Is love really the opposite of fear?
Many spiritual teachers talk as if love and fear are opposites and they cannot co-exist. They may speak as love as an opening of the heart, vulnerable and free. Many of these teachers say that in order to find this openness we must move away from fear and into love.
I understand fear and love a little differently. I believe fear is a natural, but difficult experience. Fear is an expression of love on the biological level. It helps the human organism survive. Fear can tell us that there is something to pay attention to, and sometimes we may need to seek protection. Fear is really just a built-in radar system to help us stay aware of the environment.
If we choose to receive fear as an experience we need, as radar that something needs attention, rather than a problem, we may find that being afraid of love isn’t really stopping us from loving. It is actually doing the opposite. Fear then keeps us on our toes, helping us get present to the love that is in our lives from the people closest to us, and helps us recognize the mystery and uncertainty of love that we might be afraid of. Receiving fear does take a good degree of patience and trust. Our social conditioning usually frames fear as problematic, and something to get rid of. But as we learn to receive love, we learn how to receive mystery. And in order to do that it also seems that we must learn to receive fear in a non-judgmental way and learn how to not react to the fear, but just to breathe through it.