The conquest of fear has been easy only to those who have surrendered themselves to the Supreme Will.
Of all the forces which dominate life, fear is the most powerful, the ugliest, the most subtle. Under the influence of fear, the mind expects the loss of something which it prizes as an essential, before the loss arises. The loss is also exaggerated, distorted and made to look more devastating than it actually is. The mind also suffers misery for the loss long before it actually arises. It is driven to panicky action to prevent the expected loss. The essentials, the loss of which is feared by the mind, are generally approbation of our world, possessions such as wealth, position or health, and affection or love.
We fear to lose the approbation of our world, and so shape our conduct as to deserve it. But love of approbation is in reality lack of confidence in one’s own judgment.
‘Approbation, or its denial, by our set, which we call ‘the world’, is not based on sound judgment; it is merely the reaction of our particular group to our conduct with reference to a standard of conduct set up by that group.
This standard of conduct is different with different groups; it changes also with the same group from time to time. When we shape our conduct out of fear of disapproval of our group, we are considering the standard of that group as better than the standard we have set up ourselves—which means that we are surrendering our judgment to the passing whims of our group.
If, therefore, we lay down our own standard and adhere to it, as being something more real to us, the lure of approval will disappear and with it the fear of forfeiting it.
The essential next in order, the expected loss of which causes fear, may be comprehensively called ‘possessions’, that is to say wealth, position, health etc. These are acquired or retained by effective and disciplined effort, and only when opportunity arises—which is generally beyond one’s control—does the effort bear fruit.
Fear, by causing misery and urging a man to panicky work, in reality, weakens effective and planned effort and destroys the sense of discovering opportunity.
If systematic and effective work is planned and carried out, the worker, seeking only its perfection, possessions will follow, but—be it noted—only if opportunity arises, not otherwise.
Affection is another person’s reaction to our systematic understanding of his needs. Love is the other person’s reaction to our self-surrender to him.
Fear of losing affection or love will distort the under-standing or weaken the completeness of self-surrender. It will therefore destroy the foundation of the very thing it expects to lose.
But, if we establish a standard of conduct of our own, if we carefully plan an effective effort according to that standard and none other, waiting for opportunity, if we try to understand the needs of those whose affection we seek, and if we surrender ourselves more completely to those whose love we cherish, fear will disappear.
That is the path which all men who have conquered fear have trodden. And the conquest of fear has been easy only to those who have surrendered themselves to the Supreme Will.