The Art Of Positive Thinking: Creative Fear

Published: 22.01.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

Day and night, night and day - with the twilight dividing these! There is the day and there is the night and in between is the evening. Likewise there is an intervening stage between fear and total freedom from fear. It is neither fear nor fearlessness. It cannot be called fear because of the absence of any perversions caused by fear in the nervous system; nor can it be called pure fearlessness because fearlessness is the ultimate, transcendent state. Between fear and total absence of fear stands a transitional state called creative fear'. Fear is of two kinds—destructive and constructive. Likewise fearlessness is also of two kinds destructive and constructive. These arc the four alternatives.

The thief was fearless, reckless, unheeding. Every time he committed a theft, he was caught and punished, but on his release from jail he would start again. He had no fear. Once the judge remarked, "How utterly shameless you are! You experience no shame in being brought to my court time and again?"

The thief said, "Sir, judge! Every time I come, I find you here. If you come here everyday, why should I feel ashamed to come here occasionally?"

Abashment, discipline and qualms of conscience arc forms of constructive fear—we may call these modesty, self-control or scrupulousness. Because of mental hesitation, a man avoids evil. Discipline can exist even when self-discipline has not yet evolved. The elderly people forbid something; so a man does not do it. This is also constructive fear. Another person has scruples about doing something, saying to himself, "If someone sees me doing it, it would bring me disgrace." So he forgoes it. He abstains from the act out of fear. Such a man might possess no pure vision, no spiritual insight which would make him avoid evil irrespective of whether someone sees him or not.

Where there is spiritual insight, the question of someone seeing or not seeing docs not arise. He who is blessed with spiritual vision would never commit an evil act.

The worldly-wise arc very sensitive to what Mrs. Grundy would say. But there are reprobates who give no thought to what others may think of them. They care a fig for other people and their opinions. Here fearlessness itself becomes a curse. The big bandits, thieves and murderers show no fear. They would commit all kinds of evil without any hesitation whatsoever. But their fearlessness is destructive; it could not be equated with true fearlessness.

From the very beginning, from childhood, certain beliefs take root in our life - the feeling for discipline and mental qualms save us from committing many evils.

The revered Kaluganiji once told a moving tale about a youth preparing to go to foreign ports for the purpose of acquiring wealth. He said to his young wife, "I'm going abroad to earn money. Family honour lies in your custody now. Please keep chaste! Let not the family name be besmirched. Do take care. Still, the mind is very fickle, and if you can no longer endure celibacy and may want to indulge in sex, search out for your partner the man who goes to the most remote part of the forest for his morning ablutions." For a long time after the departure of her husband, the modest wife observed great restraint and remained chaste. None could find fault with her conduct. But when years passed away without any news of her husband, her endurance broke down and she felt in her stirrings of desire. The human mind functions in a queer way. Even great hermits and ascetics are sometimes assailed by temptation. It is unimaginable how their consciousness lapses, the virtue of a lifetime spent in meditation stands vitiated in a minute. On the other hand, we hear of great reprobates achieving salvation almost on their death bed. Insensitive wretches suddenly regain sensitivity and become enlightened, and people say of such a person, "He pursued all vices throughout, but lived the last ten days of his life in the manner of the greatest ascetics." Such sudden transforma­tions are not unknown. One who is awake may fall asleep; another in oblivion may wake up suddenly at any time.

So the wife who was no ascetic but an ordinary woman found herself assailed by lust. Yet she remembered her husband's counsel. She asked her servant to fetch her the man who went farthest into the forest for his morning ablutions.

In due course, the man appeared before her. The wife asked the stranger why he went so far into the forest. He demurred, "I don't know! I feel so abashed!" On being pressed further, he confessed that he could not endure anyone seeing him naked. "I don't want anybody - not even a bird - to have a glimpse of my private parts,".he said. "I feel so shy. Even the earthen pot of water I carry for washing, I keep in a covert place - I won't let even a lifeless object be a witness to my ablutions!"

Thereupon, the young wife said at once, "Sir, I feel very grateful to you for enlightenment. It was kind of you to come here. You may go, now."

She had suddenly grasped the meaning of her husband's parting adjuration! The sense of shame is a tremendous thing; there is great safety in it.

The sense of shame and qualms of conscience are forms of constructive fear. Man fears disease and death, and it is a very old mentality. We are not afraid of indulging our own inclinations to the full; but we fear the consequences. It is absurd to be so afraid. What is to be feared and avoided is the mental inclination, not its result. For aeons it has been man's enduring weakness to spurn the consequences and not his mental inclination, to fear the effect and not the cause! But without cause there can be no effect. So one must beware of the cause.

