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Thread: Fear of failure

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    Fear of failure

    Hey all,

    Saijun and Jundo have heard me go on about my terror of the Rakusu....but I have so much fear of failure in so many aspects of this path even though the practice itself is constant failure (Shikantaza). I know this, but...

    I used to always hold two jobs because I was afraid I'd lose one. Part of the reason I didn't really join a Sangha before now is that I was terrified of having a meltdown like what happened last year with Jundo and Taigu. Their accepting me back has gone a long way toward alleviating my fear - and of course, I'm stuck, because I can't ever not be on this path. Similarly, I've come to see that teachers and a Sangha are indispensable - one cannot easily remove his own barriers.

    Sitting Shikantaza comes so naturally to me. Everything else brings up persistent fears of humiliation and rejection. I've seen that my path has been one of constant failure, and that each failure has been a gift, but I dread it nonetheless.

    I just needed to put this out there because I don't want to present an air of confidence that I don't actually possess.

    Chet

  2. #2

    Re: Fear of failure

    Tearing down walls and not erecting new ones is great practice. Knowing what walls we face is a great begginning. Gassho Shogen

  3. #3

    Re: Fear of failure

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Hey all,

    Saijun and Jundo have heard me go on about my terror of the Rakusu....but I have so much fear of failure in so many aspects of this path even though the practice itself is constant failure (Shikantaza). I know this, but...

    I used to always hold two jobs because I was afraid I'd lose one. Part of the reason I didn't really join a Sangha before now is that I was terrified of having a meltdown like what happened last year with Jundo and Taigu. Their accepting me back has gone a long way toward alleviating my fear - and of course, I'm stuck, because I can't ever not be on this path. Similarly, I've come to see that teachers and a Sangha are indispensable - one cannot easily remove his own barriers.

    Sitting Shikantaza comes so naturally to me. Everything else brings up persistent fears of humiliation and rejection. I've seen that my path has been one of constant failure, and that each failure has been a gift, but I dread it nonetheless.

    I just needed to put this out there because I don't want to present an air of confidence that I don't actually possess.

    Chet
    Chet, I think you are headded in the right direction.

    All the best

  4. #4

    Re: Fear of failure

    Hello Chet.

    I know you have mentioned an interest in art before, and never got the chance to study as much as you would have liked. maybe now is the time. A simple piece of art can't be perfect, no matter how hard you may try. it can be a good teacher that you can't get it perfect, sometimes not even close, but each work shows you the lessons you are learning and how well you are doing. It can be great to help see what is going on in your head but also to see how those thoughts change when you transalte them to the outer world.

    If nothing else it could be a good time filler while you are recovering from your acident and you might have a good reminder of your recovery to look back on.


    Undo

  5. #5

    Re: Fear of failure

    To be honest it sounds like you need to get back to the basics.

    Remember that suffering is due to attachments. There are things that you just can't control. Accept that for what it is.

    Take some time to review the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path. Think about how it applies top you, personally, and how you can apply it to your life.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    How exactly would you know that your rakusu is a failure? How would you know that it is not? What are you comparing against?
    Why would it matter - how would it matter - if a few stitches are out of line?

    I heard this today: Process and goal must become one. Cutting the first piece is already the goal. Then the next.

    Wishing you well!

  7. #7
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Fear of failure

    Quote Originally Posted by joshbrown
    To be honest it sounds like you need to get back to the basics.

    Remember that suffering is due to attachments. There are things that you just can't control. Accept that for what it is.

    Take some time to review the four noble truths and the noble eightfold path. Think about how it applies top you, personally, and how you can apply it to your life.
    I think this is a bit akin to thinking that you can get someone to quit smoking if you just keep telling him the health consequences of smoking. Humbly, if you think this stuff just goes away through sutra study or practice, I think this is not exactly the way it goes. It hasn't been my experience, although I may be 'doing it wrong'. In fact, I fully expect the fear to continue to exist to some extent - but that there may be both fear AND equanimity.

