No human being ever born has known the sensation of fear. From childhood to old age, the objects of fear change and vary but gradually he overcomes some of them and new ones, more terrifying, replace them. Fear is a companion of life, one of the strongest emotions of man that both saves him and in many cases destroys him.
It began as a joke...
In South India, at Mannipal Medical College a class was in progress. The professor was dissecting a human body while a group of students stared on. Inside the 'Dissection Room' there were more than twenty tables, each with a dead body. One student challenged the friend: "I bet you can't come into the chamber at midnight, dead on the stroke of twelve."
"Of course I can. I'm not scared."
"Then come tonight and touch all these corpses, one after another."
The challenge was taken. The class ended. Everyone dispersed. The same night, a few minutes before twelve, the challenged student faced the entrance of the dissecting room.
He wore a bold face but a mild sensation of fear worked its way up his nerves as he entered. He was alone. It was dark and silence was growing heavier. Pushing open the doors, he began his challenge.
One, two, three....four... one after another, he touched the bodies as he nervously moved on...
...He wasn't afraid... or was he?
This wasn't the first time he was touching dead corpses.
But unfortunately, it would be his last!
The moment he touched the eight cadaver, the body rose. It came alive!
An intense fear shocked him as he collapsed with an unfinished breath. He died instantly.
What had happened was that the challenger friend, just for a joke, had removed the corpse from the eighth table and slept naked in mimicry. But when he arose at the touch, it terrorised his friend to the extent of effecting his death!
This is a true incident, reported in the Times of India in the year 1971. Though such dramatic incidents occur far and few between, the curse of fear, with its multi-faced figure
Different Types of fears
||Fear of number 13
Fear has invaded virtually every facet of our life. An atmosphere of fear puts strain on normal life.
J.B., a man of 35 was on his routine jog around the park at 6.30 a.m. Suddenly another man brushed against him and overtook him with greater speed. At once, J.B. checked his pockets, suspecting that the man might have been a pickpocket.
And yes, his wallet was missing!
No questions asked; the man produced the wallet, and J.B. proudly returned home, vicarious over a mugger.
But when he sat down for breakfast, to his disbelief, he saw his wallet on the table. He had forgotten it there. Then, whose did he have in his pocket?
Flushed with embarrassment, he searched the wallet for the telephone number of its rightful owner. He rang up to apologize.
"Well.. I'm very sorry.. but I thought you were a mugger and stole my wallet by colliding into me.. But.."
And at the conclusion of his apology he inquired, "But why on earth did you give me your wallet without resistance!"
The reply came, "Well, I thought you were the mugger!"
Both men were innocent. Neither was a criminal. Yet fear and distrust had distorted their minds. Fear, however little, promotes chaos in life and in society.
Chemistry of Fear
Fear is commonly regarded with scorn and fearlessness extolled as a desirable attribute.
But, in fact, if man was without a sense of fear his survival would be jeopardised, since he wouldn't have the mechanism which would warn him of danger and heighten the powers of the body and mind to make an immediate escape. This fear-reaction is normal fear. It is really an ally of man that helps the preservation of his species.
There's a true story of four G.I.s. who were ambushed on a very narrow road in Vietnam. They leaped into a ditch. Fully aware of their exposed position, suddenly, with common mind they jumped back to the road and rushed to the jeep. They could not turn it around for lack of space to maneuver . Desperate with fear, each man took a wheel and together lifted the jeep, turned it around quickly, jumped in and at full speed, through crossfire, headed to safety. Back at camp, the same four together could not lift the jeep off the ground from one wheel!
Their amazing strength surfaced at the time of crisis. Fear, in a sense of urgency, brought it out!
During such spurts of fear, the face pales as the blood is diverted from the skin to the internal organs. The heart beats faster and a lot of energy is released. The eyes open wide to see better and the mouth opens up for mouth breathing which is less noisy than more-breathing. This is to sharpen hearing, the skin perspires freely and some animals tend to make the appearance more terrifying to the opponent, (cats fluff and rise on their toes, reptiles and amphibians swell the body or neck). In short, the body prepares for fight or flight!
A subtle aspect of normal fear helps to improve quality of life. It promotes progress. A headmaster is afraid of the educational authorities, so he trains the students well. The students fear to fail the exam, so they study hard and maintain a standard. A doctor doesn't desire a bad reputation, so he researches and saves many lives...
Yet all these activities would be much safer if done out of love for the result, than the fear of a superior authority! The above fears could easily mutate into abnormal fears. With the case of the four G.I.s, a permanent scar on the memory of the frightful ambush could lead to imaginary fear and nightmares!
Another name for abnormal fear is phobia. It is chronic fear causing such symptoms as nervousness, dizziness, panic, inability to concentrate, insomnia even heart-attacks.
Phobias are psychological fears. They have no objective reality. Even when there's nothing to be frightened of, the victims feel horrified. Thus, phobias are peculiar, private, irrational and unnatural fears that display stupidity in a mild or intense form.
What paralysis is to the body, phobia is to the mind. It undermines your mind and health, destroys your personality and explains why millions of people who have it accomplish little and enjoy little!
One woman showed her agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) by growing frustrated, faint and wobbly should she leave a bus at an open place. Justifying, she said, "The buildings are like giant tomb-stones falling on me." Thus she leaves at an earlier stop where many companions get off together.
Exactly opposites are plurophobics who fear crowds and claustrophobics who cannot get into lifts or narrow corridors - fear of confined spaces.
On average one person in every ten in the world suffers from a phobia. Famous people had a variety of fears.
