Fear And Illusion

 

I have already written about fear, in Fate, Fear, And The Lady Death. Still, one can never write enough. For fear is the poison that so often ruins life, and kills the hero within us before he can emerge into the light of day. And who is so self-destructive as the frustrated hero - or as dangerous to the world? For the coward, who longs to be, but dares not be, a hero, is the deadliest of all human beings, hiding behind giant weapons that let him put on the heroís mask, without ever growing the heroís heart. This is the one who has left the world in ruins. The one who is not brave enough to know that bravery is something felt inside, not "proved" by hurting the weak.

For some, courage is an inborn thing. They are born heroic, like the proud lion who will not run. Or the loving mother, who rushes into the burning house because her child is there.

For others, courage is something that must be developed over time. Some, never put to the test, ignore the secret signs that they are not courageous until some great moment of truth arrives, that proves them to be a coward. Like the protagonist in Stephen Craneís Red Badge Of Courage, the pain and shame then drive them past the fear, for they have discovered that not even death could be as awful as this burning feeling of self-contempt. Others, on numerous small, and secret occasions, detect the fear within their hearts, and repelled by what no one else has yet seen in them, begin the inner struggle to overcome it.

Hard though it is to believe, fear is best struck down by philosophy. Not the mind-only philosophy that builds an intellectual reputation, and never ventures from the tower of ideas, but the complete philosophy, the real philosophy, that enters through the mind and heart, like a vitamin enters through the mouth, then dissolves into the bloodstream, and is carried to every part of the body, every cell. So that when the time comes, the hands and feet do not betray the idea.

Yes, hard to believe. That guns and muscles are not the real birthplace of courage, but philosophy.

 

The key, of course, is to realize that fear is most always the product of an illusion. And then, to penetrate that illusion.

From The Arabian Nights, there is a wonderful tale which illustrates this point: "The Three Sisters." In this story, there is an episode in which a princess, Periezade, was informed of the existence of several magnificent wonders, including a singing bird in a cage, whose beautiful song was capable of attracting whole multitudes of beautiful singing birds. She thought how it might transform the splendid palace in which she lived, which was now left grim by the death of her father. But the mysterious bird lay far away, and could only be obtained by means of an extraordinary adventure. For a time, Periezade, therefore, remained silent about this wonder, yet now that she knew of it, she felt deprived and incomplete without it. Her loving brothers noticed the melancholy, and pressing her, finally forced her to reveal the secret; whereupon her first brother, Prince Bahman, insisted on undertaking the journey to find it, at once. Anxious, Periezade begged him not to go. It might be dangerous. But he would not be deterred, and gave her his knife. "Each day that I am gone," he told her, "draw the knife from the sheath and observe it. Do not worry about me, unless one day that you draw it, you see that it is stained with blood. Then, you will know that I have died."

Prince Bahman then vanished from their sight, embarking on a long and arduous journey, until he at last found a mysterious dervish, who was able to reveal to him the location of the magical bird. "It is at the top of a distant mountain. If you take this magic bowl, and hurl it into the air, you will be amazed to discover that it seems to have a life of its own. It will roll across the ground, all the way to the foot of the mountain. Follow it closely, and when it stops, dismount, and ascend to the peak, where the bird awaits you. However, brave stranger, heed my warning, and avoid this reckless quest. For I have given many a man, just as fine and brave as you, directions to that mountain. And none of them has ever returned."

"What is it," Prince Bahman asked, "that inhabits the mountain? Let me know, good dervish, that I may be prepared for it. Is it a lion? A band of guardian warriors? Some awful creature, hidden within a cave, waiting to spring out at whoever passes by?"

"No, none of those," the dervish answered. "Voices only. You will hear a thousand voices as you attempt to ascend the mountain. Voices screaming at you, voices warning you, voices insulting you, voices challenging you, voices crying out in pain, voices crying out in fury, terrifying voices, lamenting voices, voices that make your heart skip a beat, voices that penetrate to your very bones. But once you have begun the ascent, my good friend, you must not stop, or ever look behind you, or you will be turned into black stone, and spend the rest of eternity, silent and frozen, on the mountainside."

"Only voices?"  Prince Bahman smiled, and taking the cup from the dervish, thanked him, then hurled it in front of him. He was amazed to see it respond exactly as the dervish had described, rolling rapidly across the ground beyond him. He had to ride hard to keep up with it, until at last he and his panting horse arrived at the foot of the mysterious mountain.

