Saturday, 4 July 2015

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

The following is an extract of Bhaya Bherava Sutta of Majjhima Nikaya describing how the Buddha, before his Enlightenment, overcame fear and anxiety and immersed himself in the peace of the jungle.

Once when Buddha was living at Savatthi, the bhramin Janussoni came to talk with him.  He asked the Buddha:  “When people ordain as monks, do they take you as their leader and example?”

“Yes,”  the Buddha replied, “that is so.”

“But living in the jungle all by yourself is very difficult.  Most people would go mad if they don’t have strong concentration.”

“Yes,”  the Buddha replied,  “that is so.  Before my Enlightenment, when I was still a spiritual seeker, I also worried that the deep jungle would drive me mad if I couldn’t develop my concentration.  But when I thought about it, I realized:  When spiritual seekers that have not yet perfected their practice of virtue go into the jungle, they are full of fear and anxiety.  But I have perfected my virtue.  When I realized this, the jungle was a place of peace for me.

The same is true for speech, thought and livelihood.  For one imperfect in these things, the jungle is a place of fear and anxiety.  For one perfect in these things, it is a place of peace.

When spiritual seekers are full of lust, hate, laziness, anxiety or doubt, the jungle is a place of fear and anxiety.  But I am free of lust, hate, laziness, anxiety and doubt.

When spiritual seekers praise themselves and criticize others, when they are easily frightened, when they constantly desire honor and fame, the jungle is a place of fear and anxiety.  But I do not praise myself and criticize others.  I am free from fear.  I am not easily frightened.  And I do not desire honor and fame.

When spiritual seekers lack energy, are unmindful, do not practice deep meditation, and lack wisdom, the jungle is a place of fear and anxiety.  But I am energetic, ever mindful, practice deep meditation, and have wisdom.”