Human beings are ruled and guided all through life, by two chief emotions, namely love and fear. All the positive emotions and qualities arise out of love—kindness, gratitude, altruism, forgiveness, sympathy, empathy, compassion, honesty and sincerity. All the negative emotions and qualities are an offshoot of fear—hatred, anger, worry, anxiety, stress, guilt, jealousy, lust, greed, frustrations, sorrow and depression.
Fear is natural, because this Universe is so vast, so unpredictable and so much beyond our understanding. When we don’t understand something, when we can’t control something, when we don’t know how the next moment, next hour or day will turn out, fear is natural.
Hence, don’t label fear as unnatural. It is the most natural emotion that exists, not because of us, but because of the situation we find ourselves, after taking birth on this planet. When so many factors are beyond our control, fear is bound to be there, for the human being is most concerned about his or her self-preservation, safety and security, and these are not guaranteed in life.
While fear is natural, it is equally true that fear prevents us from living a good, fruitful, happy life. Fear is the enemy of happiness. If there is fear in your heart, no occasion or event can bring happiness, for the fear in your heart will easily cover that happiness, like an eclipse.
In life, the negative is more powerful than the positive. That is the nature of life. It takes a couple of days to demolish a building which takes years to build. It takes a few minutes to destroy a person’s reputation, which he has taken a lifetime to build. It takes the barber a few minutes to chop off all the hair on someone’s head, but it takes that person months to grow that hair. Hence, the existence and power of fear is much more than that of love.
Love needs an effort, needs awareness, needs commitment. Fear needs nothing. It comes and goes without any effort or difficulty. Hence, one needs to do some work on oneself, in order to shift from fear consciousness to love consciousness. While love is also a natural phenomenon, it tends to get corrupted by fear, like a virus corrupting a computer system, and the fear needs to be cleaned up, for love to shine forth.
What are our biggest fears? The fear of death (and disease) would rank as probably the number fear that we have, followed by fear of having nothing, poverty, joblessness, hunger, becoming homeless, and fear of losing face, being shamed, losing one’s reputation and image. Fear of failure is also a very big fear that prevents us from trying half the things that would bring us joy.
Fear of other’s opinions, the need for approval, the need to fit in to society, the need to conform, fear of not becoming a laughing stock, fear that people will stop respecting us, will ridicule us, will talk badly about us—-all these fears determine how we respond to the many challenges of life. And unlike fear of death or poverty, which are existential fears, these fears are all arising from the ego, which wants to keep our image squeaky clean.
How to overcome fear? That is not an easy task. One has to go through layers and layers of various fears, to be able to come to the center of your being, where there is love, where there is peace. Awareness, understanding, courage, and total acceptance of what is, are the few tools to overcome fear.
Fear disappears when you no longer care about the outcome. Fear can disappear only when anything that happens is okay by you. As J. Krishnamurti said “My magic mantra is simple. I don’t mind anything that happens”. That is the attitude and mindset which will get rid of fear.
As long as we want, crave, expect, control, as long as safety and security are our priorities in a world where there is really none, we shall be in the grip of fear. Prayer, hope, and faith in the unknown, in existence, in God, will go a long way, in curing our fears and letting us have a great life here on earth.