Smile at Fear: Awakening the True Heart of Bravery by Chogyam Trungpa

Book Summary of Smile At Fear: Awakening The True Heart Of Bravery – Edited by Carolyn Rose Gimian
Many of us, without even realizing it, are dominated by fear. We might be aware of some of our fears–perhaps we are afraid of public speaking, of financial hardship, or of losing a loved one. But in this book meditation master Chogyam Trungpa shows us that most of us suffer from a far more pervasive fearfulness: fear of ourselves. We feel ashamed and embarrassed to look at our feelings or acknowledge our styles of thinking and acting; we don’t want to face the reality of our moment-to-moment experience. It is this fear that keeps us trapped in cycles of suffering, despair, and distress.

Trungpa offers us a vision of moving beyond fear to discover the innate bravery, trust, and delight in life that lies at the core of our being. Drawing on the Shambhala Buddhist teachings, he explains how we can each become a spiritual warrior: a person who faces every moment with openness and fearlessness. In language that is fresh, accessible, and startlingly direct–this book explains:

– how the practice of sitting meditation can help us to uncover our inherent confidence and bravery,
– how fear and embarrassment about ourselves keep us trapped in cycles of suffering,
– the wisdom of loving kindness and nonaggression,
– how true invincibility depends on becoming more open and vulnerable.

Excerpt:

From Part One: The Way of the Warrior

Becoming a warrior and facing yourself is a question of honesty rather than condemning yourself. By looking at yourself, you may find that you’ve been a bad boy or girl, and you may feel terrible about yourself. Your existence may feel wretched, completely pitch-black, like the black hole of Calcutta. Or you may see something good about yourself. The idea is simply to face the facts. Honesty plays a very important part. Just see the simple, straightforward truth about yourself. When you begin to be honest with yourself, you develop a genuine gut level of truth. That is not necessarily cutting yourself down. Simply discover what is there; simply see that, and then stop! So first, look at yourself, but don’t condemn yourself. It’s important to be matter-of-fact, on the spot. Just look, and when you see the situation in its fullest way, then you begin to be a warrior.

Chapter 1: Facing Yourself

Our subject matter is warriorship. Anyone who is interested in hearing the truth, which in Buddhism we call the dharma; anyone who is interested in finding out about him or herself; and anyone who is interested in practicing meditation is basically a warrior. Many approaches to spirituality and to life in general are influenced by cowardice. If you are afraid of seeing yourself, you may use spirituality or religion as a way of looking at yourself without seeing anything about yourself at all. When people are embarrassed by themselves, there is no fearlessness involved. However, if someone is willing to look at himself or herself, to explore and practice wakefulness on the spot, he or she is a warrior.

“Warrior” here is a translation of the Tibetan word pawo. Pa means “brave,” and wo makes it “a person who is brave.” The warrior tradition we are discussing is a tradition of bravery. You might have the idea of a warrior as someone who wages war. But in this case, we are not talking about warriors as those who engage in warfare. Warriorship here refers to fundamental bravery and fearlessness.


Warriorship is based on overcoming cowardice and our sense of being wounded. If we feel fundamentally wounded, we may be afraid that somebody is going to put stitches in us to heal our wound. Or maybe we have already had the stitches put in, but we dare not let anyone take them out. The approach of the warrior is to face all those situations of fear or cowardice. The general goal of warriorship is to have no fear. But the ground of warriorship is fear itself. In order to be fearless, first we have to find out what fear is.

Fear is nervousness; fear is anxiety; fear is a sense of inadequacy, a feeling that we may not be able to deal with the challenges of everyday life at all. We feel that life is overwhelming. People may use tranquilizers or yoga to suppress their fear: they just try to float through life. They may take occasional breaks to go to Starbucks or the mall. We have all sorts of gimmicks and gadgets that we use in the hope that we might experience fearlessness simply by taking our minds off of our fear.

Where does fear come from? It comes from basic bewilderment. Where does basic bewilderment come from? It comes from being unable to harmonize or synchronize mind and body. In the sitting practice of meditation, if you have a bad seat on the cushion, you are unable to synchronize your mind and body. You don’t have a sense of your place or your posture. This applies to the rest of life as well. When you don’t feel grounded or properly seated in your world, you cannot relate to your experience or to the rest of the world.

So the problem begins in a very simple way. When body and mind are unsynchronized, you feel like a caricature of yourself, almost like a primordial idiot or a clown. In that situation, it is very difficult to relate to the rest of the world.

That is a simplified version of what is known as the setting sun mentality: having completely lost track of the basic harmony of being human. The idea of the setting sun is that the sun is already setting in your world, and you cannot rise above the darkness. You feel that there is only misery, clouds, the dungeon, life in the gutter. To compensate for that, you might go to a very dark dungeon with bad lighting, where you get drunk. That is called a club. You dance like a drunken ape who has forgotten bananas and its home in the jungle a long time ago. So it feasts on cheap beer while wiggling its tail. There is nothing wrong with dancing per se, but in this case it is a form of escaping from or avoiding your fear. It’s very sad. That is the setting sun. It’s a dead end, a very dead end.

