A Tree Isn’t Frightened


Spanish Moss



Fear is the result of getting caught in the middle.  Buddha says that it is the result of ignorance.  And the ignorance is that when you start out as an infant with an undifferentiated awareness, and then you are taught who you are, that component, that structure which we call ego, is a very fragile structure.  It seems tough, but it is actually a fragile structure. It is a structure that is created of mind, of learned neural patterns.

On one side of it, it has what Freud referred to as the Id, or the impulse life. And the structure is designed to interface between the impulse life and the society, to protect the society from the impulse life.  Then on the other hand, it is this fragile structure in the face of tremendous external forces, which are parents, and then social institutions and chaos and storms and nature. All of it.  So, when you didn’t have a framework – when you didn’t have somebodiness, you are just part of the Universe, and there is no fear.

I mean a tree isn’t frightened, and it is not even clear. Like, in one of the discussions that Emmanuel had about what a mouse feels like when it is being eaten by a cat. The question is, is the mouse saying “Oh my God. I am being eaten by a cat,” or is it feeling warmth and moisture and shifts in energy? And the squealing … do we project?  We anthropomorphize and we say that it is squealing because it is afraid.  But to be afraid, one has to have a self-concept.  And when an organism is functioning instinctually in a scene, each change in the balance of the situation is just a new moment.  It is just a new moment to which it responds. It’s very delicate to interpret things, because we tend to interpret in terms of where we are sitting.  We’ve developed these structures, and if you can sense the way that works, you just see on one side of you these extremely powerful impulses in you that you are afraid of.

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Located at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

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