Fearlessness is much talked about in Buddhism, particularly the idea of becoming fearless. In this episode we look at that which causes us fear, antidotes to fear, and tapping into our own bravery. It’s important to begin a discussion on fear according to Buddhism, to understand that Buddha distinguished between skillful fear and unskillful fear. Skillful fear can be a helpful tool to motivate us towards skillful action, like a person who sees a train barreling down the track and feels fear of sitting on the tracks. If the fear is unskillful, however, it leads us to unskillful action instead. This episode explores unskillful fear and how to overcome it.
When we look at things which cause us unskillful fear, they range from:
fear of things which may or may not happen
fear of the unpleasantness of things which will happen, like aging
fear for those we love
The Story of Mara Trying to Frighten the Buddha’s Son
“While residing at the Jetavana monastery, the Buddha uttered Verses (351) and (352) of this book, with reference to Mara who had come to frighten Samanera Rahula, son of Gotama Buddha.
On one occasion, a large number of monks arrived at the Jetavana monastery where Buddha was staying, together with his followers and his son, Rahula. To put up the guest monks Rahula decided to go and sleep near the door, just outside the chamber of the Buddha. Mara, representing a devil figure, wanting to annoy the Buddha through his son, took the form of an elephant and encircling the head of the samanera with his trunk made an alarming noise hoping to frighten him. But Rahula was unmoved. The Buddha, from his chamber, knew what was happening, and said, "O wicked Mara! Even a thousand such as you would not be able to frighten my son. My son has no fear, he is free from craving, he is vigilant, he is wise."
Then the Buddha spoke in verse as follows:
Verse 351: He who has attained arahatship [Buddhahood] is free from fear, free from craving, and free from moral defilements. He has cut off the thorns of existence (such as lust). This is the last existence (for him).
Verse 352: He who is free from craving and from attachment, who is skilled in the knowledge of the significance of terms, who knows the grouping of letters and their sequence is indeed called "one who has lived his last, a man of great wisdom, a great man."
References and Links
Buddha (1986).The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories. Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A. (Website). Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon. Courtesy of Nibbana.com. For free distribution only, as a gift of dhamma.
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