“There’s a class of things to be afraid of: it’s “those things that you should be afraid of”. Those are the things that go bump in the night, right? You’re always exposed to them when you go to horror movies, especially if they’re not the gore type of horror movie. They’re always hinting at something that’s going on outside of your perceptual sphere, and they frighten you because you don’t know what’s out there. For that the Blair Witch Project was a really good example, because nothing ever happens in that movie but it’s frightening and not gory. It plays on the fact that you do have a category of Those Things Of Which You Should Be Afraid. So it’s a category, frightening things. And only things capable of abstraction can come up with something like the category of frightening things.
And so Kali is like an embodied representation of the category of frightening things. And then you might ask yourself, well once you come up with the concept of the category of frightening things, maybe you can come up with the concept of what to do in the face of frightening things. Which is not the same as “what do you do when you encounter a lion”, or “what do you do when you encounter someone angry”. It’s a meta question, right?
But then you could say, at a philosophical level: “You will encounter elements of the category of all those things which can frighten and undermine you during your life. Is there something that you can do as a category that would help you deal with that.” And the answer is yeah, there is in fact. And that’s what a lot of religious stories and symbolic stories are trying to propose to you, is the solution to that. One is, approach it voluntarily. Carefully, but voluntarily. Don’t freeze and run away. Explore, instead. You expose yourself to risk but you gain knowledge.
And you wouldn’t have a cortex which, you know, is ridiculously disproportionate, if as a species we hadn’t decided that exploration trumps escape or freezing. We explore. That can make you the master of a situation, so you can be the master of something like fire without being terrified of it.
One of the things that the Hindus do in relationship to Kali, is offer sacrifices. So you can say, well why would you offer sacrifices to something you’re afraid of. And it’s because that is what you do, that’s always what you do. You offer up sacrifices to the unknown in the hope that good things will happen to you.
One example is that you’re worried about your future. Maybe you’re worried about your job, or who you’re going to marry, or your family, there’s a whole category of things to be worried about, so you’re worried about your future. SO what’re you doing in university? And the answer is you’re sacrificing your free time in the present, to the cosmos so to speak, in the hope that if you offer up that sacrifice properly, the future will smile upon you. And that’s one of the fundamental discoveries of the human race. And it’s a big deal, that discovery: by changing what you cling to in the present, you can alter the future.”
― Jordan B. Peterson