Sam Keen

Learning to Fly

Learning to Fly

Sam Keen is a champion to awakening men throughout the world. His monumental achievements with “Fire in the Belly” and “Hymns To An Unknown God” are staples in our culture. Delight in this journey with Sam as he reflects on fear, trust and the joy of letting go – Learning to Fly.

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Sam Keen Text Excerpt

Is fear the only territory that you traverse with people?
Sam Keen
No. I think we traverse the territory of fear in order to get to the land of joy.
One of the first things that we find when somebody goes up there and their afraid, their afraid to do it. They say they can’t. And we get them to go off, or get them finally to go to a catcher. They just start screaming and yelling! You see this enormous release. And these kids who have been on drugs, typically, will say something like: “you know, I didn’t know that there was any way to get high like this. This is better than drugs. This is fantastic!”
And they come away, maybe, with a very, very different sense of themselves. “Well, I guess I had more courage than I thought I did. I did it you know. I didn’t think I could do that.”
So they have broken through boundaries. All of us need to find ways to break through our boundaries. And break through the kinds of inhibitions and repressions and fears that we just carry around for a lifetime. Or else our lives become smaller and smaller and smaller.
A person who can’t tolerate fear or risk will gradually move into smaller and smaller rooms. Their life will become more and more limited. They’ll be what I call “sclerosis of the soul.”
Wow, yes, well put. So reading your book, is it going to spawn a bunch of trapeze schools all over the country? Is that what’s going to happen here?
Sam Keen
Well I don’t know. Again, I would like to stress this book is not just for people who like trapeze, any more than the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was for people who rode motorcycles. Or Zen and the Art of Archery was about archery. It’s not. It’s about how you form a practice. The other side of it is….
Excuse me, say more on that. What do you mean by “it’s about how you form a practice?” What do you mean by that?
Sam Keen
Well, you see, the Zen and the Art of Archery was about how you act without being anxious. How you act—how you have grace under the conditions of stress.
So here on the trapeze we are doing things that always involve falling and turning in midair, so that we fall correctly on the net and don’t hurt ourselves. We are always dealing with failure, because you are going to fail and do the trick wrong a thousand times before you do it right. So it teaches you to fail gracefully. It teaches you grace under pressure. It teaches you to fall and change direction. It teaches you to cooperate with others. All of these things which are a part of any spiritual practice or practice of the art of living……

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