Cravings and Attachments Come From Fear

“If we have fear, we can’t be completely happy. If we’re still running after the object of our desire, then we still have fear. Fear goes together with craving. We want to be safe and happy, so we begin to crave a particular person or object or idea (such as wealth or fame) that we think will guarantee our well-being. We can never fully satisfy our craving, so we keep running and we stay scared. If you stop running after the object of your craving—whether it’s a person, a thing, or an idea—your fear will dissipate. Having no fear, you can be peaceful. With peace in your body and mind, you aren’t beset by worries, and in fact you have fewer accidents. … Fear spoils our lives and makes us miserable. We cling to objects and people, like a drowning person clings to any object that floats by. By practicing nonattachment and sharing this wisdom with others, we give the gift of nonfear. Everything is impermanent. This moment passes. The object of our craving walks away, but we can know happiness is always possible.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh


We generally don’t relate cravings to fear, with a few exception. A craving for peace relates to a fear of war. Craving health relates to a fear of illness and death. But we don’t think of most cravings as being about fear.

But any craving can be connected to a fear, either directly or indirectly. A craving for chocolate may have developed out of a craving for food which comes from a fear of starvation. A craving for expensive clothing may come from a fear of poverty. A constant desire for entertainments like concerts and movies may be hiding a fear of facing reality.

Legitimate Cravings

There are cravings that are good. When your body craves water, for example. Or when you realize that materialism is empty and start to crave something more. Craving something your body actually needs isn’t wrong. Craving those things we don’t need, and which often harm us, is wrong. We all have cravings though. Continue reading “Cravings and Attachments Come From Fear”

death fear, fear power

Death Fear Becomes Fear of Life

“Our greatest fear is that when we die, we will become nothing. Many of us believe our entire existence is limited to a particular period, our “lifespan.” We believe it begins when we are born—when, out of being nothing, we become something—and it ends when we die and become nothing again. So we are filled with a fear of annihilation. But if we look deeply, we can have a very different understanding of our existence. We can see that birth and death are just notions; they’re not real. The Buddha taught that there is no birth and no death. Our belief that these ideas about birth and death are real creates a powerful illusion that causes us a great deal of suffering. When we understand that we can’t be destroyed, we’re liberated from fear. It’s a huge relief. We can enjoy life and appreciate it in a new way.
“When you lose a loved one, you suffer. But if you know how to look deeply, you have a chance to realize that his or her nature is truly the nature of no-birth, no-death. There is manifestation, and there is the cessation of manifestation in order to have another manifestation. You have to be alert to recognize the new manifestations of one person. But with practice and effort, you can do it. Pay attention to the world around you, to the leaves and the flowers, to the birds and the rain. If you can stop and look deeply, you will recognize your beloved manifesting again and again in many forms.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Death Fear

Fear of death is indeed one of the greatest fears for most of us. More accurately, we fear that there is no afterlife and we will just cease to exist. Or perhaps worse, that there is an after life and we will end up in hell. All of those fears can be overcome in one way or another.

As for the fear that there is no afterlife and we simply end when the body dies, what is there to fear in that? Not that it is true, but if it was, so what? You end, it’s over, no more pains, no more worries. It is not something we have any control over so fearing it and worrying about it is useless.

We have people who spend a great deal of money searching for ways to extend their physical life by a few years. Why? If you believe that physical life is the only life, you except that you life will end. Spending much of the limited time you have searching for ways to extend your time here is just wasting what time you do have.

Fear of Hell

If we fear death because we fear going to hell, that is actually a reasonable fear. But it is a fear that can be overcome by doing what is necessary to prevent that from happening. Knowing what that is can be confusing.
There are many churches and religions teaching many different things about hell and how to avoid it. Our own soul knows the truth. We need to trust our intuition. We also need to awaken our souls. Only a fully awakened conscious soul can alleviate our fear of going to hell. The awakened soul knows exactly what must be done to avoid that fate. The awakened soul doesn’t fear hell and it doesn’t have death fear.

Birth and Death

I don’t think we can say that birth and death are not real. They are unreal for the spirit and soul, but very real for the physical body. Of course, if you think of the body as pure illusion that doesn’t matter, then we can say that birth and death don’t exist. But matter is not imaginary. It is real, but not what it appears to be. While it can be argued that matter doesn’t cease to exist, it simply changes form, that is death as far as that form is concerned. Unless that form is human and has gone to the trouble of uniting with its permanent spiritual self thereby becoming immortal. Such a united being has no death fear.


