The Art Of Positive Thinking: Total Freedom From Fear

Published: 25.01.2010
Updated: 02.07.2015

Things happen outside, as well as inside. Our being is divided into two - the inner and the outer. The outer world of phenomena is clearly visible, not so the inner world. But it can be perceived, felt, expressed. Our vision is turned outward. How one sits, the shape of the hands and the mouth, the structure of the face and its expression, the fingers—all these relate to bodily posture. The facial expression and the inner feeling are intimately connected; inner feeling determines the outward bearing. When anger arises, the face would automatically assume the pose of anger. One knows that a person is angry without being told. His facial expression gives a clear indication of his inner state.

In ancient Indian poetics is to be found an eleborate analysis of emotion. There are three streams of feeling: the enduring, the indicative and the evanescent. What kind of feelings are inspired by a particular posture? How does an individual manifest himself? The erotic sentiment expresses itself in one way, pathos in another, and disgust still in another way. There is one facial expression peculiar to wrath and another peculiar to tranquillity. There are different gestures for every feeling, every sentiment. Thought, feeling and gesture are linked with one another. Our facial gestures are determined by inward feeling. Fear expresses itself in a way peculiar to itself. The face of a man in the grip of fear shrinks. Likewise his body. Both the body and the face shrink and expand. Fear contracts, and joy expands. Irradiated by joy, the face opens up like a flower. On the other hand, the face of a frightened person gets shrunk. It appears to be quite emaciated. Changes wrought by fear in the outer appearance are quite apparent. However, inner parts of the body also manifest these changes. The heart beats faster, the blood-pressure goes high, the throat gets dry, the glands secreting saliva are inactivated, the face becomes lean, the stomach and the intestines contract; there is loss of appetite. A man who constantly lives in a state of fear has little appetite. The conductivity of the skin stands altered; it grows hyper-sensitive.

A man tells a lie. Telling lies is a crime. He is presented before the judge. The man is afraid of being exposed. But how is the judge to establish that the man is a liar? That he is a criminal? Of late certain devices have been evolved, like the galvanometer.   The machine is switched on and the criminal made to stand before it. The man is afraid of being caught. Fear gives rise to excitement. His inner being is disturbed. The moving hand of the galvanometer would indicate this disturbance and conclusively establish that the man is not at ease and he is not at ease because he has told a lie. The galvanometer would thus establish his guilt. All this happens through the conductivity of the skin, which is measured by the galvanometer and which gives us the truth. In a fit of anger or fear or of any other strong emotion, both the outward appearance and the inward state undergo a change, and this change reveals the truth. A man assumes a thousand poses during the course of a single day. With the help of a sensitive, high-frequency camera, these varying postures can be photographed, and the difference between one pose and another is clearly visible. The pose of five minutes ago is altogether different from the pose of five minutes after. As the inward feeling changes, there is a corresponding change in a man's countenance. The science of face-reading is based upon that. On the basis of the shape and structure of the face, a man's proclivities can be foretold and even his future determined.

Fear is a strong emotion. A man's countenance in a state of fear shows distress and is strangely disturbing. Whoever comes into contact with a fear-oppressed man, would soon imbibe his restlessness. How does it come to pass? The visitor would not know why, but he would be unquiet.

When the feeling of non-fear is awakened in a person, it shows itself in his features. The outward stance of non-fear is gaiety. The face blossoms. There is perfect joy. No problem or any kind of tension whatsoever! Deep tranquillity within. When the current of fear flows, our sympathetic nervous system (pingla) becomes acti­vated; whereas in the case of non-fear, it is the para-sympathetic nervous system (ida) which becomes active. There is no turbulence anywhere. One experiences profound peace and joy. It feels good to be alive.

The question arises as to how we can live for the most part in a state of non-fear. How to make the current of non-fear flow most of the time? How to experience the state of non-fear? All fear is harmful, whereas non-fear is beneficial. We must relinquish the stream of fear and enter the stream of non-fear. For this are necessary the right technique and the right means.

One of the techniques is anupreksha (contemplation). Through anupreksha it is possible to further develop the flow of non-fear. Within our body lie many systems of vibration. The paths, the tracks, and the highways are all there, by means of which sound vibrations pervade the entire organism and influence our conduct. The ancient doctrine of vibrations is a very comprehensive one. Not since the development of the Quantum Theory but much before that, about three thousand years ago, this doctrine was well-established. According to it, the world is nothing but vibrations, nothing but wave after wave of sensation. A wave of fear arises and immediately vibrations of fear overwhelm the earth and the sky. If at that time we could somehow start a wave of non-fear, if we could produce vibrations of non-fear, the wave of fear stands dissolved. The doctrine of anupreksha is a contralateral doctrine which lays down that one wave can transcend another, that a good wave can be started, the bad one rendered ineffective. Similarly, a bad wave, if stronger, would destroy the good one. Our valour, intelligence and vision determine what we shall do at a particular time, and what kind of effort we shall put in. The man who has practised preksha meditation, the one who has perceived the truth that the evil wave can be countermanded by a good one, that a negative wave can be supplanted by a positive wave, becomes very alert so that as soon as an evil thought arises in his mind, he sets about releasing a counter-wave of goodness that would repeal the former.

