There is certainly a relationship between fear and desire. In my own life I’ve found that the one begets the other as a form of distraction. As someone who has a persistent battle with fear (in the form of baseline anxiety), I have come to discover that my overspending, overeating and over everything else is an attempt to distract from fear. Rather than face the anxiety directly, I find measures of distractions. I’ve done this my whole life, but only recently discovered the relationship.
Given that I’m a human being, much like yourself, I imagine I’m not alone on this error prone venture. Yes, it is error prone as the choice of desire is not in accordance with my will, but in accordance with fear. Rather like a Pavlov experiment, I become accustomed to the proverbial bell ringing of my expected desire.
Desire is a chase after something enticing, to remove the focus from the current state of affairs (whatever they may be.) If I’m morose, depressed, afraid of my job, afraid of illness or concerned financial despair it isn’t long until I begin the chase. My mind starts looking for something to desire. The desire can be an image… of a larger house, a different spiritual path, a role playing game that promises to lose me in its vast tapestry of illusion or even sex. Whatever the case may be, the choices are not dictated by my core ideals or even my regular mundane mind. These choices are knee jerk reactions in avoidance of anxiety, and fear.
Anxieties and Stress
Fear isn’t always a phobia. Fear can be a form of stress. Consider anxiety with driving, worried about the other cars that might smash into yours. Or worried about the sound of a Skype message on your phone (likely work), that you can’t get to, as your driving. There it goes again… and again. Notification after notification ping, while you’re pondering, “what could be going on at work?” Even the clothing I wear can create stress. Is the shirt too tight? Is it bunching up around the shoulders, or tight around the stomach?
In time the whole of it comes crashing down and to handle it I reach into my old bag of tricks to run away yet again. Smoke a nice cigar… eat a nice greasy pizza for lunch… blow some money on a fancy thing a ma jig. What comes after that? Regret. “Oh why did I smoke the cigar? Why did I eat the pizza? Why did I throw my money away, yet again?”
You’d think I’d learn from it, but I don’t and you know why? Because I never addressed it. I never had an inkling that the cycle I’m describing was a result of a fear – desire relationship.
Kill the Fear… and you kill the desire. Kill the desire and you kill the fear.
Processes to Counter Fear and Desire
How does one kill fear or desire? The antidotes to these infections is found in a variety of sources. From the East, the Buddhist analyzes the end result of every desire…. all desirable passion can be considered the work of a future corpse. Buddhists and Daoists meditate on the impermanence of the human form, it decays, rots, becomes filled with puss and worms. In this frame of mind the desire is lost. Similarly the desire for any object can be countered with its likely turn with time.
Fear can be countered with a good old fashioned Death Meditation. Meditating on the certainty of death, brings the greatest fear into view, putting all other fears into perspective. The anxiety over a work promotion looses its power when you ponder what it must be like gasping for your last breath.
Works of Humility
There’s another powerful affect on these problems using the work of humility. Humbling one’s physical self, limits the effect of physical attributes, giving rise to the expanded nature of Self. Fear and Desire only work within the physical space, if the physical space is humbled, then the elements are lost as well.