Eyes of the Universe
The most conscious thing you can do is to take the perspective of the universe itself. Ask, what does the universe care about? What does it see as the most important thing? If I am the universe, simply living through a human body, what is it in my interest to do right now?
The universal perspective blows past all fear, self-doubt, and unnecessary deliberation. It simply knows what it knows. It knows what matters, and it knows what must be done. It is painfully aware of what is trivial, and it cares not for the trivial—not even a smidgen.
When you take this perspective, it makes sense to see others as the same. On the outside they may express fear and limited self-interest. But that is merely an appearance. Deep down they, too, are a great spirit—ultimately free and fearless. When you take the perspective of the universe, you will see no need to relate to people on their fear. Instead, choose to see the person within them who is unafraid. If you can see it, maybe they’ll soon be able to see it, too.
There is no need to feel badly for people—not from this perspective, anyhow. Who feels bad for the universe? It’s perfectly fine. So what if a meteor blasts through it—it’s just another day. The universe didn’t get hurt.
Relating to people in this way is sort of a top-down approach to empathy. Rather than seeing the egotistical concerns and fears and trying to generate sympathy for those, you see the core of the person—the part that is highly conscious, unafraid, and that loves being alive.
This top-down approach may seem inconsiderate. Isn’t it unfair to see past a person’s fears? They won’t like that. Their fears are very real to them, and they want you to know this.
I say, isn’t it unfair to see another person as nothing but a mouse? That’s not what a human is. That person is not a bag of fears and trivial concerns. Would you like it if I saw you in that light? You’d probably roundhouse kick me into the third universe over.
It’s important to remember that everyone has an ego. Everyone has their desires, preferences, quirks, and worldviews. Everyone is their own unique person, on their own path of life. Everyone experiences pain, anxiety, craving, and anger from time to time—some people, most of the time.
Keeping this in mind is an important piece of being respectful and connecting realistically with others. If I pretend that you are exactly like everyone else, I may too easily write you off as unimportant or uninteresting. If I focus too hard on avoiding triviality, I’ll paralyze myself by way of analysis, and end up saying nothing. If I imagine that you are a blank vacuum without emotions or concerns, I would be denying who you are.
Reassurance is Futile
At the same time, to think of nothing but your sniveling concerns and fears would be draining. This certainly would not reflect a very high opinion of you. It is also unrealistic to imagine that people are always totally overwhelmed by their emotions and fears. People are not really so incapable and fearful—certainly not when the core of who they are is fearless.
Consider that it is disrespectful to give too much attention to another’s fears. When a person around you is upset, concerned, afraid, or otherwise in pain, you may have an impulse to try comforting that person. You want to make their hurt go away.
But what will that comfort do for them? A moment of comfort from another human being can be reassuring—it reminds the person that they are not alone. However, to try to defeat fear with comfort is futile. That is precisely what fear wants you to do. It wants you to have a seat on the sidelines in a soft, cushy chair, where it’s nice and safe. It wants you to sink down and relax… To be ignorant and complacent.
If you really want to help another person to move past fear, you can comfort them for a moment. Reassure them that they’re OK. This can help them to take the necessary task in overcoming fear—raising their awareness.
To exercise your awareness is the only way to move past fear. Fear arises from subconscious assumptions and patterns. Fear is not necessarily obliterated, when it is overcome—you could say that it is danced with. It still is present, to an extent, though it does not taint your efforts. To dance with fear is to continually do the opposite of what it tells you, and to enjoy the sweet victory of embracing love instead. Fear gives you something to push off of, so you can experience yourself choosing a higher state of being. Fear serves as a backdrop to living consciously. It is black, so that you can see white.
Reassurance about external reality does not work. I can try all I want to reassure you that your boss doesn’t hate you, or your girlfriend won’t leave you, or that your heart is not about to implode. But how can I guarantee you of any of those things? I really can’t. I have no idea. One of those things can, and may very well, happen.
I can let you know that I support you, and I can remind you that in this instant you are here, and you are OK. But that’s about as far as reassurance can go before it turns into a need to control the future of things outside yourself, a pursuit which simply cannot be accomplished.
Not only that, but your view of the external world is, well, your view. No matter what happens, you still have the ability to see the world in a fearful manner. You can create a mental prison for yourself, such that you are afraid regardless of what you see. You’ll leave your brain to make up a horrifying story for anything and everything.
The only way to achieve any degree of reassurance, then, is to change the way you see the world. To do that, you must raise your awareness. Changing the way you see requires the use of awareness. This cannot be accomplished in your sleep. When you sleep, you are stagnant. To change, you must be awake.
