When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard,he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fear wells up in all of us from time to time.
Fear is a powerful emotion which comes from a deep part of our psyche where it was rooted as a primal instinct to keep us alive. When an animal is moving along and something surprising happens, it is usually better for that animal to run away as fast as possible rather than to pause reflectively and wonder what is happening. Our fear is what kept us alive. And our fear is ever with us.
So fear can be an effective motivator but it can also be used as a weapon. Society uses fear as a powerful force to sensationalize news and in many advertisements to sell products. Religions use scare tactics to try and get people to pray!
Fear is usually based on something that we think may happen in the future. For example,we may be afraid to fall, but once we are falling, we are afraid to hit the ground, once we hit the ground, we may fear we have a bad injury, once we know we have a bad injury, we may fear the pain and the consequences of not being able to work for some time or become disabled etc. So one could say that fear is always based on something that has not happened yet, and is therefore a fantasy of our mind rather than fact. It is a lack of certain knowledge of the unknown. The uncertainty we feel about the outcomes, circumstances and about the unpredictability of future events. Fear is simply:
Our fears are in fact irrational beliefs that we have about ourselves, our actions, objects, other people or events. For example, while one person maybe afraid of spiders another person confidently handles them in the palm of their hand. What gives life to this fear? Is it the spider or the person? Isn’t it basically an interpretation that is made within the mind of the individual who sees the spider? The same could be said of other fears too. So most of our fears are figments of our imaginations, much like dreams -seemingly real, yet completely fictional occurrences taking shape within the recesses of our minds.
It is however a fact that we do all have many fears lurking at the back of our minds. For example:
Any type of fear robs us of energy. Our Spirit is not meant to be fearful. Anywhere that fear lives, the Spirit withdraws ( a very dear friend of mine used to remind me of this this by saying – Fear is the path to darkness). Where fear grows, love is diminished and divine qualities are forgotten. People become paralyzed by the fear of the unknown, of being rejected, of not being in control. Fear is a lack of faith, it is a state of scarcity, a state of insecurity, a state where one lacks confidence. When you are feeling insecure your life comes to a halt and you begin second-guessing every decision. This likewise slows you down and leads to many other destructive emotional outcroppings – stress, anxiety, frustration and anger. All of these emotions leave us drained. Marianne Williamson has written that there are really only two primary emotions in the universe, love and fear. So anytime you’re feeling anxious, insecure, worried, angry or resentful, you’ve left love and entered fear.
So now that we have acknowledged that we all may well be inflicted by not one but several fears in different facets of our lives, the following type of questions may arise:
How do we get past our fears?
How do we face them one by one and become like the resolute young man (see the very first quote on this page) who found the courage to take hold of his fears and found that they disappeared.
Gurbani guides us in the following way. First, it tells us that all fears are groundless except one – the fear of god which is actually not a real “fear” but a reverence or awe for the divine power.
The right fear is the fear of losing God
If fear, doubt, or uncertainties should cross your path, surrender them all to God. Ask God to strengthen you to face each one with courage and grace and walk through it, knowing that He is with you. Trust in God alone to overcome your fears and replace them with faith. I recently saw a bumper sticker that read, “If God is your Co-Pilot, switch seats!” Great advice! We have good reason to be fearful when we are in control. Fear feeds stress, and stress thrives in an atmosphere of fear and doubt when our hand is on the steering wheel of life. We need to move over, surrender all control to God, and find the peace that only He can provide. Surrender each fear to the loving control of God as you pray, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
It is important that we try to let go of our fears, by being mindful of our thoughts (remember Power of Thoughts -see blog on Thinking about Thinking),by living in the present, by not projecting our thoughts into the future, by not speculating what others may or may not think or what may happen, by doing our very best at everything and then letting go and lastly by believing with utter conviction that what ever will happen will be for the best.
The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.
Trust the gods within, Accept given boons.
Illusion is reality’s border: Pierce fear to go beyond
(365 Tao: Daily Meditations-Dao)
With much love