We fear the disease, but not the causes which bring it. If we could fear the causes, that fear would be constructive. One aspect of fear is creative. Excessive eating, for example, brings forth disease. So I shall be afraid of eating too much. Bad, unwholesome food brings disease, so I shall always avoid unwholesome food. Strong emotions cause disturbance and bring disease; if I indulge in anger, I would be inviting heart-trouble; my blood-pressure is bound to go up. The whole system is poisoned. Therefore, I shall be afraid of giving way to anger. If we fear the causes which bring disease, that fear is constructive. But when we fall a victim to disease and fear the disease and moan, "What will happen to me now? O God! Why should I be so afflicted?", such fear is not constructive; it only serves to aggravate the disease, brings more trouble. So let our fear be creative and constructive. We fear death but not the causes which bring death. The prospect of death fills us with dismay. But do we realise that indulgence in like and dislike is the chief cause of early, inopportune death? He who is caught in approbation and condemnation, in love and hate, dies early. Overeating, immoderate sleep, extreme laziness, yielding to strong passions, pride, anger, envy, hatred are all productive of premature death. These we ignore, these we do not fear, but we fear death. Fear becomes constructive when we are apprehensive of all tendencies which bring untimely death. If we keep alert and are fully alive to their danger, then alone has fear a constructive role to play.

Man fears disgrace. He is very jealous of his reputation, of what people think of him. But he does not fear the causes which bring him into disrepute. This is most strange. Our conduct and behaviour is such that it invites infamy. But we only fear dishonour; dishonourable conduct we condone. We say, "Do what we will, we must not be humiliated under any circumstances!" Such fear is futile. If we avoid the causes which bring disgrace, our fear is creative.

In order to make our fear creative and constructive, we must be able to draw a fine distinction between the fear of fear (i.e., our anxiety to get rid of fear) and the fear of the causes which produce fear. These two fears are quite distinct; to be afraid, and to be alert and careful so that fear does not come into being, are two different things. If we assume that fear is always bad, all talk of social security is rendered meaningless. Then the security of the individual, the security of the family, of society and the nation, are all submerged in a vast confusion. The concern for a secure, abiding order is ever constructive; it cannot be destructive. The chief thing to understand is that the maintenance of order is for stability, and not for any destructive purpose.

Imagine a fire burning. No man would put his foot into the fire. We may say that man is afraid of burning his foot but such fear cannot be said to be destructive; on the contrary it is constructive since it ensures safety.

The owner of an ice factory was asked, "What do you do in winter? In the summer season, you make ice, and there is great demand for it. But how do you spend the winter season?"

He said, "I make ice during summer and in winter I eat it."

Quite right! The factory does not run during the winter months. Income from the sale of ice during summer, enables the factory owner to maintain himself. "I make ice during summer and in winter I eat it." The ice supports him, provides him security. Likewise each individual seeks security. He avoids fear and the things that cause fear. No sensible person would deliberately put his foot on the serpent's head; no man would knowingly drink poison. Concern for security cannot be classed under destructive fear. Fear for safety becomes constructive; it is the intermediary stage between fear and total freedom from fear.

Here is a leaf out of my own book of life. I was 13 years old. The revered Kaluganiji was staying at Manasar. I and my classmate Muni Budhamalji were in attendance. The reverend Kalugniji taught us the following verse:

The fear of God, the fear of the guru, and the fear of what the villagers might say, are all constructive. He who fears is saved, thus spake Tulsi.

Expounding the above verse, Kaluganiji said, fear is not always futile. There is great wisdom in fear. One who does not fear when he ought to is in for trouble.

That verse, we thought, had great significance for us. We studied under Muni Tulsi and feared him. Now revered Kaluganij had also delivered a warning: "He who fears Tulsi is saved, and the heedless is in for trouble". We did not know at that time that Sant Tulsi Das was the author of the couplet and the word "Tulsi" in the verse referred to the poet himself. We thought then and for a long time were under the impression that the word referred to our guru and the verse itself was a salutary warning to his pupils. If we feared our guru we would be saved, if we continued inadvertent, we would fall. That couplet, I might say, had tremendous impact on both myself and my classmate, Budhamalji; it moulded our lives.

I feel that constructive fear is creative and gives a direction to our life. When I say, be brave, never fear anything, be totally free from fear, I only wish to underline the necessity of avoiding destruc­tive fear. We are going to talk about pure fearlessness too. Ultimately we must achieve total freedom from fear, so as to awaken pure consciousness in which all fears are dissolved, when all our efforts and our inner impulses are suffused with spirituality without any outside conditioning, when all stimulations, all causes and effects cease, when spiritual consciousness actuates our thought and action from moment to moment. That is the destination we aim at, the ultimate goal. But we cannot afford to be impractical. There are stages in life, childhood, youth and mature old age. Right now we are living in the first stage, when any talk of spiritual inspiration would not be intelligible, would not, therefore, be relevant. What is relevant here is that in the initial stage, creative fear has a role to play. In the second stage, when meditation has matured a little, one begins to transcend constructive fear and move in the direction of total freedom from fear, the attainment of which signifies the peak of all spiritual effort and the awakening of a spiritual consciousness in which all apprehensions stand resolved for ever, and where there is complete absence of fear, a state of utter fearlessness, an atmo­sphere of non-fear, where runs the great stream of fearlessness without any obstruction, where all is courage and self-confidence. Fear surrounds the negligent on all sides, but for one who is awake, fear comes to an end.

