The Art Of Positive Thinking: Reactions Of Fear

Published: 21.01.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

Preksha meditation is an endeavour for enlightenment. Enlightenment and complete freedom from fear go together, just as darkness and fear are inseparably united. They are synonymous terms—darkness and fear. Fear is darkness and darkness fear. The fear that permeates our life leads us to darkness, to illusion. It may be natural darkness or the darkness of our mind, the illusory nature of our approach. Or it may be the gloom and sorrow of life. Whatever its quality, darkness remains what it is. But someone may say, what is wrong with darkness? What is wrong with fear?

It is a very natural question. The answer would depend upon our approach. It would be wrong to conclude on the basis of a particular point-of-view that fear is definitely bad. For in certain circumstances fear can be good. It all depends on the function it performs. Fear is of two kinds: creative and constructive, and negative and destructive. Likewise, fearlessness, much often con­structive, can also be at times destructive. Every fact or thing must be looked at from a holistic, many-sided point-of-view.

Today's discussion on fear will be based upon the reactions it provokes. Reactionary fear—fear that provokes reactions, like disease, old age, death, forgetfulness, and madness—is taboo; it does no good. There are five reactions of fear mentioned above.

The first reaction of fear is disease. It is an indisputable fact that we ourselves invite diseases. How else can so many diseases enter our body uninvited? There may be one or two gatecrashers, but will fifty people come to your house unsolicited? Diseases inhabit our body because we invite them. We tend them so tenderly, so religiously that they do not want to leave us. All disease is a reaction of fear. Man is afraid and because of it he harbours diseases. You witness another man suffering from a disease and you are instantly filled with fear that you might also contract it. This very reaction constitutes an invitation. Most people react like that in the face of disease and become highly perturbed.

The disease in itself is not so productive of pain as disease mixed with fear. Of course any disease causes some pain, but when fear is combined with the disease, the resultant anguish is terrible and it becomes a torture. One disease gives rise to another and all man's power is laid waste.

The second reaction of fear is old age. One grows old fast because of fear. He who is free from fear, never grows old. His hair may turn grey, but his heart remains young. He may enter his 70th year, yet he cannot be said to be old. The body of course grows old. That is but natural. As the years pass, one's hair turns grey. But that does not mean one has become old.

As a matter of fact, becoming old implies the decline of one's powers. It is we ourselves who invite senility, for we never need become old. Willy-nilly we dissipate our energies and grow feeble.

Ignatia, a well-known physician-saint of Greece, was asked: "How is it possible for one to remain young and healthy throughout one's life?" He said, "Mend your mistakes, come out of your illusions, and you will remain young and healthy for ever." Indeed, it is our errors and illusions which invite old age. A man who is careful about his food and conduct never grows old too soon. Carelessness in eating and behaviour is the main cause of early decay. In the vigour of youth, one is liable to give oneself completely to the pleasures of the palate, but complete and blind surrender to gluttonous impulses constitutes the first invitation to old age.

After all the capacity of the digestive system is limited. The liver functions as far as it can. The pancreas too works within limits. So indeed do all the organs of the digestive system. Somebody says, "Here is one litre of orange juice; quaff it off! It's all liquid, like water, would do you no harm." Neither the drinker nor his host knows whether his digestive system can withstand such an onslaught. The capacity of the system is essentially limited. The intestines and the stomach are capable of digesting a certain amount of proteins, carbohydrates, alkalies, salts, and vitamins; it is all settled. Nothing is indefinite. The brain may or may not be so aware, but the digestive system is fully conscious of the amount of secretions required to disgest different kinds of food. It is all an ordered process.

A proper and balanced diet keeps old age at bay for a long time. In the absence of such a diet, old age sets in early.

The physician-saint did suggest an effective resolution of the problem: To be caught in errors and illusions is to invite old age. He who comes out of them, keeps young and healthy for ever. And he keeps so even at one hundred.

