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To live fearlessly, remove your dependencies || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Listener: Sir, how can we overcome our fears?

Speaker: You have raised an apt question about fear, because this precisely is the moment when a lot of this audience might be in the grip of fear. I am exhorting you all to ask questions and many of you are quite reluctant. The reason is fear. Not that you don’t have questions to ask. You surely have questions to ask, but you are afraid. You are asking me how to remove fear. Let us start from here.

What makes any member of the audience sitting here afraid? Why can’t he ask questions when he surely has questions to ask? Would he still be afraid if there were not so many people in this hall? Would he still be afraid if it were only me and him? He would not be afraid. Right now he or she is hiding somewhere. From whom is he hiding? From the members of the audience.

So, yes one is afraid. But one is afraid of what? Are you ever afraid of speaking when you are alone in a room, in front of a mirror? Have you found yourself stumbling even then? You don’t hesitate then. Right? So, yes you are afraid. Afraid of what? You are afraid of the audience, you are afraid of the others. So whenever it comes to fear, always remember one thing. All fear is related to somebody else, something external,something outside of you, that is always related to your fear.

Now why is one afraid of the audience? One is afraid of the audience because one is dependent upon the audience. How are we dependent upon the audience? Our image depends upon the audience. Who am I? My self- image about myself. Who am I? The image that I hold of myself that comes from others. I look at myself through the eyes of others. So, in case I get up and ask a question and the audience boos me down, the audience says that what a stupid question I have asked, how unpolished language do I speak, then I will fall in my own eyes. My self-image will take a beating. That is why I don’t want to take that risk. I will not ask the question. Do you see the link?

First thing that fear is related to others, something external. Second thing that it is related to others, because you are dependent on others. Are you getting it ? I am brilliant only when somebody tells me that I am brilliant. I am acceptable only when others accept me. I am smart only when my friends say that I am smart. My question is good enough only if everybody in the hall claps. But there is a risk. I may get up and everybody in the hall may not clap instead, they may jeer at me. And then I will be devastated because I do not have my own eyes to look at myself. I look at myself as others look at me.

This is reflected awareness. I am not looking myself directly. I never examine my own actions and thoughts to see who I am, instead, I depend on others. My friend comes and says, ‘Boss, you are a dude’ and I say, ‘Alright ! You have said that I am a dude, so I must be a dude’. My parents come and say, ‘You are very irresponsible’ and immediately I internalize their opinion. ‘They have said that I am irresponsible, so it is quite likely that I am irresponsible’.

I was taking an interview and came across this candidate. During the interview he said that he had great leadership qualities. I asked him that how do you know that you have good leadership qualities. His reply was, ‘because everybody says so. All my friends say that I will be a good leader. All my friends say that I have good leadership qualities’. So, I asked that it is because your friends say that you have good leadership qualities that you believe that you are a good leader. He replied, ‘Yes, Sir’. So who is leading whom? You do not know any independent existence.

Let the image fall. ‘Let everybody think bad of me, yet I am what I am’. You do not know this state, that is the reason you become easily tensed when somebody says a few bad things about you. Does that happen or not? And that is also the reason why you swell up, why you immediately start feeling good when somebody praises you. ‘You are looking quiet handsome’. ‘ From where did you buy this shirt?’. ‘ From where did you get your haircut?’ And you puff up. Why did you puff up? Because he said something nice about you. Now, it doesn’t matter how your haircut actually looks, it is just that it is acceptable to others, so it must be good. And this is a situation of great desperation, deep slavery. Do you see this? ‘I am so dependent upon the opinions of others’. ‘A complete slave I am’. ‘You say that I am A, so I become A’. ‘You say that I am B, so I think that I am B. ‘Who am I? That I do not know’.

That is fear. One- it arises due to others. Second- it arises when you depend upon others. So how to get rid of fear? By reducing your dependency. Anybody here who wants to live fearlessly must reduce his or her dependency. As your dependency reduces, you will find that you are becoming more and more fearless. And if your dependency keeps on increasing, your fear also keeps on increasing. Reducing dependencies, finding your authentic self, is the key to living fearlessly. Right?

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

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