Fear is the air we breathe. We subscribe to religions that exploit our dread of death. We do business in an economy of fear as we worry about losing competition with the other competitors driven by consumers who fear not keeping up with the others in having what one needs to look socially acceptable. We fear the next crash of the dollar. And we remain collaborators with these structures because they promise to protect us against one of the deepest fears at the heart of every human being – the fear of having a live encounter with our ‘otherness’.
The ‘otherness’ is none but our Amida nature. When we encounter Amida we are in a state of sublime bliss. But this freaks most of us out. It freaks us out because we need to make a shift in consciousness that requires us to let go of the perceived personal and social comfort zones. But we must let go and that means free-falling into a moment of unknowing. We certainly know the path along which we have trod and the moment between the knowing and unknowing there is just Amida.
I know this is not very intellectual. We can’t find our true nature through the intellect. It can only take us so far along the path to the edge of the intellectual cliff. After that we need to jump. It is a leap of the mind. That is against all reason and intellect. Perhaps it is not so much a “jump” as it is a “shift” – just like shifting the foot a few inches. Certainly on the edge of a cliff a few inches can make all the difference as to the whereabouts of our present moment! But Amida is there to comfort us for he is compassionate. He is sublime love. That IS our inner nature, our ‘otherness’. It is love that re-unites us with our lost ‘otherness’. In that moment we become one with the other and realize that there was really never only ‘me’ but complete oneness on otherness. That is a moment of complete joy.
It is Fear which separates us from the joy of Amida Buddha. The Australian philosopher-cartoonist Michael Leunig put it quite plainly when he wrote:
There are only two feelings: love and fear.
There are only two languages: love and fear.
There are only two activities: love and fear.
There are only two motives, two procedures, two frameworks, two results: love and fear.
Love and fear.