“Fear is death, fear is sin, fear is hell, fear is unrighteousness, and fear is wrong life. All the negative thoughts and ideas that are in the world have proceeded from this evil spirit of fear.” Swami Vivekananda
by Zenkei Blanche Hartman
former Abbess of the
San Francisco Zen Center
There is a verse that’s on the han–the wooden block that calls us to the zendo. It’s also sometimes chanted just before bedtime in many Zen monasteries. It is an exhortation to practice and goes something like this:
‘May I respectfully remind you: Great is the matter of birth and death.
All is impermanent, quickly passing. Be awake each moment.
Don’t waste this life.’
“The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” is Shakespeare’s eloquent prose in Hamlet that perfumes the stench of what many consider the most futile of all the 7 basic fears: the fear of death.
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“Death is resented and feared because it brings an end to human joy, but it also brings an end to fear and pain and suffering.” Iona Heath
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