In short, fear of death really becomes fear of life. By operating from a level of fear, and avoiding things that might result in death, you never really live. Even if life is temporary, and the afterlife is a fantasy, that is even more reason to live life while we can. In reality, life is permanent and the physical stage of it is just the beginning. The spirit and soul are immortal. The catch is, you experience that immortality only if you unite your physical, mental and spiritual self while still alive on the physical plane.

present living, thought character

Present, Past, and Which We Should Live In

“Because it’s so easy to be caught in the past, it’s helpful to have a reminder to stay in the present. In Plum Village, we use a bell. When we hear the bell, we practice breathing in and out mindfully, and we say, “I listen to the bell. This wonderful sound brings me back to my true home.” My true home is in the here and now. The past is not my true home. You may want to say to the little one inside you, the past is not our home; our home is here, where we can really live our life. We can get all the nourishment and healing we need here in the present moment.

“Much of the fear, anxiety, and anguish that we experience is there because the inner child has not been liberated. That child is afraid to come out to the present moment, and so your mindfulness, your breath, can help this child to realize that she is safe and can be free.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Present and Past

To completely forget the past would be to become unable to function. We would never learn anything if we couldn’t remember the past. Possibly, we would keep getting burned by touching the hot stove. We would come out of the mall and not know which car in the parking lot was ours. Actually, we wouldn’t be able to walk out of the mall because walking is something we learned how to do in the past. We would be like an obsessive-compulsive person brushing his teeth every half hour. Or maybe not, because we wouldn’t know that we should brush our teeth at all.

So we can’t just forget the past. We learned a lot there. But we can’t get trapped in it either. We can’t let the things that happened in the past prevent us from acting now. We have to know that getting our fingers burned on a hot stove means we should always be careful around stoves. But we shouldn’t avoid all dogs because one bit us ten years ago.

Living in the Present

When I was a kid, I saw a horror movie where a monster was crawling out of street drains and grabbing people. For weeks after that, I tried to avoid getting close to storm drains in the street. That was the reaction of a child who doesn’t understand that a movie is (usually) not real.

I currently live in Nevada. I haven’t gone to a casino for over two years. When I did go, I sometimes heard people say things about slot machines like, “This one is due to pay off! I’ve been playing it for hours!” Others might say “Don’t use the push button, pull the arm. The odds are better.” I just shook my head when I heard such things.

Both of those statements are based on ancient slot machines from a century ago. Modern ones are controlled by internal computers. A random number generator is generating ten numbers a second. When you press the button, or pull the lever, a program running on another computer chip grabs the current random number. It uses that number to spin the wheels to the predetermined setting for that number. There is no such thing as “due” with these machines. But that is the kind of foolish thing people can think when they are trapped in the past. When we use such thinking to control our behavior, we make many mistakes. Continue reading “Present, Past, and Which We Should Live In”

death fear, fear power

Fear of Death and the Afterlife

“The first part of looking at our fear is just inviting it into our awareness without judgment. We just acknowledge gently that it is there. This brings a lot of relief already. Then, once our fear has calmed down, we can embrace it tenderly and look deeply into its roots, its sources. Understanding the origins of our anxieties and fears will help us let go of them. Is our fear coming from something that is happening right now, or is it an old fear, a fear from when we were small, that we’ve kept inside? When we practice inviting all our fears up, we become aware that we are still alive, that we still have many things to treasure and enjoy. If we are not busy pushing down and managing our fear, we can enjoy the sunshine, the fog, the air, and the water. If you can look deeply into your fear and have a clear vision of it, then you really can live a life that is worthwhile.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Acknowledge Fear

Thich Nhat Hanh says we must acknowledge our fears if we are to control them or get rid of them. This makes sense. In psychiatry they say that recognizing that you have a problem is the first step in curing it. Trying to pretend we don have fears only allows the fear to stay with us and control us in many ways we are not even aware of.

Source of Fear

Hanh, as well as many psychiatrists, say we must root out the cause of our fear if we are to get rid of it. While that may be the ideal solution, it isn’t always possible. It can also be very time consuming. Sometimes, things may have happened to your mother while you were still in the womb, and her fears came through to you where they became yours. Other things may have happened when you were a baby that caused you to develop certain fears. The chance of digging through you memories and finding that cause is slim. But there is an alternative.

I worked for many years as a professional computer programmer. I know that sometime the solution to fixing a program that doesn’t do what you want it to is to simply replace it with a new program. You don’t have to find the faulty code, just replace the entire program. The same can be done with fears. Continue reading “Fear of Death and the Afterlife”