If there were a truly existent I,
It would make sense to be afraid of certain things; But, since there is no truly existent I,
Who is there to be afraid?

From Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, by Shantideva, translated by Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche with Neil Elliot © 2002. Reprinted with permission of Tharpa Publications ( Shantideva was a renowned 8th-century Indian Buddhist monk who taught at Nalanda monastery.


Evil spirits have power over fearful men but cannot disturb the fearless. Likewise, those intimidated by fear of the world are in the power of forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures, which do not disturb those who are free from fear of the passions inherent in the constructive world.

From The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture, translated by Robert A. F. Thurman © 1976. Reprinted with permission of Pennsylvania State University Press ( Vimalakirti, the semi-legendary speaker featured in this famous sutra, is a lay disciple of the Buddha. 

The Buddha

Selfish attachment brings suffering; selfish attachment brings fear. Be detached, and you will be free from suffering and fear.

From The Dhammapada, translated by Eknath Easwaran. Nilgiri Press, 2007.

The Buddha

[The bandit chief:]

Those who
          for the sake of sacrifice
          for the sake of wealth
we have killed in the past,
          against their will
          have trembled & babbled
          from fear.
But you —
          you show no fear;
          your complexion brightens.
Why don’t you lament
in the face of what’s greatly to be feared?

[Ven. Adhimutta:]

There are no painful mental states,
in one without longing.
In one whose fetters are ended,
all fears are overcome.
With the ending of [craving]
the guide to becoming,
when phenomena are seen
          for what they are,
then just as in the laying down of a
there’s no fear in death.

From “Adhimutta and the Bandits,” Khuddaka Nikaya, Theragatha 16.1. Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Thanissaro Bhikkhu is the abbot of the Metta Forest Monastery in San Diego County, California.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye & The Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje

When others take it easy and lay out their pasts and futures in their minds, think to yourself, “What are they thinking? Aren’t they afraid of death? The poor things!” Never be without this sense of urgency.

From The Torch of True Meaning: Instructions and Practice for the Mahamudra Preliminaries by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye and the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje. © 2014. Reprinted with permission of KTD Publications. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye was a celebrated 19th-century Tibetan Buddhist master.

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