenty times, but inside I felt a need to correct this well intended but sincerely misleading expression. Hence the words written here.

Let us be honest: life does not go on. In fact, that's exactly what the death of every person proves – their passing crudely shows how finite life truly is.

Self-giving and self-sacrifice

Giving hand

Those who've read some of my texts know that I perceive God's presence in all acts of true self-giving. When I once voiced this idea during a lecture, a listener remarked: “so you see God in the one who sacrifices himself,” he said, “but isn't that what suicide terrorists do as well?”

It's a legitimate question of course, but it stems from a wrong comprehension of the spiritual idea behind 'self-giving'.

Self-giving does not at all imply that we should 'sacrifice' ourselves. Self-giving implies that we should find a force that enables us to 'transcend' our self-focussed ego in order to be of service to others.