Ask: Is fear of not existing the "mother of all fears"?

“I just finished reading over your 3/23/16 blog ( in which you mentioned having a terrifying experience of the ‘fear of not existing’. I was recently thinking about a former friend who had created a persona which expressed itself as an obnoxious role he was compelled to play in all his interactions with others. I thought that he was so invested in this fake identity that if he was prevented from playing it, he would not know ‘who he was’ and would be terrified of not existing (not consciously of course). Is this what you were talking about?
I have experienced a horrible foreboding of impending doom a few times when I traced back some fear, through guilt etc. I also experience pre-dawn anxiety every day which always seems to be about various trivial things in my life. Do you think that the ‘fear of not existing’ is actually the ‘mother of all fears’? And most important of all - what to do, especially while it’s happening. I always think there's some way to look directly at that fear as a means of dissipating it. I try to apply the ‘Rules for Decision’ (Chapter 30) to my morning fears but they seem intractable so far.” (June 1, 2016)

Reality is formless, boundless Being. So the experience of limited form, or the self, is very uncomfortable. The ego (personal thought system) teaches that your discomfort is guilt for “separating” from your natural state. It tells you that your natural state (Truth) is a power over you and outside of you (a god) that will punish you for attacking it by leaving it. So the “mother of all fears” is the belief that the experience of yourself as a human is real and that it is the result of defying a god that will punish you for it by annihilating you. You will cease to exist. This guilt and fear of annihilation is the core experience of the ego thought system and you experience them as your own when you identify with the ego. What I shared in that article was an experience of being at the very center of the ego experience.

In our identification with a self we fear change because all change brings loss of some kind. We have personas and roles that we cling to and are afraid to release because we fear we will lose more than we gain by doing so. This is what your friend may have experienced. Or he may not have believed that change was possible or that there was a better experience to be had. He also may have found that being obnoxious brought him things he valued and simply didn’t want to change.

Your pre-dawn anxiety sounds like something chemical. If you have already traced your thoughts down to the fear and guilt at the center of the ego then continuing to dig around in your mind may only increase your anxiety. Your belief here may only be that “I am this body and its chemically-induced moods are my reality”. If this is the case then the best way to deal with it is to accept that this is your experience of that particular body. Remember, acceptance does not mean that you like something. It means that you acknowledge that it is happening without resisting it. Watch the thoughts and remind yourself that it’s just the chemicals in that body’s brain in the morning. Don’t believe in the thoughts, don’t embrace them, and don’t resist them. Instead, gently correct them with self-talk until they pass. If you’re not sure what to say to yourself, think of what you would say to reassure a friend who was sharing these thoughts with you. This practice can line you up with the Holy Spirit’s thoughts and pull you out of your morning anxiety faster.

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Unknown said…
Trying, specifically, to imagine non-existence is impossible. Simply awakening to the existence as "I AM: makes fear impossible. Why focus elsewhere?
will said…
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will said…
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Anonymous said…
Until one realizes his true identity, there are plenty of obstacles to study - to one's benefit - although maybe not to obsess about.
Anonymous said…
Since submitting my question re. "The nature of the "Mother of All Fears", I have been mulling over your response. Based on that response and my own hunch, it seems that all fear stems from the core fear of being "annihilated/ceasing to exist". My understanding of the fear of loss resulting from change is: what else can it be but the fear that if I lose/give up something, I will have nothing, resulting in being nothing. That is how I look at this issue.

"Unknown" above weighed in with the point re. why even focus on the nature of non-existence. You have often cautioned against too much ruminating around in our fear/guilt. In other words, look for it, see it, and move on ie. turn toward Truth because that is the only thing that is real and what has true value.

Do you agree?
ACIM Mentor said…
Anonymous, yes, I agree.

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