So, what does Zen say about being afraid? Fear is a prime reason why human beings try to find something superior to them, something that can help them, get them out of trouble. Various religions have used fear as a way of imposing morality - they define someone who can see everything and can punish people for what it defines as wrong. To some extent, it works very well, however - one place it fails miserably is that every religion has its own definitions of wrong. Same thing that is considered right in one society or community or religion can be the opposite in other society, community or religion.
So, this is what got me going - how come six billion people with a history of thousands of years have not been able to converge on one definition of good and bad?? This question was very puzzling. Having been born and raised in east and live my adult life in west, I have come to appreciate differences very well. There are several issues, for which these two societies take completely opposite views, e.g. vegetarianism, arranged marriage, living with your parents - to name a few. I realized there is no absolute defintion of right or wrong. It is very subjective and depends on conditions.
Anyways, so back to question of fear. Fear usually originates for something in future, never ever for something in present. We are always afraid of something that has not happened yet. Once it happens, we deal with it. We are no more afraid, we just plunge into it and deal with it to the best of our capacity. Most of the things that we are afraid might happen, never even happen. If we can stay in present and not plunge into future so much, we can prevent many fears from arising. Zen enables you to stay in the moment, it gives you the gift of being present, being mindful. Granted it does not happen all the time and mind tends to roam in future and past a lot, still even if you are focused in present for 50% of the time, you have chased 50% of your fears. Zen also enables you to break down your ego or self. Most fears are about some sort of destruction of self - destruction of my wealth, beauty, fame or power. Once you see that the so called self neither exists nor controls any of these things which are impersonal phenomena happening based on their own causes and conditions, you can accept change much more easily. Zen also tells you that there is a simple law of karma - as your action, so are the results you get. There is no other authority in some place out of this world that is passing judgement. Neither does it say that if you are a follower of Zen, misfortunes will not happen to you. It leaves it completely up to you if you will be happy or unhappy. You have nothing to fear if your actions are wholesome. According to Dhammapada:
1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.
2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.