The Nature of Fear
Many things can cause us fear, such as pain, both physical and emotional. We fear being in a situation where we have no money and no resources. We fear disgrace and the ridicule of others. We fear solitude and loneliness. We fear the unknown, the darkness that hides a multitude of imaginary horrors. We fear death.
Our fears are based entirely on the feeble nature of this human body and mental phobias – and our lack of faith in the Divine. We fear because we believe that we are in a world in which blind forces cause events to happen in random disorder, and in such a world we are victims – at any moment liable to fall foul of chance and happenstance.
Fear can only be overcome if we have a belief – one that makes sense of a universe that seems to be characterized by randomness, chaos and unpredictability. Our personal experience tells us that life can go on for many years in a fairly pleasant way, and then suddenly our whole world can be turned upside down. Business failures, divorce, political unrest, all kinds of things can happen to completely destroy our peace of mind. So much so in fact, that even when our lives are going along quite well, we start fretting over what disaster will strike us next.
So is the world we live in really as unpredictable and random as all that? The ancient sages observed life and came to the conclusion that every action had a reaction – a predictable consequence. The universe is one, a whole that must maintain balance. When an action is performed, the consequence must take place – whether in this life or the next. Now a planet full of people, all performing actions at every moment of every day, is a really complex equation and impossible for us to calculate, so we cannot really conclude what will happen next.
Fortunately it is not necessary for us to do all this calculation; what we need to understand is the principle behind it – the law of cause and effect. Life does follow predictable laws – we just need to understand how they work and to accept that consequences cannot be invalidated by death. This means that at the end of a life, the soul has a lot of actions unaccounted for. It is these actions that shape the next life. Everyone comes into this world with a predefined destiny, which allows us to account for some of our unredeemed actions. So life is not random, nor is it chaotic. We are here to render account for our past.
Unfortunately, we are not aware of this, so we have little idea of what is coming our way. The point here is that it is our destiny. It is neither random nor unfair. It is an exact rendering of actions that we ourselves have performed.
In understanding this process, we have a new grasp of how life works. This is a much more positive view of life. Where it all appeared to be random there is, in fact, absolute order and precision. Our life is progressing under the influence of our destiny, and only that which is destined to happen will happen, both good and bad. On the spiritual path we understand and accept this, therefore we need to modify our behaviour to reflect our spiritual desire. If we perform every action with that one objective in mind, we will have an absolute assurance that one day we will achieve our goal.
In this world it is hard to avoid suffering. The fact is that every objective we might entertain runs the risk of ending badly for us. The world is a trap for the unwary. Even if we achieve everything that we desire, how much good will it do us? We still have to account for our actions and our not-always-entirely-honest labours.
The overriding characteristic of the material plane is change. Everything everywhere is undergoing change at every moment. The earth beneath our feet, the stars and constellations out in space, our very bodies are all changing and degenerating. The universe is dying around us. All that lives is born to die. So although the prospect of dying normally invokes a terrible fear in us, it is not something that we need to fear. We need to understand that death is not the end. The journey continues … beyond.
Fear of death is based on the irrational fear of the unknown. We imagine that when we die there will just be a black nothingness. If we come from a strict religious background, we may fear the possibility of ending up in some fiery hell, being tortured by demons for all eternity.
But in actual fact, there is a law that applies here too. We go where our desires take us. Nature is not extravagant, it arranges for us to be in a place best suited for working out our desires, and accounting for the consequences of our past actions. Simple really! But it does sound a warning bell for us to be wary of what desires we entertain. Will they lead us towards our spiritual objective, or will they drag us down again, into the morass of sensuality and the cycle of endless births and deaths?
The Masters tell us that the perishable world has nothing to offer us. At best it is just a thinly disguised snare that will bind us to the creation. They put forward another possibility for us to consider: what if we could escape the clutches of the mind, what if we could live in a way that puts us beyond the reach of the law of action and reaction? A life free from the cycle of endless births and deaths, and the suffering we endure when incarnating on the physical plane.
This strikes a chord in our innermost being, at a level beyond intellect or reason. Somehow we are drawn to the idea that we can be free from the bonds that bind us to the material creation and the endless repetition of birth and rebirth. The Masters point out that we have been directing our efforts and our attention into the material world in the mistaken belief that we would find a solution here to our pain and fear. But after numerous incarnations on this plane, we have still not found one. In fact, all we have accomplished is to sink ourselves more deeply in the quagmire of the material world.
The Masters tell us that by turning our attention inwards and concentrating our attention there we may find the answers to our questions. They say that the agitation of the mind causes a kind of blindness to the inner realms. It is only by gaining mastery over the mind and making it still that the inner vista becomes visible, and we realize that there is much more to life than the limited world that we have confined ourselves to until this stage.
It is for this reason that the Masters prescribe both a specific lifestyle and specific spiritual practices. These are designed to still the mind and keep us free of further bonds to the material world. By living in the Master’s will we begin to realize that there are virtually limitless possibilities before us.
As we progress on the path, we gain confidence, we start to experience the reality that they tell us about, and we shift our centre of being from this world towards the higher worlds that are the Masters’ reality. As this transformation occurs, we find ourselves increasingly free of the concerns and cares of this world. We let go of the things that were the source of our deep anxieties and fears.
When we meet the Master within and come into contact with the Shabd, we become absolutely fearless, because then we know that there is no coming back – no more bondage to the cycle of birth and death. We have truly started our journey home, never to return to this dark and fearful world. Our inescapable fate is to merge into the light, to become that light, and become one with the One.