The third reaction of fear is death. The fearful man does not die a natural death; he commits so to speak suicide. Natural death comes in its own time; it cannot be forced. One man may live longer than another, but death comes to both in a natural way. However, the fearful person would never die a natural death; he virtually kills himself. Ninety-five per cent of the people die an unnatural death. They fear death and in the process draw it nearer; they die before their time. What they seek to evade comes upon them early. It is as simple as that, and exact like arithmetic. This fact must not be lost sight of.

An employer posed a question: How much two and two make? One of the candidates answered, "Four." Another said, "Twentytwo." Still another said, "Sometimes four and sometimes twentytwo." The third man was selected for the post. It was a simple question which elicited three different answers. Two of the answers were absolute, arising from an inflexible, monistic point of view, while the third signified a pluralistic, many-sided approach. The latter answer was practical, complete, not partial.

The arithmetic of life is in fact very simple, but it has been complicated beyond measure. Here is a verse from one of my poems:

The book of life is simple and easy to read;
The translation thereof is ever complicated.

So complicated indeed as to become unintelligible. Many a time it so happens that the original book is very lucid.but the person who translates it into another language, makes it so complicated as to render it difficult to understand. The very purpose of translating a book is to make it accessible to more people, but if the translation is intricate, that purpose is defeated. One needs still another exposition to make the second one intelligible, ad infinitum.

Take, for instance, the word "Indra". One translator rendered it as "Shataritu" which is a synonym of Indra. Had he used the original word, all, whether learned or not, would have understood it without any difficulty. But only the learned could make out "Shataritu" - a bookish word not accessible to all. This complica­tion of an originally lucid text is a great fault in translation.

Man's life, too, is very simple. So are his necessities. But the analysis thereof is often so complex as to render it quite unintelligible A man stands stalled at every step; he can make neither head nor tail of it. For example, take the maxim, "Don't be afraid!", or "Never fear any tiling!" Complete absence of fear mitigates disease, keeps old age and death at bay. It is a very simple proposition. But man cannot understand it. He fears disease, old age and death. The more he is afraid, the sooner do they assail him. How does it come about? Poor man is not to be blamed! It is beyond him—something hidden in the depths of his being manifests itself.

The internal secretions arid the fluids released by the Karma sharir greatly influence a man's attitude, thoughts and actions. His basic temperament and emotions are controlled thereby. A man so affected is not capable of understanding the truth, the simple arithmetic of life. No one who is influenced by another can perceive reality as it is. Total freedom from all kinds of conditioning is an essential pre-requisite for the discovery of truth. A man, acting from direct perception of reality, encounters few difficulties, but even God cannot rescue a conditioned entity. When a man hankers after a thing or a person, he stands imprisoned. Until he acquires the thing he longs for, he cannot be at rest. He dreams of it night and day, he would not even shirk from stealing it to satisfy his longing. Likewise he becomes a blind follower of the person he is fascinated by. Or a particular idea might absorb him quite, to the exclusion of everything else.

One of the aims in the practice of dhyana (meditation) is to directly experience the unconditioned state - never to be influenced by any person or thing, but maintain one's independence, not to become a victim of circumstance. Preksha (perception) can take us there. He who practises preksha reaches out to the core of the matter, and his mind is cleansed of all impressions. On the other hand, to be caught in superficies is to be swept by the flow of circumstance. And a man often goes by appearance. He does not probe any deeper than the surface. And this often results in his committing a grievous wrong.