Three different states arise in life—the state of untruth, the state of truth, and the third state which transcends both good and evil. The state of untruth is an evil one, with a negative role. The second state is that of truth, which is positive and constructive. The third state transcends the other two; it is beyond right and wrong, beyond all options, beyond thought. This is the ideal state, quite remote for us for the time being. Generally, our life is spent between the counter-streams of good and evil. Sometimes the wave of goodness triumphs; at other times, the wave of evil sweeps away everything before it. The stronger our will-power and our resolve to live in the present, the more alert and earnest we are in the practice of preksha, and the more constant and regular our practice, the more alive do we become to the danger of evil and wicked thoughts arising in the brain. We are then able to release immediately a wave of goodness and purity. We start practising anupreksha and the evil wave subsides.

Anupreksha constitutes an important means of avoiding untruth. The whole of Japa (repetition of a deity's name) is based upon that. You are asked to remember the deity, repeat the mantra, because if pure feelings and thoughts inhabit your mind, there would be no room left for impure thoughts and feelings to enter there. That is why one takes recourse to mantra, the incantation. Some people are reluctant to recognise the utility of the mantra in the field of spiritual development. But we feel that the mantra has an undeniable virtue which must be recognised. Because all of us cannot directly enter the state of nirvana (release from bondages). The phenomenon of a direct leap into nirvana occurs rarely. It is possible that an individual here and there makes such a leap. There may be one in a million who can jump down straight from the roof. But if everyone were able to do so, there would be no need for a staircase. As it is, if all start leaping directly from the roof, hospitals would soon become filled to capacity; it would cause an upheaval. The phenomenon of the leap is not universal. It is not valid for all. It could only be an exception to the rule. To reach the ground of Veetaragta straight, to enter nirvana directly without any intermediary stage, is to make a leap which an individual does rarely on his own. Others must employ whatever support they can; to go to the roof they must use the stairs. One staircase serves to take one up as well as down. It is not that there is one staircase for going up, and another for going down. The same staircase serves both purposes. Likewise, there is only one current of feeling. One can use that current of feeling to rise high or to go down. When the current is attuned to truth, we rise high; when it is allied with untruth, we go down. The development of japa or the mantra was based upon the feeling that there should be something which calls for exclusive attention so that noxious feelings have the least opportunity to enter the mind.

Another means of attaining the state of non-fear is preksha. With the gradual development of the power of seeing, our perception becomes truth-oriented. Whatever fear there is, it is because of untruth. False belief, false doctrine, false conception, false determination - whatever be the aspect of untruth, it only creates fear. As our vision develops, we perceive the truth more clearly. We bid good­bye to fictions. We grow stronger, and fear decreases of itself. There is no fear in facing the fact, but fear is inherent in illusion, in a state of unconsciousness, and in untruth. Preksha becomes the means of breaking the cycle of ignorance, and when this cycle breaks, fear dissolves of itself.

Preksha, anupreksha, the repetition of a mantra—these techniques were developed primarily for the evolution of non-fear. In every tradition - Jain, Vedic or Buddhist - there exist mantras for the prevention of fear. Some people get frightened in sleep; they have terrifying dreams at night. Others take fright for no cause. In order to elude such predicaments, hundreds of mantras have been evolved and these have been used to good effect. They help divert attention from fear. The very condition of the mind stands altered. Also a great many remedies have been evolved. There are many medicines, roots and herbs, which if placed beside the pillow, stop fear altogether. All dreams cease. The roots and herbs and the mantras have been useful, and research in this direction has yielded good results.

