Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
Did you think on what the greatest hurdle to our progress in life and spirit might be? No? Still leaving the work on the page? In a live study group situation, the achaarya would not allow class to move on until someone (and preferably all) had come up with some ideas. Here, to wait for input would be futile. Flow must be maintained. It is hoped that at least one of you has come up with
Yes. That is the biggie. It is the one thing which actually underlies just about all other negative traits. What follows is a reworking of an article by Sw. Sivananda (from whom we got that long list of 'vices'!). It has been adapted because it uses a lot of technical language not yet covered here as well as other references not currently related. Some new terms are being retained and are to be added to your books.
It is the great human curse. It is a negative thought. It is your worst enemy. It assumes various forms - fear of disease, of death, of public criticism, of loss of goods, et cetera.
Fear blights many lives, makes people unhappy and unsuccessful. The power of imagination in the mind [anticipation] intensifies fear. Attachment to the body causes fear through देहाध्यास/deha-adhyaasa, fear of death. This is essentially the source of all other fear. He who can throw off this erroneous attachment, [by gaining Knowledge and correct practice], will be free from fear.
He who has conquered fear has conquered everything; has gained mastery over the mind.
Some people can bravely face the shot in the battlefield, but they are afraid of public opinion and criticism. Some can face a tiger fearlessly in the forest, but they are afraid of the surgeon's knife.
Rid yourself of all the varieties of fear. Hold to the single-pointed idea that you are the immortal self (aatmaa), this can destroy efficiently, all fears. This is the potent tonic, the one sure panacea for this dire disease. Fear is the obstacle on the path of Realisation. A timid aspirant is absolutely unfit for the spiritual path. He cannot dream of Self-Realisation even in one thousand births. One must risk life if he wants to attain immortality.
The spiritual wealth cannot be gained without [ego]self-sacrifice, self-denial or self-abnegation. A fearless person of any standing who overcomes deha-adhyaasa is fit for Realisation.
Fear assumes solid forms and troubles the aspirant in various ways. The conqueror of fear is on the road to success; is close to the goal. The one on this road must be prepared to face all which comes his way. He should stick to his principles and convictions, even when persecuted. Thinking on aatmaa, studying shruti, exhibiting devotion and service as well as developing courage, all steady the aspirant. Positive overcomes negative. Courage overpowers fear and timidity.
Fear is a painful emotion excited by danger. It is the apprehension of danger or anticipation of pain. Fear is an emotion accompanied by a desire to avoid or escape these threats.
Fear is born of ignorance. It is negative वृत्ति/vritti (thought-pattern). It has no real form or existence. Constant fear saps your vitality, shakes confidence and destroys ability. It renders the fearful powerless. Therefore shun fear and be courageous always. Terrify not yourself with vain fears; be bold, friend!
What paralysis is to the body, so is fear to the mind. It breaks down the nervous system, undermines health. It creates worry and destroys peace of mind. Wherever there is attachment to objects there is fear of their loss, so there follows anger, jealousy etc. So many negative traits arise from all our multifarious forms of fear. Fear in all its different phases is the destroyer of our happiness and efficiency; it has made cowards and failures of people.
Some are straightened out by a virtuous fear - fear of 'God'. This is the effect of faith, it opens the window through which wisdom may arrive. Until we know something, we fear it. All too often fear prevents us taking the steps to 'know'.
Alarm apprehension, awe, consternation, dismay, dread, fright, horror, misgiving, terror, timidity, trepidation…. How many synonyms there are for fear!
Boldness, assurance, bravery, confidence, courage, fearlessness, fortitude, trust…. Counter the negative with the positive!
List your fears. Be aware that sometimes we cannot recognise that we have a fear, we have become so adept at avoiding the place or situation which can bring it out. It can be very mundane. A friend once took us on a rather circuitous route to a convention we were attending. When it was observed that if we had taken a right three junctions previously, we would have arrived at the same spot, she admitted a fear of turning right!
Of course there are all sorts of experiences which can build fears and there are also the irrational fears for which no experience explains the reaction. Do not get bogged down in whys and wherefores for this exercise. Simply practice the art of self-assessment and revelation. Recognition and admission are half the cure.