An uneasy feeling passed through his body at the sight that confronted him. Multitudes of black stones lining the way, up the mountainís slopes. Hundreds of great men who had failed in this very task. Nonetheless, the prince was not one to back down. Determinedly, he began the ascent.

He had not gone far, however, when all at once, a terrible, almost unbearable wailing rose up on every side. Then a frightening inhuman hissing, and the roar, as of some monstrous beast. "Donít look back," he told himself, over and over again. But he could almost feel them, whoever, whatever they were, following him every step of the way, breathing down his neck, pursuing him, stalking him. And the voices began to call out to him. "Thief!" "Trespasser!" "Fool!" And to each other: "Kill him!" "He wonít get far!" "Letís bet on how long before he dies! I say heíll feel a knife in his back before he makes it halfway up!" "Thatís it! Weíre catching up with him!" "Heís not looking! Get him while heís not looking!" "Die! Transgressor! Violator! Give him what he deserves!" After a while, the torment became too much. Prince Bahman had begun to shake all over, and his legs had turned to jelly. The din was maddening, he felt all of his sense of purpose unraveling, until, at last, suddenly, he could bear it no more. "I must escape this cursed mountain!" he cried out, turning round to flee as fast as his feet could carry him. But, of course, he did not make it very far. In a moment, he felt a powerful jolt stop his body in its tracks, and suddenly he was absolutely still, silent as death itself. Now, where Prince Bahman had stood just a moment before, there was only a large black stone, the size of a man, among all the many others, and the quiet of the mountain, like the sea after a storm has passed, and everything is calm.

It happened on the twentieth day after Prince Bahman had left the palace, and on that day, when Princess Periezade drew the princeís knife from the sheath, as she had done every day since his departure, she saw a stream of blood appear, seeming to ooze out of the blade, as though it had just been cut. "Come brother, come quick!" she screamed to Prince Perviz, who came running to her side, whereupon she showed him the telltale knife, covered with blood, which dripped in slow, horrifying drops to the ground in front of their very eyes. Frowning, Prince Perviz said, "Our brother has met with foul play. Well. Iíll find out what happened. Donít cry, itís not your fault, sweet sister. You didnít want to tell us about the singing bird, and after you did, you tried to stop our brother from undertaking the dangerous mission to find it. You canít be blamed for the fact that he loved you too much to avoid risking his life to bring you happiness. Most men die for foolish things, anyway, but to die this way, to restore joy to the face of a beloved sister, grieving the loss of her father - that is no useless death."

"But now, I have even more reasons to grieve!" wept Periezade. "And my dear brother has been stolen from all the days and nights he might have occupied, and from all the worthy things he might have done, to be remembered for by coming generations!"

Again, Prince Perviz made the greatest effort to console the princess, whereupon he set out to seek the trail of his brother. Yet, secretly in his heart, he also kept the idea of finding the magical bird: for his sister, grieving for both a father and a brother, now, needed it more than ever, to bring back the joy her life had lost.

But, alas, a similar fate awaited poor Prince Perviz. He met the same dervish, received the same instructions and warning, followed the same magical cup, and soon found himself upon the same magical mountain as his brother. Fierce determination in his every step, eyes shining like a tigerís, he pushed up the mountainside, not knowing, as he passed among the trail of defeated heroes, which of the black stones was his brother. As the chorus of maddening voices rose up about him, he said, " Leave me in peace, you hateful, monstrous beings!" Then, right behind him, seeming to come from someone who was close enough to touch him, he heard a voice cry out: "Arrogant fool, how dare you climb my mountain! Are you running from me? Coward, face me, that I may strike you down!" Imagining a sword about to fall upon him from behind, Prince Perviz whirled around, drawing his sword to do battle with his foe - but there was nothing there. "God help me!" cried the prince, as the awful feeling of turning to stone spread through his body, like a poison for which there was no remedy. And in a moment, one more black stone stood upon the mountain, whose treasure lay untouched.

Back in the palace, it was the twentieth day since the princeís departure, and Periezade was a little anxious as she took out the string of pearls he had left with her, much in the manner that Prince Bahman had left her with his dagger. Each day, the princess had taken out the pearls, and let them slide through her hands, down the string. But on this day, the pearls did not slide, they stayed where they were, frozen on the string, and it was then that she knew that the same terrible fate that had befallen her first brother had now befallen her second.

