In enjoyment, there is fear of disease; in social position, there is fear of falling off; in wealth, there is the fear of (hostile) kings; in honour, there is the fear of humiliation; in power, there is the fear of foes; in beauty, there is the fear of old age; in scriptural erudition, there is the fear of opponents; in virtue, there is the fear of traducers; in body, there is the fear of death; everything in this world pertaining to men is attended with fear; renunciation alone leads to fearlessness..................A Sloka from "Vairagya-Shatakam"
Fear, the greatest enemy of human slows the progress of a person, and it disturbs peace and harmony in life. In fact, fear sucks the vitality and energy of a person, which may become a cause for weakness and even for death.
What Upanishad says on Fear?
Let us know “fear” in the perspective of Vedanta Philosophy.
“There is Fear from Duality” [ Non- Duality alone is fearlessness]: Brih. 1.4.2.
सोऽबिभेत् तस्मादेकाकी बिभेति । स हायमीक्षां चक्रे यन्मदन्यन्नास्ति कस्मान्नु बिभेमीति । तत एवास्य भयं वीयाय । कस्माद्ध्यभेष्यत् द्वितीयाद्वै भयं भवति ॥ BRRihadAraNyaka Upanishad-1.4.2॥
What causes Fear? It is from a second entity that fear comes.
§ Two types of fear:
- Natural or Rational Fear: It arises due to genuine threat of life or other concern in life.
- Un natural Fear: Has no basis, no reality. Totally imaginary.
This article will have two important parts:
Part-1): All about fear in Nutshell
Part-2): Methods for eradication of fear.
In the Part-1 section, we will focus on various causes of fear, and its subtle origin, particularly in subconscious mind. How the fears arise in different forms in different kinds of person. What are its implications?
In the section Part-2, we will look into the various approaches to eradicate the fears. How to stop fear in its origin? We will focus mainly on the point what gets fear? Through logical reasonings we can conquer fear permanently.
The triune Brain:
Research pioneered by Paul MacLean, M.D., the human brain has three separate sub-brains with different shape, size, structure, chemistry and pattern of functions. Among three sub brains, one is the oldest and known as Reptilian Brain.
Fear is a fight or flight response. It comes directly from the unconscious reptilian brain, since this brain has been programmed to help us to survive in a prehistoric world. Therefore, we are programmed to fear anything which is associated with a threat to our survival. We must overcome this reptilian brain. Right knowledge can do this.
1. What is Fear?
It is an expression of mind which also reflects in the face, when a person sees danger in his front. This is an instantaneous reaction of the person in fearful situation. Face becomes pale, heartbeat rises, chocking of voice, tremor of limbs, expressionless condition of the eyes, inability to speak etc. The seeds of fear lie dormant in childhood in the subconscious mind and sprout forth when similar situation arises.
The philosophy behind the Fear
§ According to “Hsin Hsin Ming” (Tao Philosophy) when tranquillity is disturbed, there is a guideline as below:
“ To come into harmony with this Reality, when doubt arises, just simply say “NOT TWO ” In this “NOT TWO” nothing is separate, nothing is excluded. The concept again is non-Duality. Once we understand the core concept, fear is removed permanently.
§ The Vedantic perspective on Fear:
We have forgotten our original nature, which is Divine, the true nature. The Infinite fearless Brahman became the finite Jiva with fear due to the whirlpool of ignorance. Identification with this body has become the cause of Fear. We identify ourselves with this physical Body which is perishable. Therefore, there is fear of losing this body due age, diseases etc. This body is an instrument for sensual enjoyments. Fear always works of losing this body.
Negative feeling is also another cause of fear. Lack of self- reliance makes a person afraid. Sometime inferiority complex becomes cause of fear, because the person feels incapable of showing talents, power and position due lack of physical and mental efficiency. Such fears are the result of wrong guidance and bad environments in childhood.
Self-realization will remove all such fears.
2. Fear associated with attachment.
Fear and attachment are modifications or ” Vrittis” in the mind. They are like temporary waves. Mind’s substance is nothing but fear and attachment. Fear and attachments are like twins. When you destroy fear and attachment, you are free from misery.
Fear is a product of ignorance or Avidya. Due to this ignorance (Avidya) we have forgotten our true nature, which is fearless and immortal. In reality we are “Santam (peaceful), Ajaram(decay less), Amritam(immortal), Abhayam(fearless).
Attachment is long standing associate of fear. Wherever attachment is there, there is fear. Fear and attachment co-exist. Attachment makes us fearful.
A person is attached to his/her family. So, there is fear of losing wife/husband, fear of losing children. Also, there is fear of separation due any reason. A person is deeply attached to family members, property, name and fame etc. He or she gets terrible shock when these objects are destroyed or lost. But when there is no attachment there is no fear.
Lord Krishna says in Gita: " He who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of stable mind." Therefore, abandon attachment through the practice of non-attachment. All fears will cease to exist.
Infact all objects are illusory, perishable and pain-giving. This is to be understood that all objects are short lived with respect to infinity. Thus, all sorts of fears and attachments will totally vanish.
“I am bodiless, immortal Soul or Brahman
I am sexless, all-pervading Atman
I am fearless Brahman
I am full of Vairagya now
There is no world at all
I alone exist
I am Deathless and Blissful
I am Absolute Brahman”
3. Imaginary Fears:
Every person has some imaginary fears of one kind or another. All these fears are generated due to presence of lust, anger, greed, jealousy, pride and hatred and mind becomes agitated. Imaginary fears put fuel on this agitated mind and makes a person restless like monkey. These imaginary fears are far more than normal and genuine fear. Ultimately, these fears develop diseases, discomfort, disharmony and bring miseries. Fear of failing examination is a kind of imaginary fear which arises due to anxiety and worries.
" Not reaching It, the speech and the mind return back. One who knows the Bliss of Brahman, fears not from anything at all."[Taittariya Upanishad 2.9]
In Part-2, we will discuss over methods to eradicate fear from the source itself. We will explore: 1) the path of YOGA (Meditation) and 2) through the knowledge of Advaita Vedanta: Brahma Gyan, to attain free and fearless state.
Fear has to be conquered. Freedom from fear can be achieved through liberation from the objects of Fear. Right knowledge only can liberate fear from the mind. Knowledge of NON-DUALITY is required for that. Next part will elaborate on this NON-DUALITY.
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