Fear as Fata Morgana

Steve Chandler

A fata morgana, Italian translation of Morgan le Fay, the fairy shape-shifting half-sister of King Arthur, is a mirage, an optical phenomenon which results from a temperature inversion. Objects on the horizon, such as islands, cliffs, ships or icebergs, appear elongated and elevated, like "fairy tale castles."

In calm weather, the undisturbed interface between warm air over cold dense air near the surface of the ground may act as a refracting lens, producing an upside-down image, over which the distant direct image appears to hover. Fata Morgana are usually seen in the morning after a cold night which has resulted in the radiation of heat into space. The first mention of 'Fata Morgana' in English, in 1818, referred to such a mirage noticed in the Strait of Messina, between Calabria and Sicily. It is common in high mountain valleys, such as the San Luis Valley of Colorado where the effect is exaggerated due to the curvature of the floor of the valley canceling out the curvature of the Earth. They may be seen in Arctic seas on very still mornings, or commonly on Antarctic ice shelves. It is really based on nothing, just like that thing you fear the most.

The metaphor of the snake and the rope (you feared the snake you stepped on until you saw it was a rope) was first extensively used by Ramana Maharshi whose teachings gained widespread circulation around 1923....like Byron Katie, he was a perfect master, fully realized and without any ego or fear. I'd been reading Maharshi since my Alan Watts days in first recovery 27 years ago...and when I heard Katie use the metaphor herself I realized that all realized minds are truly one:

"Bhagavan's (Ramana Maharshi's) Works clearly set forth the central teaching that the direct path to liberation is Self-enquiry. The particular mode in which the enquiry is to be made is lucidly set forth in Nan Yar. The mind consists of thoughts. The 'I' thought is the first to arise in the mind. When the enquiry ' Who am I?' is persistently pursued, all other thoughts get destroyed, and finally the 'I' thought itself vanishes leaving the supreme non-dual Self alone. The false identification of the Self with the phenomena of non-self such as the body and mind thus ends, and there is illumination, Sakshatkara. The process of enquiry of course, is not an easy one. As one enquires 'Who am I?,' other thoughts will arise; but as these arise, one should not yield to them by following them, on the contrary, one should ask 'To whom do they arise ?' In order to do this, one has to be extremely vigilant. Through constant enquiry one should make the mind stay in its source, without allowing it to wander away and get lost in the mazes of thought created by itself. All other disciplines such as breath-control and meditation on the forms of God should be regarded as auxiliary practices. They are useful in so far as they help the mind to become quiescent and one-pointed."

What Byron Katie has accomplished that sages like Maharshi were clueless about how to do is bring this wisdom home immediately to anyone in the form of the four questions. So perfect for the WEST! The National Enquirer's ad slogan is Inquiring Minds Want to Know!


from KEN WILBER in No Boundary:

The root of the whole difficulty is our tendency to view the opposites as irreconcilable, as totally set apart and divorced from one another. Even the simplest of opposites, such as buying versus selling, are viewed as two different and separate events. Now it is true that buying and selling are in some sense different, but they are also -- and this is the point -- completely inseparable.

Is there a difference between yes and no?
Is there a difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense.

How We Learn to Forget Our Fears

When we see a vicious tiger in a zoo, we know not to be afraid. How? Little children may be afraid of the dark and monsters under the bed, but they outgrow those fears in just a few years. How is it they do that?

Scientists from New York University say they have located the part of the brain that helps us "unlearn" our natural fears. It turns out it's in the same area -- the amygdala -- where we learn fears in the first place, reports the BBC News Online:

Much is known about how we learn fears and how they can be treated with psychological therapy and drugs, but very little is known about how our minds are naturally able to diminish fears through what scientists call extinction learning.

The study: Led by Dr. Elizabeth Phelps, an associate professor of psychology and neural science, the NYU team used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to peek into the brain to find out what happens when a fear is "unlearned." To do this, they first had to establish a fear. A group of volunteers were taught to associate seeing the image of a colored square with a mild electric shock, creating what is known as a conditional fear. This kind of fear is similar to a phobia. That is, when the volunteers saw the colored square, they felt anxiety. To help the volunteers "unlearn" the fear, they showed them the same colored square but reduced the intensity of the electric shocks until finally there was no shock following the sight of the image.

The results: As the team expected based on previous research, the MRI scan of the brain showed that the amygdala was active when the fear was being learned. But that same area of the brain, along with the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, was also active when the volunteers were "unlearning" the fear.

What does it all mean? It's hoped that the findings will help doctors better treat phobias and anxiety orders. "Certain drugs influence the chemicals involved in this type of unlearning in animals," Phelps told the BBC. "Now we can all start to look at different things we can try in terms of treatment. As humans, we actively try to control our emotions. We know not to be anxious in certain circumstances but to be anxious in others. When we see a tiger in a zoo we know we should not be afraid. The question to answer now is how do we regulate that? We are doing that work now."

(The study findings were published in the journal Neuron.)


I learned so much about selling from an amazing book on negotiation I highly recommend called START WITH NO by Jim Camp that taught me to negotiate with people by (really and truly) NOT WANTING THE DEAL right from the start......it has been the most amazing system I've ever used....

I was also greatly assisted a couple years ago by Tom Freese's book, Question Based Selling. Absolutely brilliant text on how to sell by not selling. By turning the tables on your tormentor. Freese and I now both train Microchip Technology.

Of course this kind of selling is centered in Katie's "I need this business" is that true? NO! It's not true at all.

I wrote 100 Ways to Create Wealth with Sam because I wanted people to be less scared of money. I wanted people to learn Ayn Rand on money. The book I'm writing now is about fear. It is called Fearless. It is about my experience in Katie's nine-day school, and it's about a number of other things related to a state of fearlessness available to anyone willing to listen to the silence enough times.

Wisdom tells me I am nothing.
Love tells me I am everything.
Between the two, my life flows.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

On the airplane from Newark to Phoenix I read a book that I'd bought when Terry Hill and I did our bookstore walking tour of New York, Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good for You. It's a wonderful book that explains why people are getting brighter and more intellectually powerful every day because of (not in spite of) our pop culture of computer games, video games, reality shows and movies like Memento . He devoted a lot of pages to what he considered to be the forerunner of high-IQ games, APBA Baseball! That was a game I played a lot as a kid so it was great to get confirmation that the very playing of that game boosted our IQs into the stratosphere...and speaking of "strato" he also saluted "Stratomatic" baseball, which I also played, but I never thought was a very smart game, especially compared to APBA. Remember? You'd put those circular cardboard disks on a dial and spin for each player's at bat? APBA was vastly superior and more complex.

Think how dumb we'd all be if we hadn't played it.....was Johnson's point.

I found this proverb this morning. I really like it!!
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

There is no AGE at which fearlessness happens, but there is a STAGE at which it happens, and the beauty of life is that you get to decide when your stages occur. So you can be into variety and OUT of nostalgia and limitation right up to your death bed where you're having Wyclef Jean piped in.............you set the stages.


"Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult, and difficult as if they were easy."
Baltasar Gracian


When I take on the easy task as if it were difficult, I slow down and look at the task differently. I bring more consciousness to it. I see more opportunity in it. I look for hidden potential in the task. I dance with it a little more slowly and have more fun. Most people rush through their easy tasks just "getting through" them without "getting anything from them."

When I take on the difficult tasks as if they were easy, it makes them easier to start. I just waltz right in.

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The final debunking of ROBIN HOOD by Ayn Rand:

"It is said that Robin Hood fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don't have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, had demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors."

Steve Chandler, author of Reinventing Yourself

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