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The Illusion of Fear



Years ago, Angela and I took a flight from South Florida to Los Angeles to attend a Spiritual Conference. The sun was shining, and the sky was clear blue. All signs pointed to an uneventful routine flight.


However, that expectation was quickly dashed when within the first 30 minutes or so, the plane took a deep and brutal drop. My hat flew off my head. Passengers who did not have their seat belts on were violently thrown from their seats. The pilot rose the plane to regain altitude and, as it rose, it shook violently like an unbalanced washing machine on the spin cycle.


The rocky rises and dramatic drops of the plane probably lasted for 5 minutes or less but it seemed like an hour. Every time the plane dropped, many of the passengers let out screams of pure terror. The best I could do to maneuver the situation was pray the “Prayer for Protection.”


Eventually we made an emergency landing at an airport in Sarasota, Florida. Firefighters along with their fire trucks awaited us. TV reporters and their satellite trucks greeted us as well. Interestingly, I later found that the reporters from the local TV stations arrived before the firefighters did.


In any event, once the plane stopped, I noticed something that has stuck with me ever since (besides thinking I was on my way to the other side of the veil). There were two toddlers as well as a couple of young children on the flight. While the adults let out alarming screams, the toddlers peacefully slept through the whole ordeal and the other youngsters gleefully recounted how much fun the ride was. They displayed no fear and were fully in the moment.


As I reflect on that experience and the stark difference in the reaction between most of the adults and the young kids that were on the plane, I’m reminded of a statement by the character Cypher Raige, played by Will Smith, in the movie After Earth:


“Fear is not real. The only place fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination causing us to fear things that do not at present exist and may not ever exist. That is mere insanity. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real. But fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story.”


I’m pretty sure most of us adults on the plane were telling ourselves a story that sometime in the near future, the plane would crash and we all were going to die. Believe me, there was plenty of evidence to suggest that story was true. On the other hand, the kids who acted as if they were on a roller coaster had a completely different story. For them, it was a time for fun. The adults may have thought the young people were naive, but those kids decided not to choose fear. As a result, during that plane ride they loved life a lot more than their fellow adult passengers did.


A Course in Miracles reminds us that we have but two emotions: love and fear. It goes on to say love is changeless and is continuously being offered by the eternal presence. On the other hand, fear comes in many forms depending on the content of the illusions of each individual. It comes from the various stories we make up in our own minds. Like the character Cypher Raige says, illusions of fear have one thing in common: they are made up. “They are made of sights that are not seen, and sounds that are not heard” and events that may never take place. They only have meaning for those who make the stories up.


Yet on a spiritual level, fear, despite being an illusion, can benefit us. It can serve to bring to our awareness those parts of the soul that require healing. One reason we fall for the illusion of fear (not danger, which as Cypher Paige says is very real), is that we have forgotten our true identity and accepted something less than that.


We want to remember the truth that we are infinite beings who have sprung from a dynamic goodness that never had a beginning and will never end. When we realize this, we release the illusory virus we have been infected by that says we are a body and then we will die. Every other fear is woven around that virus, such as the fear of loss, the fear of limitation and the fear of letting go. When we devote ourselves to God, which is the Love Intelligence of the Universe, we become inoculated from that virus and fear unravels and breaks up. As a result, we see we are sweet spiritual beings that have everything we need.


When we fall into the illusion of misidentifying ourselves it causes several problems, one of which is perpetual survival mode.


During the first few years of life as we are learning how to survive, we sometimes become so afraid that we won’t make it that we slip into survival mode. In the long run, this over survival syndrome leads to greed and attempts to manipulate and control other people and our environment. As a result, we end up polluting the air and raiding our natural resources, seeking to get more and more things we do not need. Humanity ends up being caught up in materialism for materialism’s sake. In the end, we all lose.


If the world is to rise above the human tendency to put material gain before the common good, there must be a transformational shift. This means, among other things, embodying a value system that is based on the premise that we are not just here to succeed materialistically and over survive, but to be of service to the greatest spiritual idea there is: Love.


For only love is real. All the rest, including fear, is just an illusion.


Peace and Blessings,


James

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