I have been recently experiencing tremendous fear, but as I look
through my eyes at the world and the objects it contains, the fear
does not accord with what I see.
The scriptures say there can be valid fear and invalid fear. The scriptures say:
317. Those who see something to fear where there is nothing to fear, and see nothing to fear where there is something to fear — upholding
false views, they go to states of woe.
The world itself is beautiful
The Buddha did not share the above idea.
but people's minds seem tarnished by a neurosis. They seem to define themselves by this very neurosis.
Indeed. The scriptures say:
171. Come! Behold this world, which is like a decorated royal chariot. Here fools flounder, but the wise have no attachment to it.
174. Blind is the world; here only a few possess insight. Only a few, like birds escaping from the net, go to realms of bliss.
I notice all the little behavioural patterns they play and how they are trapped by them. I find this very fearful, and it affects my ability to integrate with people.
The Buddha did not seek to "integrate" with the people of the world. The scriptures say:
There is this (mental) dwelling discovered by the Tathagata where, not attending to any themes, he enters & remains in internal
emptiness. If, while he is dwelling there by means of this dwelling,
he is visited by monks, nuns, lay men, lay women, kings, royal
ministers, sectarians & their disciples, then — with his mind bent on
seclusion, tending toward seclusion, inclined toward seclusion, aiming
at seclusion, relishing renunciation, having destroyed those qualities
that are the basis for mental fermentation — he converses with them
only as much as is necessary for them to take their leave
Only the other day I caught a few seconds of a TV program where they were discussing Covid-19 death rates like it was some kind of sporting event. I find humans very peculiar.
Covid-19 is a serious event because its exaggerated danger can cause great harm to the world, including for freedom of religion and spiritual pursuit. You should take an interest in the Covid-19 death rate to learn: (i) suspected 100 million Americans have Covid-19; (ii) 17 million Americans tested positive; (iii) merely 300,000 dead Americans attributed to Covid-19 associated with an average of 2.7 comorbidities; with average age of death around 75 years old; (iv) Pfizer vaccine 5% ineffective even though the death rate is only 0.1%; (v) therefore healthy people may be forced to take a vaccine that is unlikely to work on unhealthy people; (iv) the above appears crazy yet you claim the world is "beautiful" and Covid-19 death rate is trivial.
At the level of mind I am able to see the danger present in the world and act accordingly but this comes from a natural inclination instead of from a fear-based story.
Possibly you are mistaking "fear" with "caution" or what Buddhism called "heedfulness" ("appamāda"). In Buddhism, there is a healthy spiritual fear called "ottappa". "Ottappa" is one of five requirements for the Path.
This doesn't stop me feeling fear for that mode of being we call samsara.
"Samsara" is merely the mind cycling in egoism, as clearly explained in SN 22.99, as follows:
Just as a dog, tied by a leash to a post or stake, keeps running around and circling around that very post or stake; in the same way,
an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble
ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no
regard for people of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in
their Dhamma — assumes form to be the self, or the self as possessing
form, or form as in the self, or the self as in form.
"He assumes feeling to be the self...
"He assumes perception to be the self...
"He assumes (mental) fabrications to be the self...
"He assumes consciousness to be the self, or the self as possessing consciousness, or consciousness as in the self, or the self as in
"He keeps running around and circling around that very form... that very feeling... that very perception... those very fabrications...
that very consciousness. He is not set loose from form, not set loose
from feeling... from perception... from fabrications... not set loose
from consciousness. He is not set loose from birth, aging, & death;
from sorrows, lamentations, pains, distresses, & despairs. He is not
set loose, I tell you, from suffering & stress.
It is possible - or highly likely - that this fear could be my own samsaric turmoil looking to find a footing in the world as someone who is fearful of others and that its real plight lies in keeping the wheel turning.
Yes, looking for a "footing in the world" is contrary to Buddhism. The goal of Buddhism is to transcend or be above/beyond the world (called "lokuttara") rather than gain a footing in it.
My question is, from a Mahayana perspective, how can I come to love the samsara that I see in others?
Yes, very Mahayana ideas. Mahayana, similar to Christianity, appears to believe it can save the whole world (even though the Tibetans could not even save themselves), even though it is reported the Buddha himself denied such a possibly (in AN 10.95).
I'm happy to welcome answers from other traditions.
I already provided the Theravada viewpoint.