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Fearlessness Movement

Fearlessness Movement (also known as World's Fearlessness Movement, In Search of Fearlessness Movement, Fearlessness (R)Evolution, Fearlessness Tradition) refers to a global, universal, usually loosely defined and organized category of activities signifying a historical thought or critical consciousness movement. Although written and conceived as "the fearlessness agenda on this planet" in 1997 [1], the term "Fearlessness Movement" was inferred in 2000 and coined in 2003 [2] by the Canadian self-proclaimed postmodern-integral fearologist [3] and educator, R. Michael Fisher [4]. The Movement's priority, within the context of nonviolence and liberation resistance movements, is dedicated specifically to unraveling the problems created by fear for Homo sapiens (and also other species). Individually and collectively, the Fearlessness Movement fundamentally serves to move us from fear to fearlessness, acting as a fear-vaccine and systematic counterresistance to the insidious 'Fear' Problem (also known as 'Fear' Project, 'Fear' Matrix, Fear/Anxiety Complex) [5], and its ideological underpinning in systemic fearism-t' [6] with its various symptoms such as terrorism and other diverse culture of fear phenomena [7].Fearlessness Movement ning was initiated in 2015 by R. Michael Fisher and Barbara Bickel to act as a global network to coalesce knowledge and interests to promote this work.

Contents: 1. History 2. Philosophy, Theory, Practice 3. See Also 4. References


There is no known source or date when the Fearlessness Movement began though some manifestations throughout history have been tracked and labeled at times by scholars or populist leaders, for example: the Burma Fearlessness Movement [8] (a late 20th-century form of the ancient gift of fearlessness cultures [9] and their spiritual tradition in the far East, with roots in the worldviews of many Indigenous cultures [10]), The League for Fearlessness (early 20th century esoteric form, USA [11], A Course in Miracles (1960s-70s new age form, USA [12], Shambhala Warrior Training (late 20th century Buddhist form, USA) [13], In Search of Fearlessness Project (late 20th century emancipatory form, Canada) [14], Fearlessness Revolution (early 21st century populist liberal form, USA) [15], and Fearism philosophy movement (early 21st century scholarly/populist form from literary theory and activism out of Nepal) [16]. Simultaneously, there are unconscious and systematic distractors, resistors, and enemies of fearlessness [17] not to be underestimated.

In distinction to the above in the context of a post-9/11 era and global economic crisis, are calls for a "culture of fearlessness" contra culture of fear (e.g., regarding innovation at Google, Inc.) [18], which tend to be less overtly political or traditional forms of the Fearlessness Movement. Many (not all) of the latter forms use "Fearless" to name their self-declared reform, movement, or revolution under the premise of a for-profit business venture [19]. Fear and fearless are now sexy marketing terms for just about everything, with little to no critical analysis of the terms fear, fearlessness or fearless themselves or establishing an obvious developed relationship to the Fearlessness Movement traditions.

Although there are several mainstream scholarly works on the history of fear [20], there are no such works on the history of fearlessness. Therefore, the global Fearlessness Movement has no systematic documented history. The first attempt, a very brief introduction, was published by Fisher in 2007, in which the abstract says, "Although the In Search of Fearlessness Project (1989-) is coming on towards its 18th birthday, it has always been important to locate this Project as a New Social Movement [i.e., Fearlessness Movement], with an ancient-rooted past in a concrete history of liberation movements (E. and W.).... This paper provides an introduction to several exciting discoveries and initiatives that have led to clarifying both the importance of this historical ground/consciousness for the Fearlessness Movement (and ISOF Project) and clarifying the future possibilities for researching and writing a history of fearlessness" [21].

Philosophy, Theory, Practice

The ancient roots of a perennial ethical philosophy (E. and W.) which posits that Love is greater than fear, and the path and virtue of fearlessness (e.g., The Bagavad Gita [22] is the way from fear to Love, violence to nonviolence) (i.e., ahimsa), is indicative of the Fearlessness Movement's foundational philosophy, theory and practice of fearlessness, also defined as the basis of compassion [23]. In general, this philosophy of fearlessness is more accepted by Eastern religions and philosophies than Western, according to Fisher's unique research synthesis of the Fearlessness Movement, and its base in the World's Fearlessness Tradition and teachings (E. and W.) [24]. He posits premises of a critical and radical philosophy of nonviolence and liberation and a theory of fearlessness and "paradigm of fearlessness" (as 'fear' vaccine [25]) of which are essential to better understand fear and fearlessness and their intimately interrelated roles and impacts. He also distinguishes the Fearlessness Movement or "historical fearlessness" or "ethical fearlessness," with a developmental and ethical evolutionary trajectory, from individual "behavioral fearlessness," the latter the more common but reductionistic understanding and use of the term fearlessness [26].

