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Fearlessness has a starting point, it includes discipline, it makes a journey, and it reaches a conclusion. It is like the Great Eastern Sun: the sun rises, it radiates light, and this benefits people by dispelling the darkness and allowing the fruit to ripen and the flowers to blossom.
The fruition of fearlessness is also connected with three analogies. The first is that fearlessness is like a reservoir of trust. This trust arises from the experience of basic goodness, which we have already discussed. When we feel basically good, rather than degraded or condemned, then we become very inquisitive, looking into every situation and examining it. We don’t want to fool ourselves by relying on belief alone. Rather, we want to make a personal connection with reality.
This is a very simple, straightforward idea. If we accept a challenge and take certain steps to accomplish something, the process will yield results—either success or failure. When you sow a seed or plant a tree, either the seed will germinate and the tree will grow, or they will die. Similarly, for the inquisitive warrior, trust means that we know that our actions will bring a definite response from reality. We know that we will get a message. Failure generally is telling us that our action has been undisciplined and inaccurate in some way. Therefore, it fails. When our action is fully disciplined, it usually is fulfilled; we have success. But those responses are not regarded as either punishment or congratulations.
Trust then is being willing to take a chance, knowing that what goes up must come down, as they say. When a warrior has that kind of trust in the reflections of the phenomenal world, then he or she can trust his or her individual discovery of goodness. Communication produces results, either success or failure. That is how the fearless warrior relates with the universe: not by remaining alone and insecure, hiding away, but by constantly being exposed to the phenomenal world and constantly being willing to take that chance.
The reservoir of trust is a bank of richness from which the warrior can always draw conclusions. We begin to feel that we are dealing with a rich world, one that never runs out of messages. The only problem arises if we try to manipulate the situation in our favor. You are not supposed to fish in the reservoir or swim in it. The reservoir has to remain unconditional, unpolluted. So you don’t put your one-sidedness, your bias or conditionality, into it. Then the reservoir might dry up.
Normally, trust means that we think that our world is trustworthy. We think that it’s going to produce a good result, success. But in this case, we’re talking about having a continual relationship with the phenomenal world that is not based on either a good or bad result. We have unconditional trust in the phenomenal world to always give us a message, either success or failure. The fruition of our action will always provide us with information. Such trust in the reservoir keeps us from being too arrogant or too timid. If you’re too arrogant, you’ll find yourself bumping into the ceiling. If you’re too timid, you’ll be pushed up by the floor. Roughly speaking, that’s the concept of the reservoir.
The ancient Chinese Book of Changes or I Ching often talks about success being failure and failure being success. Success sows the seeds of future failure, and failure may bring a later success. So it’s always a dynamic process. As warriors, fearlessness doesn’t mean that we cheer up by saying, “Look! I’m on the side of the right. I’m a success.” Nor do we feel that we’re being punished when we fail. In any case, success and failure are saying the same thing.
That brings us to the next analogy, which is music. Music is connected with the idea of continuously being joyful. The feedback, or the result, that comes from the warrior’s practice is never a dead end. It presents another path. We always can go on, go beyond. So while the result of action is fruition, beyond that, the result is the seed for the next journey. Our journey continues, cycling between success and failure, path and fruition, just as the four seasons alternate. There is always a sense of creativity, so there is always joy on the journey, joy in the result.