po_smileatfear4bLove is what we are born with, fear is what we learn. Fear is always future-based. We fear what might happen later. The past is gone. If past traumas cause fear in us, it is only because we fear that the traumatic event will reoccur. But the future doesn’t exist now, in the present, the only moment in which we are alive. This is what the Buddha realized. If you could be in the radical present moment, not lost in the past, not anxious about the future, you could be fearless.

Imagine that you wake up in the middle of the night to find a deadly snake coiled next to you on your bed. Filled with terror at the thought of being bitten, you spend the night frozen in fear. But as sunlight floods your room the next morning, you discover that the “snake” is really a belt you forgot to put away the night before.

Does the snake matter? No. Does the belt? Yes. It is your perception of life—not life itself—that is illusory.

— Rabbi Rami Shapiro