The three had been friends since adolescence, and now years later in retirement they were about to set out on another grand adventure.
After finishing high school they all enrolled in the US Navy. Neil and Gerald served on the light cruiser USS Atlanta, a 10,000 ton ship sailing Pacific ports of call. John ended up in the submarine fleet, serving on the SS-405 Sea Owl stationed in the Atlantic. After finishing tours of duty Neil got his Ph.D in Education, Gerald an engineering degree in road/bridge construction, and John became an astronomer and computer programmer.
They shared many harrowing sailing adventures spanning from the Great lakes (Erie), New York, Florida Keys, California islands, Hawaii, Borneo, Cape Town, Perth Australia, and even ventured up the Amazon River.
One day on Lake Erie they set out in 12-foot waves to save the crew of a capsized catamaran. The port hull had developed a fracture at the trampoline stanchion, and the rushing water filled the hull. When the crew tried to tack the boat in a heavy swell, it pitch-polled and flipped upside down. On another occasion they went up on the break wall at Edgewater Park. Once in Florida while sailing in the Keys the boat ran aground on a soft sandy bed, out in the open water a mile from the nearest island. While running downwind Gerald’s boat unexpectedly jibbed in heavy winds causing the boat to flounder and break apart on the rocks. And Neil was out on Lake Meade when the sun set rather abruptly, leaving the crew to sail back to shore without any guiding lights. They sailed by dead reckoning hoping not to hit the red rock sandstone cliffs.
They brazed 20-foot sea swells while sailing around the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). On several occasions they risked life and limb, each one risking their all to protect and save the others. They were a close and inseparable group. They shared life adventures, marriage and divorce, and the joys of children graduating from college. And now they were preparing for the next sailing trip; to the Pacific Solomon Islands.
Friendship, camaraderie and love become more powerful than fear.
Fear is a primal human emotion that is linked to the sense of loss or annihilation. Meditation develops fearlessness by loosening the bonds of attachment, and increasing the ego’s identification with the Universal Cosmic Self.
Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. It’s often defined in terms as a basic survival mechanism. Some people believe that a little fear in life is good, as it keeps us away from potentially dangerous situations. While fear is a constant factor (remaining just under the surface or fully exposed) in human life, it is not compatible with the eternal status of human beings.
Here is some advice from the Taittiriya Upanishad:
Just as a person who does not leap into a great flood is not afraid of being drowned, or one who follows the prescribed diet does not feel concerned about being ill, so he who has no egotistic feeling while performing actions or not performing them, has no fear of worldly existence. When his mind is filled with the notion of non-dualism, he knows that the whole world is pervaded by Brahman and discards fear (12).
When a man finds fearless support in That which is invisible, formless, indefinable and support less, he has then attained fearlessness. If he makes the slightest differentiation in It, there is fear for him (3).
When griped by fear we humans exhibit many different physiological responses:
» increased sweating
» increased blood pressure
» rapid heart rate
» dry mouth
» induced flight or fight response
» increased blood cortisol, norepinephrine, adrenaline and other catecholamines.
» greater directed sensory attention
» tightening of muscles
» dilation of eye pupils
We can experience fear as an external threat, like facing an oncoming storm, or as an internal threat, like the sense of personal inadequacy, tomorrows anticipated job interview, or an upcoming surgery.
Causes of fear may include loss of possessions, a loved one, divorce, failure, slander, and an almost infinite host of other issues.
Fear is based on the mistaken belief that we are separate and alone (world of Maya). The ego’s identification with the objective world (I am this body, this job, this personality, these possessions, these past memories, this is mine, etc.) and its insistence on bolstering itself by putting other people down, perpetuates the cycle of ignorance that keeps us bound and restricted. When the ego is threatened we experience fear and trepidation.
In the human nervous system its counterpart is stress and strain, caused by undue pressure of experience. The deep rest of meditation naturally dissolves and eliminates those impediments, leading to fuller functioning and the loosening of bonds that maintenance of the ego has imposed on us.
Here is some advice from others:
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”
Nelson Mandela, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Aristotle, “Wicked men obey for fear, but the good for love.”
Anonymous, “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.”
John Lennon, “Love is the answer, and you know that for sure; Love is a flower, you’ve got to let it grow.”
As we grow and expand our awareness loving bonds with other people are naturally developed. Brotherhoods and sisterhoods abound. Perhaps it’s with work associates, soccer team mates, the book club, yoga class mates, the Akron Physics Club, a church group, golfing buddies, or the swim team.
We find that other people are expressions of our own Self. The universe is alive as multiplicity whispers the silence of the absolute. The One became the Many so that cosmic life could be lived on the individual level. Life is bliss, anchored in the timeless depth of consciousness.
Fear is fictitious and only exists so long as the ego reigns (the small self). Use meditation to expand the ego to the sublime level of universal awareness (the large Self).
Develop a resolute intellect, rise above the sense of attachment, become balanced in success and failure, and strive to know the unthinkable, unchangeable, self sufficient everlasting value of life.
Cherish and practice your meditation every day. Walk the steps of progress and see you heart swell with loving kindness for all mankind. Let us become a brotherhood/sisterhood of humanity.