A man told the villagers, "I saw some Jain munis drinking water in the canal." The villagers were shocked. A Jain muni drinking unrefined water of the canal! It was against the Jain traditions. On reaching the village, the munis found no welcome: instead strange looks met them. Nobody came near them. The munis wondered as to what had happened. There stood the devotees, but no one bade them welcome, nobody greeted them. The villagers were behaving as if they no longer recognised the munis as their preceptors. Nobody came to the place where the Jain munis stayed, to hear the discourses. On being questioned, an old devotee explained, "Sirs, you have been guilty of gross misconduct! The village was not far. And yet you could not contain your thirst even for a little while and instead drank the impure water from the canal. Now in the face of such intemperate conduct, do you really expect people to flock to you?" The monks said, "We never took water from the canal!" Further enquiry revealed that the man who had spread the rumour about the Jain munis drinking water from the canal, had heard about it from someone else and that someone else had heard of it from still another person, and so on and so forth. Ultimately they reached the man who had originally witnessed the fact. On being confronted, he said, "With my own eyes I saw the Jain monks sitting in the canal and drinking water." A senior monk immediately got to the root of the matter and said, "O devotees, you ought to have enquired out as to whether there was any water in the canal or not. The canal was absolutely dry. We had a supply of drinking water with us. We only sat on the canal bed and drank water there. There is a world of difference between drinking water in the canal and drinking water from the canal."

Generally a man hears something and is overwhelmed by it. He makes no attempt to find out the truth of the matter. In order to know the truth one has to probe deeper. A superficial observer will never know the truth. Those who have found the truth have always delved deep.

Preksha dhyana is a method of going deep into oneself. You begin with the skin, with the surface. What is going on there? Let no one disdain this kind of observation, for a deeper analysis of the physical organism would reveal a veritable treasure-house of ener­gies inside the skin. Deep inside the skin are to be found the ten essences—the five senses with their vital powers, and the power of the mind, the power of speech, the power of the body, the power of respiration and the life-force. One must directly experience these ten powers and the vibrations thereof.

The throbbingsof life are not easily apprehensible. We cannot perceive them until our sensibilities are refined. Only a very sensitive mind can do so. Thereare different kinds of vibrations. All is movement, fluidity. There is nothing that is solid, that is not pulsating. With all this goes the vital breath of life. There is inhalation and exhalation. Not only do we perceive the respiration, but also the power behind it; we perceive the essence of breath itself. This requires a very subtle mind. The breath is something gross, hence easily perceptible. You place your finger on the nostrils. You feel the air going in or rushing out. This is breath, pure and simple. But what is the activating force behind it? What draws breath in and what pushes it out? From the physiological point of view it is the respiratory system which controls the breath. All inbreathing and outbreathing is through the respiratory duct. But that is only a physiological explanation. According to spiritual science, all movement is caused by the life force. If this force is extinguished, there would be no respiration whatsoever, despite the physical organism with its respiratory system.

We speak. Language comes out of us. But language in itself is mute. Whatever is being uttered constitutes language, but what makes the utterance possible is the life force behind it. Without this vital power, language stands blunted, extinguished.

All movements of the body are actuated by the life force. The entire physical organism is permeated with its vibrations. Through preksha dhyana, we perceive those subtle throbbings of life.

In the body there are to be found the flesh, the marrow, the fats and semen. There are seven constituent elements of the body, and beyond those elements lies virility. We must intimately know the activities of all the elements; we must perceive through preksha the vibrations thereof.

There are many diseases latent in the body. Some are already active, others are in the process of being activated, and still some others are in the realm of potentiality. Do we come to know about a disease the day it is born? Not at all. It takes many days, months or years before we recognize it. But it has been there all the time. Only at maturity does it manifest itself. Through preksha it is possible to perceive the secret goings-on in the physical organism.

Acupuncture is the Chinese method of treatment. Its study involves a minute and detailed analysis of sensory centres. A man suffers from pain in the knee. The concordant centre of the knee is situated in the sole of the foot. If you experience pain while pressing the sensory centre in the sole, you will also experience pain in the knee - the two go together. To remedy the pain in the knee, one has only to apply pressure on the corresponding sensory centre in the sole. The concordant centres of all the organs of the body are located in the hands and the feet.