All men wish to awaken in themselves the consciousness of non-fear. But how is it to be accomplished?

Two most important systems functioning in our body are the nervous system and the endocrine system. They regulate the working of the entire organism. The external situation and the inner chemistry of the body determine our response. It is a common belief that circumstances make a man. There is some truth in it. But it is not the whole truth. The whole truth is that both circumstances and biochemical reactions within determine a man's nature. We often try to alter the circumstances to suit our convenience, but as often we fail in that endeavour. However, it is the biochemical reactions that influence us most; internal secretions from various glands determine our conduct.   With a change in the inner chemistry of the body, it becomes possible to go beyond the circumstances, to transcend them altogether. On the contrary, unregulated biochemical reactions render us a slave to circumstances; we become their victim. Those who practise preksha meditation must realise this truth and they should embark upon the process of changing their biochemical reactions, if they would master their circumstances. In today's scientific age, the practice of meditation should not be merely a leap in the dark. Science has developed to an extent that it is not possible nor desirable to ignore the new developments altogether and keep treading the beaten path. The other day we were talking with Professor Sharma, Head, Department of Educational Psychology in the N.C.E.R.T. Dr. T. Bhatia was also present. It was said that the most notable observations made about the practice of meditation related to physiological effects, for example, the lowering of body temperature, relief from blood-pressure, the increase or decrease in weight. I said we do not look upon meditation as a means of treating physical ailments. Nor is the shivir (meditation camp) a hospital, though it is an admitted fact that physical diseases have been cured in shivirs. But for us that is a secondary issue. Our main purpose is to bring about a transformation of being. The consummation of meditation lies in accomplishing a complete change of heart. Our emotions undergo a mutation. Feelings of violence, of insolence and indisci­pline, feelings of cruelty must dissolve altogether. If there is no change of feeling, meditation cannot be said to have reached perfection. There are techniques available to bring about this mutation of feeling. If you concentrate on Jyoti Kendra (the Centre of Enlightenment), the emotion of anger is quite transformed; concentration on Darshan Kendra (the Centre of Intuition) does away with illusion and awakens inner vision. Our frontal lobe is very powerful; it controls all our feelings. The hypothalamus governs everything. It controls the pineal and the pituitary glands. The pituitary, in its turn, controls all other glands. For a complete transformation of feelings, we must concentrate our attention on the forehead and the front part of the head; without it there could be no change of feeling. When we concentrate our attention on the navel, the centre of bio-electricity, we experience a sudden upsurge of power and high stimulation. There is an unprecedented increase in vitality but at the same time it contributes towards the growth of high passions. All the strong emotions arise from the adrenal.

It is however, possible to control all these. The three psychic centres—Shanti Kendra, the Centre of Tranquillity; Jyoti Kendra, the Centre of Enlightenment; and Darshan Kendra, the Centre of Intuition, all situated on the frontal lobe above the eye-brow, are responsible for the transformation of feeling. Both desirable and undesirable emotions issue therefrom. We believe that ugly, unpleasant and undesirable emotions can be transformed. Leshya dhyana (Preception of Psychic Colours) is an important technique in the Jain system of meditation. Concentration of attention on various colours brings about a corresponding change in feeling Modern colour therapy has shed a great deal of light on the importance of colours. A lot of research is being done on colour therapy and a good deal of literature has been brought forth. Also treatment through perception of colours, and the use of sun rays occupy an important place in nature-therapy. However, there has been of late a tremendous development in the field of perception of psychic colours which is of great significance in the whole system of preksha meditation. Of course all the practices of preksha meditation are the means of awakening the consciousness of non-fear, a state of total freedom from fear.

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

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Page glossary
Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Body
  3. Celibacy
  4. Centre of Bio-Electricity
  5. Centre of Enlightenment
  6. Centre of Intuition
  7. Concentration
  8. Consciousness
  9. Darshan
  10. Darshan Kendra
  11. Das
  12. Dhyana
  13. Discipline
  14. Endocrine System
  15. Fear
  16. Fearlessness
  17. Guru
  18. Hypothalamus
  19. Jyoti Kendra
  20. Kendra
  21. Leshya
  22. Meditation
  23. Muni
  24. Perception of Psychic Colours
  25. Pituitary Glands
  26. Preksha
  27. Preksha Meditation
  28. Pride
  29. Psychic Centres
  30. Psychic Colours
  31. Sant
  32. Science
  33. Shanti Kendra
  34. Shivir
  35. Tulsi
  36. Violence
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