The other morning I opened Instagram to get a hit of inspiration. I soon found it in a Robin Sharma post replete with positivity — a page from his book, The 5AM Club. As I read it, the phrase “limited by the devilish fear of rejection” leapt out at me.
I practise Nichiren Buddhism, and here in Canada, we’ve studied and talked a lot this month about devilish functions. Basically, a devilish function is the part of you that discourages you from acting constructively because it seems too troublesome. It saps your life force and your positive energy, thereby creating unhappiness and suffering.
As Satoru Izumi, former senior chief of the Soka Gakkai guidance committee, said in his 1982 book, Guidelines of Faith: “… the word “devil” in Buddhism … does not indicate an imaginary evil spirit or being such as those depicted in pictures, but rather means the negative functions innate in life.”
And as a newspaper clipping I have stuck on my fridge, which has turned brown with the passing of the years, says: “Interestingly, our English word “devil” comes from the Greek DIABOLOS meaning that which splits, or divides, us.”
Yup. Divides and drives wedges between races, countries, religions, family members, work colleagues and couples. And within individuals, that devilish function separates us from our greatest possibilities as humans. It impoverishes and limits our experience of life, and other people’s experience of us.
Going back to Robin Sharma’s book, the excerpt he posted brims with ways to enrich other people’s lives — and your own in the process. And in that sea of positivity the warning about being limited by devilish fear struck home.
I come by my devilish fears very naturally and organically. Until the age of eight a succession of five different nannies raised me, so I became insecure. Then unfortunately my mother was troubled and difficult to be around. I had a male teacher from age 9 to 11 who bullied and hit all the children, except those very few he favoured. At 18 I lived with a man 13 years my senior, who had a violent temper. I left after he punched me in the head. Newly arrived in Canada at age 21, and completely lost one night, I accepted a ride from a stranger. He abducted me, and punched me in the head when I tried to escape. I consented to have sex with him because I didn’t want to die that awful night.
Then what do I do? Succumb? Give in to my fears? I think not. I think that precisely because all these things have happened in my life, I have a mission to overcome fear.
Robin Sharma’s post served as one of several messages that Life/Universe has been sending me recently to encourage me to move beyond, or move through, or just MOVE, and get out of my perceived limitations. I had forgotten that, while I have a mind, I am not my mind. Anymore than I am my big toe. And because I had forgotten that, I was letting the devilish fear that my mind produced win, and myself, lose.
Because whether it’s a devilish fear of rejection, or of failure, or of hard work, or of looking foolish, or of criticism, or of the unknown, or of feeling uncomfortable, or of disappointment, or of whatever, when I pay attention to it, and feed it with overthinking, it grows fat on my doubts, and expands. And I shrink inside. I’ve turned my back on the very thing that life has presented to me in order to help me progress as a human being. To assist me in my inner growth, which, frankly, is the whole purpose of Earth School.
And how to overcome instead of overthink?
From personal experience, I recommend the Emotional Freedom Technique (a.k.a. Tapping) as a great mind calmer and changer.
And then, we all possess a potential powerhouse of positivity that so often gets overlooked or even scorned. Prayer. Determined, appreciative prayer. As the up-and-coming American jazz composer, musician and singer Angel Bat Dawid said in a radio interview this year: “To keep grounded and present I pray every day,” later adding, “If you’re gonna pray, don’t worry.”
As she infers, prayer needs to be followed by taking action with faith — believing that we’re doing something positive — but without attachment to the immediate outcome. Like every form of wholehearted living, prayer-based actions need to be unconditional, not transactional, if they are to enrich our soul. Have a vision, yes. And then trust Life as to how exactly it unfolds.
When people’s hearts change and they arouse great courage, their voice, expression, behaviour and spirit also change, and they can transform every aspect of their lives and environment. ~ Daisaku Ikeda
When you challenge devilish fear it shrinks and fades away; it has fulfilled its mission, its hidden positive purpose for your life. You have changed your life on the inside, and accordingly, your outside life also changes.
A new year, 2021, is just around the corner. Speaking for myself, my #1 resolve is to continue to chant and pray for one hour every day. And my #2 resolve is to challenge one fear, every day. I’m going to write my little or big triumph down daily, so I can accumulate a list of them to encourage myself to keep my momentum going. And, I will keep reminding myself that Life has mystic power!
Actually, I’ve decided not to wait until the new year begins, but to get going right now. And so I’m writing and publishing this post! Let me know below if it was helpful to you!
Alex, I appreciated where you mentioned « prayer-based actions need to be unconditional not transactional. » This aspect needs to be underscored as many people desire instant gratification results which usually isn’t the messy way life works ..
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Yes. And then it becomes so easy to doubt, give up, or even regret having made good causes in the first place. All of which impoverish our heart and soul. Thanks for commenting on this, Anne!
Very encouraged and inspired by this post Alexandra! I loved the line- “I had forgotten that, while I have a mind, I am not my mind. Anymore than I am my big toe.”
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Thank you so much Sudeshna! I am encouraged and inspired by your comment! 🙏
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