There are many facts relating to the body which reveal themselves only when one delves deep under the skin. Preksha furnishes the means for an in-depth study of the physical organism. Sensations and vibrations become the medium through which you perceive the true condition of the body.

When we look at the body in the gross, we are not able to gather much knowledge about its functioning, but if we go deep inside, we find there are hundreds of ducts and passages in the body, specific systems and outlets.

Arteries and veins are nothing but roads and paths, the highways and the tracks. There are more passages to be found in the body than in a big city. Traffic along these paths is conducted in a most orderly fashion. Whatever happens is faithfully reflected through the five senses. The whole of man's conduct can be analysed on the basis of reflexology.

The way to enter these depths lies through preksha. It is natural to ask why body perception or perception of the centres of consciousness be continually repeated. And how many times? One should understand that the world we live in is full of innumerable subtleties. With the completion of each cycle we have a glimpse of a few aspects, but the aspects are legion, each phenomenon of life bearing a million aspects, a billion possibilities—there is no end to it all. To know the whole, one life, nay, many lives may not suffice.

We have discussed preksha at some length. The reader might think that such a long discussion is irrelevant. But our intention is to make it clear that a thorough understanding of preksha would set a man free both from logic and from all obstacles which impede enlightenment and consequently give rise to diseases, hasten the approach of old age and are responsible for premature death. What is required is total freedom from the psychology of fear. If one can be free of fear, one can face anything—disease, old age or death with equanimity. Neither death, nor disease, nor old age would then become a problem. Disease and old age would be rare, and even when they come, they would not last for long, their intensity would be greatly diminished. In order to be free from the corollaries of fear, preksha constitutes a very important means.

The fourth reaction of fear is forgetfulness. Man fears and because of it his memory gets weakened. Not only the old guard, but even growing children today complain of feeble memory. It sounds so strange. An old man of 80 complaining of weak memory is understandable, but when a child of 12 complains of it, one does not know what to make of it. The main cause of course is fear which so comprehensively pervades every sphere of life. When the sugar gets dissolved in milk, its entity is no longer distinct, but the sweetness in every drop of milk is sufficient proof thereof. Likewise, fear is so inextricably mixed with everyday living that it is difficult to perceive it distinctly. However, rampant forgetfulness or enfeeblement of memory is a definite indication that some deep fear pervades our life. The very fibres of the brain get shrunk and memory is adversely affected.

The fifth reaction of fear is madness. Man feels utterly disintegrated and goes insane. There could be many reasons for it. But the greatest cause is fear which provides madness an easy access into the human organism. A sudden shock benumbs a man so that he begins to rave. The shock of fear is very deep and drives a man out of his senses.

These are the five reactions of fear. There can be many more, but all those could be classified under one of the main five categories.

We have discussed hitherto the sources of fear, the states of fear and the reactions of fear. We have analysed them at some length. Now the question arises as to how does one get rid of fear altogether. Lord Mahavir said: "Have no fear!" That is also the teaching of the Upanishads. Every seeker on the spiritual path has uttered the same warning. Nevertheless, to say "Fear not!" is easy, but as long as there exist the sources of fear and the reactions of fear, the maxim, "Have no fear!" cuts no ice. As long as the causes of fear are present, there can be no deliverance from fear. By merely repeating the maxim "Fear not!" one does not become free from fear. We have to discover a way out. We must find a technique. Only through the practice of the proper technique is freedom from fear possible. To this important task we shall now address ourselves.

Title: The Art Of Positive Thinking
B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd.
Reprint Edition:
R.K. Seth

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  1. Body
  2. Brain
  3. Consciousness
  4. Dhyana
  5. Equanimity
  6. Fear
  7. Fearlessness
  8. Indra
  9. Karma
  10. Karma Sharir
  11. Mahavir
  12. Meditation
  13. Muni
  14. Munis
  15. Preksha
  16. Preksha Dhyana
  17. Preksha Meditation
  18. Science
  19. Sharir
  20. Upanishads
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