One of the traditional definitions of awakening, or enlightenment, is that it is a state of fearlessness. The journey of awakening is above all a process of uncovering and facing your different fears. As you see with more and more clarity that they are not real, they begin to fall away. Then you are naturally more loving and more connected to consciousness, God, spirit, or whatever you choose to call the mysterious Power behind creation.

On the path of awakening, you are learning to face not just fear, but every moment, in this alert and relaxed way. Years ago on my own journey, whenever I would have a breakthrough, I would find myself coming to the same realization every time. It would involve the letting go of some aspect of my past, my story—some pattern in my thinking or behavior that no longer worked for me.

Suddenly, I’d feel more relaxed, more here. I would say to myself: “Wow, my spiritual journey is all about getting here. It’s about being more present.”

You can probably relate to what I am saying. As you grow up and get caught up in your personal story, the account you inwardly write of your life, of your history of failures and successes, doubts and fears, hopes and dreams, you tend to start dwelling in this internal reality. You are not alone. We all do this, until we learn differently. Yet it is the very attachment to this inner world of concepts, beliefs, memories, and images that keeps us from being present.

The deeper your awakening, the freer you get of psychological and emotional fear. You no longer worry about what might happen to you. You know now that you, as consciousness, will always be okay.

But even with awakening, biological fear, the fear of actual physical harm, still arises when danger threatens. It is a necessary survival mechanism. If someone moves as if to strike you, you are going to flinch or jump back. If you take up sky-diving, even if your realization is deep and mature, chances are your stomach will feel nervous and queasy as you are about to step out of the airplane at ten thousand feet.     

But even survival fear loses its edge as you awaken to the consciousness that you are and connect with the astonishing creative energy that is always here, underneath the surface drama of life.

The more conscious and free you become, the more you find that even in the face of danger, hardship, or loss, you remain clear-headed and supremely aware as you deal with the situation at hand. When you stop resisting and fighting life, life has its own surprising way of coming into balance and harmony. This is how miracles occur. It all happens not in some promised future or some imagined after-life, but right now, in this resent moment. This is finding true freedom. 

From Chapter Two, End Your Story, Begin Your Life