Chapter 27 We must conquer our fear

第二十七章 我們必須戰勝恐懼

27. We must conquer our fear

The other day a young woman, one of my students, approached me. She was extremely distressed that by being asked to be a presenter, or Master of Ceremonies,1 at a speech contest, she was going to lose some of her friends: “How so?” I inquired. They felt that she had been duplicitous in order to achieve this position: the awarded seat apparently being the pinnacle of achievement for the English Language Class. Some had even begun to post disparaging comments on Facebook.

At first blush it sounds childish and ridiculous, a simple case of infantile jealousy. In fact, however, many of us have been subjected to the same misfortune. During our lifetime, the minute we begin to rise above “the herd,”2 we are pulled back into its fold. This begins with our parents and extends throughout the school system into our employment and our relationships. Conformity is what society thrives on. We fear to do our best because we must pay an unfortunate price: we will probably be alone – at least mentally – until we find a like-minded person. This may result in profound sadness – hence, for many, the comfort of the mediocre crowd is better than alienation. This is dangerous because our soul3 will suffer. And the soul knows who we are in those unfortunate nighttime moments of angst. Many adults cannot take this moment and seal it with drugs, alcohol or video games.

One solution to this frustration is mindfulness: to be totally in the moment. The eminent monk Thich Nhat Hanh speaks to this: “Mindfulness is being aware of what’s happening in the present moment; concentration is maintaining that attention. With mindfulness and concentration, we can look deeply into and understand what’s happening. We can pierce the veil of ignorance, see clearly the true nature of reality, and be liberated from the anxiety, fear, anger, and despair in us. That is insight. Mindfulness, concentration, and insight are the very essence of meditation. … Waking up this morning, I smile: Twenty-four brand-new hours are before me. I vow to live each moment fully and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”4

If you are always in the moment, you cannot be hurt because the “now” is the most precious. It gives one the energy and the power to accept the realization that your life mission may produce isolation. If you, additionally, believe that you are part of the infinite universe, you are also comforted. I will always have my connectivity to everyone and everything.

So, if I return to this young woman, she must only realize that her uniqueness qualifies her for a lifetime of happiness: if she has been honest with herself and has been true to her values, she has nothing to be ashamed of. These are but immature, fair-weather friends. There must be moments of pain to balance the joy that is associated with life. Knowing both pain and joy allows a person to feel an attachment with the world. It is additionally important that our nemesis learns to put this kind of pettiness away. If you have a problem with someone, confront them and talk the problem out.

I often think, however naïve, that we are all basically the same. Whether we are white, black, pink, orange or blue, our blood, once exposed, is always red. We are all the same color inside. All that is left, therefore, is our family and our educational system to alter us in a positive or negative way. One can only hope that the Internet will be a deciding factor in bringing mankind together.

The great scholar and pacifist, the current Dalai Lama (b. 1935) gives us a great thought: “Today we face many problems. Some are created essentially by ourselves based on divisions due to ideology, religion, race, economic status, or other factors. Therefore, the time has come for us to think on a deeper level, on the human level, and from that level we should appreciate and respect the sameness of others as human beings.”

Mindfulness, though not easy to practice, suggests that we can all be thoughtful and peaceful human beings. It is up to all of us to make this concept a part of our collective world-wide reality.

27. 我們必須戰勝恐懼

有一天,一名年輕的女學生來找我。她受邀擔任一場演講比賽的主持人或司儀1,卻將因此失去一些朋友,這令她非常苦惱。「怎麼會這樣呢?」我問道。她的朋友認為她用欺騙的手段來得到這個位子,但顯然地,這個機會是她在英語課中努力得來的。有些同學甚至已經開始在臉書上發言批評她了。

這件事乍聽之下很荒謬,不過是幾個幼稚的孩子嫉妒心發作的案例。然而,事實上,我們許多人也都曾有過同樣的遭遇。在我們的一生中,每當我們的表現比他人出色,開始超越「群體」2的表現時,我們就會被拉回來。這種情形很常見,從我們與父母間的關係開始,一直到我們進入學校、開始就業,並與他人建立親密關係時,我們的一生經常碰到這樣的狀況。服從是社會發展的基礎。我們害怕全力以赴,因為我們必須為此付出痛苦的代價,那就是,我們可能會被孤立。至少在心理上,我們可能會是孤獨的,除非我們找到另一個看法相投的人。這樣的結果可能會讓人非常沮喪,因此,與其表現出眾而被孤立,很多人寧可選擇待在平庸的群體裡。不過這麼做卻很危險,因為這會讓我們的心靈3受害。是誰在午夜時分被噩夢驚醒,我們的內心最清楚。很多成年人無法面對自己的內心,並選擇用藥物、酒精或電玩來逃避。

其中一個解決這種挫敗感的方式就是保持正念,也就是全心專注於當下。對此,著名的一行禪師曾說:「正念就是意識到當下正在發生的事情,而專注就是將注意力維持在這樣的意識上。透過正念與專注,我們可以深入內心,了解我們自己。我們可以穿透無知的面紗,清楚地看見事實的本質,並從我們的焦慮、恐懼、憤怒和絕望中釋放,這就是洞察力。正念、專注力和洞察力是冥想的精髓。……今天早上醒來,想到即將迎接嶄新的24小時,我不禁微微一笑。我發誓要好好地活在當下,並用慈悲心看待芸芸眾生。」4

如果你一直都活在當下,那麼你就不會受傷,因為「當下」是最珍貴的,它賦予人們能量和力量,讓你接受實踐人生使命可能會被孤立的這個事實。此外,若你相信自己是浩瀚宇宙的一份子,你的內心也會感到很欣慰,因為你將永遠與眾人與萬物維持聯繫。

回頭來談這個年輕的女生,她必須意識到她的獨特性將為她帶來一生的幸福。如果她誠實面對自己並且忠於她的價值觀,她就沒有什麼好丟臉的。那些嫉妒她的人不過就是些不成熟,僅能共同享樂的朋友罷了。人生有喜樂,也一定有痛苦的時刻。了解痛苦和喜樂可以讓人感受到自己與世界的聯繫。此外很重要的一點是,跟我們作對的人不要玩這種小把戲,如果你和別人有些問題要解決,你應該面對他們,並嘗試用對談來解決問題。

我時常想,無論多麼天真無知,我們基本上都是一樣的。不管我們的膚色是白色、黑色、粉紅色、橙色還是藍色,我們的血液流出來的顏色都是紅色。我們裡面的顏色都是一樣的。所以,接下來就看我們的家庭和教育體系,是以正向還是以負面的方式來改變我們。我們只能夠冀望網路能夠成為團結人類的一個決定性因素。

集偉大的學者與和平主義者為一身的達賴喇嘛(1935年-)給我們一個偉大的想法:「如今我們面臨許多問題,實質上有些是我們自己基於意識形態、宗教、種族、經濟地位或其他因素的分歧而製造出來的。因此,現在該去更加深入思考人類層面的問題,就此來說,我們應該欣賞和尊重人類的共同之處。」

保持正念雖然不容易,但它使人想到,我們都能夠成為認真思考和愛好和平的人類。是否能將這樣的概念落實於我們共同居住的世界就端看我們的決定了。