One of our friends, an “expert” in Zen, advises another friend to get rid of her fear. He then very proudly mentions, “I refuse to be governed by fear.”

Now, “refusing” to be governed by fear, does not free you from fear. Indeed, such refusal turns you into a fighter. You declare war against fear. In the course, you become very hard, stone like. You act against fear, and fear reacts. It is a lost war. No-one ever wins over fear that way. Albeit, in the course of such war, you loose your humanity, your humbleness, your softness, all that is valuable in you.

Why is that so?
Because, by refusing to be governed by fear, you actually recognize its governorship. You create such governorship, and then you refuse it. It is your mind’s play. In fact by doing so, you create a conflict within your mind. You raise one part of your mind to fight another part. It is first but sure most step toward schizophrenia.

His “expertise” in Zen has landed him into an abyss – what an irony! But, then it has been so for last one thousand year or so. Look at what happened to Japan, the country that has always been connected with Zen. After 1000 years of Zen practice, the country became so violent that it almost destroyed the whole world.

It became ambitious, power hungry. Why? Because of fear. A fearless person never attacks anyone. He will always try not to react or retaliate, unless it becomes very necessary. Japan had no reason to involve itself in a war that was fought in Europe. But, it did. And, it did so because it became fearful of its position in global competition for power and superiority. It is so because of its ambition and hunger for power.

It is really unfortunate that we do not learn from history. We tend to make the same mistakes, fall in the same pit.

But, we must leave Japan and the Second World War, to our friend – an “expert” in Zen. He is a victim of misunderstood definition of Zen as “The Way of Warriors”. The very phrase “The Way of Warriors” itself is a wrong translation of what it intended to mean.

Bodhidharma, who introduced Dhyaan to China, called it Raja-Yoga. He used a very common term that meant: The Way of Kings. A more appropriate translation would be “The Royal Way”.

Dhyaan in Chinese became Chang, in Japan Zen….. And Raja Yoga was translated as The Way of Warriors. A thousand years back, Japan was divided in small “prefectures” – a term that is, interestingly, still valid, used, and common in Japan. They were not even small kingdoms. They were small and large districts, the governorship of which could change hands in matter of months. The ambitious and power hungry Samurai, the warriors, were always at each other’s throats.  Zen, is definitely not the way to such.

Albeit, the Zen Masters of those days did try to convert the warriors to their doctrine of non-violence. They tried to explain, “Look, this is The Royal Way, The Way of a True Warrior. Mastery over oneself is real mastery.”

Later, such expressions became part and parcel of Zen. Archery, Kung Fu, and various other forms of martial arts were taught in the name of Zen. And, Zen lost its very essence, its meaning and mission.

Unfortunately, this meaningless Zen is now being taught, learnt, and practiced the world over. Our friend is a victim of such incorrect teaching and learning process. As a result, he became hard – kind of hardness that is contagious. He has become a positive carrier of a very negative trait, a negative trait that our world today is not in need of.

Fear must not be fought.
It must be understood. By rightly understanding it, you will immediately overcome it. There is nothing else to be done. No energy to be wasted in fighting it. There is no point in fighting it.

Fear exists because of our weakness, our sense of helplessness in facing any given situation. The only solution for which is Self-Empowerment. Empower yourself!

When you are not capable of doing your job, you are fearful of your boss. How would you overcome such fear? By developing the necessary skill, by increasing your capacity, by Empowering Yourself.

It is definitely not appropriate, leave aside Zen, when you face your boss with a stern face, challenging him or her: “Ok, that’s me. I cannot do more than that.” And then, you term such nuisance as being “fearless”.

But, that is exactly what a person did after coming in contact with our Zen “expert”. Result: Loss of job.

Fear can only be overcome by understanding its very cause, and by making the necessary changes. Fear is a result, result of our own incapability, weakness, and above all ignorance. To overcome fear, we must make ourselves capable, strong and smart. You cannot overcome fear by fighting or refusing it. Refusing fear means refusing to change.

Be Fearless, but not by fighting it……
Overcome it by proper understanding of the cause. Ignorant of the cause, you can never overcome it. You will remain fearful, no matter how stern or hard your face is. You will always be fearful, no matter how hard you become. Indeed, such hardness makes you more fearful, for you lose your elasticity, your adaptability. And, life becomes meaningless to a fearful person.

A word of advice to my friend, the Zen Expert, “It would do you good to work on yourself first. Abstain from advising others and playing a hero’s role, for you only harm them.”