Yoga Conquers Fear

A disciple of Swamiji

Fear is the root cause of all unrest in the human mind today.

Big folks have big fears, small folks have small fears; all the same, it is fear in either case that burdens the mind with worries, usually unnecessary and uncalled for.

If I tried to put together exhaustively and in minute detail all of the causes which contribute towards mankind's fear, the volume that can emerge ought to be thicker then the thickest book on 'Anatomy of Man' that I have known.

Strangely enough I find it easy to imagine such an eventuality should facilities prevail for me to get busy with an ambitious venture of this nature. To be so very much detailed is not the target in view while I write these few lines. Extreme brevity and many omissions will become inevitable. At the same time, I have not in the least a desire to suggest or boast of my competence to be free of error in all of the thoughts I am going to jot down on paper now.

At one time or another fear should have been present in each and every home, to speak the least of the so-called pavement-dwellers; a forgotten mass of humanity without homes. When I say 'home', it can be the happiest looking palace of the world, or it can be a most miserable hut.

My idea is not to begin straight away with the world at large, with continents, 'white' and 'black', and with nations. On the contrary, I shall be content and satisfied in making a humble beginning with individual homes. Both the hut and the palace can indeed belong to this category.

In so far as students and other advanced age groups are concerned, i.e. those who have ceased to be infants and children, it is but natural that they should, hand in glove with their studies or other pre-occupation, think of their future. The cases where students never ever want to get wedded and therefore, perhaps, do not see or feel the need of happy and comfortable future home for themselves and their wives or husbands, cannot by any chance be many. Those who have ceased to be students and are already busy with some sort of work and income, also happy and content in being alone, and wanting to be so in the distant future too, without a wife or a husband and indeed without children, are as few if not fewer. Countless are undoubtedly those who, inwardly and on occasions also openly, do think of a prosperous future with wealth and comfort, and of methods which can be contrived and adopted to construct, as and when they are free and independent to do what pleases them, a happy home for themselves and their dearest. In some cases the minimum requirement for such a home may include electric lights, fans, cookers, irons, vacuum-cleaners, razors and other appliances, as also a radio and a refrigerator, running water (hot and cold), carpets and blinds, gardens and lawns, and a number of other luxuries of this sort or that. If somebody's mothers and fathers, or both, are fabulously rich, the budding youth's appropriately named 'worries' ought to be certainly gone. Nevertheless, even these lucky guys cannot possibly escape the thought of the profitability of doubling or trebling their wealth. They can, indeed, make or mar their name and future, the way they desire, and certainly also in some small measure or big, according to the dictates of their destiny. They can make something or nothing of all that they might have inherited by way of somebody's will and testament, or otherwise.

However, with all due justice to, this rich class also should not hesitate to attach some responsibility for their fears to causes other than the short-coming of their own mind. The International situation of the present era, tilting one day the left pan of the balance, and the right pan the next, contributes in no small measure to their fears too. They, with their reality, house and land to worry about, feel all the more the necessity to keep themselves conversant with trend of world events, and these, in the course of the last 21 years have filled many an individual, and many nations too, with fear, is sufficiently known.

To name the zones where tensions have been prevalent openly on the surface the following are worthy of inclusion: Burma, Greece, Korea, Berlin, Persia, Cuba, Indo-Pakistani borders, Kashmir, Suez and other Middle-East countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Congo, Indo-China borders, Rhodesia, etc. The threat of such major and minor skirmishes here and there ultimately developing into a global war is constant, especially when the two strongest military powers on Earth today, USSR and USA, continually feel the necessity to be in constant readiness, and continue to invent and stock-pile weapons of the kind most of us find difficult to imagine.

Howsoever many have been the smiling faces in the newspapers of the world the fact remains that the gloom and consequent fear hovering over our hearts have not been dispelled to everybody's satisfaction. The class I have referred to can best be observed in share-bazaars and when, in some place or the other, the tension is at its peak. And what we can't observe, the huge bulk working with telephones and telegrams, without biding their fears, is gargantuan indeed.

