Transforming Fear Into Consciousness

By Nick Polizzi

Some of the most powerful lessons can find us when we least expect them.

A few days ago, I was standing amidst hundreds of people in a long line that stretched around a Buddhist temple outside of San Francisco.  It was a Sunday, and we were all there to hear the teachings of a renowned spiritual master, but no one had anticipated this kind of a human logjam.

As our collective impatience grew, I began to feel an unpleasant yet familiar tension creep into my stomach.  I was surrounded by irritated strangers, who had come for a spiritual experience but now found themselves with at least an hour wait.  You can guess what happened next: out came the cell phones and reading material, couples and friends turned toward one another to create a bit of privacy, eyes began to gaze off into safe open space…  anything to avoid the unknowns of unsolicited human interaction.

I was no different.  The dreaded feeling of being alone in a crowd has haunted me since I was in elementary school, and I find myself doing the most conspicuous things to avoid it, including (but not limited to) the distraction mechanisms mentioned above.  I was fumbling for my smart phone when the teaching came through: You didn’t come here for the talk, you came here for the crowd.  Now turn around like the gentleman you are and introduce yourself to that woman.

To be clear, these voices I occasionally hear come in the form of gut feelings, not complete audible sentences.  (More detail on this in an earlier post here).

Obediently, I turned 180 degrees to a Tibetan woman standing directly behind me and introduced myself.  The reaction was not at all what I expected; she absolutely lit up, introduced herself as Amrita, and began sharing with me her reasons for coming to the Buddhist temple to witness this special talk.  As we spoke, the coolest thing started to happen: other people on line began turning to one another and striking up friendly conversations as well.  We had started a positive chain reaction!

Amrita asked why I had come to the talk, and I told her about the films we make and our mission to preserve ancient wisdom from around the world.  I admitted that my main reason for coming was to connect with a particular elder, who specialized in a mystical tradition of ancient Tibet called Bon.

Upon hearing this, Amrita became very thoughtful, and appeared to be sizing me up. “You must speak with my husband Tenzing. Oh, here he comes!”

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I turned around and saw a middle-aged Tibetan man approaching us.  He was wearing casual clothing and had a youthfulness about him, but something in his demeanor felt much much older.

“Tenzing, this is my new friend Nick.  He is exploring some of the ancient practices of Bon and needs to speak with the Chogyal.”

Like Amrita, he too gave me a thorough once-over, but his gaze was much more piercing, as if he was seeing into me.  “Yes, I know him.  He is staying not too far from here.  Please tell me more about your project.”

I was dumbfounded.  This did not feel like mere coincidence.

I began to tell them both about our mission, but didn’t get far before we were interrupted by two monks from the temple, who pulled Tenzing aside and began speaking in a hushed Tibetan dialect.  Tenzing’s expression went from peaceful to concerned. He turned back to me and said, “We need to leave immediately.  Here is my phone number.  Call me tomorrow.”

With that, Tenzing and Amrita were off.  My new friends, who I’d met by swallowing my shadow and engaging with complete strangers.

A few minutes later, several hundred of us were told that the event had reached capacity and there was no more room.  This unfortunate news quickly disbanded the throng of seekers that still stretched around he block.

Walking back to my car, an older man came up beside me and said, “Can you believe that?  They made us wait on line for an hour, only to turn us away.  What a waste of a morning!”

I smiled and kept walking.  Then the teaching came through:

The main event is not in the temple, the church, the mosque, or the monastery.  It is wherever and whenever we are conscious enough to open up to ourselves and the beautiful people around us.

More to come,

Nick Polizzi
Director, The Sacred Science

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196 Responses

  1. Beautiful and inspiring! Nothing is a coincidence in life! “Coincidence” is merely a term used by the mind to explain things logically!

  2. The 1ST email I opened this morning and it made my day. I’m looking forward to reading more of your story. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I found this encouraging. I agree that things are set in motion for us when we are open and alert to these nudges and/ or voices. Thank you for sharing this

  4. I am transformed by Nick Polizzi’s writing. Worth the time it take to visit with his words and experience. He looks like a young guy, feels his experience deeply. Receives and transmits the spiritual interpretations articulately

  5. Good story….can’t wait to hear what happened next! It sounds like it is unfolding in a new interesting way, and for your benefit. And humanity’s too. Keep us posted.

  6. Beautiful Teaching Nick. It is very satisfying when we can push through our fears and are often so quickly rewarded.

  7. Thanks for sharing this great story, Nick. It’s amazing what good things can happen just by reaching out to one stranger, yet so few people do it. Keep up the great work

  8. Yes! Love, love these type of interactions and have had many similar experiences in US. Unfortunately here in Sweden, I might receive friendliness back but people seem less conscious about listening to and following their intuitive voice. I perceive mine like a sensation, a gut feeling, a quiet whisper of my heart in a thought and I so deteste others’ way of confusing it with mental illnesses. Hope this project goes well, just had a memory last week about a Tibetan mask given to us by a Buddhist nun in the 70’s, must be time for this wisdom to come forward!
    Aloha, / Alexandra

  9. Your experience and story is heavenly — the word “church”
    is really meeting in the streets around the world.
    Awaiting more of the story and thanking you for all.