There is another path leading to non-fear. This relates to our character and conduct. Fear springs from violence, from untruth, and from acquisitiveness. These are the three great causes inti­mately connected with our character. Every man knows what fear acquisitiveness creates. A man leaves for the bazar, but midway to it he remembers that he had forgotten to lock his room. Immediately he turns back in fear lest some thief should get in. Why this fear? Because he is so attached to things which he has accumulated that he cannot look upon with equanimity the prospect of being deprived of these. There are many people who do not even make use of their accumulation. At the time of making yearly accounts on the occasion of Diwali, or Ramnaumi, they calculate what profits they have and how much their wealth has increased, and the very thought of it gives them such deep satisfaction as nothing else in the world can. The mere realisation that "I have so much!" is highly gratifying. Apart from that, their vast accumulation has no meaning whatsoever; it has no utility; it is never consumed. But the very fact of possession makes them so happy that it becomes for them the summum bonum of life. And yet this very realisation that "I have so much" can create such fear that the man knows no rest all day and night. He is afraid of being cheated by his manager, his partner, his servant, his workers, his brother and his father. He is for ever tormented by fear. A man finds great psychological satisfaction in possession, but this is for ever accompanied by fear that he may in some way be cheated of his possessions. Gratification is momentary, but fear is constant. Accumulation is the greatest cause of fear.

Untruth, too, is a great cause of fear. Thoughtlessly one tells a lie but afterwards one is constantly possessed by fear of being exposed.

Violence too is born of fear. As long as a man is possessed by violence, untruth and acquisitiveness, non-fear cannot come to him. Destructive desperation, yes, but no constructive non-fear. A man may grow so reckless, that he is not afraid of anything, and in such a state he is liable to commit great atrocities. Such a man will never experience true non-fear which is always constructive.

I happened to talk to Baba Nagpal. I found that the dominant note in his worship of divine power is that of character development. The Baba says, " I have no charm or amulet to give; I don't believe in conjuring. I only say to the people, 'Look to your character; pure food and pure conduct; without these there can be no salvation'." It is a great utterance.

Anandghanji, the celebrated Jain master from Gujarat, was a great yogi. He had acquired a great many siddhis (supernatural powers). Wherever he went, people flocked to him in great numbers - the rulers and the ruled, the high and the low. It was said that the saint could fulfil every kind of wish. So there was always a crowd beside him. He could not have a moment to himself. It became a great nuisance and the saint sought the seclusion of the forest. The multitude followed him there too. Someone would say, "I've no issue," others sought wealth, still others came to him with different kinds of problems. The saint did not know what to do with them. In order to get rid of them at the earliest possible, he would write something on a piece of paper, make it into a pellet, and give it to the devotee, saying, "Keep it with you but take care not to open it even accidentally. And you must do what I tell you. Will you?" When the man promised to do what he was told, the saint said, "Look, if you want that your desire be fulfilled, for six months or one year, you must not tell a lie, also during this period, you must observe complete abstinence from sex; you must not steal, nor kill, nor indulge in hoarding things. Any lapse on your part would result in the failure of your mission. But if you remain steadfast, you are bound to succeed. Come to me then." After six or 12 months, the devotee's desire is fulfilled. He comes to pay his respects and says, "Sir, due to your grace my work was done." The saint would then laugh and say, "Do you know what brought you success? If you open the pellet I gave you, you will find written there, 'You're the master of your own fate; I've nothing to do with it.' If you've succeeded, it is because of your own character. You lived a pure life, took pure food and conducted yourself nobly. So you are the creator of your own success."

What really works is the strength of one's own character. And as a man's character develops, the state of non-fear, of total freedom from fear gradually comes into being. The strength inherent in non-fear does wonders. Whatever a man does then is right. The greatest obstacle that a man faces in the fulfilment of his tasks is fear, mistrust, suspicion. When a man embarks upon a new venture, he is immediately assailed by doubts. "Will I succeed or not?" he says to himself, "If I fail, what will people say?" How can a man afflicted with fear and mistrust really succeed?

The great secret of success is the development of character. The three great pillars of character development are, non-violence, truth, and non-acquisitiveness.

If we want to enter the state of non-fear, we must develop in ourselves the spirit of non-violence, for non-violence is one aspect of non-fear. We must also pursue truth, for truth is another aspect of non-fear, and we must also cultivate non-acquisitiveness, for non-greed is still another aspect of non-fear. The man in whose heart these feelings abide is bound to enter the state of non-fear. Which does not mean that you must have no possessions whatso­ever - no household can run without these. But we must clearly distinguish between the possession of articles and attachment to these articles. They are two different things. Similarly, some kind of violence is inevitable in the nature of things, but to be possessed by violence is quite another matter. There may be occasions when one cannot speak the truth, but to be wedded to untruth and to believe that one cannot survive in the modern world without telling lies is most questionable. What creates problems is our deep attachment to things and persons. There is a subtle dividing line between necessity and desire. Material things are necessary, one cannot do without them. Even a monk has a few possessions. He must have a piece of cloth to cover his body, he carries a bowl, and he has books. He also has pupils. Things and persons are inevitable there in any course of life; one cannot isolate oneself completely from these; indeed one must live with them. But if a man does not attach himself to things or persons, he remains calm under all circum­stances and the desire for accumulation has no ground to strike root. On the other hand, any kind of attachment results in acquisitiveness and accumulation. Even a piece of cloth, a book, if one is attached to it, becomes a source of corruption. Preksha helps to make it clear how far our infatuations for objects has relented, how far our attachments are weakened. Preksha is the means of weakening one's attachments, it is the means of awakening latent energies, of awakening bliss. Not mere power, but power that is roused with full consciousness and bliss. Awareness and bliss are the two banks between which the stream of energy flows. Such power is universally beneficial. But divorced from joy and con­sciousness, mere power for its own sake is very dangerous. Electric­ity is very useful, but at the same time dangerous. If one is careless and touches a naked wire carrying an electric current, it would be suicidal. So let there be an awakening of consciousness, let there be full awareness, let the mind be purified, let the heart become entirely innocent. When consciousness is pure, the state of non-fear will arise of itself. The very experiencing of the movement of consciousness constitutes in itself total freedom from fear.