"Woe unto me!" she cried out, in disbelief. "I have brought about the death of my two beloved brothers! All for my curiosity, my fragility, my whim!" While those around her attempted to comfort her, saying, "Poor princess! Itís not your fault! Poor, unfortunate princess!", she made up her mind to follow in her brotherís footsteps, to see if she could find what had become of them, by taking the same path, and coming face to face with the same danger. And so, disguised in her brotherís clothing, she snuck out of the palace one cloudy night, as the moon that might have betrayed her was veiled by clouds. And on the twentieth day of her journey, she, too, came upon the same mysterious dervish, who provided her with the same instructions, and the same warning.

The princess was a clever young woman, and knew, at once, that if her brothers had failed, the test must be truly terrifying. Nonetheless, she prayed that her love might somehow produce the courage that she needed; and also, took the precaution of fortifying the determination of her heart with the presence of her mind. She stopped both of her ears with cotton, before beginning the terrible ascent, in order to reduce the volume of the din which she had been warned she would encounter.

And then, the princess began the long and torturous climb. She had not gone very far, when all of the horrible voices began to rise up, like a storm that darkens the sky, surrounding her, enveloping her, pursuing her, insulting her, threatening her. They called her a murderer, a whore, a disgrace to her family. The said they would rape her, stab her, strangle her, throw her off the mountain, bury her in a landslide, rip her to pieces. They cried out in the voices of the wounded and the dead, begging her to turn back while there was still time. The cried out in the voices of drunkards and bandits, and the inhuman voices of ghosts and demons and monsters which set the imagination into a frenzy. But still the princess pushed on. At some of the insults, she laughed. At the most horrifying threats, she merely shrugged. "Well, go on, then," she said, "why so much talking? Action speaks louder than words."

As the mountain peak came closer and closer, so the intensity and wildness of the voices increased. But somehow, heart pounding, thinking of her brothers, and thinking of the magic bird at the top, she pushed on, until, at last, the frightening slope of the mountain gave way to a little refuge, in which she found the cage, and within it, the brilliantly-plumaged bird. "Fair princess," he told her, "your courage has made me yours. I promise to do my best to make your days beautiful and bright, and to bring my magic into your life."

And this was just the beginning. Not only was the bird the key to many other wonders, he was the key to the greatest wonder of all, which was the secret to restoring all of the tragic black stones, strewn along the mountainside, to life. Sprinkling each stone with a single drop of magic water - water which the bird had led her to - she had soon resuscitated a multitude of handsome warriors and youths, including her dearly beloved brothers. This generous act of salvation would lay the basis for many a useful alliance in the future, as the kings of other lands had their missing sons and brothers returned to them. And, of course, it was also the beginning of many years of happiness for the princess and the two princes.

So ends another beautiful tale from The Arabian Nights; and, as you can see, a masterful lesson in the role illusion so often plays in generating fear. For the voices were not real, they could not harm anyone, and yet they paralyzed, terrified, and deterred multitudes of men from attaining their goal, until the brave princess, at last - not stronger, or necessarily more courageous than those who fell - but more clearly aware of the difference between reality and illusion, and disciplined to be able to act according to her knowledge - finally broke the spell of the magic mountain. How many times are we deterred by voices, in our own lives - the voices of otherís fear, that come inside of us - or our own inner voices of fear - that we treat as reality when, in fact, they are only the dreadful noise of an illusion?

 

Many times, we fear things that are not real. We fear things that will never happen, or exaggerate consequences in our minds, turning the price we must pay to live our life into something that seems too costly, when what is really costly, is not living our life. In this way, for some, a spider by the bed becomes a tiger; the thought of being rejected, when one asks for a date, seems like being gunned down by an assassin; the possibility of losing a job where we are already mistreated and underpaid becomes like the sinking of the Titanic; being alone, for a while, in the wake of a relationship that wasnít working, seems like being given a life sentence in solitary confinement. Since, many times, discomfort and pain are the doorways we must walk through in order to find freedom, meaning, and joy in life, these misperceptions can often be highly destructive.

