Fear Management

From Conquest of Fear, Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Fear is a great enemy of man. It is the enemy of his progress. It disturbs his peace and harmony. It sucks or saps his vitality and energy. It drains the nervous system of its reserve of energy. It produces weakness.

Fear is of two kinds: natural or rational fear, when there is a threatening situation to endanger life; and unnatural or unusual fear which has no objective reality.

The origin of most neurotic fears can be traced to childhood. The seeds of fear may lie dormant in childhood in the sub conscious mind. They sprout forth after some time during some period of crisis or stress.

Panicky fear is more contagious than typhoid or cholera. The atom bombs cause terrible panicky fear. People leave their houses and move to villages.

Anxiety and worry are the effects of fear. Some sort of fear gets buried in the subconscious mind. So man worries himself. There is continued strain and tension in the mind. If the fear is released or dispelled, he will have peace of mind.

Normal fear is healthy. It paves the way for one's progress. It preserves life. A headmaster is afraid of the inspector of schools. He takes a very keen interest in training the boys. All the boys get success in the examination. An engine driver of the railways is afraid of his superior officer. He is very careful in the discharge of his duties. No collision occurs. A physician is afraid of getting a bad reputation. He takes great care of his patient. He conducts research and saves many lives. He becomes a famous physician also.

Psychologists are of opinion that there cannot be absolute fearlessness and that only determined effort can be made to conquer fear. This is incorrect. Psychologists have no transcendental experience. A perfect sage who has knowledge of Brahman is absolutely fearless. The Brihadaranyakopanishad declares in a thundering voice:

The knower of the fearless Brahman becomes himself absolutely fearless.

There can be fear only where there is duality. How can there be fear for one who experiences non-duality? Such a person is the most courageous of men. The courage of a soldier in the battlefield or of a dacoit is only tamasic courage. It is not courage at all. It is only brutal ferocity born of hatred or jealousy. That sattwic courage born of wisdom of the self alone is real courage. As a matter of fact, fear exists to glorify courage. A timid man exists to glorify a courageous man. There will be no value for goodness if badness does not exist. One side of a thing cannot have significance without the existence of the other side. Hence everything in this world has two sides. Dwandwas, pairs of opposites, exist to keep up the flow of the world.


Pratipaksha bhavana method

As you think, so you become. As you think, so you develop. As is your ideal, so gradually your life will become. This is so, because there is a great transforming power in thought.

Take, then, the life of perfect men like Bhishma and think of their deeds and their life and ideals. Your life will be filled by purity, courage, etc. You will become a noble, perfect man. The thought will transform you into its own likeness. Man becomes like what he worships. Man becomes like what he thinks. This is indeed true.

Sit with closed eyes in the early morning. Meditate on courage, the opposite of fear, for half an hour. Think of the advantages of courage and the disadvantages of fear. Practise the virtue during the day. Feel that you actually possess courage to an enormous degree. Manifest it in your daily life. In some weeks or months fear will be replaced by courage.

Repeat the formula 'Om courage' mentally, daily several times. Meditate and assert:

I am all courage OM OM OM

I am an embodiment of courage OM OM OM

I am like Bhishma OM OM OM

I am a great hero OM OM OM

My will is very powerful OM OM OM

I am not afraid of anything OM OM OM

I am bold and chivalrous OM OM OM

Courage is my birth right OM OM OM

It is very difficult to attack fear directly. It is very strong. You are a victim to this negative trait in hundreds of lives. It has taken deep root. Put the seeds of courage in your heart. Allow it to grow. Fear will die by itself. The positive always overcomes the negative. This is an immutable psychological law.

This is the pratipaksha bhavana method of raja yogis. Try this method again and again. You are bound to succeed.

May you attain triumph over fear by cultivating courage through the pratipaksha bhavana method or the method of thinking on the opposite.

The method of jnanis

Meditation on the fearless atman removes all sorts of fears in toto. A sage beholds the immortal fearless Self only everywhere. How can there be fear for him then? There is fear only where there is duality. If one feels that there is a second object besides himself, at once fear is generated. He is afraid of the other man. Separation, duality, perception of objects are all due to avidya or ignorance.

Start the anti-current from today. Deny the body, and identify yourself with the all-pervading, immortal, fearless atman. Entire denial of the body cannot come in a day or a week. Constantly think of the atman. Gradually you will become fearless. You will have to fight against the samskaras of anadikala, beginningless time.

The more you think of atman, the more courageous you will become. By constant hammering only can you entirely drive the nail into the wall or a plank. Even so, by constant and protracted thinking on atman alone you can become absolutely fearless.

Meditate, assert, recognize, realize:

I am fearless, all-pervading atman OM OM OM

I am not afraid of anything OM OM OM

Courage is my birthright OM OM OM

I behold the one Atman everywhere OM OM OM

Everything is my own Self OM OM OM

Who is to be afraid of whom? OM OM OM

There is no duality for me OM OM OM

I see the non-dual essence only OM OM OM

My will is very powerful now OM OM OM

My power is irresistible OM OM OM

I have no enemy OM OM OM

Enemy, tiger, cobra, are my own Self OM OM OM

They cannot do harm to me OM OM OM

I love them as my own Self OM OM OM

A jivanmukta or a sage hates none, fears none. May you all be established in that supreme non-dual fearless Brahman.