In 2000, Fisher published on the connection of nonviolence movements and "fearless movement" toward a "fearless society" he had conceived, one that was inspired by many leaders, of which Mahatma Gandhi and his Satyagraha independence movement was foremost in its clear conception of the pivotal role of fearlessness. Gandhi once said, "God is fearlessness" [27]. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama once said to Westerners, "Don't fear fearlessness" [28]. Fisher wrote, "[A]s an educator, I am interested to challenge our ways of understanding and defining violence and the ways that we think are 'best' to deal with violence in all kinds of formal and informal learning sites. This publication is intended to briefly document a growing (populist and academic) movement that suggests that a non-violent society can only be founded on fearlessness--the ethical path of a fearless life--a way of 'Love.' The way to 'Love,' I argue (and this fearless movement suggests), is to better understand the nature and role of 'fear' and its impact on this planet." He suggests in his 2010 book that diverse, mostly independent sub-movements, more or less organized, express the spirit of the Fearlessness Movement, revolving around valued concepts like bravery, courage, without fear, freedom from fear, fear-less, no fear and fearless. In 1997, Fisher published on a growing "strong tradition and several new 'movements' (both secular and religious) that are anti-fearlessness" [29].

How does one join and carry out the mission of the Fearlessness Movement? There is usually no strict membership although some groups may have some criteria for such. If one decides to join the Movement that's all that is required, although various disciplined practices such a meditation, mindfulness, aesthetics, concentration, sensitivity, prayer, contemplation, fearanalysis [30], healing, martial arts, sacred warriorship, yoga, transformation etc. often contribute to a maturing mastery of fearlessness. The basic educational component is to learn/teach, with a critical lens, everything one can about fear ('fear') and fearlessness from diverse perspectives and synthesize these into one's own philosophy, theory and practices. It is essential, according to Fisher, that we promote a unifying of the Fearlessness Movement as a spirit to improve our current inadequate fear management/education curricula and pedagogy, aiming towards a healthy and emancipatory fearuality [31].

