Pema Chodron on Fear and the Warriors of Nonaggression

Pema Chodron on Fear and the Warriors of Nonaggression

“You want to be comfortable, so you scramble for ground, and often that is blaming someone else, attacking someone else… and in the attempt to get some ground under their feet, people steal, people lie, people kill, and people even torture. [Not] because they want to feel worse, but because what they’re feeling in the pit of their stomach is such a groundless, insecure, uncomfortable, wide-open, nothing to hold on to, open-ended experience that they just want to find something to hold on to. Something that represents security.”

“Go in the direction of violence and aggression, or in the direction of sanity and non-aggression.”

“The main teaching is that you actually can turn towards it [fear]… the fear itself is the vanguard of courage. Something arises as fear and then what happens next? Does it go in the direction of aggression and striking out against yourself or others, or does it go in the direction of confidence, of gentleness, of courage and tender-hearted bravery?”

“If you practice the kind of patience that leads to the de-escalation of aggression and the cessation of suffering, you will be cultivating enormous courage.”

“Aggression is an energy that is determined to resolve the situation into a hard, solid, fixed pattern in which somebody wins and somebody loses.”

“Actually, a person in distress are far more rational than a grounded person who harms us, for that so-called sane person has the potential to realize that in acting aggressively he is sowing seeds of his own confusion and dissatisfaction. His present aggression is strengthening future, more intense habits of aggression. He is creating his own soap opera. This kind of life is painful and lonely. The one who harms us is under the influence of patterns that could continue to produce suffering forever.”

“Those who train wholeheartedly in awakening unconditional and relative bodhicitta are called bodhisattvas or warriors—not warriors who kill and harm but warriors of nonaggression who hear the cries of the world. These are men and women who are willing to train in the middle of the fire. Training in the middle of the fire can mean that warrior-bodhisattvas enter challenging situations in order to alleviate suffering. It also refers to their willingness to cut through personal reactivity and self-deception, to their dedication to uncovering the basic undistorted energy of bodhicitta. We have many examples of master warriors—people like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King—who recognized that the greatest harm comes from our own aggressive minds. They devoted their lives to helping others understand this truth. There are also many ordinary people who spend their lives training in opening their hearts and minds in order to help others do the same. Like them, we could learn to relate to ourselves and our world as warriors. We could train in awakening our courage and love.”

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