    Further, I didn't so much take this here as a problem to be solved, but rather to get my feelings about it out there. Sometimes I write with confidence and conviction about some things - but I want to broadcast my actual feelings about this other aspect of the path. I've been hiding my fear about these things under the guise of disinterest and disrespect - but it's fear, plain and simple. It feels good to come clean to the Sangha about that. I can face it as fear and not hide it under a bogus argument about the relevance of the tradition or the rituals. Not to say that some discussion about the tradition isn't in order, just that at least some of my reticence about these things stems from fear of failure and rejection, and perhaps a bit of laziness.

    I do need to take this to my practice though. Thanks for the reminder. If I've offended you in any way, I apologize. I'm still working out 'Right Speech', and I still rather suck at it.

    Chet

  8. #8

    Re: Fear of failure

    Right there with you in many ways, friend. I'm a bit of an overachiever and it comes mostly from being afraid of what would happen if anyone in any of the circles in which I work thought I was less than stellar. Why do I do this? I've no idea. Growing up, I was always the smallest kid in the class so maybe I had to work extra hard just to compete with the others (or risk getting the crap kicked out of me). Whatever, it is what it is.

    If you ever need inspiration about your rakusu, I'll send you photos of mine. I don't think there's a 90º corner on the thing . . . yet, it is perfect to me. Sewing one really is a great teacher. Go for it!

    Peace,
    Eika

  9. #9

    Re: Fear of failure

    Thank you for sharing, Chet. I think you are right that the fear (of whatever) may never really go away. But facing it is the most direct way to deal with it. And you've done just that! I think it says a lot about the sangha itself that you are comfortable "putting it out there."

    Not sure what else to say. Doesn't seem like you are looking for answers from us so much as simple acceptance. So, I accept!

    Gassho,
    Matt

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui rculver's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    Chet,

    Thank you for the post. I'm really glad you're here. You often express things that I don't seem to be able to.

    Ron

  11. #11
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    I agree with Ron and am grateful for all your postings in one way or another Chet.
    'Failure' implies an expectation. Don't expect anything!

  12. #12

    Re: Fear of failure

    Hi.

    Thank you.

    We are here, every cut, every stitch.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  13. #13
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    Nindo wrote:
    Process and goal must become one. Cutting the first piece is already the goal. Then the next.
    Very profound! Thank you Nindo _/_

  14. #14

    Re: Fear of failure

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse

    I think this is a bit akin to thinking that you can get someone to quit smoking if you just keep telling him the health consequences of smoking. Humbly, if you think this stuff just goes away through sutra study or practice, I think this is not exactly the way it goes. It hasn't been my experience, although I may be 'doing it wrong'. In fact, I fully expect the fear to continue to exist to some extent - but that there may be both fear AND equanimity.


    Chet
    Very wise words and I don't think you are doing it wrong. Past experience / actions creates karma that you just have to work thru. Seeing the same negative patterns repeat can be frustrating but the deal is we have to accept everything as it is. The great thing is we can make changes and do things better or at least different. The fact that 'Shikantaza comes so naturally to you' is a true blessing and great place to start your work from - which is seeing this stuff as it arises. We tend to believe in a lot of myths and one of them is perfection.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Nenka's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    Chet,

    I admire your candor.

    Gassho,

    Jennifer

  16. #16

    Re: Fear of failure

    Hi Chet.

    I have to admit that one of the best things about my experience with Treeleaf is "disastermouse." You are brave enough to say what I only think.

    You are full of shit. But at least you know this and work with it. That's more than I can say about myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I used to always hold two jobs because I was afraid I'd lose one.
    As a kid I always wanted two of the same toys because I feared they would break. Well, I don't have to tell you what a road that led me down...do I?

    I think you are on the brink of a breakthrough if you just keep accepting that "everything that comes is gone forever, every time..."

    I want to be real but I am so fake. How do I tell you this? I'm here because I'm afraid. I don't trust anybody...not buddha...not Jundo...def not myself. I am watching lives come undone everyday...lives that brought me here...buddha is preaching his finest sermon right before my eyes...shower chairs...wheel chairs...chemotherapy...parents who forget my name....life unfolds...it is a miracle that you are here...that, as Whitman said, the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

    You mean alot to me. So what? Go find yourself. There's no one there.

    gassho
    Greg

  17. #17
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    This is what I tell my students every time they bring up some negative emotion/feeling that they are having: "Good for you!" It's great that you bring it up, because now you can better deal with it. Dealing with any feeling in the dark of the self is often not very productive, so if fear has gotten such a hold on you that you felt the need to speak up about it, then Good for you! That's a large chunk of the process of learning to get past it. Now you just have to keep moving on with that process.