See Also


1. Fisher, R. M. (1997). Defining the 'enemy' of fearlessness. Technical Paper No. 6. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute, p. 1. Available @ 2. He intimated such a "fearless movement" in a 2000 publication, preferring in later writing to use "fearlessness" instead. The movement concept with fearlessness existed from the inception of his project and writing on fear and fearlessness begun in 1989 with the In Search of Fearlessness (ISOF) Project. The "fearlessness movement" (no caps) was first coined in 2003 @ and click on "Projects". See Fisher, R. M. (2000). The movement toward a fearless society: A powerful contradiction to violence. Technical Paper No. 10. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ It is unclear when others started using the term but most uses seem to be after 2003. Fisher uses caps on the term a few years later. 3. For a brief description of the nascent profession of fearology and role of a fearologist see 4. For scholarly summary of his work go to and biography summary/cv go to: 5. Fear with (') marks refers to not merely biophysiological and psychological fear but a sociocultural and political construction of 'fear' that is much more complex, invisible and insidious. See discussion of the problems of defining fear (and 'fear'), for e.g., in Fisher, R. M. (1995/12). An introduction to defining 'fear': A spectrum approach. Technical Paper No. 1. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ 6. Although there are some different uses of this term in popular and scholarly literature (see, the use here refers primarily to that articulated in Fisher, R. M. (2014). Towards a Theory of Fearism. Technical Paper No. 51. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ A revisionary notion of "fearism-t" (as toxic form) is articulated in Fisher and Subba (2016), Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue." 7. For a quick good synopsis of the "human fear-problem" see Overstreet, B. W. (1951/71). Understanding fear in ourselves and others. New York: Harper & Row, 11-22; for a brief introduction to the culture of fear dynamics in contemporary society and Fisher's view as well, see 8. The Burmese Fearlessness movement, based on the populist uprising in support of the Burmese opposition politician and political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi between 1989-10, and a later inspired movement with somewhat parallel aims regarding a political prisoner in Thailand led to the Thailand Fearlessness movement. See Fry, G. W., Nieminen, G. S., and Smith, H. E. (2003). Historical dictionary of Thailand. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 34. 9. Religious scholar Maria Hibbets (now Heim) has documented a religious, spiritual and ethical perennial philosophy at the core of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism in the far East, of which the ideal is to not think or act from fear and thus bring not fear (and its associated violence) to others (including other species) or oneself in all arenas of life. It is widely known in south Asian cultures as abhaya-dana or "gift of fearlessness." See Hibbets, M. (1999). Saving them from yourself: An inquiry into the south Asian gift of fearlessness. Journal of Religious Ethics, 27(3), 437-62. See also Heim, M. (2004). Theories of the gift in south Asia: Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain reflections on Dana. New York: Routledge. 10. A leader of this current thinking is the Indigenous educator, Four Arrows (also Don Trent Jacobs), who has written of the close parallel of fearlessness in the worldview of Gandhi and American Indian thinking. See Four Arrows (2006). Epilogue. In Four Arrows (Ed.), Unlearning the language of conquest: Scholars expose anti-Indianism (pp. 273-80). Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 279. See also Four Arrows (with Ed McGaa or Eagle Man and R. Michael Fisher), chpt. 13 "From Fear to Fearlessness (Religion/Psychology and Spirituality)" in Four Arrows (2013). Teaching truly: A curriculum to Indigenize mainstream education. New York: Peter Lang. 11. The League for Fearlessness: An International Movement to Free the World from Fear was organized by 50 people, inaugurated Oct. 17, 1931, led by an esoteric spiritual group in New York City, associated with the theosophist Alice Bailey and directly facilitated by her husband Foster Bailey (a 33rd degree Freemason). It seems to have either gone underground under a different name or else folded rather soon after its inception(?). See reprint of this brochure in-full, and its counter aims to the dominating climate of fear during the Depression, in Appendix 2 in Fisher, R. M. (2007). History of the Fearlessness Movement: An Introduction. Technical Paper No. 22. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ 12. The Course as it is known in popular circles (for short) is a channeled book of spiritual teachings that began in the mid-60s, based on a unique blend of Eastern (e.g., Advaita) and Western (Christian mysticism, and new age esotericism) thought and practices. The teachings came with the intent of moving human motivation from fear to Love. Marianne Williamson is one of the most popular teachers of this book and movement today.See discussion in Harman, W., and Rheingold (1984). Higher creativity: Liberating the unconscious for breakthrough thoughts. Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 115-18. Also see the book: Foundation for Inner Peace (1975). A Course in Miracles. Tiburon, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace. 13. This is based on the ancient sacred warriorship tradition in Tibet, carried forth into North America and has spread across the world in the last few decades, based on the teaching primarily of the late Rinpoche Choygam Trungpa (Naropa Institute, Boulder CO). Trungpa's classic book, with important writing on fear and fearlessness inspires many, including Fisher's In Search of Fearlessness Project. See Trungpa, C. (1984/07). Shambhala: The sacred path of the warrior. Boston, MA: Shambhala. See also 14. In Search of Fearelssness Project (ISOF) was co-founded by Robert M. Fisher (now R. Michael Fisher) and his intimate partner Catherine V. Sannuto in the fall of 1989 in Calgary, AB, Canada. ISOF Project was a counter to what Fisher then called the historical global 'Fear' Project. Inspired by a transpersonal love and study of sacred warriorship traditions (See Also), the organization (incorporated as a non-profit in 1995, closed down in 1999) had its identity and liberation mission from the start envisioned as "a therapeutic community dedicated to 'freedom from all forms of violence, oppression and hurting'." Fisher began the In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute in 1991 as the research, publishing and educational wing of the ISOF movement. That same year Barbara Bickel, his next intimate partner, co-founded the In Search of Fearlessness Center (Calgary), which operated as a small not-for-profit business until 1999. Info. on ISOF taken from The Glenbow Museum public archives (Calgary, AB) 0&RL=0&NP=255&%0AMF=WPEng Msg.ini&MR=5&QB0=AND&QF0=Main%20entry+|+Title&QI0=Centre+Gallery+fonds. See also more history @ and click on "Projects." 15. Arianna Huffington, populist liberal author of On Becoming Fearless and founder of Huffington Post, has politically challenged (especially) Republican party politics in the USA during the George Bush Jr. presidential campaign (2004-08) because of fear-mongering tactics to win votes. Bloggers (for e.g., have argued she is leading the "groundwork for a fearlessness revolution" and helping (especially women) start (in Huffington's words) an "epidemic of fearlessness," which Huffington calls "counteroffensive," in order to resist abuses of fear in politics (and everywhere). See Huffington in a (Sept. 26, 2006) interview with Miles O'Brien says she started a "Becoming Fearless" section in the Huffington Post to encourage women to tell their stories about fear and overcoming it and "to start a kind of fearlessness movement, if you will." Available @ 16. This movement (somewhat like existentialism in the West) arose around 1999 from Eastern literary theory and circles in Nepal, as they attempted to define a particular signature to Nepali literature, based primarily around the writing and new book by Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear.' ''Xlibris. The "fearist perspective" (p. 11) as Subba calls it, is focused on assessing life from the point of view of fear as the major shaping influence/motivation, while at the same time working as a powerful ideology to help humans better manage fear on the grounds of fearism which asserts "We always seek a fearless path, and our civilisation has developed continuously along this path" (p. 273), a telos that is also brought forward in R. Michael Fisher's "In Search of Fearlessness Project." In 2015, Fisher and Subba joined forces for an W-E exchange in co-authoring their first book entitled "Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue" (Xlibris, 2016)--wherein, Fisher takes his philosophy of fearlessness and merges it with a philosophy of fearism. Fisher has also supported and critiqued Subba's "fearism" usage making his own distinction (i.e., fearism-t) when it comes to ideologism and a strong political context for the term. See Fisher, R. M. (2014). Towards a theory of fearism. Technical Paper No. 51. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 17. Although many such enemies and processes of resistance could be documented, a preliminary analysis of these was conducted in Fisher, R. M. (1997). Defining the 'enemy' of fearlessness. Technical Paper No. 6. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ 18. See 19. For an example of a more social entrepreneurial campaign of this form by an influential leader Alex Bogusky, see "FearLess Revolution" For an example of a less political and more business (coaching) psychological form see For examples of Christian-based ventures (and/or groups) using "Fearless Revolution" see and For a critique of exemplars of these "Fearless" forms see Fisher (2010), 22-25. 20. For example, Laffan, M. F., and Weiss, M. (2012). Facing fear: The history of an emotion in global perspective.Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press; Bourke, J. (2005). Fear: A cultural history. UK: Virago Press; Robin, C. (2004). Fear: The history of a political idea. New York: Oxford University Press; Stearns, P. N. (2006). American fear: The causes and consequences of high anxiety. New York: Routledge. 21. Fisher, R. M. (2007). History of the Fearlessness Movement: An introduction. Technical Paper No. 22. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ 22. Mahatma Gandi wrote, "Fearlessness is the first requisite of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral! Every reader of the Gita is aware that fearlessness heads the list of the Divine attributes enumerated in the 16th Chapter.... Fearlessness is a sin qua non for the growth of the other noble qualities [virtues]. How can one seek truth or cherish Love without fearlessness?" Available @ 23. According to integral philosopher and Zen Buddhist, Ken Wilber, the teachings of Buddhist education, in the words of Jeremy Hayward, involve: "Recognizing the fear as well as the fearlessness in others, helping others to recognize the fear and to discover fearlessness, this is compassion." Hayward cited in Wilber, K. (1993).Grace and grit: Spirituality and healing in the life and death of Treya Killam Wilber. Boston, MA: Shambhala, 382. 24. Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. 25. Fisher, R. M. (2006). An integral fearlessness paradigm. Technical Paper No. 9. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ 26. Fisher (2010), xv, 65-66. 27. Cited in Rao, K. L. Seshagri (1978). Mahatma Gandhi and comparative religion. India: Motilal Banarsidass, 69. 28. Cited in Ferguson, M. (2005). Aquarius now: Radical common sense and reclaiming our personal sovereignty. Boston, MA: Weiser Books, 154. 29. Fisher, R. M. (1997). Defining the 'enemy' of fearlessness. Technical Paper No. 6. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ 30. See Fisher, R. M. (2012). Fearnalaysis: A first guide book. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. Available @ 31. See Fisher (2010) for background theory and the analogy of fearuality (his own term) with sexuality.