The prime and basic cause of all fear is our ignorance of our true nature. If we experienced or were convinced of our invulnerable eternal soul-nature, we would never feel any fear whatsoever. Because we do not, or cannot, believe this truth, we feel vulnerable, separate, isolated and susceptible to extinction or insignificance.
Because of this, we identify with the body and the complex of personality traits, which we call “I”. All fears, no matter how specific they may appear to be, can be traced back to the basic fear of rejection of pain to or extinction of the “I”, and the loss of any of its security attachments.
Some subordinate factors also contribute to fear:
1. A feeling of separateness increases our fear. When we feel close to people and nature we cannot easily fear them. Fear results from a feeling of alienation, which manifests a general feeling of suspicion of all and everything.
2. Unfamiliarity with people and things also causes suspicion and fear. When we come in contact with someone who dresses or behaves differently from what we are accustomed, our security base is undermined and we often react with caution and perhaps defensive or offensive behavior.
3. Attachment to people and objects related to our security cause to fear and play power games in order to protect our possessions, relationships or self-image when we suspect we are in danger of losing them.
4. Imagination can create images of doom and suffering far beyond any physical reality or likelihood. Imagination in itself is not negative. It is misused by the fear complex of: alienation, unfamiliarity, vulnerability, mistrust and attachment.
5. Emotionally charged memory of previous negative experiences, where we have either witnessed or suffered harm, loss or death provokes fear. Our subconscious mind stores memories of such unpleasant experiences from the past.
We also carry within us instinctual fear complexes resulting from our evolution through the animal kingdom. Thus, we project onto the present and future what we have experienced in the past, generating a distorted perception of reality.
Also our memory is not quantitative but qualitative. It does not assign the same power to each memory. For example, we may have driven a car 3000 times without any problem, and then have one accident and fear driving after that. Thus we are allowing one experience weight more than 3000.
In the same way, we might have had hundreds of loving contacts with a person and then let one negative one cause us not to talk to this person and perceive him or her as evil.
This illustrates that each thought has a certain energy field associated with it, which creates our emotional reactions when we come into contact with that thought. This is the basis of the newly discovered Energy Based Psychology systems of Thought Field Therapy (Dr. Roger Callahan) and Emotional Freedom Techniques (Gary Craig) which offer easy and quick freedom from fear and other negative emotions. We will discuss these in later sections of this series.
The Purpose of Fear
Fear has its purpose in the animal kingdom, where the animal’s low state of consciousness leaves little recourse but to fight or flee.
As humans with higher consciousness, however, we have alternative methods for dealing with potential dangers. Clearer examination of the many situations which we feared as dangerous will reveal that they simply were no so.
How many times have we been stricken with fear upon experiencing a sudden sound or sight, only to eventually realize we were completely wrong in our interpretation?
How many times have we worried intensely about a future event, imagining the worst, only to have everything work out fine? And even if we could not, at first, accept how things worked out, everything was dissolved and forgotten in the ceaselessly flowing river of time.
Very few of our fears are based on our present reality, but rather are founded on a remembered but nonexistent past or an imagined future.
Our fears seldom concern an immediate danger, such as a tiger attacking us or a bomb falling on our heads.
Even in the case that we are actually in danger at the present moment, fear will only cause us to become stiff in body and unclear in mind. We could deal with danger much more efficiently if we perceived and acted with clarity, self-confidence and courage.
We will investigate the causes and solutions to fear in the remaining sections of this series.