Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Fear and the Unknown
"Why should one be afraid of the unknown, when you know nothing about it?"- J. Krishnamurti
The western world has instilled in us the desire to be at the forefront of civilization. A part of that is the notion of 'conquering nature' through science and religion. It was the yearn to explain what they did not understand that placed 'religion' at the helm of 'progress' in the mind of the western world. After it's limitations were revealed it was replaced by science. Still, western man's 'manifest destiny' against nature was perpetuated by the continual development of technology and it's usage as a means to control any and everything.
The carving up of Mother Earth was not enough- lines drawn in sand and soil, imaginary boundaries projected across bodies of water and planes of atmosphere. Divide and conquer has been and continues to be the motto of 'modern man'. Some will say that it is the desire to 'know' that drives man to the edges of space and into deep canyons in the oceans in search of information and understanding. Others will attempt to justify this obession with Biblical references claiming that man was given dominion over the birds, bees and trees by a mysterious omnipotent figure tucked away in a spiritual Never Never Land. While I personally think that these two view points are valid and both contribute to the planetary maylay taking place, another factor so often ommitted seems to be a more predominant factor- fear.
Fear of the 'known' is what drives the western mindstate to 'know'. Fear nurtures insecurity. It is a kind of restlessness within the self. Many human beings feel very insecure about their place in the cosmos and on this beautiful planet. Our ego's have become so comfortable with the luxury our of higher degree of intelligence, that they would be crushed at the thought of stepping down from the pedestal of greatness we've exhalted ourselves to. We our great, no doubt, yet it is our fear and ignorance that fosters the need to prove such at the expense of other forms of life and matter. So now we trek across the planet looking for life to poke, prod, classify and label within the narrow scope of the western understanding of the universe. We are quite frankly afraid to 'not know' as if this would in anyway reduce us to a menial existance or relinquish our status as ' best knowers'. We fail to realize that the 'best knower' is he or she who knows when they know not- and not he or she who thinks they know best and really knows nothing. As human beings, we are the only creatures who wear our emotions and our ego's on our sleeves.
"Not knowing" shouldn't be despised or feared. The 'unknown' should be embraced. It should be a motivating factor to learn more and appreciate more of the universe and ourselves. It shouldn't be used as a mental construct and scapegoat to conquer and control what we don't understand. We have this sickening perspective of ourselves as either the 'greatest' thing in the universe or the smallest and most meaningless creature in the cosmos, a product of polar thinking and ultimately the prison house of the self. There needs to be a balance, an appreciable degree of equality in our understanding of our relationship with all things. This is the wisdom of the culture or way of life of our ancestors, as they sought to be in harmony with nature and the universe, and not at odds with them.
Western thought has pushed us into a race to preserve our state of comfort and luxury, that which was fostered from technology. It has searched the planet and cosmos to attempt to understand it's form and functions, only to then attempt to deconstruct and manipulate it for man's own selfish benefit, that is, to preserve this self assumed position of dominance and to prolong this rule by prolonging both civilizations existance on a whole, and our individual existances'. Yet, all things physical have a beginning and an ending. This self assumed dominance has become familiar to us and to such a degree that it is all that we 'know', since it is all that we have witnessed since the dawn of the 'west'. So we have come to accept it and expect it. Any perspective of humanity outside of this narrow vision is foreign and 'unknown', and makes us feel insecure.
Fear, as insecurity, breeds insides of us because we have become resistant to 'change', to the fluidity of life and the mathematics of the universe. We become hardwired into social conditions which influence our perspective of the world. This stunted perspective affects our ability to appreciate what we are able to receive from the unknown, the information we collect, as it is so often only used to protect our current state of existance and buffer any threats to our emotional and psychological stability. Of course, these social conditions are what allows us to find comfort in our economic and cultural status within a society and has become what is most important us and ultimately what is the most worth preserving. Not life itself, but life as we 'want' to experience it. For the average person, there becomes no interest in 'knowing' anything outside of these conditions which creates distances between oneself and the world around them, distances which are likes gaps that become filled in with fear.
We have to shed our fear of not knowing and strive to understanding that all things are capable of being known, once we know ourselves. We can travel the cosmos and learn about everything we come across, still not knowing anything about who we are.
"People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar."- Thich Nhat Hanh