When you try to reassure a person that everything in their world is perfectly OK and alrighty, you might even reinforce their fears. When you assume that a person needs such fragile, unattainable reassurance, what are you saying about that person? When you try to reassure someone, you are indirectly stating that This is a scared, frail person who needs the world to be a certain way in order to feel OK. Poor sucker.
Essentially, you are stating that they lack the ability to become aware, and to see a world beyond their fear. Of course, this is ridiculously inaccurate, because awareness is what makes us human in the first place. A human is (supposedly) unlike any other animal because it has the ability to examine itself, and to think deeply and deliberately about the world. People can even think about their own thoughts: this ability is a penchant of self-awareness, and it is the mechanism by which we change the way we see the world.
When you assume that another person lacks this ability, and you express this assumption by trying to reassure the person, you are feeding into the low idea they are holding about themselves in this moment. When someone is in the grasp of fear, they have temporarily forgotten that they can raise their awareness and dance with the fear. When you forget this fact about them as well, might that say that you also are afraid?
Comfort is Denial
Not only can reassurance reinforce the fears of the other person—it can also annoy the crap out of them. Reassurance is a game in story-telling. You tell the other person stories about how the world is which you hope will soothe them. Of course, since reassurance is ultimately futile, any such story aiming at reassurance is basically wrong.
The fearful person knows this—even if they can’t articulate it. So, when people try to convince them of the contrary, they just get frustrated. Their already-bad mood may very well worsen.
An example of this is when you obviously have a conflict with someone in one of your social circles, and the other people in the group try to tell you, Oh, she’s just having a bad day… She’s just acting weird… She was just drunk that night—she didn’t mean it. You can see the writing on the wall because you’ve experienced it firsthand—the misunderstandings, the avoidance behaviors, the downward spiral of a friendship. Yet, the people around you have entered a state of denial, and they are hoping you will join them in their safe, cushy world. Ick. No thanks.
Sometimes a person is afraid and feels badly because their fear has come to pass. The thing they really didn’t want to happen did indeed happen. Their girlfriend left them, their boss fired them, their best friend is pissed at them and won’t talk to them. Now they’re afraid of what might happen next, as a result of that. In these situations, reassurance is extra-futile, because to reassure someone that the opposite of the present reality is true is to be in outright denial. It is to be flat-out incorrect. And when you tell someone Oh, she’s not mad at you! when she is, that person is just going to get annoyed as frak.
Think about how unintelligent this sounds. Would you really want to put someone in a state of denial just so they can feel reassured for a few minutes? Even falsely reassured, in the face of a reality that blatantly says otherwise? Do you really think lying to someone will help them to stop being afraid?
If the only way to overcome fear is to raise awareness, then of course falsehood and denial will not help. In fact, they will just perpetuate the situation. Denial encourages the scared person to hide—to sink down into the cushy sofa on the sidelines and pretend they will be fine if they just stay put and stagnate. But, to freeze yourself will only keep you in fear’s grasp.
To free yourself, on the other hand, you have to move. You have to dance—dance with the fear.
When you dance with fear, you accept what has already happened, and recognize that more fears may come to pass, too. At the same time, you take a higher perspective: you know that there is something more important in the world than your fear, and that you can attempt to change your present reality by taking action. When you dance with fear, you know what matters and what doesn’t. You will stumble a few times- you’re not a perfect dancer- yet you will continually return your attention to the present moment of the dance, and recognize that here, all is well, and all that matters is that you keep dancing as you choose to.
So, when you try to reassure a person, you’re saying that they can’t dance. Maybe they do have two left feet, but they still can dance. Besides—you wouldn’t want that person to catch you saying that about them, would you? J
All I Want to do is Dance!
When you see a fellow human being- even one who is obviously afraid- remember that they can dance. Just as you can blast through your fears, other people can, too. It is fine and well to sympathize with them for a moment, but it is far more respectful to help them expand their awareness by regarding them as the powerful being and super-fly dancer that they are.
Maybe that’s what The Killers meant when they asked, Are we human, or are we dancer? Are we a bunch of egos floating around meatspace, or are we beings capable of higher awareness? Are we driven merely by survival, or can we live for something more interesting than that?
Will you see your fellow human beings as whiny, pitiful bags of bones and juices, or as intelligent, free sprits capable of creativity and love? It’s up to you. But however you relate to me, just don’t comfort me. I’m not interested—even if I try to tell you I am. :)
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