When you’ve realized emptiness there is no fear

Jun 6, 2024


We don’t often see this, but the main characteristic of all the delusions – all the voices ofIis fear. We’re basically living in fear, all of us: living in trepidation, living in anxiety, suffering from low-level panic attacks all the time.


Anger, for example. We don’t think this at all, but if you analyze it, it’s apparent. Look at that kid who’s really angry, shouting and yelling. His eyes are wide in horror; irrational words are coming out of his mouth; his heart is beating like crazy; he’s thrashing about. In other words, that person is having a mental breakdown, a serious panic attack.


We’d just say,Oh, he’s angry. But look at him! HisIhas been attacked and attachment isn’t getting what it wants. Complete panic: that’s what anger is.


This is true of all the delusions: they’re all rooted in fear because they’re all expressions of the root delusion, ignorance: ego-grasping. Look at attachment: when attachment’s really fierce and you think you’re going to lose that thing or that person, or when you’ve discovered the boyfriend is cheating on you – or look at the kid. It’s like your entire self is deconstructing: you collapse into insanity, you don’t even know how to think. It is beyond pain, isn’t it? Isn’t that fear?


Every delusion is rooted in fear. The primordial one, ego-grasping, is usually like a sleeping lion, and then when you’re attacked, or nearly attacked, or something terrible happens, that’s when this fear arises most powerfully:instinct for survival,we call it, you know?


That’s why I always tell this amazing story about Lama Zopa Rinpoche when he was a child in the mountains of Nepal. He was recognized as a little boy as the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama, Kunsang Yeshe, a Nyingma yogi – tantric yogi, meditator – who had spent the past thirty years of his life in a cave, in this little hole in the wall where they used to store the onions. He said Guru Rinpoche gave it to him, so he chucked out the onions and moved in, basically.Lawudomeansonions,apparently – or maybe it’sradishes”; I don’t remember.


Rinpoche’s sister, Ani Samten, said he acted very differently as a child. When he played games, he’d always play the role of the lama, making mud-pie dorjes and mud-pie bells, and he’d talk about doing pujas, talk about inviting his benefactors – he’d even say the names of his previous-life benefactors.


Also, since he was a tiny boy, as soon as he could crawl, as soon as his mother would turn her back, little Zopa would be up the mountain, crawling up to where he knew the cave was. And then, as he got older, he was always trudging up the mountain, and they’d say,Come home!And pointing up to the cave he’d say,No, that is my home!They choose their rebirth, these yogis.


Anyway, when he was about eight, after he’d been recognized as the reincarnation of the Lawudo Lama, he was sent off to some monastery up in the mountains; this would have been about 1952. He was up in these mountains, and there was this river, and he saw on the other side these strange-looking people: he said they had straw-colored hair, pale-colored eyes: that’s how the Sherpas referred to white people.


He hadn’t met white people before, and he wanted to meet them, so he went across this rickety bridge, carrying the bowl of potatoes he was bringing as a gift. But halfway across he fell into the river. And, of course, he couldn’t swim – they don’t teach them swimming up there.


When Rinpoche told the story, he said,The head kept coming to the surface for air.He didn’t say,I came to the surface for air”; he said,The head.


This is very powerful because when you start really looking for this intrinsicI,you get this objective way of talking. You don’t say,I’m angry.You label the parts of your mind much more objectively: there is anger; there is love; there is kindness; there is ego-grasping; there is jealousy; there’s depression.


Then he said,The thought occurred to me the person known as the Lawudo Lama is about to die.He didn’t say,I am about to die.Because one of the key things you’re really

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