Fear is a very terrible state of mind and can be experienced by all unenlightened beings. It can make us cower in anxiety or commit atrocious crimes against others. Some people project their fears onto others and influence the opinions of thousands, even millions. This is especially so if they hold powerful positions or skills to sway others. In that case, acts of aggression are no longer limited to a personal punch but involve the lives of many.
Fear comes in many guises but the root cause of it is the illusion of an “I”. However, let’s examine this topic at a simpler level. How do Buddhism and its beliefs help rein in this terrible emotion?
Foremost, we need to understand that unfounded fear is unhealthy and bad, not only for ourselves but also for everyone else in our life. For example, an unfounded fear that our partner is cheating on us can ruin our family. An unfounded fear that colleagues or friends are against us can ruin friendships. Unfounded fear by Buddhist elders that the younger members are unfaithful to a Common Cause can fragment an otherwise, harmonious Buddhist community. The examples are endless.
People fear losing something precious and that is caused by CRAVING. People fear experiencing something they dislike and that is caused by AVERSION. The root of it is a hyper imaginative mind conjuring all kinds of unfounded worst-case scenarios and that is IGNORANCE. When we react to an imaginative situation without wisdom, we create suffering.
Unfounded Fear is addictive
Fear feeds fear because one thought leads to another and an unenlightened mind enjoys the arrays of thoughts. In another word, we can become addicted to fearful thoughts. The problem is that most of us are unaware of it. Consequently, we overreact or do something that is completely unjustifiable The Buddhist practice of mind training corrects this mental affliction.
But before that, we need to acknowledge that a hyper imaginative mind creates delusions and delusions are bad. Then we will be motivated into dealing with it. Thus, we practice mind training to control our wandering minds.
Guarding our mind
Once we are familiar with our minds, we realised that it is greatly influenced by sensory inputs. Especially sights and sounds. These are the 2 sensory perceptions that allow the exchange of ideas between people. To put it simply, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be influenced by others. We need to guard our minds against being poisoned by another’s person’s anxiety.
Besides mind training, our faith and knowledge in Buddha dharma can also help us identify wrong thoughts and eliminate them before they take roots.
Guarding our actions
As a beginner, we may understand the above but find ourselves lacking in mental strength. We can’t help ourselves from fearful thoughts. In that case, the Buddhist ethical codes of conduct prevent us from doing wrong and generating bad karma.
In our internet age, we might be guilty of something that we are unaware of, and that is spreading ignorance and fear. As mentioned above, fear feeds fear. This does not only happen in our minds but can take place across the world due to our internet connectivity today. Before we share a piece of news or a piece of opinion or a speech from anyone, it is best to stop our fingers and think.
“Do I really know the underlying TRUTH?”
“Do I really know the motive behind his / her words?”
“Will this opinion spread love or hate, harmony or disharmony?”
“Does this spread wisdom or ignorance?”
If we are none the wiser, then avoid careless sharing. Stop sharing ignorance and unfounded fear.
May all be well and happy.