I am reminded of other images, and examples. The fascinating way the humpback whales sometimes procure food. These whales often hunt together, in a group, diving below their prey, which may be schools of cod, sardines, or mackerel, then moving up towards their intended victims, and along their flanks, while releasing a constant stream of bubbles. In the end, they generate a fabulous creation, a deadly form of underwater art, sometimes referred to as a "bubble net" - a wall of bubbles which hems in the targeted fish, who are herded close together, concentrated, and confined to a limited space - whereupon the whales then move up through the center of the "bubble cage" they have constructed, with their jaws wide open, swallowing up the dense swarms of fish that have become trapped there. Amazing, this teamwork and intelligence! Amazing, also, how the fish are trapped by an illusion - imprisoned by bubbles, an imaginary wall which they could swim right through - and then set up for the kill. Amazing, how they are driven by something that cannot harm them, into the jaws of something that can!

Isnít history, and arenít our private lives, filled with examples of human beings, trapped by bubbles? Afraid of making a change, afraid of making a response, afraid of making a move - fearing the bitter taste of the medicine more than the disease, fearing the inevitable wounds always incurred in taking the path of life, more than the fatal wound of never taking that path at all?

What about the scarecrow? Another wonderful example of the illusion that creates fear. How many of us stay away from the fields that are waiting to feed us, because of some impotent scarecrow casting his shadow over our minds? Believe me, our lives are filled with scarecrows, we spend years sitting on fences and looking at what we need, but cannot reach, because of them.

 

When it comes to the question of fear and illusion, I cannot help but go back, in my mind, to February 11, 1990, to another great example. This was the famous heavyweight title bout between Mike Tyson and James "Buster" Douglas, in which Tyson was, in some betting venues, a 42-1 favorite. Tyson, of course, was, at that time, undefeated, an absolutely terrifying fighter, with a devastating knockout punch, an intimidating attitude, a deadly, stalking style. Stepping into the ring with him was like facing a tiger, it was to feel overpowered, helpless, at the end of life. But, of course, Tyson, great though he was in those days, was only a man, like any other fighter who stepped into the ring. A man with two hands, two eyes, and a body that could not only hurt others, but also be hurt. When "Buster" Douglas stepped into the ring with Tyson that night, in Tokyo, he forgot to be terrified by him. He forgot that he was only a mediocre journeyman, with no right to win the heavyweight title, especially from a fighter so celebrated and vaunted as "Iron Mike." Douglas had recently lost his mother, and the intense pain and sorrow had put him into a zone where his own destruction in the ring really didnít matter that much to him. The fear that Tysonís presence usually instilled into his opponents - something very much like Medusa, whose very sight turned men to stone - did not, therefore, invade Douglasí heart or body that night. That fear, which was so often like a gigantic forcefield which kept opponents from penetrating to the humanity and vulnerability of Tyson, failed to paralyze Douglas, failed to turn him into a sitting duck for Tysonís assault; nor did it drive Douglas into a panic, as it did some fighters, disrupting his game plan and leading him into wild exchanges of punches - audacity as a form of fear. Instead, Douglas fought intensely, passionately, and intelligently: the one great fight of his life. Most importantly of all, he faced Tyson, the REALITY, who was just a man, like him; not Tyson, the ILLUSION, who was the unbeatable monster no man could stand up to. Tyson, undertrained and overconfident, when stripped of the shield of his great illusion, was not prepared to deal with Buster Douglas, the grieving son, trying to fight his way through the pain back to his mother. What followed has been called one of the greatest upsets of sports history.

Of course, in this example, we see, clearly displayed, one of the insights of the Japanese samurai, surely among the bravest of warriors of all times. And that is the insight that when we fear too much to lose something, we many times become incapable of holding onto it. In the case of battle, he who fears death too much (the loss of life) becomes inhibited and debilitated, and exposes himself to greater risk than he who, not thinking of death, remains fluid, alert, capable of acting and reacting decisively. The key to Douglasí unbelievable triumph over Tyson that night, was the fact that he was one of the first to overcome his fear of Tyson - to walk past the illusion of Tyson, that had the mythological proportions of a hydra, a chimera, a dragon - and face the real Tyson, who was only a human being, of flesh and blood.

Many times in life, we are paralyzed and deterred by things that are not real. Like sometimes happens at the hour of the day when objects cast gigantic shadows, much larger than they really are, we are intimidated, awed, and overwhelmed by illusions.

 

Clear thinking, in a philosophical mode, will often bring this insight. And suddenly, you may look and see that that amazing supermodel is just a human being like anyone else, and though she still may not say "Yes" when you ask her for a date, youíll realize that itís not like having an angel turn you away from Heaven when she says "No." Afraid to speak in public? Or sing? Or tell somebody what you really need? Or stand up for something that you know is right? Think it through. Really think it through, and youíll find a way to be brave, by realizing what matters, and what does not, and what you are capable of, once you have gained this knowledge.