There is another group of women and men, girls and boys, whom wealth and jealousy inspiring comforts do not interest as much as a good and renowned name, perhaps even some sort of fame which can go down in history and in chronicles. Very many of them always wish to be recognized and respected; certainly a very nice quality to possess, something which can please any Yogis too. Quite a good number of them are least hesitant, if need be, to sacrifice their comforts and prosperity, which, they usually feel, press on their heads with useless burdens and heavy loads. To be lighter in the heart and in the mind, they can very well afford or prefer to part with things they merely have to stare at with hardly an occasion to utilize them ever usefully.

Also, there is a category among the human species which has a predominant desire and a mad craving to accumulate lots of things, the rare ones in particular, and seemingly feel happy when as few as possible are in possession of such things; e.g. famous original paintings of the known wizards of the art, rare postage-stamps and coins of bygone ages, very scarce books and historical documents, or even a table of some renowned nobility or king, and so on and so forth. For reasons already stated, they couldn't be having, whatever little they may be possessing, without fear of losing them, in times of war and also when peace prevails. What is clearly noticeable with these types is the fact that money and cost are least important to them. They do not get the slightest heart-prick even if thousands and tens of thousands of their Rupees or Dollars, or anything else, have to be parted with in order that their craze for what they seek and thirst for may be satisfied.

Among these three main types, those who rarely succeed in their aims and efforts can be counted. The quantity that is beyond any reckoning, millions after millions of them, have, as a general rule, nothing but failures and frustrations to their credit. Quite an astonishing number among the rich who want to be doubly and three or four times as rich, instead of approaching their target, continually face reversals in the opposite direction until they have stumbled and fallen to the middle-class stage. If they did nothing about it at this crucial moment, the threat of utter poverty, degradation and banishment from society becomes imminent. Other thousands after thousands, who had for years and years, an ardent desire and a mad craving for carving out a famous path for themselves, unceasingly feel and brood that they are still miles and miles away from their ultimate goal. And the hunters of something similar to 'Silver Chalis' or Gautama Buddha's Tooth, or of other curios and rarities, or of rich cut glass, potteries and fascinating ivory articles, etc., after decades of fruitless expeditions and search perforce abandon their craze, frustrated and disappointed, and all that too, with wealth in their pockets and with health in their bodies and minds, but by no means with satisfaction and fearlessness in their hearts.

If all these unsuccessful specimens allowed their set backs in life and consequent dejections to keep on reminding them for a further period of years without adopting right measures in right time, at this crucially critical stage, they would be mental wrecks are they to know anything about it. Since such a catastrophe can befall anybody, it has nothing to do with what religious beliefs one harbours or what colour of the skin God has chosen or to what caste one belongs or what nationality one possesses.

Yoga is a technique designed to keep everybody healthy and hearty, not necessarily only to cure the sick, and it can do something about the said unfortunate lot and very successfully too, is but natural. Of paramount importance for Yoga to be successful is the attitude of the patient. She/he must develop earnest in its precepts and put the various methods to trial with serious heart-felt devotion.

Yoga, and in particular, its philosophy and technique of meditation made possible by various types of elementary and absolutely harmless breathing exercises (pranayamas) thoroughly put together, can easily help one forget one's reverses in life. This little known Hindu technique, with God's mercies, indeed not as little known today as was the case in the past, might incite for a while old memories, inciting at the same time those very experiences an aspirant may have unsuccessfully tried to forget prior to his introduction to Yoga. The main reason can be this, such aspirant had tried to suppress and captivate ruthlessly in their minds their nasty experiences. To achieve their purpose, they were, after their frustrations, trying to overload and bury which they considered undesirable and of least importance thoughts artificially contrived pleasant thoughts, which, they felt, were mightily effective in dispelling their fears and unhappiness.

If it is you instead of they, then, you should have found out for yourselves how far and how long you succeeded. At least I for one found it out to my heart's satisfaction, and if I am given the liberty to give ‘me’ an answer, ‘only temporally, and very superficially too.’ Can I ask myself a question? The question is ‘didn't I?’ It is not because I am afraid to ask ‘didn't you?’ that I am playing about with words in this strain. When I feel, or at least felt, that I am no competent authority to know with certainly anything about others, and especially about their secret unuttered thoughts, how can I possibly ask such a bold question? But after I got to known what Yoga is, my Guruji has wiped clean my unimaginable ‘inferiority-complex’, and now I feel no fear in having a heart to heart talk with anybody, and my readers certainly are those I am talking to.

