On anxiety. Eifel Autumn Retreat, 2005

Excerpts on anxiety taken from teachings given at Kamalashila during the Autumn Retreat 2005,  in the Eifel.

Transcribed by Jo Féat (2009), edited by Barbara Terris (2011)

German transcript by Petra
 Niehaus (2012)
Italian transcript by Rita Gastaldi (2011)

Substantially revised transcript by James Low (Sept 2020) 


…Some time ago I was looking at a little video for children. It was about an elephant who wanted to fly. The elephant couldn’t fly, but some friends managed to get him up a tree, whereupon a friendly cloud came and floated underneath. The elephant jumped from the tree onto the cloud, and he fell right through it! In the same way, emptiness is like the sky, thoughts are like clouds and we are like elephants. Until we become very light and inseparable from the sky we will keep falling through cloud after cloud. We won’t be able to rest in emptiness because we are too heavy with all the thought we have accumulated and continue to believe in…

…Inner anxiety arises because we are not able to rest in how we actually are. We are alienated and unsettled by our belief in our own real existence. This is not a personal failing; it is the very nature of samsara itself. Samsara is a state of anxiety. In samsara subject and object are separated, and we find ourselves strongly identified with the subject…

…Outer anxiety arises when we focus on particular problems and situations that are hard to deal with such as relationships, money, housing and the future. Generally speaking, anxiety is a relational quality arising in situations in which we fear that the outcome won’t be the one that we want, or that the outcome is unpredictable. We stay in a state of ‘not knowing’ for longer than we feel we can cope with. When we are anxious, we are not able to settle the arousal that has been triggered…

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