Many times, we are like electrons, "excited" by the energy of fear, to occupy an outer/higher "shell" of an atom. We think we need to be there. But with clear thinking, it is possible to realize that if we let go of all the frantic energy, which needs to be pumped into the atom to keep us there, and settle down into a lower, more natural "shell", we really will have gained a great deal with our "loss." For though we will be "lower down", now, we will require less energy to be there, and it will be easier for us to experience peace, tranquility, and love. All of this is, of course, a metaphor for attachments (outer shell), and letting go (inner shell), to find the real center of our beings. Much of the time, what we fear to lose is what is actually keeping us from reaching ourselves, and losing is a way of getting back to a place where we really can be happy. This loss may have to do with a job, a relationship, an ambition, an expectation, a concept, or a possessionÖ Once again, philosophy, in the sense of really thinking things through, in a deep way, and in a clear way, is the key to achieving this - the transcendence of fear. It is the way to expose all the scarecrows of the world, and open the way to the fields of life.

 

As final weapons against fear, one has, first, the belief in immortality. (But it must be truly embraced, and it must be found, anew, by each person, for just hearing about it in a church or reading about it in a book will not be convincing enough to allow one to live oneís life as an immortal, and send fear running off into the night. We live, today, in a world, in which millions profess to believe in God and immortality, yet very few really live consistently with this belief; which leads us to the conclusion that this belief is, for most people, only a superficial concept, not yet having reached the deeper levels of their hearts and minds.) Once one believes in immortality, of course, huge swaths of fear disappear from our lives, for we know that destruction, loss, and separation are only transitory, and ultimately, illusory, phenomena. Specters with no substance.

For those unable to embrace the concept of immortality, on a deep emotional level, there is the concept of inevitable mortality - the second weapon. This, too, has tremendous power to vanquish fear. By means of philosophy - contemplation in depth - we come to realize that death is inevitable, that there is nothing we can do to avoid it, in the long run. While our society tries to avoid the thought of death, to hide and distract our minds from it, to flee from it in every way imaginable - (we call our civilization life-filled, and the ancient Egyptians morbid, and death-obsessed) - the truth of the matter is that by clearly facing the presence and inevitability of death, we add great value to life. In the darkness of the night, the flame of the candle is more precious. Ringed by death, life becomes something no longer to be taken for granted, but something sacred, beautiful, to be truly enjoyed, not rushed through, or related to on a shallow level. And as the preciousness of life becomes apparent, so the small fears that get in the way of experiencing it, are more easily cast aside. With this understanding, we are more likely to say, "Why should I let this keep me from life?" And, "Why should I let that keep me from life?" And suddenly, the prejudices of others, the possibility of rejection, defeat, seeming foolish, and being mistaken, diminish as threats, because there is nothing that others can give us, to take lifeís place, no reason not to step from out of the shadows and live, for the brief moment that we can.

Though some might think that deeply understanding the preciousness of life might make us want to cling to it more, and, therefore, make us more vulnerable to fear, the truth is that life, when it is appreciated to the fullest, helps to increase our courage. Is not the person who has eaten well more ready to leave the table, than the person who has eaten nothing, and is still hungry? In the same way, he who has lived, is more ready to leave life than he who has yet to live (and this includes many a millionaire, whose possessions are often only a substitute for life).

Beyond this, once one realizes that death is inevitable, one realizes the futility of trying to avoid it. No matter what one does, it will come. And once this concept is understood by oneís mind, and infused into every part of oneís body, the challenge presented by death is no longer to avoid it, but to be ready for it, which means to live the "right way" to the very end, which may be the courageous way, the compassionate way, the unselfish way, the way that leaves one feeling at peace with oneself, satisfied with who one is and what one has done. Just the same as one packs oneís suitcases before a trip, preparing for it, so the bags of oneís soul should be packed with real life, with self-respect and humane acts that one can be proud of, before the final train arrives. And since one never knows, for sure, when it will arrive, it seems that we should always have those bags packed and ready. This is not morbid; rather, it moves us into closer contact with life, and its essence.

