Friday, February 02, 2007

Love and Fear


"On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love,
and on his left hand the word fear.
And in which hand he held his faith,
was never clear..."
(Bruce Springsteen)

You know, I think without its opposite each is impotent, one can't exist without the other...

....I mean, Jesus blood never failed me, but sometimes we have to make a pillow from hard ground...

17 comments:

Awareness said...

Interestingly, love and fear can both be personally motivating and paralyzing as they do weave in and out of one another.

The trembling sensation of love.....is that unspoken fear?

A hard ground of vulnerability.....

mister tumnus said...

hey, you gotta have something to be rescued from...

Society's Elite said...

such a profound comment from "the boss". and to think he's from the same state as me... ;)

good things DO come from New Jersey!

mister tumnus said...

society's elite! know you not of the great works of bruce almighty?! get thee to itunes right away! my favourites are 'the wild, the innocent and the e-street shuffle' and 'nebraska' but also check out 'tunnel of love' and 'darkness on the edge of town'.

paul, just thinkin of the waits you quoted not so long ago, 'if i exorcise my demons, my angels may leave too'. i think there's a lot of wisdom in that. we should be careful what we despise about ourselves because very often the best parts of us have their roots in the same place as the worst. it is this sort of thing that makes life wonderful i think. (please, please quote me on this at a later date!!)

Layla said...

Great quote from one of my many hundreds of favorites, "Cautious Man".

I can't comment on this yet, love - fear not existing without each other. I have to process this. I am in the middle of a post on fear, and I do think that fear is the most powerful "emotion" there is because everyone experiences, but not everyone experiences LOVE. I think we all have the same deep desire for it if we realize it or not - God made us to be loved and to love others and of course Himself. But...I'm not convinced its something we all experience.

Well, for not commenting I sure had a lot to say!

I may link to this even though I am in the middle of writing about some pretty deep issues of my own. I'm very intrigued by what you wrote.

Thanks.
Barbara

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

Dana, Mr T, Society and Barbara, great comments - gonna reply with a pile of ....well, something...

For me love and fear matters first and foremost because they humble us – we realise how very small we are and, more significantly, how incredible and vast the love, heart, and creativity of God is. They also provide the purest of environments to experience a direct connection with God. But maybe even more importantly they provide us with something the Jewish tradition calls Yirah, which translates (albeit poorly because of our inadequate language) as awe and wonder.

It was Rabbi Abraham Heschel who was convinced that love and fear were precursors to a deep faith in God. Particularly fear (another meaning of yirah). Wonder, mystery, attraction, fear and danger are all vital signposts to the gateway of an awe-filled encounter with God.

I raised this in conversation with a rather conservative evangelical leader recently, and he was rather concerned with, in his words, ‘my fascination with fear’. I tried to explain, but with little success, that the reason I believed fear was so healthy was that it was the doorway to love. To say he was mystified at this suggestion is an understatement.

I learned this though from my friend, Rabbi Niles Goldstein. He suggests that internal fear comes from love, and that wisdom is called fear since one fears to enter the divider of keter (understood as that which is below or dark). So consequently, as the Hasidic mystic Yaakov Yosef suggests, the letters of fear (yirah) serve as the beginning of the letters to love. My limited understanding of this lesson is that it teaches us that the ‘fear of the Lord’ draws us into the agape love of God, and from that love we enter into internal fear.

Now it was this particular point my evangelical leader friend couldn’t grasp – everything within him understood this fear as a negative force rather than a positive one. But my point, and more importantly the Bible’s point, is that this fear of God (which we are told is the beginning of wisdom: Psalm 111:10) is a healthy part of life, which we should embrace, because its gift to us is the knowledge of our own insufficiency, and so consequently this sets us on a path of humility (filled with questions) rather than arrogance (where we are full of answers), into the heart of God.

ok, have rambled enough - that probably should have been a post in itself.....and it is all i guess as clear as mud

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

ps, forget good things - bruce is beyond good, and i will, i promise quote that again and again...

Layla said...

Thanks for sharing this follow up! Its given me a new perspective to ponder (which is all I do these days!!)

Mr. Althouse said...

