Fear of Flying

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Some bouncy turbulence on our Pacific flight, and I sit a little pacific Zazen. Dogen and many teachers of centuries past crossed to China in wooden boats, on voyages taking days or weeks, meeting storms and constant dangers. I can only imagine their state, sitting Zazen in a leaky vessel as waves pounded the timbers. Now anyone can fly the same trip in hours, and in comfort. Statistics tell us how safe it all is.

Yet, part of me is cringing and terrified in the wind tossed plane, my fingers clenching the armrests.

Plane trips always are particularly good times for Zazen, in part due to an irrational fear of flying that I sit with. That fear, despite having made the Pacific crossing over 70 times ...

... I think that the initial grip of fear, as the plane is bounced around, is natural ... hard wired into the most primitive part of the brain. But from that point, years of flying experience have shown that there is some control ... a perfect moment for Zazen.

I have learned that, when the plan goes up, I just go up. No resistance. When it goes left and right, I go left and right ... no resistance. Despite the terror and lack of control. I just roll with the rolls. No resistance. My 'self' just as light and transparent as air.

Up down right left, I just go.

Oh, on some level deep within, the fear is still there, burning deep ... that is natural. But that fire loses much of its fuel when resistance is dropped.

Up down right left ... soon, no "I" apart from plane and air. 




(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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