Naturally, it is harder to overcome our fear for what may happen to those we love, and yet, the same laws apply to them. While we must give our all to help those we love, we must realize that they, too, are mortal, and that neither our fear nor our love can forever prevent their death. Even the great Buddha could not prevent death and tragedy. What he could do was seek to develop a path by means of which people could change the way they saw death and tragedy, and learn to accept and face those hardships that they could not evade. Love, compassion, and solidarity remained. But the exhaustion and desperation of trying to run from things from which there was no escape, was discarded.

To return to the example of the samurai, again, for a moment. Knowing that death was inevitable (which his philosophy taught him), avoiding death ceased to be the primary goal of his life. Rather, living life as he should, fulfilling his duties as best he could, and facing death well, became his priorities. If he was, for example, escorting an old man, a feudal noble, through the countryside, and suddenly a band of enemies came upon them, he would not abandon the old man who he had been charged to protect, and run away from the encounter to save his own life. The old manís inability to flee would, instead, force him to stand his ground, and battle against overwhelming odds. And yet, the samurai would do it, thanks to philosophy, which had gone from the surface, into the depths of his soul. For he would know that no man can escape from death (that is only illusion). If death did not come now, it would have to come later. And if it came later, it would be at the price of losing his self-respect, abandoning his duty, and betraying his codes, today; and the man who died, years later, would be a man filled with shame, haunted by this day of cowardice, this ghost of his own, terrible failure. If he died now, however, he would die as a heroic warrior, respecting himself to the end. The key to this great courage was nothing magic - only this philosophical understanding, reflected upon every day, kept in the center of his thoughts, slowly filtered down from the surface of his soul into the very texture of his being.

 

Once the fear of death is overcome - and it is likely that it may never be absolutely overcome, only diminished in intensity and limited in its incidence (for even a samurai could be vulnerable to the inner equivalent of a "bad hair day") - then that fearlessness can be brought back into other aspects of oneís life. Using a sort of perspective/comparison technique, one may ask oneself, "What is this compared to dying? What is that compared to dying?" Nothing. For one who is able to face even the fear of death, the fear of most ordinary things should quickly vanish. If one is not afraid of a whale, why be afraid of a minnow? The contrast makes the small fear seem absurd. Of course, there will be other forms of fear: for example, the fear of what others think - for social judgment has weighed heavily upon many of the bravest warriors of the past, from the feudal Japanese samurai, to the tribal Native American warrior. What if others cannot understand oneís actions, and end up thinking badly of one? Isnít that something to fear? Again, philosophical reflection offers a defense: in this case, the defense of knowing who one wants to be, and knowing what one has done, and why. Knowing that one has done the right thing, even if others misinterpret, misunderstand, or simply do not see, has a lot of power to shield one from the mistaken judgments of others. As Epictetus, the ancient Greek Stoic once quoted Antisthenes as saying to the Persian King, Cyrus: "IT IS A KINGLY THING, O CYRUS, TO DO WELL AND BE EVIL SPOKEN OF." When oneís conscience and will are strong, one will be able to live according to this philosophy; to act rightly, whether one is accepted for doing so, or not.

As for the fear of really betraying oneself and letting oneself down, perhaps that is the one thing that we should fear. And yet, the more the idea repels us, the easier it should be for us to resist it.

 

Hating simplistic answers and formulas, I must conclude this article by stating that there is no one way to overcome fear, nor is any approach to overcoming fear foolproof, fail-safe, absolutely reliable, or universal. Although the road of philosophy, contemplation, reflection, and daily meditation can help to lead us towards this condition, I do not think there are very many of us who will reach it without pain and struggle. And it is far more likely that most of us, if successful, will come to inhabit a state of lesser fear, than that we will ever reach a state of total fearlessness. Still, even that partial improvement will be more than welcome!

Again, without pretending to know any inviolable law or universal path that leads to courage, it is my belief that FEAR MOST OFTEN COMES FROM ILLUSION, and that by gaining a greater understanding of what is reality and what is illusion, it may be possible to overcome many of the barriers that hold us back in life: to swim through many a bubble net, and fly past many a silent scarecrow. To free ourselves from all of the false dangers and false tyrants who keep us from really living.

 

REFERENCES: "The Three Sisters", from The Arabian Nights. My own retelling of one episode from this story.

The Golden Sayings Of Epictetus, translated by Hastings Crossley, p. 5.

Niels Bohrís outdated model of the atom, still presumed to have some validity, at least sometimes, at least regarding the element of hydrogen!

 

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