I read somewhere (I'm being purposefully vague, I know where - it's not important) that love and fear are the only two emotions - that all others are derivatives of either love or fear. The acronym for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. The same book goes on to explain that even fear itself is a derivative of love.

I guess...

Mike

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

hey mike

Dostoyevsky once said that:
'Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.' - I guess the things which we fear the most in life have already happend to us - ie, we love, you are right they are a derivative of one another

urbanmonk said...

Fear is a primary instinctual emotion, isnt it? I find love interseting,( note my detached language) and Im wondering if its something you can feel in the same way you feel fear. The way you put it, they are almost two sides of the same coin.

However, isnt it the case that people who know no love, feel excessive amounts of fear? Like abused kids.. But its also seems the case that encounters with the divine in the bible seem to prompt both. Fear,( in the disciples case at the empty tomb - literal trembling and terror) followed by comfort.

Its also the case that people that experience tramatic near death experiences(an excessive amount of fear)become more loving as a result of the experience.

I hate the tension of being human.

Rainbow dreams said...

I think there is a fear like no other, bourne out of the sheer vulnerability of loving, of something that is beyond our logical and cognitive ability and understanding.

I also wonder if fear opens us up more to the possibility of love, both receiving and giving....

I guess both are to do with vulnerability

Niki said...

Mr T "you gotta have something to be rescued from..." that is exactly what I think.
I don't know if I could know love without knowing fear; I've experienced fear at the hands of those close to me for many a year now and the touch of my best friend or boyfriend's hands upon my scarred skin make me feel the profundtiy of soft against the harsh. Would I ever know this caring touch if I had unmarked skin?

Awareness said...

OMG Niki......You amaze me with your deep feeling knowledge. It's like you have lived many lives. I totally agree with you and Mr. T.

Paul.....love and fear are humbling. I had never thought about it that way before, but as soon as I read your comments........a specific moment in my life jumped up at me......a time when I think I was feeling both those feelings at the same time.......and BOY did I feel small and humbled.

BTW......I did try to get my hands on Rabbi Heschel books (you referred to him before) and am still waiting on inter-lbrary loans.

YOu know, every single comment on this post is thought provoking. I don't know whether it's just because of where my head is at, or what, but I have enjoyed thinking about all that has been shared......Monk....my goodness, you're right.....the tension of being human....... sometimes it's just friggin' brutal.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

some great comments and dialogue here...thnk you

monk, i do note the detached language friend

i certinly take and agree with your point 'isnt it the case that people who know no love, feel excessive amounts of fear?' when it comes to the likes of abused children, but i also think there is a strange paradox within these two emotions - that when a whole world of love comes rushing into our world there's a healthy world of fear that follows it - the best example i can give was when my children were born...i agree the tension of being human, i like that

katie, 'bourne out of the sheer vulnerability of loving, of something that is beyond our logical and cognitive ability and understanding.' i like that too - i think the fear does give us the potential to love even more - i think that's fears gift

niki, wow - am speechless. I agree that we can't love without fear - it'd like we an't know god unless we question him/her

dana, i still have two of his books spare of Niles from when he was last here - let me know where to send them and you can have them (God at the edge & Lost Souls)

Anna said...

Paul,

Thanks for your visit to my blog and I am thrilled that you liked what you saw. You are very kind to this novice. It gives me so much joy to share this love I have for photography. I am happy for you to have a link to my page.

I really liked this post a lot. It made me think and then turned me to the cross which is where I hope that I am resting daily. I needed that today. Check my blog today for the short explaination.

I look foward to visiting your blog again and hope to see you around on mine!

Take care and thanks again.

Bruno said...

i think that both love and fear are the beginning of attachment (when they become extreme, i.e., further away from each other, and unbalanced).
Buddhism and Taoism clearly teach this. Their way is to slowly dettach oneself from these precise attachments - love and fear (love and power, Taoism). You can verify for yourself if you are in the spiritual stage of attachment (love&fear) - do you have expectations? Then you´re still attached :-) Love&Fear create all kinds of expectations, but they are extreme, and ultimately can hurt yourself and everyone around you.
"whe neither hate nor love disturb our mind, peacefully we sleep" (Hui Neng)