Dec 25, 2013

Freedom from Fear

Mental pain engendered by apprehensive feelings is what in short we call fear.
Fear springs out of ignorance. Fear haunts us because we are empty of perspective knowledge of life and rational understanding of situations. With our lacking of courage to face the natural effects of our thought-free and thoughtless actions, fear gets the better of us. When we are not able to squarely meet the eventualities of life which is orderly and just, we invite the rule of fear and oppression. Through attachment and infatuation for people and things we sow the seeds of fear and allow it to enslave us.
Major calamities and pangs that we suffer are born out of our imaginary fears. Onslaught of sickness, failures in examinations, service, or business, insecurity, premature ageing and sundry other unexpected events enter our lives more with the visa of one form of fear or the other. Fear robs us of all charms and chances of life. With gloom-cast faces, we become mere moving machines of melancholy, carrying our fears wherever we wander, withered, weary and weak to meet the little challenges of life.

Fear rakes our nerves, curdles the blood, chills the spine, causes bodily tremors and clouds our thinking-hindering and frittering our great possibilities. Fear is self-detention, deflection, decay and defacement.
When the horses of our self-imagined thoughts of danger and anxieties are let loose by throwing away the reins of prudence, we just jostle about in forebodings and our physical vehicles land in the truculent abyss of fear.
Unless we remain discriminatively awake, fear, the binding and blinding instinct-often difficult of recognition is hard to eradicate. Like other disruptive emotions, FEAR has a tendency to lurk, leap and lash out. We must sharply search, spot it out and slash it away.
Fear in any form or degree is bad. So is fearlessness of every kind. Dutiful obedience is superior compared to obeying out of fear. Overcoming the vices through rightful thinking is more desirable than desisting from it solely out of fear of the inevitable consequences. Likewise, fearlessness which enriches, ennobles, elevates and emancipates is what is worth achieving rather than the type which is disgraceful and damaging to oneself and others.
You will read in these pages how various forms of fears obsessed me and how I gained release from its hold.
Born and bred up in a fairly well-to-do family, I was circumstanced to grow in comfort and free from wants. But through excessive care, ' stick to us ' and ' mix not' codes, my otherwise good parents sowed the seeds of fear in me from my very childhood. I grew in and with fear - becoming a crotchety bundle of it.
I could never sleep alone, without lights or move about in darkness. Talks of ghosts and crocodiles, etc., generated fear in me. Out in the swimming pool, I never swam under water, neither did I swim with the crowd of mischievous boys who generally pulled one by the legs from below. Before going to bed, I always stuffed cotton-balls in my ear - holes to prevent ear - wigs and ants from creeping into them while I was asleep.
People usually wish to hear about or see from safe distance what they fear. For instance, almost everyone fears ghosts, wild-animals and death, but yet they like to hear or read ghost - stories and see the caged wild-animals and dead bodies. As for me, fear of ghosts and wild-animals had so much flooded my whole being that I perspired with shivers when hearing ghost stones or seeing the pictures of wild-animals. The first time I visited a zoo was in the year 1947 - at the age of 27. It was about that time then I saw for the first time a dead body from close quarters. Because wild - animals participate in the circus - shows and because I feared them, I never witnessed any circus-shows, and films of Tarzan or wars.
Of all the things that I most feared was snakes. I shrieked at their sight - both in wakefulness and in dreams. In my book ' Sermons in the Storms ' I have narrated in the experience under the caption 'A night with a python ' the mental uneasiness I suffered at the intrusion of a baby - python in the cave where by mistake I had gone for midnight meditations.
My fears very often brought me face to face with dangers. Fear hindered my progress. I suffered nervous disorders and allied physical and mental complications.
While visionary dreamers dream about good things and of becoming big and thereby feel exhilarated, I dreamt of failures, stings, bites, beats, rebukes, detection, insult, destitution, poverty, accidents, sickness and other negative situations and became sore and sullen.
The only good which my fearfulness did was, to delight my school and class mates to see my funky figure in tantrums. In order that they may not frighten me, I spent every pie of my pocket-money on lollipops and lozenges which I freely distributed to my mischief-minded mates. That's how I had to keep them at bay.
My parents were not religious-at least not in the regular ritualistic way. But because of my spiritual-minded uncle who had also embraced sanyasa, we had good many saints visiting our house. It was a case of water released for wheat crops reaching and feeding the weeds also. I went to them with one question "can you cure my fear complex?" But their prescriptions were such as would arouse more fear in me. Someone asked me to pray seated in a lone room, some said reciting japa in a cemetery would help and others asked me to propitiate the fearful-form of Mahakali. I had no guts, faith or patience for practicing these efficacious methods then. There wasn't encouragement from my parents either.
With this background of fear complex, I left my house in search of peace in the year 1944. I did not set out with the usual preparedness with which the adorable seekers who want God above everything do. Distaste and dispassion for worldly way of living was there in me, yet, lurking in a corner was also the fear of insecurity. So, I carried with me sufficient money to last me for a year-by which period I expected to soar in the state of absolute reliance on God. I didn't know where to go and how to start. But I somehow felt that once I left, I would be led to somewhere and that God's agents would meet me and guide me to the sought for destination.
