A Fear Not To Be Overcome


 There is a certain fear, an essential fear, that is not to be overcome but is to be welcomed and cultivated. Your soul is alive and well, healthy and sound, when this kind of fear is present in your life. 

 When this particular energy of fear is actively pulsating through your whole being you are enabled to sing with your whole heart: 'It is well with my soul.'  Indeed, you would not want to banish this fear, for it is a 'wholesome fear' that acts like a high-octane fuel towards spiritual attainment.    

 About this indispensable fear, the Siddha Yoga Master, Muktananda, says that this is what he felt in the presence of his Guru, Bhagawan Nityananda:  "I have a lot of love for my Guru. Even though I have so much love for him, still I am afraid of him. When I look at my Guru's picture, I am afraid of him." (Swami Muktananda, Bhagawan Nityananda of Ganeshpuri, p. 141, 142) 

 This was not a servile fear on Muktananda's part, indictating some kind of state of bondage. Rather, this was a reverential fear, the opposite of flippancy, an indication of a right and proper attitude towards the greatness, holiness and level of sublimity that he observed in Nityananda.

 Therefore, the presence of fear in Muktananda indicated an open heart, a clear mind, and even more than that, a level of sanctity.  

 That Muktananda felt fear in the presence of the holiness and sheer graciousness of Nityananda, was suitable, appropriate and a revelation of the health of his own soul. His was a state of reverence and humility. He was in a high-level condition of 'holy fear.'   

 Muktananda continues: "It is fear that keeps you pure and keeps you away from bad actions, that makes you perfect in your 'sadhana.'(your spiritual practice) That is, the one who feels this fear is kept from going off track. 

 But more than that, he is motivated towards becoming spiritually complete, or 'perfect', that is, abiding in an unconflicted, undivided state of being. 

 Muktananda again: "It is only because I had a lot of fear of my Guru - more than my devotion - that I could achieve so much in my life.”  

 His motivation for spiritual attainment was strongly related to the love, respect and admiration he had for Nityananda, and he did not want to disappoint him. 

 It is just as a husband might say to his wife: 'I am afraid to disappoint you.  I want to live in such a way that you will be able to honour me.’ 

 It is a very fine thing to be afraid of disappointing someone you love. We could use greater doses of this kind of fear in our recklessly 'fearless' society.     

 Now, to live with a deep sense of reverential fear before the Divine, is regarded in the best spiritual traditions as a state of enlightenment. 

 This state of realization, is summed up by three little words - 'in Thy fear.'  The liberated state of being involves a sense of living 'in Thy fear.’  

 Moreover, it is repeatedly stated in Holy Scriptures that wisdom arises from such a condition - 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.'

 Since it is the case that, the attainment of wisdom is related to the presence of this holy and essential fear, any effort made to displace it is a dangerous move that can have only tragic consequences.

 For when holy fear is missing, the soul is lacking something essential to its health. 

 So when I read, for instance, that the goal of postmodernist philosophy is the effort to dethrone the very existence of any ultimate truth to live by, I know that trouble is ahead.

 Richard Rorty, for example, says that he does not "believe in the existence of truth," in the sense of "something which has authority over human beings."  

 In Rorty's philosophy, there is "no standard, not even a Divine one, against which the decisions of a free people can be measured." (quoted by David Naudle in Education and The Abolition of Man)  

 The postmodernist stance is: 'I will not be measured' by any Divine standard. This is the proud assertion of the foolish and fearless heart taking its stance of defiance and rebellion against Divine authority. 

 I think that the refusal to allow oneself 'to be measured' captures precisely a typical and prevalent attitude presently that is choking and clogging our souls. 

 Almost any being one meets these days is sure to his rebellious core that there is no absolute authority to which he has an obligation. He thinks that he's free from that kind of subservience.  

This common attitude, this fearlessness, is not a humility and openness towards the Divine but a direct assault against it. It is a fearless stance of defiance and rebellion against Divine authority.   

 This attitude was called a state of 'subjectivism' by C.S. Lewis. Lewis warned that subjectivism is a poison that destroys souls and will in time, if unchecked, destroy civilization. 

 Laura Berquist defines it this way: "Subjectivism is the view that there is no objective reality by which we are measured." (quoted by Brandy Vencel in Circle Talks: Laura Berquist's The Poison of Subjectivism) 

 She continues: "The ramifications of this are huge. The eventual result is tyranny. If there is no absolute truth, morality and goodness become defined by local contexts. In the end the only litmus test is conformity to what is accepted. It follows that what is accepted is what the people in charge say is accepted."  

 It was just this issue of a reverential fear before the Divine versus a reckless fearlessness against it, that deeply concerned a man who was the only surviving child of a Jewish family who heroically emigrated from Russia to America in the early twentieth century. All of this man's siblings (six sisters!) perished during the fourteen year period of a horrendous struggle to get to America. 

 His name was Moish. To Michael Medved, a Seattle radio talk show host, he was Uncle Moish. Moish was a man of wisdom who intervened in Michael's life just when he needed the appropriate shock treatments. 

 When Michael was a pre-teen, Uncle Moise approached him to say: "Now is the time, Mike, for the talk we need to have. Maybe your parents think you're too young, or they don't want you to hear. But I think you're ready. I think you need it. I think you are going to remember." 

 Moish then warned the young Michael Medved about the poison of subjectivism, the defiance against Divine authority in the form of communism that he had seen develop in Russia. 

 About it, Moish warned Michael: "It ruins more lives, than any other disease."

"And the worst part about it is the people who are most likely to get sick, and who are going to suffer the most, are the brightest minds, the biggest idealists, the natural leaders of this world. They are people just like you."

 "When you go to high school, when you go to college, this sickness will be all around you. You'll see some of your best friends get sick and lose their ability to think or to work or to enjoy life. Do you know what I'm talking about? Do you know about this disease?" I saw it starting in Russia before we got out in 1924." 

 "But it's not only Russia, you know. It's everywhere. It's in America. It's in Israel. Especially with intellectuals. If you're not ready for it, you may get infected - so you have to understand. They're going to go after millions and millions of other people in your generation." (Michael Medved, Right Turns: Unconventional Lessons from a Controversial Life, p. 57 ff.) 

 Michael never forget the warning about this disease and says that: "Less than six years after the diatribe, I was surrounded in college by honest-to-goodness leftist lunatics, and in trying to deal with the psychos from the Students for a Democratic Society, I thought repeatedly of my uncle's warnings.” 

 Indeed this subjectivistic poison is prevalent and growing. It's an attitude of irreverence towards the Divine. It exhibits no fear, only a stance of rebelliousness and defiance.  

 I say again that there is a holy fear towards God, a reverence towards ultimate and absolute values, 'bright fixities,' that needs to be welcomed and cultivated in the deepest recesses of our beings. 

 This fear is not to be overcome. It is essential and vital. Its absence is a great peril.