Fearlessness is Denying Neither Wolf

By KM Huber

Repressing fear is a lot like trying to apply just the right amount of pressure to stop a leaky faucet from dripping. We can stifle the sound with a strategically placed dishcloth but the faucet will leak until it is repaired. We can try to ignore fear by focusing on work, food, or even drink but fear must be met.

Facing fear requires us to accept that we are afraid. We must face the two wolves that live within us–one light, one dark—and accept that disguising our fear only creates a constant battle that cannot be won only continuously fought. When we admit we are afraid, all that is left is fearlessness.

In the Cherokee story of the two wolves within, courage comes from seeking the wisdom of both wolves. Each wolf is the opposite of the other–left vs. right, good vs. bad, this vs. that—both are necessary for balance in life.

Inviting both wolves to drink from a steady stream of fearlessness is to drown the fear with the balance of light and dark. “How you choose to interact with the opposing forces within you will determine your life. Starve one or the other or guide them both” (Beyond the Conflict of Inner Forces, a post at www.awakin.org).
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Fearlessness foregoes reacting to the drip, drip, drip of fear, for reacting is only a temporary fix, and the fear—the war between the wolves—intensifies. The calm of courage comes from treating the two wolves as equal opposites, denying neither light nor dark.

“Nobody can give you fearlessness. Even if the Buddha were sitting right here next to you, he couldn’t give it to you. You have to practice it and realize it yourself. If you make a habit of mindfulness practice, when difficulties arise, you will already know what to do” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

Being fearless is not being unafraid but in accepting that we are afraid. Then, all that is left is courage. The key is to face fear in equanimity, as both the light and the dark wolf. The nurturing of our wolves within requires the attention of a lifetime.

“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 pushing down and managing our fear, we can enjoy the sunshine, the fog, the air, and the water. If you can look deep into your fear and have a clear vision of it, then you really can live a life that is worthwhile” (Thich Nhat Hanh).

The here and now is the only reality we ever have. It is only in facing that reality that life unfolds fearlessly.


KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. She blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2013 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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