Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less. —Marie Curie*
Too often, religions foster fear in their adherents. The fear fits a formula: If I don’t _____, I will suffer _____. Religion requires a conformity to thinking, reflecting and experiencing of a former time that has been reduced to formula, doctrine or belief. The follower who does not measure up suffers a consequence–often an eternal consequence.
This sort of approach to the search for truth and meaning unfortunately binds people into a sort of prison: the prison of fear. It allows for no ability to step outside of convention. It allows for no experience that has not be “pre-approved.” It means that when “mistakes are made” the response is less reflection and learning and more shame and guilt.
Marie Curie’s words are such an invitation to a new world. What if we were to choose to allow any experience of fear to be a cue? The cue would be to stop, take a deep breath, and consider: here is an opportunity for me to understand something new. I am afraid of this thing, but if I ask questions, take a look, allow myself an experience that is just beyond my comfort zone, can I learn something about myself, about life, about the world, about humanity?
Fear is often developed in us before we gain any skills in inquiry and reflection. By the time we are able to do both, fear has its grip, and so the efforts required become heroic. We need not be heroes, however. We need only decide: today I will try to understand across the line that now looks like fear to me.
That understanding can come by standing on the other side of the line of fear and asking questions. It can come by moving right up to the edge and looking deeply at the other side. It can come from taking a step, or two or twenty across the line and experiencing what is over there. In any of these instances, the understanding comes by taking in new experiences that allow us some new mode of understanding.
*cited from full article featuring “Scientists and God”