In modern life we are taught to respect fear as an essential contributor to our survival, a biological signal that alerts mind and body to approaching danger. But the ancient sages of India taught that fear was born of duality; when human beings realized that they were no longer part of God, they immediately became afraid of what might happen to them.
In the 20th century, after two devastating world wars and the advent of the atomic bomb, this haunting insecurity was promoted into an inescapable fact of life, which came to be known as existential anxiety. You and I are children of an era when simply to be alive seemed to be taking the ultimate risk. As a result, we fall prey to anxiety about who we are and where we belong.
On the spiritual path you can completely recover from such anxiety. By rejecting fear a little at a time, you come to realize that life isn’t constantly at risk. You are safe, you are seen, and you are cared for.
Moving from fear to fearlessness requires a shift in orientation because we live in a climate of fear, where it’s all too easy to succumb to a constant barrage of potential threats. To counter this, you must look to your own inner guidance. Realize that what makes you safe is a higher intelligence that resides within you. Potential dangers are illusions. Only what lies at hand is real.
Adapted from Why Is God Laughing? The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimismby Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2008).
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