    1. Loved your story and waIting patiently for the rest…….interestingly enough I was just sharing again last week about a book, Horse Boy, it found me at an airport, true story that takes place in the Tibet area and if you love horses & children this boy for you too……..

  10. What a touching story this is. I’m not sure I believe in coincidences anymore, this really appeared to be a miraculous event. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Thanks for sharing your experience as it gives me hope for all of us, this simple act just takes a little bit of faith to start a positive chain reaction. Namaste

  12. Congrats!
    You’re blessed: you’re approaching the right Path.
    Follow YOUR )TRUE) HEART
    and let me know if you need anything.

  13. Very interested in hearing more of this story. It is fascinating what can happen when we reach beyond our fears and comfort zones and allow life to happen. I love how you were able to transform what could have been an unpleasant and negative experience into a positive one. Blessings!

  14. I love this story. Can’t wait to hear about the phone call. I truly believe the more people you talk to the more you realize how wonderful a great majority of the humans on earth really are LOVE!

  15. Nick, it’s wonderful that you perceived the event in the way that you did. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and views.

  16. I am very happy and thankful for you sharing this story. Reminders like
    This are so helpful for us all. We are truly more alike than separate.
    We can assist each other as well as listen to our inner voice as you are doing
    All great bits of wisdoml
    Love and an open heart to you
    Bernadette

  17. Yes, I do the same thing, like, whenever I’m in a ticket line or grocery line, etc. Nine times out of ten, the people are happy to be engaged in conversation while we’re waiting. I’ve met so many nice people that way. I can’t say that I’ve had a great hook-up like you’ve had, but at least I’m not reliant on my phone. (which Is not actually an iPhone, but maybe some day..) Please continue to post your stories — I enjoy them so much.

  18. Everything happens for a reason – there is no coincidence. When we open ourselves up to receive we open ourselves up to growth & opportunity, sometimes these chance moments or meetings change us substantially sometimes subtlety. Nick I am looking forward to what that chance meeting with the lovely Tibetan people did to change your life. Thank you for sharing such a simple yet beautiful story.

  19. Thanks for this, there are no coincidences . I needed to hear this. I am heading to Costa Rica today and I am traveling alone so there is apprehension about the process. U have reminded me that it is not so much about the destination but more importantly the journey…thank you. This helps

  20. There is no wasted action or words in our lives they will all count for something, hopefully with good intent. We do not know the impacts we have along these lines. a smile, a laugh, the human connection of recognizing a fellow being, even if they seem distant, we can be the one to make a difference with our kindness and good will.

  21. Yes, we all need to just stay open to everything around us – at all times. Thank you for your wonderful story!

  22. Thank you very much for sharing this information with me and the world.I know that every thing happens for a good purpose.Blessings to you as we continue our journey.

  23. Thank you for “the message” … When the student is ready
    The teacher will arrive! I get so entwined in my “life” that
    I too retract into my shell (I am a Cancer woman .. We tend
    To hide in our shells a lot). But, the great thing is, I am old
    Enough and wise enough (from experience) to say what you
    Have expressed is absolute truth! Sometimes I just need a
    REMINDER! I have experienced the MAGIC of taking risks
    And putting myself in “uncomfortable” situations. Something
    Very GOOD always seems to happen when I do this .. So I
    want to thankyou again for reminding me that I need to push
    myself OUT of my comfort zone! blessings! :-).

  24. Hi Nick, here I am a stranger to you. May I reprint this piece in a magazine coming out this spring? It is called, “Healing Fukushima, Healing Ourselves,” It is about confronting our fears, BIG and small. Thank you. Jan

  25. Did you ever think that the wait in line was the actual lesson? Perhaps the lecturer knew that
    he could teach more by providing this experience than babbling a bunch of words? See the
    current Time magazine article on mindfulness.

  26. Dear Nick,
    Thanks so much for your retelling of the incidence in S.F. and your observation during your wait.
    Namaste, Stan Brown

  27. I loved the title of this entry and the content as well… I find that facing the fear with consciousness always is more skillful than retreat… Thank you for this… it was needed today…

  28. So Wonderful. I get guidance a lot like that also. Don’t hear a voice just know the message when it comes through.
    Janie Martin

  29. Thank you for sharing this inspiring and touching story….a reminder that there are often, gifts, unexpected opportunities and “beautiful people around us ” <3
    sandra

  30. Thanks for sharing!!! This and also your previous messages turned out into blessings and discovered miracles!!!!

  31. Thank you for sharing about the “alone in a crowd” feeling and how it can be changed in an instant. One can see it open life up in all circumstances. Beautiful.