When you start practicing Yoga, especially with the intention of regaining your inner peace of mind, the atmosphere will be such that all pleasant memories, and other artificial devices you had contrived to steer clear of the thoughts that oppressed your mind unceasingly, will automatically remain more in the background and fail to knock on your mind with the question, ‘do you remember?’ All the better, for Yoga has no desire in the least to rob you of your pleasant memories. Let these be with you, permanently, for the rest of your life, what is more important is the liberation of thoughts, unpleasant thoughts in your conscious and subconscious mind.

Let these thoughts float to the surface, as long as it pleases them, as often as it pleases them. Let them be free, unfettered and chainless, and these are slowly but surely bound to fly away from our mind, God willing, for good.

In general, you just have got to be a witness of your thoughts and not complicate matters unnecessarily by trying to rebuke yourselves when the whole and sole objective of primary importance is concentration on ‘OM’, respiration, Chakras, etc. to achieve success in meditation. You couldn't possibly be the originator of everything that is in your brain within the skull and there is a danger of your doing your own selves a grave injustice should your phobia and mania to be 100% responsible for everything that happens in your mind persist obstinately. What one is, is according to one's aptitude, in one's line and profession, one can't possibly be everything. If you are an architect and an engineer and have concentratingly devotedly spent half your life, say 40 or 45 years in your profession, your chances of being a qualified lawyer, or a commerce man, or a statesman and a politician, or a military strategist, or a clergyman, etc. are definitely few. In case of the aged, the unrest in mind may be possibly only due to the constant difficulty one experiences in trying to learn something new she/he had never, or perhaps never was allowed, learnt earlier. There are surely instances of the original line having been abandoned in favour of another, though such cases are not in great abundance. The next half of one's life can certainly be more than enough to provide the requisite time to acquire proficiency in a new line of one's own choosing and there is no reason to be pessimistic and dejected on this score. As long as you do not wish to become 'a jack of all trades and master of none' even Yoga can, without hesitation, approve of your new ambition.

Secret of all success lies in sticking to one line, everybody ought to know. If you wish to lead the next half of your life ‘spiritually’, then you should stick to your decision loyally, without faltering and without losing courage in getting up should you 'fall' again and again on your way to ‘spiritualism’. If you are wholly confident that your mind is too weak and your will-power too low to prevent you from wavering on the way, then you might as well refrain from making a beginning. It should be better thus. You won't have the opportunity to add one more dejection to the heap of dozens you already may be having on your head.

Returning again to the point of unwanted thoughts disturbing your meditation, we already learnt, that little is to be gained by trying to combat them and fight them as and when they come. During the course of our lives we absorb thoughts, ideas and knowledge with the aid of ears and eyes, and frequently, pollution of our minds does indeed take place. We may go to a cinema and suddenly a scene might dash into our eyes which the orthodox, and even the unorthodox occasionally, may class as shocking. We may be attending a church service and as suddenly a row might ensue right within the church and unless we have packed both your ears with your forefingers, ungentlemanly and abusive language is bound to penetrate our minds. All this is also equivalent to your experiencing an experience, along with me of course, and we all couldn't prevent the infiltration of obnoxious stuff in our minds. We all were helpless, and man has yet to invent something to safeguard our minds against such eventualities. And if all do not lose hope due to such causes, why should we, you and I?

The possibility exists that during the course of row or dispute your mind got infected, and you too fell into line with others, just as it happened to me once in a way. Maybe we tried to intervene, got a hit trying to do something good, lost temper, decided to return violence with violence, abuse with abuse, and were, sooner than we expected, part and parcel of the strife, although the originators were different. Our minds were, during such rare occurrences, behaving more automatically than ever before; we were in a way not conscious of what we were doing. When the strife diminished and peace was restored we realised that our consciousness is again returning to us. And all this could have happened without any of us having heard of the four letters of the alphabet, YOGA. In any case, after the strife, we all felt when the soberness of our minds returned to us, that it was a folly on our part to have intervened; that we got unnecessarily involved: and so on and so forth.

