Learning not to cause harm to ourselves is a basic Buddhist teaching. Nonaggression has the power to heal. Not harming ourselves or others is the basis of an enlightened society. This is how there could be a sane world. It starts with sane citizens, and that is us.
Fearlessness is another ingredient of patience. If you want to practice patience that leads to the cessation of suffering, to the de-escalation of aggression, it means cultivating a fearlessness that is both compassionate and brave. Because at this point you’re getting to know anger and how it easily breeds violent words and actions, and this can be decidedly unnerving.
When I was about six years old I received the essential bodhicitta teaching from an old woman sitting in the sun. I was walking by her house one day feeling lonely, unloved, and mad, kicking anything I could find. Laughing, she said to me, “Little girl, don’t you go letting life harden your heart.”
Right there I received this pithy instruction: we can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice.
Rudolph Bahro writes, “When an old culture is dying, the new culture is created by those people who are not afraid to be insecure.”
I suppose some would question whether an old culture is dying now, but somehow it rings true for me that we’re in a time of major change, a major transition in the world, and many of us are rather nervous about where we’re headed.
You can think of insecurity as a moment in time that we experience over and over in our lives. when you feel insecurity, whether you’re feeling it in the middle of the night out of nowhere or whether it’s constant, there is a groundless and unformed quality to it.
You can think of the groundlessness and openness of insecurity as a chance that we’re given over and over to choose a fresh alternative. Things happen to us all the time that open up the space….It’s like the sky….And this is accessible to us all the time.
“On the journey of the warrior-bodhisattva, the path goes down, not up, as if the mountain pointed toward the earth instead of the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward turbulence and doubt however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, companions in awakening from fear.”