The financial crisis that has engulfed our nation is now permeating the global economy. Respected economists are calling this the greatest threat to our financial system since The Great Depression. The Fed and the U.S. Trasury are taking unprecedented steps to open up the credit markets. European leaders have announced they are infusing billions of their currencies to stabilize their banks.
It is a time of fear, anger, uncertainty and confusion. Blame is being passed around like so many Starbucks lattes. No one is willing to predict what the short or long term consequences may be. We are entering a period of grave uncertainty — the Cave of the Great Unknown.
During The Great Depression, FDR attempted to calm the nation by telling our people “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” While suffering greatly, the nation took solace from his words.
There is a wonderful story taken from Tibetan Buddhism. According to tradition, each monk was required to pass a test: find his way out of a locked cave. The Master gave the monk two pieces of advice. “When you enter the cave, the doorway will lock behind you and you will be besieged by all the terrors and demons you fear most. They will engulf you and threaten to take your very soul. My first piece of advice is to remind you that the demons are not real. The second is to keep your feet moving at all times.”
The monk entered the pitch-black cave and heard the door slam down behind him. And sure enough, he was immediately accosted by everything he feared most. Giant rats slithered on the floor, birds of prey filled the air, the cave was filled with cries of rage and animal screams whose flesh was being torn apart.
And the monk, terrified as he was, forgot the advice of his Master. He truly believed what he was facing was real. But through it all, he kept his feet moving and found his way out of the cave.
Make no mistake, we face critical challenges ahead, challenges that will test our nation, our leaders, and ourselves to the utmost. The worst thing we can do, however, is to allow ourselves to become paralyzed with fear. The best thing we can do is pay deep attention to what is right in front of us, solicit the best advice possible, cultivate our equanimity, and keep our feet moving forward.