Newton was sick of water. Mozart ran away at the sound of a trumpet or hunting horn. Schopenhauer trembled at the sight of a razor. Carlyle never dared to set foot in a ship; although a keen critic of heroes and heroic deeds, he was afraid of an ordinary shopkeeper. Edgar Allan Poe, Schumann and Chopin were all afraid of the dark. Maupassant had a fear and horror of doors. Erasmus was horrified by fish, and Frederick the Great had an aversion for all new clothing or new uniforms. It is on record that Caesar's whole body trembled during a thunder. He fled to the deepest cellar in the palace and covered his head with thick fur. John Bunyan feared the sight of bells and King James had a neurotic fear of swords.
Conquest of Fear
Fear arises when one feels inferior to his surroundings and is individually incapable of overcoming it. Dr.Adler, a psychiatrist demonstrated that the feeling of insecurity and inferiority is universal and native to the human being, so that by his very constitution he is in need of a reserve and power, not his own to help him to manage life. The man of faith in God feels supported by all the resources of the universe. He never feels lonely or deserted. The famed psychologist William James supports, "A religion which gives the sense of an infinite power behind the finite individual and infinite goodness, tends to itself to remove all fear, to produce a fearlessness so far as the religion is really believed." (From his book 'Varieties of Religious Experiences'.) Another noted psychologist of London, Dr.Hadfield reconfirms, "I have attempted to cure nervous patients with suggestions of quietness and confidence but without success until I linked those suggestions on to the faith and the power of God."
Thus, many past and recent psychologists agree that religion shows a way to the elimination of all - normal and abnormal fears. Faith in God has freed many from the shackles of fear.
When total, wholesome trust is placed, one becomes as unfearing as Arjuna of the Mahabharat. During the eighteen day ravaging war, Bhisma, the dauntless warrior vowed to behead Arjun. Bhisma seemed supreme in warfare and invincible in combat. Everyone feared that Arjun was sure to die. At night time, all the Pandavas - the brothers of Arjun - were gathered in a tent, fretting and worrying. Lord Krishna, entered and was surprised not to find Arjun there. Searching Arjun out, the Lord found him fast asleep in his tent. He shook him once, twice, thrice ... saying, "Wake up! Don't you know Bhisma has vowed to behead you tomorrow?"
"Yes" came a sleepy reply.
"Then aren't you scared for your life? How can you sleep when such danger awaits you?"
"Because you are awake my Lord!"
The Lord broke into an assuring smile. Arjun was convinced that his fate lay not in the hands of Bhisma but in the hands of the Lord. The Lord was awake, watching over him, protecting him. So there was nothing to fear!
Fearlessness is a 3-letter word
Fearlessness is a 3-letter word - GOD.
Today, a living testament of such fearlessness is H.D.H. Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Swamishri is a powerhouse of courage and confidence. People confide in him, inquire from him, put faith in him and hold him dearer than their souls. Hundreds of thousands of people have risen above everyday fears; for his union with Bhagwan Swaminarayan is unshakable and his ways are unique. Swami speaks to those who have THE FEAR...
...Of Public Speaking.
He speaks of Gunatitanand Swami. He was no scholar in Sanskrit. And yet Bhagwan Swaminarayan asked him to go to Memdavad and face an assembly of scholastic giants in a debate. Gunatitanand Swami never once feared the thought of failure. He boldly went, spoke with faith and conviction and emerged victorious.
...Of Failing Exams
Swamishri often quotes Yogiji Maharaj, "Study regularly four hours a day if in school and eight hours if in a college; then you will be confident in an exam. Fear comes due to lack of preparation. So prepare extensively and pray fervently."
Recently a devotee, Ramesh Darji, was tormented by black magic. At home, in a small village in Khedbrahma, Sabarkantha, Ramesh went to sit on the bed and it collapsed. A thundering crack tore the room wall before his eyes. The sound filled the neighbourhood. And many relatives advised Ramesh to give up faith in God and surrender unto the evil spirits. Ramesh remained staunch and undeterred. A week later he came face to face with the sorcerer who was surprised to see him alive! He had tried his most vicious spell but to no avail! Ramesh's faith in Bhagwan Swaminarayan became diamond-like. Superstitions and sorcery are mere wind when one remains anchored with faith in God and Swamishri.
Swamishri insists we instill in our children the right character in their young, green years. Only then, will they never turn against us and turn sour in life! Sweeten our children's character to ensure success.
In the words of Bhagwan Swaminarayan: - Vachanamrut Loya Section.2
"Four types of devotees no longer fear death and feel fulfilled. One of them is the faithful, who has indomitable faith in God..."
An old lady of the village Ghandala was so sincere in her faith that Bhagwan Swaminarayan revealed her date of death. She was overjoyed and literally prepared for the event. She could picture herself in heaven, eternally free. Her husband disbelieved her as she looked too healthy to die. But she did die as predicted. She embraced death cheerfully - faith was the secret of her fearlessness.
Swamishri was asked if he had any worries due to the responsibility of being the spiritual master (guru) of the Swaminarayan Sampraday. Swamishri replied, "The master is Bhagwan Swaminarayan. I am a servant, just here to manage and carry out His commands."
Swamishri never for once feels the pressure of being the head of the Sampraday, for he knows Bhagwan Swaminarayan is the head. He tackles all problems according to the wish of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and hence he feels no pressure whatsoever.
Cancel out fear with faith. For there is no force in this world more powerful than faith when it is faith in depth, faith that is real, bona fide. Faith is no palliative; it's a cure - the only sure cure for fear.
As this saying maintains,
"Fear knocked on the door; Faith answered it and nothing was there!"