A monk was meditating in the forest. He stood still in meditation. A serpent came and bit him and slipped away. A man happened to be passing there and he saw the serpent bite the monk. So he approached the monk and said, "Sir monk, a black serpent has bitten you. Are you aware of it?" The monk said, "I don't know." The man said, "But are you not afraid?" The monk said, "No, I know no fear." The man said, "How is it you show no fear? Are you not afraid of death?" The monk said, "I'm perfectly at home. There is no serpent here. It is possible the serpent was elsewhere, and has bitten some other person. I am quite all right."

In a state of full consciousness, even a snake-bite does a man no harm. It is only in a particular state of mind that the poison affects a man. It is common knowledge that after a snake has bitten, the bitten man's family take special care not to let him go to sleep; the patient must keep wholly awake, not a wink is permissible. In a state of full consciousness, the poison has no effect; on the other hand if the man goes to sleep, he is not likely to rise again. That is why he is not allowed to sleep. He must keep perfectly awake, for total wakefulness is a powerful antidote to poison. The snake-bite has no effect upon a person wide awake. Wherever there is full awareness, we have a taste of non-fear. Enlightenment is a state of total freedom from fear.

We are surprised when told that Lord Mahavir was bitten by a furious snake named Chandkaushik, and yet remained unmoved. There is, however, nothing uncommon in the occurrence. If the snake had bitten any Tom, Dick or Harry and the man had kept unperturbed, it would certainly be surprising. But for a man like Mahavir, who was constantly and fully aware of himself, the poison of a snake, or a scorpion, was quite immaterial. The man who has reached the highest ground of spirituality is not disturbed by a snake, nor does any poison, whatsoever, have any adverse effect upon him.

The experiencing of full consciousness is the experiencing of the state of non-fear. Likewise, the experiencing of bliss. We are not talking of pleasure or of joy, but of real happiness. There is always fear inherent in pleasure. Joy and sorrow are linked together. Every joy is followed by sorrow, as every sorrow is followed by joy; they make an inseparable pair.

There may be a brief interval between the two; but sooner or later one is bound to be followed by the other. But bliss is beyond pleasure and pain, beyond joy and sorrow. Preksha gives rise to waves of bliss—that bliss which is allied with equanimity. In equanimity there is bliss beyond joy and sorrow. In that state there is total freedom from fear.

There are two ways of entering the state of non-fear—the experiencing of consciousness and the experiencing of bliss. Preksha develops both. Preksha means inner perception. When a man looks outward, he experiences fear. The reason is quite apparent. All our values, standards, and codes of conduct are based upon comparison with another. If I look to another, there can be only two responses. When I compare myself with those who occupy an inferior position, I am filled with pride; whereas in the presence of my superiors, I suffer from an inferiority complex. Both superiority and inferiority complexes are the product of extraversion. All the social values and standards of conduct are the creation of concern with another. "What a magnificent marriage our neighbour organised!", we say, "Well, we cannot afford to be less magnificent! Our prestige is involved." Another's action becomes the standard for us! So we are always at the mercy of another. Dependence upon another always creates fear. In order to get rid of this fear, we must practise introspection. For the man who has started looking within, instead of outside, all values and standards based upon comparison with another become redundant. There is then no fear of what another would say. The development of an inner vision, transcending outside values and standards, in effect, means the evolution of non-fear—that is 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. Brain
  4. Consciousness
  5. Contemplation
  6. Diwali
  7. Equanimity
  8. Fear
  9. Gujarat
  10. Ida
  11. Japa
  12. Mahavir
  13. Mantra
  14. Meditation
  15. Nirvana
  16. Non-violence
  17. Pingla
  18. Preksha
  19. Preksha Meditation
  20. Pride
  21. Quantum Theory
  22. Science
  23. Vedic
  24. Veetaragta
  25. Violence
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