12. How to cross the seventh gate of fears
Earlier we have learnt about below arishadvargas or six gates that exist in our sub-conscious mind.
- Kama (desire, noble or evil)
- Krodha (anger, essential to keep things in order or uncontrolled and self-consuming)
- Lobha (greed)
- Moha (attraction towards people and possessions)
- Mada (Pride or arrogance)
- Matsarya (Jealousy)
We have also learnt the importance of taking a leap of faith. This leap is from the comfort zone of known world to the unknown. Now we will learn about the seventh gate ‘fear’. Faith in God gives us strength and determination required to overcome the fears that pull us back.
The majority of people, if asked what they fear most, would reply, ‘I fear nothing’. But few people realize that they are controlled through some form of fear. Fear may occur in response to a certain danger occurring in the present, or in anticipation of a future danger. It may result in fight (confrontation) or flight (running away) response. An irrational fear is called a phobia.
Most of the fears are induced in early childhood. So subtle and deeply seated is the emotion of fear that one may go through life burdened with it, never acknowledging its presence. Considerable courage is required to accept the truth about the presence of this fear, and still greater effort to take corrective measures.
Fear is nothing but a ‘state of mind’ and hence it can be controlled. Physicians are less fearful of diseases than ordinary people because physicians know how to diagnose and cure diseases. We too can detect and control fears by knowing what causes them.
There are below three major forms of fear.
- Fear of death
- Fear of failures and rejections
- Fear of losing possessions and relationships
- Fear of death: Almost every person’s ultimate fear is death – dying and losing the whole self to the unknown. Hence this fear forces him to run away from problems and threats. A wise person does not get caught up in the delusion that he is just body or mind. He realizes that his basic identity is imperishable soul.
Fear of death also causes us to worry about old age and ill health and drain out our energy. The greatest of all remedies for the fear of death is a burning desire for achievement, supported by useful service to others. A busy person seldom has time to think about dying. He finds life too thrilling to worry about death.
Death is the most important motivator in life. It motivates us to understand the value of life and time, and prompts us to make the best of every moment of life.
2. Fear of failures and rejections: We fear failure, rejections, criticisms, shame etc. Hence this fear forces us to inaction, or resorting to wrong means. But every failure brings lessons and a seed of equivalent success. To overcome the fear of failure, we should strive to attain even-mindedness, indifference to success and failure. This does not mean that we live like a robot. We should remain in control of contrary emotions instead of being carried away by them.
A student who has passed one exam may become over-confident, neglecting further reading and may fail in next exam. On the other hand, a student depressed by failure may take drastic decisions such as suicide or dropping out of school.
A politician overjoyed with success in elections may become arrogant and lose touch with his team mates and voters. On the contrary, a contestant depressed by temporary defeat may give up politics altogether or jump into the ruling party, compromising principles and conscience. A person, who is not carried away by either temporary success or failure, stays on steady path to greater success of his purpose in life.
|Do your duty, but renounce its fruit, have no desire for reward. But renunciation of fruit in no way means indifference to the result. In regard to every action one must know the result that is expected to follow, the means thereto, and the capacity for it. He, who, being thus equipped, is without desire for the result, and is yet wholly engrossed in the due fulfilment of the task before him, is said to have renounced the fruits of his action. By detachment I mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not. Things will come right in the end if you take care of the means and leave the result to God. A person who is worried about the outcome of his work does not see his goal; he sees only his opposition and the obstacles before him. Feeling unequal to the difficulties of his situation, he becomes resigned or resorts to violence out of frustration and despair. But the person who is detached from results and tries only to do his best without thought of profit or power or prestige and does not waver when difficulties come. He sees his way clearly through every trial, for his eyes are always on the goal. -Gandhiji|
While pursuing legal career Gandhiji had no access to the immense storehouse of creativity which lies within. It was only when he began to live for others that he found himself bursting with almost un-controllable power. By the time he was in his sixties his capacity for work was several times what it had been in his twenties. Because he had learned not to worry about success or failure he could give all his attention to the work at hand, without feeling the burdens of anxiety or fatigue.
A journalist once asked “Mr. Gandhi, you have been working at least fifteen hours a day, every day, for almost fifty years. Don’t you think it’s about time you took a vacation?”
Gandhiji replied. “Why? I am always on vacation.”
Do your duty, but renounce its fruit, have no desire for reward. But renunciation of fruit in no way means indifference to the result. In regard to every action one must know the result that is expected to follow, the means thereto, and the capacity for it. He, who, being thus equipped, is without desire for the result, and is yet wholly engrossed in the due fulfilment of the task before him, is said to have renounced the fruits of his action.
By detachment I mean that you must not worry whether the desired result follows from your action or not. Things will come right in the end if you take care of the means and leave the result to God. A person who is worried about the outcome of his work does not see his goal; he sees only his opposition and the obstacles before him. Feeling unequal to the difficulties of his situation, he becomes resigned or resorts to violence out of frustration and despair.
But the person who is detached from results and tries only to do his best without thought of profit or power or prestige and does not waver when difficulties come. He sees his way clearly through every trial, for his eyes are always on the goal.
For a person enjoying and immersed in his work, that becomes a everlasting source of bursting energy. For a person not liking or hating the very work he does, his energy is drained out every moment and he cannot achieve anything significant.
3. Fear of losing possessions and relationships: Nothing brings man so much suffering and indignity as poverty! It is no wonder that man fears poverty and tries to do anything to get hold of money to defend from poverty.
How was one to practice ‘aparigraha‘ (non-possession)? Was I to give up all I had and follow God?
Straight came the answer: I could not follow Him unless I gave up all I had. My study of English law came to my help. I understood the Bhagavad Gita‘s teaching of ‘non-possession‘ to mean that those who desired liberation should act like a trustee who, though having control over great possessions, regards not an iota of them as his own.
Do not worry in the least about yourself, leave all worry to God,’ — this appears to be the commandment in all religions. This need not frighten anyone. He who devotes himself to service with a clear conscience, will day by day grasp the necessity for it in greater measure, and will continually grow richer in faith.
Just as one must not receive, so must one not possess anything that is not needed. It would be a breach of this principle to possess unnecessary foodstuffs, clothing, or furniture. For instance, one must not keep a chair if one can do without it. In observing this principle one is led to a progressive simplification of one’s own life.
But, money by itself is not evil. Ardha is one of the four purushardhas that we need to pursue. We need money to sustain our life, for food, clothes, shelter and for family. The greed and lust for money is the evil.
Often a family‘s fortune is lost in the third generation. When people accumulate lot of money, the heirs lose the motivation to earn on their own. Often they get into bad habits and addictions, as can be seen from the kids destroyed because of drugs and bike races. So a person should provide proper education and moral foundation to kids and encourage them to grow on their own.
The important point to consider here is not romanticizing poverty or living an idle life without earning. The important point is having faith that God takes care of the needs of a person who is immersed in serving God and His creation. Kathopanishad’s Viswajith Yajna principle says ‘one who gives up his everything, gains everything’.
After Gandhiji gave up legal practice and devoted his whole time for leading the independence movement, many anonymous donors from unexpected quarters used to appear and donate money. When volunteers were collecting funds, even women and children also used to give all that they could. Thus Gandhiji was always free of anxieties as to how to keep independence movement going.
Fearlessness is a state of mind which may be difficult to achieve at one step. We need to have faith in God, and keep striving even though our mind is filled with fears. Then, gradually fears become tamed, and become less and less controlling of our lives.