Fear and emptiness
I guess it's the matrix. And we all know that's not what we want. We want to be real. Not in a holodeck, forgotten, by ourselves, who we are, and how we got there.
Fear is useless. I have learned that if you are truly in danger, physically or metaphysically, fear is utterly useless. At least that's true for me. Fear runs so much adrenaline through my system that I can't think clearly. And yet, in such a situation, thinking clearly is of utmost importance.
I have a friend. I am quite certain that he has an immobile amygdala. I'm not sure he'd admit that, but he does admit he's "not the fear type." That's putting it mildly. The amygdala, an almond shaped mass in the brain, processes anxiety, fear, and other emotions. When it doesn't move, digestion of emotions is inhibited. This has many implications, some of them rather disconcerting for the surrounding social environment. One is the complete absence of fear.
According to my understanding of the condition, there are no memories of scary events; no anticipation of punishment. No memory of punishment. Or other forms of painful events. This allows for what looks like a blatantly ruthless way of moving in the world, genuinely without concern for self or others, because there is no experience of fear-based suffering. There is also no truly personal experience, neither within, nor without. So other beings are impersonal, like chess pieces, and all that matters is to save the king, and to do so through strategy. There is no fear of social repercussions. The only discomfort is to find freedom limited, or ease impaired. But fear is no concept.
This is socially highly fascinating. Because recognizing how a person reasons and acts who does not experience fear, I realize how most of us, in fact, 97% of us, whose amygdala moves and responds to impulses, and shares with our awareness experiences of worry, fear, and anxiety, are completely hooked by avoiding negative social implications. Our entire society is BUILT on scaring each other from doing things that aren't generally acceptable. This means we constantly constantly constantly use each other's tendency to get afraid as a way to manipulate each other into being docile citizens.
And this is not just fear of obvious punishment such as prison or other types of blatant pains. This is simply the fear of subtle disapproval signals. We all send them. We roll our eyes. We smile at someone, and as soon as they look away, grimace.
I try try try try try to keep myself from doing it when I find myself about to, or in the middle of it. I think it's the easy way out: I get away with quickly putting it on them when I'm uncomfortable with something they do, say, or express. Instead of looking into my own heart, honestly, I get to roll my eyes. Tiny. A tiny instant only. And yet so powerful. Just now behind their backs I have washed myself off my dirt and poured it over them. But really, all it means is that I get to keep my shit. You know what I mean? I get to stay unconscious. I get to ignore who I really am. In this moment. Of rolling my eyes.
You'd think since I try hard to prevent my doing this type of manipulation to others - or really, doing it to myself, since it's simply a way to avoid deeper self-knowledge - that I'd be freer when people do it to me. But I'm not. Maybe to some small extent, yes. I can sit there, once I realize what's happening, and go: "They are not doing this consciously. I understand how it happens." I have to be alert like a lynx to catch and keep myself from doing it. So I don't blame them. But even though I know that, the same way I do, it's just their way of keeping themselves comfortable and safe in who they think they are, and what they think is right and wrong, I still play. I play this social game of liking each other. (No this is not a fb joke but it could become one if I thought about it longer.)
I realize how much I am influenced by this quality of manipulation. It has become more subtle over the years - the decades of search for inner freedom have not completely left me without findings, thank the Goddess - but the principle remains the same: Without even being aware, I realize, in stark contrast to this bad friend of mine, that I am constantly juggling the avoiding of disapproval signals: will the receptionist be unhappy if I do that, will the waiter be happier if I do that. Do I need to go to this party, or what do I need to do to turn down the invitation without jeopardizing relations with others. I can't even list them or find appropriate situations. The ones I'm listing above are way too crude for what I'm actually trying to say here. It is so subtle, what I'm referring to, so subtle. Because once it becomes as obvious and crude as described, it becomes easy to deal with. But while it's in the subtle stages, it's such a pain of bondage. The bondage of mutual social conditioning.
Now of course put someone with a frozen amygdala, with complete absence of fears, including and especially these subtle social fears, with me, or anyone else (you, e.g.) whose amygdala functions unfrozenly toward providing a properly conditioned member of society - and you get an explosive, highly highly explosive, situation.
Because see, we usually regulate each other through these subtle fears and desires for acceptance and approval. If one side doesn't have that, but is extremely good at figuring out what signals to send to me to trigger me releasing of the goodies they want, but at the same time is completely immune to my subtly or directly communicated preferences regarding their goodies (directly communicated since, see above, that's what I strive for, out of fairness to those around me) - you can see, this spells disaster.
The reason this bugs me, and why I'm writing about it, is that I WANT MORE FREEDOM than this!
I do think it's perfectly alright to care about other people enough to factor their wellbeing into my decision making. But I do not think that it's okay to be motivated by this subtle fear.
I appreciate my own efforts to become aware of my manipulating others, and stopping it. I am grateful for this friend because NONE of my previously unconscious manipulations work. And because they don't work the way they usually do, I finally get to see they're there, that I'm doing them. I get hit over my head by their absence of functioning on this man. But becoming aware so far has not protected me from falling for wanting to do, or refrain from doing, whatever the things are that would trigger his releasing of yummy goodies. So - you can see - he's getting a good deal. A very good deal.
And so, driven by trying to avoid fear and emptiness - I've become a slave.
This is the reason why I think fear is ultimately useless. Because the only purpose fear seems to serve is to be able to be manipulatable. By each other. It seems to be important for human ape society to function as well as it does. And we think it functions poorly. But really - it functions very well. And it's that subtle fear, amygdala moving produced worry and anxiety, that allows us to mold each other.
I seek a path past that. A path that allows for a healthy conscience. One that honors that I experience fear. But one that allows me to not get manipulated by that fear, or by the fear of feeling the fear. So - here I go, head on - readying myself to feel fear, and to experience emptiness - and to be free. With a heart. Free. With heart. Free. With heart.