Right And Wrong Fear

Right And Wrong Fear

With nothing but coronavirus talk in the news, misinformation and panic rampant, I thought it an appropriate moment to speak about fear. There is right fear and wrong fear — let’s learn to separate the two.

First, be diligent with yourself in noticing how the media you consume affects your inner state. How does your spirit, unguarded, respond to instigation to fear? Remember, the media thrives on your fear. The industry is not in service of your health, but in service of your attention, and they make more money, the more media you consume. The inner posture of fear tends to over-consume, because it is searching for something to allay the feeling. They have no interest in creating peace within us. They profit from our spiritual misguidedness.

Wrong fear is entirely self-centered. It is concerned only with the fate of one’s own body. Will I get sick? Will I die? … The rational mind, clear in thought, knows that of course you will die. And no fear or fleeing from sickness will ever change that.

Right fear, maybe we’ll call it awe, arises from the willingness to look upon the dark and terrible face of God — the god of death and destruction, the god of hurricanes and burning constellations, the god of decay, suffering, pain and loss. All of these things are true, real, even beautiful. All births rise from some death. But the little ego in us wants to shun them from our small purview of reality, let alone include them in the wholeness of life and God.

When we make room for right fear, for awe, the illusions and suffering of egoic fear begin to fall away. Then there is something balancing the scale against the media’s hysteria. Breathe into the posture that can look upon the dark of life — feel how small we are in the face of that awesomeness. But what a privilege it is to be the eyes of the world — the only witness to all of God’s beauty.

Tilt the scales in the other direction, by right thinking and conscious practices.


Zach Fredman

Rabbi Zach Fredman is at the cutting edge of Jewish meaning making and creativity. He serves as rabbi and music director at The New Shul, a New York City community renowned for its dynamic programming, which seeks to envision how ancient and modern wisdoms can create a place for thriving Jewish investigation and community.

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