The Myth of Love vs. Fear
For 20 or so years now, those who have been adherents to the New Age, New Thought, Human Potential movements, as well as many who call themselves “spiritual but not religious” have been hearing that love is opposite to fear. That love and fear cannot occupy the same place, that we must rid ourselves of fear because perfect love casts out fear. This starts with a Biblical text in 1 John, and it flows from there into a quote from A Course in Miracles:
Perfect love casts out fear.
If fear exists,
Then there is not perfect love.
Only perfect love exists.
If there is fear,
It produces a state that does not exist. (p.12)
The problem with that thinking, however, is that it means that we must repress fear, pretend love and do all that to please a false standard that doesn’t even really exist.
The simple truth is that if only perfect love exists, then fear is also love. It isn’t true that fear doesn’t exist. It isn’t true that life here on planet earth is an illusion that we can just ignore and get on with the bliss of living out of touch with life. We are meant to have real experiences that transform us at fundamental levels here on this journey to planet earth. We are still in the creative process. Trying to bliss out means that we avoid the more difficult (so-called “negative” feelings) by repressing them.
When we repress we continue to stay split off. The hard emotions and thoughts go to the unconscious while we contrive other thoughts and emotions to take their place. How can we possibly think that is authentic?
But if only perfect love exists then fear is a loving message to us. It intends to care for us, nurture us, even guide us. Fear can tell us to get out of the road when a truck is coming. It can tell us to slow down, look around, really assess what is going on. It can tell us when we are pushing too hard, or running too fast. It can tell us that someone is not a safe person. It can tell us when a job or a project is too big or too overwhelming for us.
And yes, fear can also rise in response to a trigger, that only references something that happened in the past, but isn’t happening in the present. But even then, it is a pull to resolve that old unresolved past issue.
But if we spend our lives trying to meet a standard about fear, trying to be fearless so that we can prove to ourselves that we are truly spiritual people, then all we do is continue to increase the split between the conscious and the unconscious.
So next time you are afraid, sit with your fear, listen to what it is gently trying to say, hear it as a gift from your authentic Self to nurture and guide you. You might be surprised at its profound capacity to take you to the deeper more authentic realms of Self.