Teddy Roosevelt once said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” But, in these times, it seems reasonable to be fearful doesn’t it? Everyday brings news of another mass killing; men of all ethnicities going out and randomly killing off everyone in their vicinity. And then there is climate change. The world has been assailed by increasingly frequent and violent storms that kill off masses of people in the blink of an eye. If it isn’t quick death, then from Love Canal to Flint, it is a slow, debilitating process of death that is caused by the invisible poisoning of our Earth — air, water, soil, food. If that’s not enough, then there is the looming threat of financial collapse causing misery or death by poverty. It seems like everywhere we turn, Death is looking us in the eye. It is frightening! It’s a wonder we don’t all wake up in the morning and just run out of our houses screaming in terror!
Why would Roosevelt, a reasonable and intelligent human, say that fear is the only thing to fear? I was once face to face with a Rottweiler that lunged, completely unexpectedly, from the corner of a porch toward me. Because I had been a regular Yoga/meditation practitioner, I had cultivated a state of internal calm and centeredness. When I saw the dog out of the corner of my eye coming for me, fear did not arise in me. Because the gaping abyss of fear was not there, the dog stopped, almost in mid air, turned and went back to its corner.
It has to do with being whole inside. Fear eats you up. The state of constant, subliminal fear breaks down your inner integrity. Fear can save your life in emergencies, but, with a persistent presence, it can also be like a leprotic disease, creating holes in the fabric of your being. In Nature, healthy plants aren’t attacked by disease, only plants that are already sick — same with animals. Predators have mechanisms that tell them when something is weak or sick and they go for it. It’s a green light for annihilation!
When calm is your abiding state, when you are able to stand back from the melee and get quiet inside, a whole new world comes into play. Peace is an unassailable ‘defense’ system. It doesn’t allow fear to exist.