The root of fear lies in the belief in the illusion of separation from the Wholeness, which is what we truly are. The Wholeness is complete and perfect. This simple realization itself dissolves the fear as the entity sustaining it also gets dissolved in the Wholeness.
Sushi.: I flew back from Mumbai yesterday. When the plane was going through heavy turbulence, I observed my body and mind, there was a lot of stuff going on. My breath was all over the place, and my body was shaking (maybe because it was cold too). I had a fear of losing everyone and everything. Fear of the darkness outside the plane and the height at which the plane flew. How do you deal with fear?
Jagjot.: Notice that the sensations you experienced in the flight were “in the moment.” It is natural for fear to come up in such situations, and what is experienced in the moment depends on how deep the conditioning (attachment to the body) runs in the psyche.
So, for you, darkness may feel scary, but for some other person, it may not be so. A reaction, in the moment, to a certain event is something that we may not have control over. Our body is designed to provide for self-preservation. That is why every painful sensation normalizes after a while. How deeply we are affected by a traumatic event depends on the conditioning.
For example, many years back, I was traveling from my home in Delhi to Greater Noida to pick up my brother from the hostel. It was 8 PM in the evening. Abruptly, I was stopped by a group of goons who damaged my car, physically assaulted me, and took whatever little money I had. It was traumatic back then, and I felt powerless and vulnerable, but things were okay within a week or so.
Another incident happened around three years prior to the above incident. I was attending a function in my college auditorium. I was smitten by this girl who came from another college. During the tea break, she accidentally bumped into me. I said, “Oh! I’m sorry.” And she replied, “You should be,” and ran away giggling. It hurt me really bad. I know she was just teasing me. Perhaps, she liked me, who knows. I never saw her again.
But at that time, I experienced a rage (how dare she …) rising like a current of anger. That experience was far more traumatic to me than getting bashed up by those goons. I know it sounds silly, but the latter incident triggered something within me. I was upset for quite some time. Even now, sometimes the thought comes up and makes me a little uneasy, but it is just in the moment. I see and let it pass.
So how we react to a situation is sometimes not in our control. But it is all identification with the phantom “me.” It is the root of all fears. Once this “me” is seen for what it is, these identifications dissolve. What happens in the moment is accepted and witnessed.
The ego-mind, later thinking about the experience, labels it as unpleasant or undesirable. It is usually the thought, “I had an unpleasant experience, and I don’t want to feel like that again.” So the ego offers resistance to the feeling, which creates suffering. If you totally attend to the feeling, you’ll notice that it comes, plays, and vanishes. The more you experience this, the more you will realize its unreality.
This is not a one-time thing. In my case, the incident of that girl teasing me came up many times over the course of years. I experienced suffering till I resisted. At some point, the resistance vanished, and witnessing began. In witnessing, the pain gets cut off because there is no individual or “me” seeing anything. It dissolves all identifications. The one who wants a solution to the problem is a part of the problem itself.
Therefore, any prescription or technique, like deep breathing or drinking water, etc., is only going to bring temporary relief (nothing wrong with that). The ego, always wanting a solution, comes up with the thought, “What do I do?” WHO WANTS TO DO WHAT?
No feeling or emotion can stand by itself. They all need an experiencer (or “me”). The deeper the identification with the illusory me, the deeper is the separation, and the greater the suffering. All conceptual thinking is an extension of the “I-thought” or “me.”
When the realization dawns that you are not the thinker but the awareness in which the thinking happens, the “me” dissolves. In deep sleep, there is no me. Pure awareness does not question anything. Even when the “me” dissolves, one does not become free of suffering in the moment, but there is no thinking or resisting anything. Everything is allowed with total acceptance and a sense of surrender.
I have been experiencing debilitating lower back pain for the past twenty years. Every few years, I would experience spasms that would make me immobile for a couple of days. Earlier, I would live in fear that my back would go out at any moment.
So I would anxiously start doing all extension yoga poses to eliminate the possibility of that happening, but it still happened every time. Despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with my spine structurally.
Even now, I sense the pain, but there is a detachment. It doesn’t stop me from living life anymore. I bend and wear shoes. I do hard workouts. Lift objects. Play with my children. A painful spasm happened a month back when I was in Bahrain. I rested for about two days, and then I was up and about.
There’s no thinking, “why me?” “what have I done to deserve this?” Or, “This is horrible. I don’t want it.” All that nonsense is gone. There is no resistance, no suppression, and no aversion to anything. That said, I’m not reckless. I take care of my health.
Even in pain, I’m never detached from love. Pain is merely a sensation. It comes from something deep, but I’m not concerned anymore because it’s impossible to investigate each and every cause. The one that wants to investigate and get rid of the fear is the root cause itself. The feelings and sensations, by themselves, are not the problem, but the ego-mind that creates thinking around them in horizontal time.
I know this is not comforting for the ego. It feels helpless. But the suffering is more imagined than it is in reality. Every fear is ultimately the fear of death of the fictitious “me.” It wants to hold on and fight till the last breath. It looks for hooks, books, solutions, methods, teachers, gurus, etc., not knowing its own reality.
And there are a lot of gurus in the Guru marketplace who give all sorts of advice. Do this. Do that. The illusion cannot bring about awareness. The awareness chooses to dispel the illusion.
But freedom is only in accepting that pain and pleasure are the interconnected opposites of duality. This knowledge itself brings relief as it lays the ground for the ego to surrender. While all afflicting thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions arise in awareness, they can only bind to the individual and not to the awareness. Whatever comes up, let it be. It is only the thinking mind contemplating the endless and futile possibilities of the worst scenarios.
Let the fear arise without resisting. Even if you can’t stop resistance, surrender to that thought. Let it be! If you feel like crying, howling, or screaming, do it. It’s all a part of the awakening. Give up completely. Let the thinking mind do what it wants and see what happens.
The above article is an extract from my e-book, I Hope You Get Nothing Out of This, which is available on Amazon Kindle.