MANTHAN – 25July

Fear seems to be like an emotion that we are born with, similar to many other emotions such as love, anger. Or maybe it is not so but gets seeded in, from our sensory impressions and adult reactions around. In any case, the reality is, as we grow, the way we behave, the choices we make, the decisions we take definitely stems from some of these deep-rooted fears.

Fear seems to be of various types – something that is external, evident and visible like fear for heights, darkness, water etc. Since these are visible and the individual is aware of such fears, it is easier to handle it. Dealing with it and facing it could be the best way to handle it. The other type is more internal, not very evident and invisible like fear of failure, fear of non-acceptance, fear of pain, fear of losing, fear of unknown. These types can be very difficult to handle as in most cases we may not be aware that we are dealing with such fears. A very evident example is that of a child taking up a course because his friends have taken it, probably coming from fear of acceptance; moves on to take up a job in a MNC and accepts the way of life there though is not comfortable, probably from fear of being judged; continues there for fear of change and handling the unknown. And we call this freedom! These internal, invisible fears are undesirable and we build psychological barriers within us which bind us and limit our freedom.

As individuals, we need to introspect on our internal fears and understand the root of our fears. Why are we feeling the way we are feeling? A little deeper observation reveals that a traditional Indian mind had lesser fears or had better mechanisms to deal with it rather than the modern educated mind of today. So, what changed? Faith in a power higher than man was the key to the existence of a traditional Indian mind. With faith and belief came the possibility of handling the unknown to a power higher than yourself while you lead a more settled life. Accepting uncertainties made it possible to lead a free life. Everything that man did emphasized the fact that you have limits on what you can do and control and the result always rests on matters beyond your control. The life of a farmer is a classic example of this fact. He could sow the best seeds, nurture it with utmost care and do all that he can but ultimately cannot guarantee a good harvest, the result was beyond his control. That was true in pottery, carpentry or any other means of life. This reflected in man’s ways of looking at life and living. We were responsible for our lives at the same time realizing the fact that we are not in control of it. With the advent of machines, precision and predictive results it seems like the control is with man and this started reflecting in the way man started seeing life and living. Unfortunately, it is only a bubble that he is living in, bound to break any moment. We have attuned ourselves to an external dependency and stopped believing in our intuitions.

Apart from the way of life, fear is induced to a modern mind through various sources and one of it is media. The current situation of COVID is a witness to how the entire world can be made to think in a certain way with the help of media. Our education and society have brought in a frame of mind in ourselves which has made us stop seeking and questioning and analysing. We have become believers of a certain kind of information coming from certain kind of sources. If we were to keep the fear aside and look at this situation, it has offered us an opportunity to slow down, to reflect upon our priorities in life, spend more time with family, pursue hobbies.

The absence of fear does not translate to recklessness or carelessness or arrogance. Anything in extremes is detrimental. A balance and awareness need to be sought. Presence of fear in the form of “bhaya – bhakti” brings in balance, humility and reverence to life. Fear, in that sense has a positive connotation as well and is a part of the survival process. Let us understand ourselves, know our fears and step into a more aware living with faith.