Monday, May 16, 2011

Rocking Our Fears in the Cradle of Loving Kindness

Dearest Readers,

Fear of Death is my bogeyman. I've embodied it in drawings and creatures like The Body Processor and The Life Trapper, below, who suck in body parts and spew out spiritual energy.

Recently I've been making "Safety Wear", which are magical clothes designed to impart protection against harm, risk or anxiety. Some of the clothes are enabling attire, like the Bravery Jacket (left) and the Consciousness Cape (right) to keep me awake and aware.

Last weekend I volunteered as an aide at the Decatur, GA Shambhala Center for the Level 2 Spiritual Warrior program. I discovered new insights that I had not recognized when I attended the program as a participant.
Rocking Our Fears in the Cradle of Loving Kindness is a slogan in Shambhala Buddhist meditation practice that means to embrace our fearfulness instead of struggling against it. In Western culture, this seems anti-intuitive. We're exhorted to "Get over it", or "Move on" with our lives and not let fears get the best of us. I recall the shocking scene in the movie Patton, when the eponymous general slaps the face of a frightened soldier, to make him shape up and be a man. Repressing my fears doesn't work for me. When I meditate, suppressed thoughts have a way of popping to my mind. Instead of aggressively slamming them down, Buddhism encourages me to investigate them with curiosity, examining their nuances, how they manifest in my body, in my thoughts and storylines. It is a patient technique that requires its own fearlessness, and at the same time a gentleness to myself in the process. Art and Buddhism are tools for my spiritual courage.

A Joyful Heart


  1. Tolle calls that the observer, becoming the observer, bringing fear into awareness... fear is a thought/emotion in our heads, about the future usually or just vague anxiety but becoming the observer will dissolve fear by transposing it into presence. tom ferguson

  2. I am reminded of the Don Delillo novel White Noise

    The concept is that fear of death is the white noise in the background of everything we do.

    Allen Welty-Green

  3. Reaction to Hand to Hand - Tension in the Middle East is in its effect having dramatic changes in the Geo-political sphere. After events of recents years I've been thinking about the broader implications of what's been happening overseas. I've been trying to think about the bigger picture and what that means for people, especially in the context of modernism. Recently I've seen a shift to a sense of idealism that's framing the way people view crises in foreign countries. The recent rise of Muslim protest has meant we've come to see a more common view of humanity - a view that merits attention. To the United States the Middle East is something we have trouble with. Often unpredictable and usually something that can causes pause and gives us something to wrestle with. As a country the nations in the Middle East want to be noticed but oftentimes people only see strategical interests. I think part of the idea rests in a sense of acceptance people have to generate for one another. The recent stand from politics in Washington has outlined a more inclusive approach to the way people see the Middle East. Maybe in this way people can see how they see themselves in relation to the recent events of burgeoning nation states in their search for nation statehood. Art gives voice to people it lets people be heard.