    Probably the best piece of wisdom I ever got was from a Native American woman who said that when you discover fear the best thing to do is to lean into it. Don't just dive in and don't avoid it, but lean in. Take your time with it, have a taste, a small nibble, and then move forward with increasing time and bigger bites. Here's a more mundane example: When you turn the hot water on in the shower before you get it, do you just open the curtain and jump in or do you reach in to check the temperature first? Most people check the temperature first and then ease their way in to the shower. Same idea. Ease your way into the fear. Chet, you might be a dive in kind of guy, but I get the sense that method isn't working here, so lean into that fear. Do a little bit and see how it goes, then if it's ok, do a bit more, and so on.

    Here's a link to a nice article by Ezra Bayda about fear and how to deal with it:
    http://www.tricycle.com/practice/bursting-bubble-fear

    Be afraid, Chet, go for it 8)

  18. #18
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Fear of failure

    Wow, guys, thanks for the encouragement. Alan: Trungpa talks about this 'leaning' into what makes us uncomfortable, Pema Chödron too, I think.

    Jennifer, the disclosure is mostly so that I can't try to shit myself about it again, or shit you guys about it.

    Chet.

  19. #19
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    Another perfectionist here...Chet, thank you for putting that out there. I accept too. And understand you better.

    Gassho
    Julia

  20. #20
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Fear of failure

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    Another perfectionist here...Chet, thank you for putting that out there. I accept too. And understand you better.

    Gassho
    Julia
    Oh I'm hardly a perfectionist! I'm not worried about the Rakusu being messy, I'm overwhelmed by the steps. As for being with people - let's just say my own flaws have always been an issue. I am an 'adequate-ist' (maybe less than) with the arrogance of a perfectionist!

    Chet

  21. #21

    Re: Fear of failure

    Buddhism is very simple.

    It's up to you to believe in Buddhism. Or not.

    It's up to you to believe in yourself. Or not.

    It's up to a smoker to realize the health risks of smoking. Or ignore them.

    Do it. Or don't.

  22. #22
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    Chet, don't over think it
    Just one simple step at a time
    One stitch
    Forget all the bullshit thought
    And just do
    One
    Thing
    At
    A
    Time
    ...

  23. #23
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: Fear of failure

    Quote Originally Posted by joshbrown
    Buddhism is very simple.

    It's up to you to believe in Buddhism. Or not.

    It's up to you to believe in yourself. Or not.

    It's up to a smoker to realize the health risks of smoking. Or ignore them.

    Do it. Or don't.
    'Believe' in Buddhism? Interesting choice of words. So you 'believe' in 'Buddhism'? I don't believe in it - no more than I believe that the sky is blue. It simply is the truth.

    That said, embodying, expressing it fully is both instantaneous and takes quite a long while.

    Chet

  24. #24
    Friends of Treeleaf Dokan's Avatar
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    Re: Fear of failure

    This is something I've shared with Saijun and found inspired me:

    Hito hari hito hari kokoro o komete!
    (Stitch by stitch, sew with heart!)

    I find that, as I sew, if I put my whole heart and mind into the present stitch it's always perfect...even when it isn't. Perfectly imperfect.

    Although Saijun is done with his kesa now, maybe we can have a fukudenkai soon on Google+ as I know several of us are actively sewing.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  25. #25

    Re: Fear of failure

    Quote Originally Posted by shards
    This is something I've shared with Saijun and found inspired me:

    Hito hari hito hari kokoro o komete!
    (Stitch by stitch, sew with heart!)

    I find that, as I sew, if I put my whole heart and mind into the present stitch it's always perfect...even when it isn't. Perfectly imperfect.

    Although Saijun is done with his kesa now, maybe we can have a fukudenkai soon on Google+ as I know several of us are actively sewing.

    Gassho,

    Shawn
    Hello Shawn,

    "Done" isn't exactly the right term...and I'll be right there with you once it gets going!

    Metta and Gassho,

    Saijun

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