I watched my first and only horror movie when I was thirteen years old. We were on a trip with my soccer team and one of the guys brought the movie ET, based on the book by Stephen King. Since everyone in the room was watching, I joined in. It was a traumatic experience. Months later I still had trouble sleeping and often lay in my bed paralyzed with fear. I vowed never to watch a horror movie again.
Fear Is the Opposite of Happiness
To this day I have never understood why people like horror movies. Why would you watch something that invokes such unpleasant, negative feelings? Fear is the opposite of happiness. We simply cannot be happy if we have fear, even if it is only an iota.
“Fear buys our coffin long before we are dead,” my spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy used to say. So if we want happiness in life we need to get rid of this negative quality. The good news is that fear can be conquered. It can be totally transformed, so that we can lead a fear-free, joy-filled life.
The first step to a fear-free life is to realize that fear is totally useless. It has nothing to offer us, and nothing to tell us. Once we are thoroughly convinced of this truth, it is only a matter of time before fear leaves us for good. The problem is that we often unconsciously cling to fear. Because we feel it is powerful, we listen to it. But fear is only powerful because we make it so. We allow it to take root inside us and grow into a tall, ugly tree. This ugly tree spoils your heart’s garden and blocks your life’s view. Why keep a tree like that? The moment you convince yourself of the fact that fear is truly useless, you will be given the capacity to uproot this tree from your heart and life. Fear focuses only on the negative.
Let Go of the Grip of Unseen Enemies
When we are gripped by fear, we feel the threat of unseen enemies all around us. We forget that we also have many unseen friends. To conquer fear we have to focus on our positive inner qualities: joy, peace, light and power. To our wide surprise, we will see that fear is no match for them. But to be able to focus our attention always on the positive, we need to practice concentration and meditation. These techniques will strengthen our power of focus, so that we can steer our attention in any direction we choose. Naturally, we will steer it away from fear and keep it centered on light and peace, which are the things that will make us happy and fulfilled.
Through Prayer and Meditation Fear Silently Disappears
Before I started my spiritual life I used to be afraid of many things. Even anticipating the spiritual life itself induced a kind of fear in me. I was venturing into the unknown: What would I find there? Would I not lose myself in the process? But when I really started practicing my prayer-life and meditation-life I soon discovered that I didn’t lose anything worth keeping. The only thing I lost was my fear. It disappeared silently, without a trace, and never came back. Occasionally, it forgets that it is no longer welcome and tries to insinuate itself into my life. When that happens I concentrate on the light inside my heart and try to bring its purity to the fore. This is very effective in driving away my fear.
Fear comes from separation. We are afraid of something or someone because we feel our existence is totally separate from that person or thing. In reality however, we are all one. All spiritual Masters have realized this truth and have told us that the sense of separation is only an illusion. Therefore, the best way to conquer fear is by expanding our consciousness and growing into this feeling of oneness. This expansion comes through the practice of daily meditation.
With our conscious awareness we become one, totally one with the universe, with the universal Reality … Through expansion, when we pervade the entire world, when we feel our very breath in other beings, in the entire universe, then we cannot be afraid of anything. Through the expansion of our limited consciousness, our physical consciousness, our earth-bound consciousness, we can conquer fear. —Sri Chinmoy 1
Ultimately our spiritual growth through concentration, prayer and meditation is the only permanent solution to the problem of fear. It will take time, effort, patience and determination, but then again, nothing worthwhile is ever free. We have to work hard if we really want to rid ourselves of fear. Although difficult, it is not impossible. Now is the ideal time to introduce changes that will enable you to create a fear-free life. You can start today.