“The concept of being a warrior is applicable to the most basic situations in our lives, to the fundamental situation that exists before the notion of good and bad ever occurs. The term warrior relates to the basic situation of being a human being. The heart of the warrior is this basic aliveness or basic goodness. Such fearless goodness is free from doubt and overcomes any perverted attitudes towards reality.

Doubt is the first obstacle to fearlessness that has to be overcome.

We’re not talking here about suppressing your doubts about  a particular thing that is taking place, nor are we talking about having doubts about joining an organisation or something like that.

We are referring here to overcoming a much more basic doubt which is fundamentally doubting yourself and feeling that you have shortcomings as a human being. You don’t feel that your mind and body are synchronised or working together properly. You feel that you are constantly being short-changed somewhere in your life.

When you were growing up, at a very early stage, perhaps around two years old, you must have heard your father or mother say no to you. They would say ‘no, don’t get into that’ or ‘no, don’t explore that too much’ or ‘no, be quiet, be still’.

When you heard the word no, you may have responded by trying to fulfil that no, by being good. Or you may have reacted negatively by defying your parents and their no by exploring further and being bad. That mixture of the temptation to be naughty and the desire to be disciplined occurs very early in life. When our parents say no to us, it makes us feel strange about ourselves which becomes an expression of fear.

On the other hand, there is another kind of no which is very positive. We have never heard that basic no properly, a no free from fear and free from doubt. Instead, even if think we’re doing our best in life, we still feel that we haven’t fully lived up to what we should be. We feel that we’re not quite doing things right. We feel that our parents or others don’t approve of us.

There is that fundamental doubt, or fundamental fear, as to whether or not we can actually accomplish something. Doubt arises in relating with authority, discipline, and scheduling throughout our life. When we don’t acknowledge our doubt, it manifests as resistance and resentment … resistance in everyday life provides us with many ways to manipulate situations …

The basic no, on the other hand, is accepting discipline in our life without preconceptions …”

~ From Smile at Fear by Chögyam Trungpa



Image: An elm tree coming into leaf a few weeks ago. It is a favourite time of the year for me, watching the accordion pleats emerge from their tissue paper envelopes.


11 thoughts on “Doubt

  1. A timely post for me, and full of wisdom. The unconscious responses to doubt are often either paralyzing or reckless, but inviting it a seat beside you while navigating the endeavors to which we feel called is a sublime sort of magic. Eventually, that little guy disappears altogether… And maybe, in a way, so do we– the false constructs that engender doubt to begin with. What’s left is an encompassing sort of freedom that we can draw from in our creative work…

    Thank you for this…


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Honey. It is deep and it fascinates me that the Buddhists understand with such accuracy and elegance, and in a way the scientific West doesn’t, the human condition. And Chogyam Trungpa has a special mischievousness and audacity. This is what I get from what he says.

      Every human being has fundamental goodness — ie, goodness as in wholeness, fitness, soundness, integrity, as in “to make good” something that is damaged by restoring it to its original soundness — goodness that has no opposite. And then around the age of 2, something happens, and the notion of “good” and “bad” are born in us. And this is the moment doubt and fear are also born. For the rest of our lives, unless we intervene, we struggle under the notion of good vs bad, ie, we struggle with the experience of doubt and fear. The way out is to see reality for what it is: nothing to do with this good vs bad which is all a delusion made up by a 2-year-old. Underneath all the stories is our fundamental goodness patiently abiding. That’s fundamental reality.

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  2. We all encounter doubt in every stage of our lives. In my own case just now is contemplating a life-changing move from our comfort zone to something new. But any doubt which might enter our minds can be overcome by accepting our fragile condition and realizing that we are going into the comfort of our entire family which can’t be bad. It is a chance to learn to know little people who are just beginning their lives. It is strange and wonderful to think that we have been the progenitors of three generations of people. bisous.


    • It really is incredible to think you’ve produced three generations of people. You’ve been a busy woman! :) You’re making a good decision in moving to be near your family. It’ll take something and it’ll be worth it. Remember what Rumi said that I published here a few weeks ago about being cleared out for some fresh new delight. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi there, I just stumbled across your blog and this post truly resonated with me. It is strange because no matter how much work I believe I am doing on myself, I still feel as if this self-doubt creeps up daily. With meditation I have been able to recognize when I start ruminating with self-doubt, but I just wish it would go away already. Thanks for sharing.


    • Hi Madeline. It makes perfect sense that you experience self-doubt as you “work on yourself”. They’re correlated. While ever a person works on herself, she is labouring under the delusion there is something that needs to be fixed. She is not present to her fundamental goodness, and that’s what generates the experience of doubt. The more she works on herself, the more she experiences doubt. For you, for me, and for all human beings, there’s only one outstanding task: to accept that you are already whole, perfect and complete exactly as you are, and that you always were and always will be. Best wishes.

      Liked by 1 person

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