What the Samurai Can Teach Us About Fear

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

If you’re familiar with the work of Ernest Becker, you’ll be familiar with the theory that much of the fear we experience is a result of an underlying fear of death.

Fear is such a powerful emotion, deeply rooted in our ‘fight or flight’ response to perceived threats.

So many of our decisions, whether conscious or not, are strongly influenced by our relationship with fear - and an underlying assumption of a threat to our very survival.

Real freedom can only be attained once we have reconciled our relationship with fear. So what can the Samurai teach us about overcoming fear?

The Samurai, in their very culture, insist on reminding themselves of the inevitability of loss.

They commonly used the phrase “to die before going into battle” . This mental state would allow the Samurai to go into battle unreservedly without any fear of death. They would bring themselves to an experience and acceptance of death ahead of time.

This 'Samurai' state of mind, does have far reaching applications in day-to-day life. Accepting and experiencing the inevitability of loss, before it occurs, will free us from it.

I can understand that the topic may seem quite morbid, but fear and anxiety is very much fuelled by our often-relentless efforts to hold on.

Holding on to relationships, holding on to things, holding onto life itself - the harder we hold on, the greater the fear of loss, almost a direct correlation.

Maybe the secret to real freedom and living fearlessly is not about holding on at all, maybe it’s in letting go.