Everything We Do Is Because Of Fear

Nick Williams
5 min readSep 6, 2023
Image — wallpapercave.com

We aren’t — as a rule — in the least bit interested in venturing forth into a Greater or More Expansive Reality, although we can never admit this to ourselves. We aren’t interested in any ‘Deeper or More Expansive Reality’ because that would mean saying goodbye to who we think we are. Who we think we are isn’t part of that Greater or More Expansive reality — nothing that we think will ever be part of the Greater or More Expansive Reality.

We are presented with a dilemma here therefore — on the one hand we want to venture forth into the Great Mystery of Life — that’s quite natural for us — on the other hand however we don’t really want to cast off from our moorings in the safe harbour of thought because if we did this we would no longer know who we are (or where we are, for that matter) and so the adventure will get a bit too real for us at this point!

This is the defining dilemma of our existence, if we may put it like that — the ‘dilemma’ is that we want to take part in the Great Adventure (because we’re not actually living at all if we don’t) but were we to slip our moorings in the safe harbour of thought then we would no longer be able to know who that adventure is happening to. Who gains, therefore? We want the adventure for sure but — at the same time — we want to be the one it is happening to…

The way we solve this dilemma is by ignoring it. We make our choice to hold on tight to our limiting idea of who we are (which means turning our backs on the Adventure) but then we cover this up by telling ourselves that there is no Adventure, that there is no Great Mystery to venture forth into. What else do we super-sophisticated over-civilized adults ever do apart from tell ourselves this, over and over again? How else would we ever get to be as downright boring as we undeniably are?

If we were to make this decision consciously (so to speak) then the awareness of what we’re doing would be unbearable to us — we wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves. If the only way to live is to cast off our moorings and plunge into the mystery without any reservations then that would mean that we’re turning our backs on life and opting instead for the avoidant tactic of ‘holding back from the main event’. And it’s not so much that we’re holding back from ‘the main event,’ but rather that we’re holding back from the whole event, the only event. Either we are alive or we’re not — there are no half measures here! It’s ‘All or Nothing’…

The reason we don’t want to ‘plunge into the mystery of life’ (but opt instead to hang back and content ourselves with our stale ideas about it) is of course because of the Great Fear we experience at the thought of it and if we’re too afraid to venture forth into the Great Mystery then we’re also going to be too afraid to admit to ourselves that this is what we’re doing! The fear we experience with regard to ‘letting go of the known’ is the very same fear that we will experience when it comes to allowing ourselves be aware that we are avoiding letting go.

This is in the nature of the Great Fear — the Great Fear has a Double Nature in that when we act on this unfree basis we are also — at one and the same time — too afraid to admit that this is the motivation for what we are doing. When we act on the basis of Ontological Terror then we don’t have the courage to see that this is what we’re doing. It’s one and the same thing: to confront the fact that we’re acting on the basis of Terror is to confront the Terror itself. To allow ourselves to see that we are avoiding is not to be avoiding…

So due to the double nature of the Great Fear when we avoid the Adventure (or avoid the Great Mystery) we are at the same time avoiding seeing that we are avoiding it. This is how we solve the dilemma that we started off talking about therefore, this is how we get to both ‘ignore the Adventure’ and ‘ignore the fact that we are ignoring’. There is no dilemma anymore because — as far as we’re concerned — our avoidance of life isn’t avoidance but an actual bone fide engagement with it. We re-present our ‘hanging back from life’ as us ‘boldly engaging it’! Our fear-driven ‘shirking of the task’ is reinterpreted as us wholeheartedly engaging in the task (when what we’re actually engaged in is ‘the inverted task of fleeing from life’).

We don’t just do this individually, we do it collectively, and it is our collective validation of our avoidant-type activity that ‘seals the deal’, so to speak. If I’m doing what everyone else is doing how can I be going wrong? If I’m doing what everyone else in the world is doing then obviously I’m celebrating life not avoiding it! This is exactly what we keep on repeating to ourselves, after all. We always say that we are celebrating life — what else could we say?

This works so well that the very last thing we’re ever going to suspect is that ‘everything we do is because of fear’. We don’t perceive ourselves to be afraid, after all — on the contrary, we feel confident, robust, ebullient, unconstrained, and so on. The reason we don’t understand how we could be ‘living on the basis of fear’ is because we simply don’t understand how Double Avoidance works — even our wisest philosophers don’t understand how the Double Avoidance of Fear works. The reason we don’t go around experiencing ourselves as being in a permanent state of fear because we are living in the Simulation of Reality not the real thing. We’re living the Analogue Version of Life, not life itself — the ‘Analogue Version of Life’ being where there is no ontological risk for us to worry about. The rub here however is that if there’s no ontological risk then there’s also no mystery, no hidden depths, no adventure…