Sometimes we may find consolation in the fact that after all we were not the only ones who got involved when we hear of similar episodes and stories well-nigh around every street corner. Even this tactic may turn out to be short lived, and among us, a few chronic cases may arise who may despairingly try to convince themselves that even Yoga may help them. Even for such chronic cases there is a logic solution and it is too premature to discuss it at this stage. Suffice it to say, that all this is also nothing else but fear. It is only out of fear that their diffidence and so little of hope and confidence in themselves sprouts.

Even among Yogis fear occasionally crops up. They do not spend 18 or 20 hours of the day doing Asanas, Pranayamas, and Ajapa Japa (Meditation) as some might imagine, leaving the remaining 6 or 4 hours for meals and sleep. One has to practice what one preaches. If they demand of others hard work and do not do so themselves, their following will dwindle is a certainty. Few maybe aware that when the gong strikes for most of our citizens (especially those doing office work) to commence work, almost all yogis, and even most of their disciples and Sadhakas, have had 3, 4, 5 and 6 hours of activities behind them, and not more than 2 or 3 hours were necessary for daily prayers, yogic exercises and meditation.

The point I wish to stress is, that compared with ourselves, more then a full day is available to them to do work, just as we all work. And when one works, one is bound to dash into problems, maybe some of these quite tough to tackle, the solution of which may occasion lots of worries and consequent fear. This is as much valid for them as it is for any other average citizen. But, the difference is, that the yogis, who through their own efforts have very nearly full knowledge of the technique to be applied, can get rid of their headaches and fear in no time, making even the toughest obstacle small and petty.

Summarily, yogic methods are not there to be practiced only during early morning hours; these should be with us always, wherever we happen to be, whatever we happen to do. The moment a state of unhappiness and worry tries to take the upper hand and threatens to shatter your faith in Yoga, you can instantly bring back to your mind Yogic methods and apply them straight way to your advantage. If we have understood and mastered the methods thoroughly these are definitely going to succeed, whether we happen to be in a palace, in office or in factory, on the road or in a theatre. These can be as useful to one digging gold and other minerals, half a mile or a mile below the surface of the Earth, as one flying a stratocruiser 15 kilometres above mean sea level. With faith and intelligent application, the conquest is bound to be yours and mine; it's all worth believing.

An extremely rare category of which I have made mention is the type that has been, right from birth, destined to be unhappy and despondent. Without any fault or folly of theirs their destiny is to make their dearest and nearest unhappy and fear-packed too.

We have occasionally read of cases who have been invalid and bed ridden right from infancy and during their entire childhood. Such children, on reaching a state of instinctive understanding can, and actually do, begin to develop complexes in their minds that they had been forsaken by God, that they must have had nothing but misdeeds and transgressions to their credit in past life, and so on and so forth. Wild imagination, indeed. Physical disabilities affect the mind also and if nothing is done about these ill-fated children right from the beginning, well-nigh incurable mental disorders and derangements may set in. Such subjects never know how to laugh, how to be gay and joyful, how to make their kith and kin and other dearest, happy and jovial. As a result, their friends and well-wishers shall be few. Such types will shun society, and society in turn, sympathetically or otherwise, will also prefer discretion and try to avoid being unnecessarily burdened. With the Grace of God, and of course, also due to the fact that so very little has remained impossible for the doctor of the day, infants and children of the said category may recover and be outwardly hale and hearty, like other normal persons. Some may even take higher education and wander to the territory of some highly advanced nation for still higher training. Nevertheless, from mental point of view, these specimens are bound to be different from the more favoured normal humanity. The scars and wounds of childhood can not be erased so readily from their minds. They are as fear possessed of the future as they were in the past. Quick cure exists not in such cases. Great patience and the obstinacy not to abandon hope are essential. But, Yoga can perhaps wreak a miracle sooner then one may care to reckon. Why perhaps? As facts show, even such obstinate cases Yoga has cured with astounding success and more quickly than anybody ever had the guts to imagine or comprehend.