Everyone in this world is fearful of something or the other. Children are fearful of living up to the expectations of their parents and parents are fearful of their children getting spoiled. Modern-day psychologists have listed several different kinds of fears that people have, some quite common and others quite unheard of and abstract.
Effect of fear on various levels within our system
Fear is defined as an unpleasant sensation caused by nearness to some uncomfortable situation or pain.
- Physical effects: When one is influenced by fear there are several physical changes that take place in the body. The heart rate increases, one starts getting palpitations and starts perspiring, the blood pressure goes up, the glands in different parts of the body are affected negatively and a whole range of diseases start manifesting.
- Social effects: In a family relationship if a child is afraid of the father, in due course he starts hating the father. In a social relationship, if one fears a friend, in due course he starts hating that friend. The fear of maintaining one’s status results in different kinds of lies. In the work culture, one may be so fearful of the work pressure on him, that it may result in complete inaction and stagnation.
- Emotional effects: Fear is compared to a stream of very deadly dangerous thoughts which appear like a trickle but create such a vicious channel in the mind, that ultimately all the other thoughts are drained into it.
The causes of fear as per Srimad Bhagavatam
1. Pathological cause
“Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord. This bewildering, fearful condition is affected by the potency for illusion, called mäyä. Therefore, an intelligent person should engage unflinchingly in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, whom he should accept as
his worshipable deity and as his very life and soul.” ( Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.37)
2. Symptomatic cause
The gap created between expectation and reality causes fear.
In the Néti-çästras, nine kinds of fear have been described:
bhoge rogabhayaà kule cyutibhayaà vitte nåpälädbhayaà mäne dainyabhayaà bale ripubhayaà rüpe jaräyäbhayam
çästre vädibhayaà guëe khalabhayaà käye kåtäntädbhayaà sarvaà vastu bhayänvitaà bhuvi nåëäà vairägyameväbhayam
bhoge rogabhaya: Fear of disease always exists in the hearts of people. One may be very wealthy, famous or powerful, deadly diseases are all the time hovering over one’s head to smash all of one’s plans to pieces.
kule cyutibhaya: This type of fear is related to family insecurities. Losing a loved one, insecurity of not getting a relationship like of not bearing a child or finding a good partner is familial insecurities.
vitte nåpälädbhaya: One who has immense wealth is also always fearful. There is great fear even in spending money.
mäne dainyabhaya: This is the fear of being dishonoured and insulted. For one who is honoured, dishonour is worse than death. Jayadratha wasn’t killed but punished by humiliation as a punishment for kidnapping Draupadi.
bale ripubhaya: A powerful person is fearful of being defeated by someone more powerful.
rüpe jaräyäbhayam: Someone very beautiful is fearful of losing one’s beauty at the onset of old age.
çästre vädibhaya: An intelligent person is fearful of someone coming up with a more brilliant idea than his.
guëe khalabhaya: People expressing some opinions and ideas which they themselves do not believe in are fearful of meeting someone who has complete conviction and faith in a certain philosophy.
käye kåtäntädbhaya: Everyone is fearful of leaving his body at the moment of death.
Medicine for the real disease in our hearts
1 . Chanting the Holy Names of Krishna
Living beings who are entangled in the complicated meshes of birth and death can be freed immediately by even unconsciously chanting the holy name of Krishna, which is feared by fear personified. Thus a person caught up in the vicious cycle of birth and death can immediately be released by chanting the holy names, the Hare Kåñëa mahämantra. Chanting of the holy names is so powerful that it creates a transformation from within and without and anyone can take to this chanting process. Even if one is addicted to several vices, one should chant the holy names. As a result, all vices and problems run away, since fear personified are afraid of the holy names.
2 . Hearing Srimad -Bhägavatam
Simply by giving aural reception to this Vedic literature, the feeling for loving devotional service to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, sprouts up at once to extinguish the fire of lamentation, illusion and fearfulness. One’s thoughts create words,
Words create actions,
Actions create habits and habits create a culture
Prabhupada explains that people in modern society have to learn how to live like human beings. Otherwise even the animals are experts at eating, sleeping, mating and defending.
3 . Meditation
One can become free from all kinds of fear, including the fear of death by meditating on the beautiful form of the Lord. There are beautiful Deities of the Lord in the temples for people to meditate and thereby be freed from the fear of all kinds. In Kali-yuga people are very sceptical about a temple, Deity, dressing the Deities, offering food to the Deities, etc. If one does not have the right mood, this will always remain a mystery.
4 . Service to Devotees
By worshipping great devotees of the Lord, one follows the most auspicious path, is benediction with all divine qualities and is freed from fear.
Practical ways to apply the solutions
The following are tips in the application of the solution:
1 . Change Yourself: It is not possible to change the world but one can change oneself.
If a ship is caught in the midst of a storm, one can’t change the force of the winds. However, one can readjust the steering.
2 . Association
One has to associate with great saintly persons who have overcome fear. If we take shelter of His Divine Grace Abhaya Caraëäravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Çréla Prabhupäda, and become a part of his mission, we will be freed from fear. The Association of saintly persons is just like a boat that will help us cross the ocean of turbulence.
3 . Streamline your Thoughts
One may decide to change and may even associate with devotees but one may still have to associate with different kinds of people in the outside world, leading to unpleasant experiences. Therefore, one has to streamline his thoughts.
4 . Service
The more one tries to save others, the more one becomes selfless and thus freed from the fear of possessiveness. Just like an incense stick burns itself to give fragrance to others, one should use one’s life in service to humanity and God, so that others can receive the fragrance of God-consciousness.
5 . Engage the Mind
The mind is flickering by nature and thereby must be engaged positively. The mind is just like the FM Channel of radio, FM standing for Flickering Mind. This channel keeps catching different vibrations from the surroundings. Thus the mind must be engaged in positive activities to keep it free from distractions.
6 . Set Targets
One must set targets, should have goals to reach, and ideals to strive for in life.
7 . Peace
There is a Chinese proverb that states, “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape hundred days of sorrow.”
8 . Reasonable Expectations
Setting unrealistic expectations in life inevitably lead to frustration and anger, because such expectations are seldom met. Thus, one should have reasonable expectations in life to safeguard against the horiffic demon named anger.
9 . Be Straightforward in Dealings
To the extent there is proper coordination between our mind, body and words, there is less hypocrisy and more straightforwardness in dealings. To the extent one is straightforward, one can experience peace and freedom from fear.
10 . Sense Control
Sense control is very important because sense gratification and Kåñëa consciousness go ill together.
Example 1: Sense gratification and Kåñëa Consciousness together, is like an explosive combination of cold water and hot ghee.
Example 2 Even one of the senses, if not controlled can result in complete failure of the human form of life, just like even a tiny leak in a ship can result in the sinking of the ship. The 10 tips can be summarized as an acronym:
C – Change
A – Association
S – Streamline
S – Service
E – Engage
T – Targets
P – Peace
R E – Reasonable Expectation
S – Straightforward dealings