In contrast to that, the Great Eastern Sun is the sun that is fully risen in your life. It is the sun of wakefulness, the sun of human dignity. It is Great because it represents upliftedness and the qualities of openness and gentleness. You have an uplifted sense of posture or place in your world, which we call having good head and shoulders. It is in the East because you have a smile on your face. East is the concept of dawn. When you look outside first thing in the morning, you see light coming from the East, even before the sun rises. So the East is the smile you have when you wake up. The sun is about to rise. Fresh air is coming with the dawn. So the sun is in the East and it is Great.

Here, the Sun is a completely mature sun, the sun that you see in the sky around ten o’clock in the morning. It is the opposite of the image of the drunken ape dancing at midnight under the light of dim electric bulbs. The contrast is astounding, so extraordinary! The Great Eastern Sun vision is uplifted and awake, fresh and precise.

We could get into further details later, but first we should discuss the fundamental understanding of fear and fearlessness. One of the main obstacles to fearlessness is the habitual patterns that allow us to deceive ourselves. Ordinarily, we don’t let ourselves experience ourselves fully. That is to say, we have a fear of facing ourselves. Experiencing the innermost core of their existence is embarrassing to a lot of people. Many people try to find a spiritual path where they do not have to face themselves but where they can still liberate themselves—liberate themselves from themselves, in fact. In truth, that is impossible.

Published by Shambhala Publications

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (11th Trungpa) & Chokyi Senge (12th Trungpa)

Photo montage of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (11th Trungpa) & Chokyi Senge (12th Trungpa). Music is “Offering Chant” (Unplugged) by Lama Gyurme & Jean Philippe Rykiel.

UNDERSTANDING IS REALIZING ~ Master Strokes of Shri Ranjit Maharaj’s Teachings

“Never worry for anything, whatever state you are in. It is only a bodily or mind’s affair. You are stateless. All these states come and go. You are always He. Never accept anything less. What is there to prove, zero is always zero. You are untouchable. Forget everything and you are He at this very moment. There is nothing to leave and nothing to take. You are Self without self. There is only Oneness in the world. There is no duality. Everybody is He, so why worry.”

This small book is a collection of Ranjit Maharaj’s invaluable words, which are simple, straight forward and penetrate the heart of the sincere seeker of Reality. The teaching of Maharaj, like that of his master, Siddharameshwar Maharaj, is based on a simple and direct transmission of knowledge. He insists that what you see, perceive, think and feel is not true, because it is impermanent. By accepting this Truth through understanding, you discover who you really are, the eternal Reality, That which lies beyond all knowledge and ignorance. The book also contains many photos of both Ranjit and Siddharameshwar Maharaj.

Ranjit Maharaj Self Realization / Renunciation

AGAIN MORE ON the topic of “i dont exist!” (Renunciation) you are birthless and deathless, true renunciation is to see that you dont exist! and that nothing is true!

You play a part as the body/ mind but know and understand i am not this- it is just a part i play! There is no need to change anything or do anything as all action is itself bondage and indicates doership -have the deep understanding i dont exist and i do nothing-be in it but be out of it all-and the ego will eventually subside (as it never existed)and no mind remains

For Realization nothing needs to be done, for you are THAT already, thoughts and wrong beliefs cover your true Self.

Shri Ranjit Maharaj explains this so well! Surrender to the MASTER (i dont exist) THEN YOU trueself will shine.

Ranjit Maharaj, I dont exist, conciousness, awareness

Ranjit Maharaj-the Master says “AS long as you exist you cannot accept what i say” One must understand that i does not exist, if i does not exist then who does? HE alone remains, yourself self without self.

When you forget yourself Master-THE SELF remains and you are that! the Master and aspirant are one-without saying or experiencing! when you are not there-i dont exist
there is no one to experiene anything, experience is itself illusion and indicates the illusory ego! say i dont exist and churn this until mind becomes no mind!

Adi Da Samraj: EgoDeath Part 4 – 6


Adi Da continues to critique the usual (degenerate) approaches to rid ourselves of the feeling of fear, or through religious distractions. He brings us to the critical understanding of self-contraction or the avoidance of relationship and feeling… and the cultic rituals that reinforce the sense of immunity.

Adi Da Samraj: EgoDeath5

Here Beloved Adi Da climaxes his illumination as He guides listeners directly into naked fear as the necessary passage to Love. Magnificient. BTW, this talk can be found in the book, Scientific Proof of the Existence of God Will Soon Be Announced by the White House!

Adi Da Samraj, EgoDeath6

Beloved finishes this consideration by describing ego death as the “natural” process of sixth stage yoga that serves as the bridge to the transfiguring stages of full enlightenment.

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