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Chinese Finger Traps as Spiritual Teachers

  • Sep 13 2014
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Recently I won a Chinese Finger Trap (remember those?) at a fair. In fact, it was the prize given for coming in last place, for failure. I humbly accepted my booby-prize, and decided I would just give it away to the first child that crossed my path, someone who would have at least some appreciation for the silly thing.

But, I played with it as I walked through the crowds and I had an ah-ha moment. I realized that this simple toy was a profound metaphor for the energy needed to move past fear (and failure) in our lives... and that I could use it in my practice as a wonderful teaching tool. So thank you carnival-guy for giving me the squirtgun with the blocked nozzle, you know the one, the blue one, number thirteen next to the scary, chipped, clown face.

By the way, I didn't even have fun playing your stupid game. I didn't care if I won or lost. I just wanted to get out of there, I wasn't even trying to win. I have a bit of a clown phobia, you know.

"Where there is fear, there is no love. Fear is the opposite of love. What we fear, we attract. Love is letting go of fear." Blah, blah, blah, I've said it and read it one million times. If it were so simple we'd all be leaping for joy with reckless abandon head on to the embrace of the challenges, and clowns, in our lives.

Instead we run away from and deny and avoid that which actually terrifies us, or at least makes us uncomfortable.

Denying our fear is like trying to pull our fingers free from the Chinese finger traps. The more we pull, the tighter they grip our fingers.

The only way to release it is to move toward it, go deeper into it. Then it's able to release. It is the same with fear.

Let's revisit the old adage, "Fear is the opposite of love."


Although love and fear certainly can co-exist side by side within an individual and be experienced simultaneously, just as darkness and light co-exist side by side within all of us, I believe that love and fear cannot co-exist in the same energy space of an individual's emotional body. If we want loving light in that space, we're going to have to get it in there ourselves. We must get into that dark space and bathe it from within with the loving light called self-acceptance, until the fear is all eroded away.

That is the paradox of fear. It negates love, yet will persist until it is loved. What?

The misconception that fear is the opposite of love seems to stem from the fact that fear excludes love. But so do hatred, guilt, anger, shame, jealousy and envy. Therefore, we need a more precise definition of what "opposite" means in reference to love vs. fear.


Where there is no loving light, there is darkness. In that darkness may reside the guilt of not being loving enough, or the fear of not being deserving and good enough. However, darkness is only the absence of light, not its opposite. Unloving light is more commonly known as hate.

Hate, not fear, is the opposite of love. Because, whereas fear and guilt signal the absence of love, hate is the opposite polarity of the exact same energy as love. Love and hate both have consciousness and intent - guided directionality - whereas fear is pretty mindless. Love and hate have focus (something loved or hated), whereas fear may have focus but may also be experienced as unfocused general anxiety, as in "I don't know why I'm afraid... of clowns."

Fear and anger (or terror and rage) are opposite polarities of the exact same energy. They are two sides of the same coin. Where one resides, you can bet the other one does too. Although they rarely surface at the same time.

Fear and anger are the same energy. They serve the same purpose, although from opposite points of view. One of their functions is to assign blame. Anger is the emotion which places the blame with another. " You gave me the squirtgun with the blocked nozzle, you made me stand next to the scary, chipped, clown face. It's your fault I came in last place"

"By the way, I didn't even have fun playing your stupid game."
Fear, however, is the emotion which places the blame with oneself, and that may not be as obvious. But ask yourself why you feel fear of certain things. We feel fear because we are afraid something painful or unpleasant will happen to us. And the reason we expect a hurtful experience is because we consciously or subconsciously believe we are at fault – inadequate, incompetent, awkward, clumsy, laughable, shameful, blameworthy, deserving of punishment, and the list goes on.

If I hadn't angled my body away from the clown I might have had straighter aim....

What We Fear, We Attract!

The Universe has created this phenomenon to help us face and overcome our painful emotions, not to get us to try harder to avoid them. It is a well-known concept that painful emotions contribute to physical unhealth. It has been scientifically confirmed that painful emotions such as fear suppress the immune system and lower the pH of the body, both of which contribute to increased risk of physical illness.

Healing truly requires only the state of "no resistance and self acceptance."

So, let's look at three paths to deal with fear:
  • By far the most common way to handle fear is that we don't know how, so we do the only thing we can: We feel our fear while disapproving of ourselves for being afraid. In other words, the fear is experienced in a state of non-acceptance. No healing takes place and similar situations continue to come up time and again, evoking the same fear response.
  • Some mentally or psychically powerful individuals can keep from feeling spontaneous fear by convincing themselves - their conscious minds - that they are not afraid. This can be a temporarily successful path for a certain category of individuals. Painful emotions are relegated to the subconscious without being healed. As the subconscious' accumulation of unhealed painful emotions grows, the subconscious mind eventually gains more power than the conscious mind's ability to control it, and the "inner demons" begin to seep out.
  • The third way is to experience spontaneous fear in a state of self acceptance. Due to varying degrees of childhood conditioning from shame, ridicule, guilt and blame, this path may take a while to master. Any degree of self acceptance we can muster makes a difference. The higher the degree of self acceptance, the faster and easier the healing. The fear is permanently healed and released. We will no longer attract what we used to fear because we no longer fear it.
When we have self acceptance for ourselves while experiencing any kind of fear we don't hold onto it. When the fear is ready to let go, we let it go. And then that space within can be filled with the energy of love and self acceptance, the energy of release. The straight shot to success. The giant stuffed Panda.

Bring in the clowns!

May you be blessed!

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