QA181 QUESTION: I’ve come across a great feeling of confusion about risk. I think that I’ve taken many risks in my life, and yet when I look back I see that I was very numb and very blind. I feel that’s no longer applicable to the word risk in my life, but I still feel a great confusion. What am I missing?
ANSWER: Anything healthy and anything true has its distortion and so it is with risk-taking. There is a distorted version of it which comes out of destructive motives. It is a foolhardiness. It is an inner and hardly conscious drive to be destructive, perhaps to prove to oneself and one’s imaginary parents and authorities that one is unfairly put upon.
These unconscious motives play a tremendous role in whatever one does, whether it is taking risks or not, or anything else. Now, you’re quite right, therefore, when you say you have taken risks but they were not done in the particular way in which this is applicable – the right way. You cannot just blindly take a risk without knowing in what respect.
You are quite right again when you say you have to know what is it particularly, and it is only when in this work of going very, very deeply within yourself and understanding what you have not hitherto understood about yourself that you then know, with any given attitude, what is applicable.
In this case, when you come across your fear of trusting the universe – for example, that you let your feelings be, or that you know someone you love has his problems and nevertheless you do not close up tightly but remain in an inner, open, loving state – when you desist from playing those games you begin to become conscious of risk. Previously these fears were totally unconscious and yet they were very real as you now know. So when you give up this game playing, you’re taking, as it were, a risk.
Naturally, the risk is imagined. It is not real. For there is no risk about not playing the game. Nothing could be less risky. But to the childish mind that conducts these games, these roles, these pretenses – that adopts these defenses – it seems very appropriate. It seems really protective.
You really seem to be able to take a risk when you are not rejecting and closed because you are not sure that the kind of love you would want is forthcoming. This seems a risk. It seems a risk to stay open generously with one’s feelings and not to conclude negatively in order to be protected, as it were. These are the risks you cannot always take, because you are not always aware of feeling in this way.
The problem really lies in the fact that you must observe yourself feeling that way and inwardly acting that way, and inwardly adopting your false protective measures. And that is when the risk comes in – to let go of the game and the protective measure and the defense.
There is a false risk-taking that you will love anyhow, even when you may perhaps be quite aware of the fact that the situation is inappropriate for this type of feeling. Yet underneath, you do not want to see this. You play the game of wishful thinking because you do not want to go through the trouble of having to face something unpleasant, having to face possibly that your choice was not wise and why this choice was not wise.
I am not talking about you, now, in this particular respect. You must not conclude this. I’m speaking also to others, because this is a question. Although it is personal, it is also general – and this what I say here was certainly applicable for the past.
So, in the false risk taking, often because one does not want to see the consequences and the ramifications and implications of choices and what the underlying motives might be, there is therefore a wishful thinking, ostrich policy attitude that could then parade under the guise of mature risking. You have to be very clear about this. This has nothing to do with what I’m talking about now.
You need to really see what the relationship is, what the willingness of commitment on the part of the other person is – when the answer is affirmative, and you still see that you are coasting and holding and temporizing and not letting your feelings be. Then the defense, the protective measures, have to be risked in order to take the plunge into living where there is no ironclad insurance policy; where you might, indeed, have to deal with the negativities that come up and which might incur temporary hurt.
But what do you make of it? How do you handle it? Do you risk feeling anyhow? Are you blindly adhering to reflex reactions from the past with which you insist to consider the present? Again, you have to recognize these automatic processes. For otherwise how can you deal with them?
When you see that this is the case, again you have to risk giving up the insistence of assuming – because you had a certain experience in the past – that this experience must, by necessity, repeat itself. And that you therefore have a pat negative conclusion. The risk to assume a positive outcome, the risk to want to love, the risk to reach for happiness – these are the risks to be taken, and they are indeed apparent risks.