Overcoming Fear by Embracing Death: Unity Vs. Individuality

by Richard W

So far in this series of articles on overcoming fear, we’ve explored how each fear can be traced to a fear of death and also, how our ‘web of identity’ affects the way we approach our fear. Now, let’s go deeper still into the caverns of who we are and look at the source pain behind our fear of death. Whether a final death or an every day challenge to our sense of self, it confronts our identity causing us to be afraid. Thus we often cling to certain traits/identities within us when others are challenged, especially our world view and belief system. It’s been shown over and over again that when reminded of our fear of death, we react generously to those who reinforce our beliefs and harshly to those who call our beliefs into question.

  • What causes us to behave this way?

Unity Vs, Individuality

As I mentioned in the first article, we come into this world without knowing separation, thus there is no specific individual identity to cling to. This is ‘unity consciousness’. However, within the first year of life we will begin to become aware of duality – that is ‘me in relation to you’. Whereas newborns will not distinguish between themselves and their mothers, 1 year-olds will be able to see that they are in fact separate entities.

This causes great pain to an infant, which we call separation anxiety. It is the first time we experience death in our lifetimes; a loss of identity. So, we begin to search for our own identity – what is our place in the world? And here begins the apparent conflict between the two opposing currents of love (unity consciousness) and individuality (separation). Thus a child will flip several times a day between needing to be supported and nurtured and needing to assert their independence, which of course continues into adulthood, if only in a more subtle way.

The two ‘flows of consciousness’ conflict because of fear – we fear to lose ourselves in unity consciousness, to lose our uniqueness, that which defines us. This is the underlying cause: the ‘source pain’, of our fear of death. It is the reason so many are not able to meditate deeply – to hit that point where we blend effortlessly into the vastness of the universe. So how do we consolidate these two apparently opposing flows so that they work together in our lives, so that fear arises less and less? Well, I’m afraid there’s no method I can give you. The answer lies in the opposite of method – surrender…..total and utter surrender.

Surrender into nothingness

We have to let the fear arise. We have to make friends with it. We have to let go of our clinging. We have to be prepared to dissolve into nothingness. It takes a deep surrender to let go of our identities. The parent, the musician, the football player, the intellectualist, the lover, the carer, the comedian, the warrior – they must all go.

They have to all be thrown into the black hole of nothingness – to my knowledge there is no other way to overcome fear! We have to literally become the black hole. Emptiness. Here’s the thing – this emptiness, this nothingness. There is actually a wholeness to it. A purity of life. Some call it unconditional love. It is not really nothingness but no-thing-ness. There is no object (there is not even a subject) to cling to and produce duality… …and out of this nothingness, this pure potential, comes our real uniqueness.

It is not something that can be easily described, easily labelled, and therefore there is no identity with it. It is just you, pure and simple. It is felt as a kind of ‘rightness’ in every moment. It is not the rightness of right and wrong, this is a judgement, a duality which leads to identifying with a certain point of view. It is a spontaneous ‘knowing’ of how to respond to any given situation. It is beyond the mind and yet it is alignment for you and those around you, even if it makes people uncomfortable.



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