I went to Hubli in Karnatak and thence to Kumarswami - a place of pilgrimage near Sandhur State via Humpi and Pampa sarovar. From there I trekked to several places in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and later decided to go to Sindh.
Possessed by fears as I was, I didn't enjoy the wandering. Fear had already done enough damage to my inner and outer-self. I longed for freedom from its clutches. Through regular prayers and incantations of the japa in which I was initiated as a student, I endeavored without success to keep away the negative and hurtful thoughts. Thereafter, I clung to the following one-line prayer - O' Mother ! out of Thy bountiful grace, do Thou be pleased to free me from fear." Thus, moving from place to place, I kept reciting the prayer, sometimes mentally, vocally at times and occasionally I even bawled out. I addressed the supplication to every name and form in which people prayed and pray to God and also to forms in which people don't worship-perhaps they never will. I was impatient for results - but my prayers went unheard. I didn't then know that my prayers were bereft of technique, persistent faith and poise. Nor did I know or wish to believe that in trying to introduce anything new or endeavoring to drive away anything that is deep-rooted and irksome, one shouldn't expect too quick results. Yet, I continued the same unproductive process.
Whenever people came to me, I freely spoke to them about my plight and begged them to pray for me. Some good souls asked me to stick to prayers, some sermonised, some - who posed to be very practical asked me to return to my home and people. At last, I reached Karachi and after a brief stay there I went to Sukkar.
Sukkar was a town of prominence. There were some ashrams there. As I was not a regular sanyasin in ochre robes - duly ordained and as I wasn't wel-come in any of the ashrams which I had visited earlier on my very long journey from Hubli to Karachi, I decided to stay in Sukkar somewhere on my own.
Moving about in the town, I met a burly man lying in the open-under the shade of a tree. I learnt from people that he was a full-fledged lawyer who had gone mad and that he was lying there since some years. There were others who said that having developed distaste for worldly life he spent some years at the feet of an elevated saint in Mithiana - another place in Sindh - and that for the past few years he was there the way he was - going to none and nowhere nor speaking with anyone. My informants further told me that people somehow believed and even actually experienced that when a plate of food was offered to him after some downward passes on the individuals suffering from the effects of anaemia, paralysis and dropsical symptoms, they got fully recovered. People called him Masthramji and there were daily round of offering of food to him.
Since I had to stay somewhere and particularly near someone, I decided to camp with Masthramji there. With a fleshy face, flabby features and an outgrown ponch, shri. Masthramji was a figure to see. Except for a small piece of cloth tied around his waist.
Masthramji had nothing on his person. Inspite of what people had told me about him, I personally found the dirty and stinking Masthramji calm and quiet - perhaps the quietitude of a person lost in his inner-self; I wasn't very sure. I spent the whole day observing him. He never took notice of any one's presence-much less mine. Somehow, I found myself somewhat peaceful near him.
The place was very filthy, so, the next day I bought a broom, bucket, mug and few cakes of soap and thoroughly cleaned the place and gave it a new look. Masthramji said nothing. Then started his occasional twisted smiles towards me; he seemed to have liked what I had done. Thus encouraged, from that day onwards I braved to give him also a clean-up. He didn't resist and i gave him a bath daily. Because of my that sort of service to Masthramji, people who regularly brought him food, took a liking for me also. About midday everyday Masthramji partook of the food placed before him and I began doing the same. His impassive and contemplative mood didn't abate. Because he didn't seem to dislike my presence and because I also felt somewhat secure in his mute company, I stuck on with Masthramji - doing my japa.
Exactly on the fortieth day of my stay with him, one night, he spoke with me. Because of his long silence he couldn't speak very clearly. He chose choice words - weaving out meaningful and soothing sentences of solace. He said “young man! nature intends us to be buoyant. You must live in the self and be care-free. Don't wander with your running thoughts and weaken yourself. Live in the present, develop love for all, and laugh laugh and laugh. You will come out of your world of fears. From the depth of my studies of human nature and character I noticed in you on the very first day, a pitiable mass of fear and how much you long to free yourself. Don't worry, you will soon be free"-he concluded reassuringly.
He spoke with poise plus pause, adding force to what he ponderingly said. I had read and heard a good deal on fearlessness and had even met a number of persons who claimed to be fearless. As such, Masthramji's utterances were not new to my ears or understanding. However, its impact upon me was something different and definitely dynamic. Everything he said went down deep into my being. Really, words that spring from persons who are living the actual life are strong forces, capable of transforming anyone and anything.
Not till he spoke to me did I know that I had spent forty calendar days in the company of a great soul. With this knowledge i firmly felt, fast flashes of finest feeling.
Night after night he pumped into me thoughts that kindle fear-free feelings. From the rich store of his memorised poems by foreign authors he used to gaily recite many of them and also made me to write them down, ruminate over and repeat them.
Herebelow I give some of them:—

