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How To Overcome Fear

By Sri Swami Sivananda

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The Sanskrit equivalent for fear is “Bhaya”. Fear is an emotion or Vritti in the mind that is produced when one’s life is in danger on account of external forces or things. Man reacts to the situation with a fear-emotion.

Fear is illusory; it cannot live...Courage is eternal, it will not die. Perils, calamities, dangers are the certain lot of every man who is a denizen of this world. Therefore, O Man! Fortify your mind with courage and patience. Fortitude, courage, presence of mind will sustain you through all dangers. Just as a rock on the sea-shore stands firm and the dashing of the waves does not affect it even a bit, even so a man who is endowed with courage is not affected by the dark perilous waves of this Samsara. He stands adamant in all trying conditions and circumstances and comes out victorious.

Methods To Eradicate Fear

1. VICTORY OVER FEAR (Pratipaksha-Bhavana-Method)

Sit with closed eyes in the early morning. Meditate on courage, the opposite of fear, for half an hour. Think of the advantages of courage and the disadvantages of fear. Practice the virtue during the day. Feel that you actually possess courage to an enormous degree. Manifest it in your daily life. In some weeks or months fear will be replaced by courage. Repeat the formula “Om courage” mentally, daily several times.

2. FEELING THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Try to get alone for a few minutes every day. If you cannot afford this, utilize every scrap of leisure you presume to enjoy. Select a lonely place, a river bank, the top of a mount, the open terrace of your house, a sea shore, a simple pleasant meadow, a corner in a temple, church or mosque or a private room. Purge all your wavering thoughts. This will be quite easy in any of the above localities as all the senses will be drawn by the exquisite, beauty of the spot or landscape or by the deep silence pervading all-round. If necessary, burn incense or scented sticks, which will always keep you alert.

3. DEVOTION TO GOD ERADICATES ALL FEARS

A devotee sees only the Lord in all names and forms. He beholds Lord Hari everywhere. How can there be fear, then, for him? Take refuge in Lord, in His name and grace. All fears will vanish completely. He will bestow strength, fortitude, courage, presence of mind, etc., in you. Abandon desires, Raga-Dvesha, and all sorts of worldly attachment. Pray and meditate:

4. MEDITATION ON ATMAN (The Method of Jnanis)

Start the anti-current from today. Deny the body, and identify yourself with the allpervading, immortal, fearless Atman. Entire denial of the body cannot come in a day or a week. Constantly think of the Atman. Gradually you will become fearless. You will have to fight against the Samskaras of Anadikala (beginningless time). The more you think of Atman, the more courageous you will become. By constant hammering only can you entirely drive the nail into the wall or a plank. Even so, by constant and protracted thinking on Atman alone you can become absolutely fearless.

Excerpted from Conquest of Fear by Sri Swami Sivananda.
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