Fear and Thought

David Bohm remarked that “Thought creates the world and then hides and says it didn’t do it.” The world is as we think it, but generally people tend to believe that the world is an objective reality and our thoughts merely reflect on and interpret it. Not so. As Shakespeare writes in Hamlet, “Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.”

Fear is a compelling emotion. It appears to want to protect us, and in its most primal sense it does. In the forest, when a predator appears and fear says “Run,” running is the best response to the command. Don’t think. Run!

Evolutionarily, however, the instinct to fear in the primal brain runs amok in present day circumstances, and reality becomes distorted because of it. Wiki leaks, Putin, Korea, economic statistics – just drawing from the news tonight – have one result if they are responded to through fear, and a different result completely if we think through them differently. Entire news programs are devoted to interpreting anything in the public eye through fear and mistrust. These can create a feeding frenzy for primal instincts that overwhelm thought.

Change begins with the individual, one of us at a time. Private fears have tormented me this day, and I see the damage that they can do. They act like they are merely reflecting the world, but actually have the power to create it just as they see it. Thinking in the present, seeing reality freshly as it presents itself can be subsumed by over-protective, fear-driven instinctual responses that have nothing to do with current events. Thought is a responsibility. As Buddha says, “With our thoughts we make the world.”

To catch and confront a fearful thought as it arises, whether personal or collective, requires consistent vigilance, and courage to relate to the lions of instinct with respect and love. New thoughts will arise from such encounters if they are handled deftly. Great instinctual powers then enter thought. Fear dissipates like the scary ghost that retreats when the light is turned on. Reality is re-created. The world is made new.

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