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Why cant I speak in front of others? || Acharya Prashant, with youth (2014)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
7 min
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Question: How can we overcome our fears?

Speaker: For quite a while I have been inviting questions. Did you think just now of asking this question, or was this question written on your page since the beginning?

Listener 1: Since the beginning.

Speaker: Since the beginning. You did not raise the question in the beginning. You are raising it now when we are at the end of the session. What prevented you from raising that question since the last one hour?

Listener 2: Stage fear.

Speaker: But you just got up and said something. Repeat your question.

Listener 1 : How should we overcome our fears?

Speaker: How many of us are thinking that his voice is trembling, his legs are shaking and he is about to faint. Is that so?

Listeners(everyone): No.

Speaker: Are you afraid? You are not. But since last one hour, what was he doing? Holding himself back.

(Smilingly) ‘How can I ask a question to this monster? He might just spring up from his seat, bounce on me and eat me alive.’ Now, it’s a very significant thing to look at. When he was afraid, he was afraid of asking the question. Look at the fact. What was he afraid of?

Listeners(everyone): Of asking the question.

Speaker: But when he was asking the question, he was not afraid. When he was afraid, and since one hour he was afraid. What was he afraid of, when he was not asking the question? So, when he was actually asking the question, he was not afraid. Does fear lie in asking the questions? Mind you, that in asking the question he was not afraid at all. Does fear lie in asking the question, or in thinking about asking the question?

Listeners(everyone): In thinking about asking the question.

Speaker: Oh! that is the catch. Fear does not lie in the act. Fear lies in thinking about the act. What was he doing? Thinking all the time. What was he thinking? Let us guess.

Listener 2: Should I ask or not?

Speaker: And.

Listener 3: What will happen?

Speaker: Good. What will happen? Future. What will happen if I raise the question? What more was he thinking?

Listener 4: How will they react?

Speaker: How will they react? They means, you all. You all who obviously are his sworn-enemies are genuine causes of threat. Right? You are sitting in between dangerous beasts who are all about to sip your blood. ‘I was afraid of the others.’

So, the first thing we saw was that fear is not in the act. Fear is in thinking about the act. Second, in fear you are thinking about ‘the others’, ‘they’. So, fear is thought of others. What is fear? Whenever you are afraid in life, just see that fear is the thought of others. What kind of thought of others does he have?

Listener 5: What will they say?

Speaker: So, fear is not in act, fear is in thought. Secondly, fear is the thought of others. Thirdly, fear is the thought that says that the others can take away something from me. What was he afraid of taken away?

His image, his respectability. He was afraid that the others might say that he is the one who asks stupid questions. That is the case with most of us. I am talking about him but the fact is that he is extremely courageous. There are many others who have questions to ask but could not ask. He, at least after one hour has the courage to ask the questions. There are so many others who would ask the question if they are alone in this room. Had it been five of them sitting in this hall, they would ask. Now because the hall is full of so many people, they are unable to ask the question. It is because of the fear of the others.

That is why it often happens that when the seminar gets over, few of the students wait to ask the questions. I often ask them that why did they not ask during the seminar. They say that they could not speak in front of others, so they are asking this now.

This is such a weight upon the mind; the fear of others. ‘What will others say?’ Let us examine this. Why are we afraid of what the others will say? We are afraid of what the others will say because our entire self-image, self-concept comes from others.

Listener 6: And this is ego.

Speaker: That is ego. We do not mind at all when somebody tells us in the morning that you are handsome, you are looking wonderful. We think that this is what I am. But you do not pay attention, you do not realize that now you have given this person the license to say something to you in the evening. In the morning the fellow told you that you are looking wonderful, and in the evening if the same fellow comes and says that you are stupid, you have to take that in. You have made yourself dependent on him.

By accepting what the world is saying about you, you make the world your master. ‘I am brilliant because my entire batch is telling this to me. If I am brilliant because my entire batch tells this to me, then I will be an idiot if I my batch tells this to me. I need to be afraid of my batch. I cannot offend my batch anymore. If I offend them, they might call me idiot and I have to…’

Listener 7: Accept it.

Speaker: Accept it because I accepted it when they said that I was brilliant. When we grandly accept it, then we have made that fellow our master. We have no eyes to see ourselves directly. We look at ourselves through the eyes of others. Whenever we have done this, we must realize that we have made the other, our master. Now we are dependent on others.

Whenever there is dependence, there is fear.

And that is the reason why you are afraid of others. That is the reason why anybody is ever afraid of anything or anybody. That is dependence. If you want to live fearlessly, then stop being dependent on others. Find out your dependence.

Find out in what ways you are dependent and on whom. Look at your dependencies. Try to find out. Wherever will be your dependency, there will be fear because you will be afraid that the fellow can take something from you. The more dependent you are, the more afraid you will be.

The key to fearlessness is independence. The key to fearlessness is freedom.

-Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.

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