  32. Thank you for the wonderful story. I’ve done this many times myself…in grocery stores while being online, in bumper to bumper traffic and so on…you never know what opportunities surround you til you take courage and open your mouth, your heart, and your mind. Thank you.

  33. Did u ever get in touch with the Tibetan couple?? Loved the story! I have become more observant of people around me in different situations and they are oh so similar to yours. I am going to do exactly what u did next time I am in a situation like that and see what happens!!

  34. A couple of months ago I decided to stop reading or using either my smart phone or tablet whilst on public transport. I people watch and have been learning so much and have got to meet some interesting people, as I now make eye contact with real people and not gadgets. Your story only confirms that we should really start communicating again. Get out of our shell and start living. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You make eye contact with people on public transport?? I guess if your a woman you might get away with it easier but as a middle aged man who’s smile looks more like an awkward facial expression I’ve found it to be an uncomfortable experience ( I’m smiling while writing this).
      Let’s all try it next week but I’m going to practice my quick smile in the mirror first to make sure it reflects the genuine feelings on the inside 🙂
      I yearn for a simple life with nature good friends and meditation, instead I have electronics galore and a boss that hates me lol, how do we make these changes in life without feeling trapped!

  35. Wonderful story and nothing more than I expected. Cannot wait to hear what happens next.
    Since I started opening up myself about a year ago I have had the most amazing things happen in my life and now I firmly believe that there is no such thing as coincidence.
    I have met wonderful people on my journey that I didn’t expect to meet and so I completely understand what you mean. Thank you for sharing it with us all. X

  36. I believe that is why my Lord Jesus the Christ, commanded that we love one an other as much as we love ourselves, because in doing so we experience the living church within us of which we are all a part!

  37. thank you for sharing Nick, this reminds me of the celestine prophecy…i’m intrigued as to what happens next 😉

  38. I feel I know of the feelings you spoke of. I thank you for sharing this story with others. It is a good example of what can be.

  39. Thanks for sharing. Have been a recipient of this divine connect at all times when one has opened up to strangers – so much so that today there are no “strangers” in this life 🙂 The most strikign example was when as a young woman, my bike ( two wheeler scooter) broke down at 12 midnight in a so called dubious locality , in front of a group of drunken, thug looking men . Something told me to speak to one of them as a sister – and guess what ? I had the man push the bike all the way to my house which was a twenty minutes walk away !!!!!!

  40. Dear Nick, Your story is wonderful. I have been in search of help to return my toddler grandson home. His mother used heroin again, you know the story. I’m a retired art teacher and have never been in trouble, never did drugs, etc… As an art teacher I loved presenting my students with the ancients when ever I could. As a heartbroken grandmother I seek the ancient knowledge of peace and wisdom. I found some of it in a young couple at a progressive church. Kind of the same thing you found in line. Please tell more of the story and I really want to see the movie. Thank you.

  41. The main event is not in the temple, the church, the mosque, or the monastery. It is wherever and whenever we are conscious enough to open up to ourselves and the beautiful people around us.Indeed true. Thank you Nick.

  42. Love it! We are the master of our destiny and by choosing to meet people, you completely changed your perspective of this ‘event’ and your destiny with that ‘chance’ meeting. Love your work so please keep shining your light upon this world! 🙂

  43. You transformed this event into an exciting one for yourself Nick – beautiful.
    However, the story does not end well for me …. hundreds of seekers who made an effort to turn up are kept waiting and then dismissed. Perhaps another time for them could have been arranged? At least their contact details taken ….. can none of you enlightened ones feel their frustration and disappointment? Where is the compassion and kindness for everyone?

  44. Every cell in my body surges joyfully when I read stories like this. I LOVE when life delivers us an unexpected bouquet of roses.

  45. Living in awareness and synchronicity creates more and more wonderful experiences and expressions that can and will change the world we live in !!!

  46. Thank you for sharing your story, I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed your book very much. I am a nurse and a therapist so the psychological aspects of healing are always very interesting to me.

  47. What an amazing happenstance. In a meeting this morning on church grounds, we were discussing how God sends us messages- even through TV, magazines, passages in books (not necessarily spiriutal ones).

  48. “The main event is not in the temple, the church, the mosque, or the monastery.”
    This sums it up. If not all, it sums up a lot. Thank you for sharing.

  49. Nick,
    You bring tears to my eyes. ‘Swallow the shadow”….not easy, but always rewarding. Always. Thanks for telling this story as you have cast a ripple in my life right now.

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