Going Beyond Fear In This Dark Age
A Dharma Talk with Bruno Nua
“The Buddha taught that the mark of an enlightened being is fearlessness. Someone who has gone beyond fear is free from all the obscurations and obstacles that prevent us from manifesting as buddhas and ultimately benefitting others.
Fearlessness is that which literally gives birth to a buddha. It is the Mother of all the buddhas.”
[from BUDDHA’S FAVOURITE WORDS, Bruno Tashi Rabjay]
Dwelling in the realm of ego breeds delusion. Not resting in our true nature gives rise to a vicious cycle of attachment and aversion, which manifests as afflictive emotions. These come in many forms such as addiction and anger, but they all boil down to the same disturbing forces: I want … I don’t want.
Also known as Hope and Fear, the chaotic emotions that spring from our ego-clinging are the very things that make us suffer. If we could only cut through any one of them, the whole deluded house of cards would crumble and fall. Then we would be liberated forever and enlightenment would flow like a river.
For this reason, the Buddha taught that the mark of an enlightened being is fearlessness. Someone who has gone beyond fear is free from all the obscurations and obstacles that prevent us from manifesting as buddhas and ultimately benefitting others.
We are deeply afraid of so many things: fear of the unknown, fear of losing our minds. We are all but completely paralysed, not living to our full potential. This fear comes from our utter distrust of letting go and opening up – it is also a primal fear of the openness and the emptiness of our Buddha Nature.
In this light, the high point of the Heart Sutra is said to be the line:
There is no fear.
The full name of this sutra is The Heart of Transcendent Knowledge. By definition, it teaches that the key to full enlightenment is fearlessness. The whole theme of this particular sutra [Skt. Prajnaparamita Sutra] is Going Beyond. The preamble describes the Buddha Nature as being ‘beyond words, beyond thought, beyond description. Prajnaparamita … unborn, unceasing, with nature like the sky’. The essence of the sutra is its mantra:
Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, bodhi suaha.
It is the perfect utterance of one who has already gone completely beyond all fear: Gone, gone, gone all the way over, completely gone over to the other shore. Fully awake, Yes.
The openness and contentment it describes is a total fearlessness that is egoless. Because of this earth-shattering breakthrough, one is freed up to focus on the ultimate welfare of others. Consequently, the Mahayana lineages call the Prajnaparamita the Mother of all the buddhas. Fearlessness is that which literally gives birth to a buddha. Tibetan Buddhism even goes so far as to depict the fearless mother of all the buddhas in female form as Tara.
In this way, we come to an understanding of the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. The core message is not about elaborate philosophical treatises. Nor is it even about depicting the Buddha Nature in one form or another. All this serves a much simpler purpose. They lead us to a basic truth: Through meditation practice, we can awaken and connect with our true nature. By developing an unshakable conviction in our primordial purity, our aim is to go beyond all philosophies, all images, all concepts. Then we become completely free to lead others out of their suffering.
About the author
Bruno is a Meditation Instructor, Dharma Educator, and a dabbler in the Creative Arts. He was born in 1965 in Dublin, Ireland where he later trained as a Philosophical Theologian at Trinity College. While still working as an educator in that area, Bruno encountered the heart of the Buddha’s teachings when he first met Sogyal Rinpoche in the early 1990s, which also quickly led to meeting Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Thich Nhat Hanh.
Since then, while continuing to be a student of Buddhism, Bruno has taught meditation and presented the Buddha’s teachings in many Dharma centres, including Rigpa Dublin where he was Managing Director for some years. He has also engaged with presenting these teachings in prisons and hospices, education and training establishments, and in Non-Governmental Organisations dedicated to Caring in the Community.
He is the Founding Director of many pioneering projects such as Buddhist Network Ireland, Dublin International Buddhist Film Festival, Open Space and Lotus Temple, and has represented Irish Buddhists on the Inter-Religious Council of Ireland.
Nowadays, as well as teaching Meditation and various courses in Applied Mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism, Bruno is also very much committed to guest-lecturing a variety of programmes on Buddhism in Colleges and Universities.