We all have experienced fear at one point or the other in our lives. Fear has always been a part of our lives. We are living many types of fears simultaneously. What is fear in reality and is there a way to overcome fear?
Fear is defined in the dictionary as “a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms which causes a change in metabolic and organ functions, and ultimately a change in behavior such as fleeing, hiding or freezing from perceived traumatic events”. Fear, in human beings, may occur in response to a specific stimulus occurring in the present or in anticipation, or expectation, of a future threat perceived as a risk to body or life.
We humans are a fearful lot, almost living a life gripped in fear - the fear of losing, or fear of being rejected, or fear of getting demoted in a job, etc. One of the greatest fears in the world is what we make of the opinions of others. But the moment one can break this chain and become unafraid of the crowd, that individual no longer remains a sheep, rather s/he becomes a lion: A great roar arises in the heart, the roar of freedom.
Buddha has actually called it the lion's roar. When a man reaches an absolutely silent state, he roars like a lion. For the first time he knows what freedom is because now there is no fear of anybody's opinion. What people say does not matter. There is no need to be afraid of the crowd, or of some imaginary God at the end of the world who will ask what he or she had done.
And the moment one knows that one is totally free to be oneself, life starts having a dynamic quality to it. As it is said, “Fear creates fetters, freedom gives us wings”.
Fear is never love, and love is never afraid. Ordinarily people think that hate is the opposite of love. That is absolutely wrong. Fear is the opposite of love. Love is outgoing, fearlessly reaching to the other, it is tremendously trusting that it will be received and it is always received. Fear is shrinking within oneself, closing oneself, closing all the doors, all the windows so that no sun, no wind, no rain can reach inside. This is like entering into one’s own grave alive.
Osho says, “Be afraid of your ego, be afraid of your lust, be afraid of your greed, be afraid of your possessiveness; be afraid of your jealousy but there is no question of being afraid of love. Love is divine! Love is like light. When there is light, darkness cannot exist. When there is love, fear cannot exist.
Many of us have experienced that when we are in love, the ghosts in our minds disappear, we are no longer afraid of all that used to scare us before. Love has the power to transform. Yes, love may not be permanent, it need not be permanent. It is like a flower that blooms and dances in the rain. It may fade away later. This understanding can make our love life more beautiful, because we know that today we are together, tomorrow perhaps we may have to depart.
No relationship can truly grow if we go on holding back. If we remain clever and go on safeguarding and protecting ourselves, then only personalities meet, and the essential centers remain alone. Then just our masks are related, not us. Whenever such a thing happens, there are four persons in the relationship, not two. Two false persons go on meeting, and the two real persons remain worlds apart. Every adventure brings its own fears. If one wants to live without fears, one can live only in the grave. Life can mean only one thing and that is constant adventure; always moving from the known into the unknown; and finally, ultimately, a quantum leap from the unknown into the unknowable.
Fear is natural. The person who lives without any adventure lives without fear but also without happiness. He lives a convenient life; comfortable and cozy but dull, stupid, meaningless, with no joy, no song, no dance; nothing ever happens into his being, he simply vegetates. People have chosen this kind of slow suicide just because they want to avoid all fear. This is avoiding life itself, and if one avoids life he is avoiding God.
Once somebody asked Mark Twain, “What do you think are the three best things in life?” Humorously and sarcastically, he said, “The first best thing is never to be born. The second best thing is to die immediately after birth. And the third best thing is to die as soon as possible.” His humor has a tremendous truth in it. That’s the logic of the average mind.
The mind is very much afraid of the unknown because it feels capable when we are functioning within the boundaries of the known. Mind means knowledge. We are acquainted with it. We know all the pros and cons; we know what to do, what not to do. We have passed through the same route so many times that now we can pass with closed eyes without any fear of stumbling into anything or falling or going astray. But then we function just like a robot. Mind consists only of the known. The moment we start inviting the unknown in, the mind freaks out.
Understanding and Accepting the Insecurities of Life:
Many times we have observed that our relationships are out of fear. Fear is so overwhelming that it resembles dark cloud covering us, that we say things which we don’t want to say, we do things which we do not want to do, but fear makes us do them. Millions of people are worshipping stones carved by themselves. They have made their Gods and then they worship them. It must be out of great fear. Sufi master Jalaluddin Rumi made a revolutionary statement: “Move within, but don't move the way fear makes you move”.
Then what is the way to move within? It is moving playfully with joy and laughter just like small children running joyously after butterflies for no special reason.
The difference between a courageous man and a coward is not that the courageous man has no fear and the coward has fear. Both have fear in the same proportions. The difference is that the courageous man goes on in spite of the fear, and the coward stops because of the fear. Only machines don’t have fear. But we don’t call machines courageous. Courage simply means that something is happening in spite of the fear. The fear is there but it is not stopping us; we are not being blocked by it. We use it as a stepping-stone.
Osho says, “Both possibilities exist in every human being! Fear and courage! All will depend on which you choose between the two. Never choose fear. It cripples, it paralyzes. It destroys you without giving you a chance of resurrection. Courage will also destroy you, but that destruction is very creative – it will give you rebirth. When you sow the seeds of courage in the soil, then too it dies – but it doesn't get rotten. It dies into a new phenomenon. A sprout comes up. Courage will kill you as much as fear, but fear will simply kill you without giving you a new life. Courage will give you a new life. Choose courage – always choose courage”.
Fear is always around some desire. Fear comes as a by-product of desire. Somebody wants to become the richest man in the world but what if he did not succeed, fear steeps in. Someone has a beautiful wife but is afraid she might go away, fear comes in. When one tries to possess a human being, fear sets in. Fear arises out of the desire to possess, it is a by-product; because we want to possess, hence fear. If we don’t want to possess, then there is no fear. If we start living in the moment, fear disappears. Fear comes through desire. So basically, desire creates fear.
The question is not of getting rid of anything; the question is only of understanding. To try to understand what fear is and accepting it is the key to transformation. If we have fear, then accept it. It is there. Don’t try to hide it. Accept it as part of our being. If we can accept it, it has disappeared already. Through acceptance, fear disappears; through denial, fear increases.
Naina Rajkumari (Ma Prem Naina) is associated with Osho World Foundation and travels widely facilitating workshops and seminars. Born in Jorhat, she was initiated into Osho Sannyas in 2003 at Oshodham, New Delhi.