Fear is the key
By George Merlo Pallath
Remember old James Hadley Chase thriller with the same heading?
It is said that when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, God banished them from paradise and for the first time in the history of humanity, they became aware of “fear”. Now humans are living in constant fear. Fear of death, fear of losing their possessions, fear of not winning, fear of not attaining, fear of failing, fear of each other, fear of competition. Humans are virtually drowning in fear. Countries afraid of other countries, Hindus afraid of the imaginary rise of minority Muslims, Christians afraid of Muslims, political parties afraid of each other, whole communities living in fear, afraid of losing their identities, afraid of the disappearing culture, people afraid of what they eat, whether it will cause cancer, cholesterol, pressure, diabetes, fear of failure and fear of not attaining our dreams are paralyzing the whole humanity. The smell of fear permeates everywhere. We are even afraid of our own shadows.
How do we become aware of fear? When a child is born it has no fear. It is not aware of “fear”. The child will willingly play with a snake since it is not aware of “fear”. Then the people surrounding the baby will warn the baby that a snake is dangerous and you must be afraid of it. The people around the infant teaches or indoctrinates it about the various things that it should be afraid of. The infant is conditioned into believing in many imaginary things like Bhooth, God, devil etc that it should be afraid of . The fear of the unknown, fear of darkness gets inculcated. The fear is inculcated or injected into the infant’s mind. Once fear is injected into the fresh mind of the infant, the infant is reduced into a human. During its formative period, the religious groups start to indoctrinate the child about the various faith systems, heaven and hell, the punishments that are awaited after you die if you commit sins. It becomes aware that some of its actions are sins which will invite the wrath of the God upon it. That the person will be punished in various ways. Every religion banks upon putting the fear of God into humans so that they can control them. Every political parties try their level best to make the electorate afraid of the consequences if the other party comes to power. Some parties deliberately promote violence to create fear amongst the masses. The goons rely on putting fear into the minds of the people. The terrorists use violence and mayhem to create fear. Fear is the ultimate weapon for those in power or for those who crave power. Hitler used it masterfully to control millions. Every dictator and religious zealots bank upon fear to further their ambitions. Fear is the greatest manipulative weapon ever used by humanity. If used properly, the manipulator can control anyone.
Bertrand Russell in his 1927 lecture “Why I am not a Christian” – delivered to the south London branch of the National Secular Society –expressed his point with characteristic clarity: “Religion is based primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing – fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things.” There are actually two elements to Russell’s diagnosis of religion here. The first is that religious belief is a symptom of fear: aware that our lives are precarious and vulnerable, we seek the protection of a powerful deity, to comfort ourselves with an illusion of safety. The second is that fear is a symptom of religion: in particular, doctrines of punishment in both this life and the next cause ignorant believers to live in fear unnecessarily. “Neither a person nor a society or any group can be considered to act sanely if they are acting under fear or using fear to control the people”. Bertrand Russell. According to James Bovard “ As long as enough people can be frightened, then all people can be ruled. That is how it works in a democratic system and mass fear becomes the ticket to destroy rights across the board.”
During schooling the student becomes afraid of failing in the exams, afraid of facing ridicule and criticism from their peers and the society if they do not get good marks. The students live in constant fear. This raises their anxiety levels, leads to depression. In the so called civilized world of offices, work places, stock markets, cold fear manifests in the form of anxiety, tension, strain which in turn gives rise to depression, frustration, anger , hatred and violence. Being overwhelmed by competition, back stabbing, work pressure, meeting deadlines, dismissals from work. The stench of fear is overpowering in any modern work place. Fear leads to anger which leads to hate and hate leads to violence. Fear results in harmful hormones being released into our body which affect all our vital organs. Fear is the root cause of various illnesses.
What is the definition of fear?
Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events.
Wikipedia defines Fear as an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behaviour, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as risk to health or life, status, power, security, or, in the case of humans, wealth or anything held valuable. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis.
So a person who does not think in terms of the known and always reacts instinctively from moment to moment are always without fear. Fear arises out of our thought process pure and simple. It originates from our stone age evolution when the early humans have to encounter various fearsome predators and natural disasters and this fight or flight mode is incorporated into our system to protect our life. So the moment we encounter any situation or object which triggers our thought process and our brain churns thorough the million giga bytes of our memory and finds a similarity with some of our stored information which may be real or imagined, the brain switches on the fight or flight mode. Immediately pheromones are secreted which powers our response. Out of fear either we become violent or run for our life.
In the Vedas of ancient India, fear is defined as “the unacceptance of uncertainty. If we accept that uncertainty, it becomes adventure.”
World famous philosopher J Krishnamurthy defines fear thus “Fear arises when one interprets the fact of what one is in terms of reward and punishment. The worship of success brings the fear of failure. The relationship between what one is and what one desires to be causes fear. Fear is the uncertainty in search of security.
Again J Krishnamurthy says “ The mind which is nothing but name, word, memory, can function only within the field of the known. The unknown , which is challenge from moment to moment, is resisted or translated by the mind in terms of the known. This resistance or translation of the unknown in terms of the know gives rise to fear. Since the mind cannot have a conversation with the unknown, the mind is the maker of the fear”.
According to Buddha, attachments and desire are the root cause of unhappiness. Fear of losing what one possesses, fear of not getting what one desires. So to remain without fear, one should not be attached to anyone or anything and one should not have desires.
Osho says “ the greatest fear in the world is the opinion of others. The moment you are unafraid of the crowd, you are no longer a sheep, but you are a lion. A great roar arises in your heart. The roar of freedom.”
Swami Vivekananda stated “ Be Aware of your true self. You are nothing but lions who have forgotten your true self and living in fear as if you are sheep.” Know your “SELF” and roar like the lions that you are. Without fear, humans are equal to God.
Take any champions, their secret of success is they have learned to control their minds and thought process. They are focusing on the present without any thoughts about the past or future. That is how they remain calm and composed in the most stressful situations. If a person is not bothered about losing anything and not interested in gaining anything from any given situation, that person will be without fear. When a person goes to the examination without any preconditions and without any expectations, his mind will be free of fear. Likewise when a batsman goes out to the bat without any expectations and treat every ball on merit, he will be able to fare much better. If he has expectations, if he has any preconceived notions, his mind will be full of his thoughts and it will paralyze him with the fear of failure and not achieving.
The root cause of fear is our conditioned minds and thought processes. Fear is the by-product when our mind wanders from the “present” to the past or the future. The only thing that we have to fear is “fear” itself. Trust is the opposite of fear. To overcome fear, we must unlearn all the conditioning of our past and see the world as it is in reality, not through all the various shades of colours that we have been conditioned to accept as the reality or truth. There will be no fear if we are able to focus on the “NOW” rather than on the end result. Doing rather than thinking. Once we master how to stay cool , calm and composed to focus on the “present”, control our thought processes and being aware of the self, fear disappears. Living in the present instead of regretting about the past or worrying about the future is the only sure fire way to a life without “Fear”. As Aristotle observed “He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.”