It is what you think that makes the world,
Seem dull or bright to you;
Your mind may colour all things gray
Or make them radiant hue;
Be glad today, be true and wise,
seek gold amid the dross;
Waste neither time nor thought about
The bridge you will never cross.
There's useful work for you to do,
With hand and brain and heart,
There's urgent human service too,
In which to take your part.
Make every opportunity,
Of gain and not a loss;
The best is yours, so do not fear.
The bridge you will never cross.
If life seems drab & difficult,
Just face it with a will;
You do not have to work alone,
Since, God is with you still.
Press on with, courage toward the goal,
With truth your shield emboss;
Be strong, look up-just ignore,
The bridge you will never cross.

------------------

Bewail the past or future dread-
The less we grieve the better said;
It matters not how we make it,
Our life is truly what we make it.
Repining never makes us strong.
Nor ever yet undid a wrong;
Despair lights not a single woe,
But darkens Hope's enlivening glow.
While anger's but a freak of madness,
That's fraught with only pain and sadness.
No night so dark but day will dawn,
And scatter wide the light of morn;
No storm so drear but that on high,
Will soon be seen the brightening sky;
No souls full of fear and grief,
But trusting heart will give relief.
Before the smile will shadow vanish,
And kindly word doth anger banish;
While cheerful man can drive away,
The cares that fret us day by day,
So that we find however we make it,
Our life is ever what we make it.
------------------

They say it was a penniless lad,
And nothing nothing to lose he had,
He heard that thieves were at him still,
They must pursue; go where he will.
Thus haunted, worried, he for escape,
Ran uphill, down-ditch into the cape,
He hurried and flurried in fear and fright,
Wore out his body and mind in flight,
Yet nothing nothing to lose he had,
They say it was a penniless lad.
O’ worldly man! Such is thy plight,
Thy arrant ignorance and fright,
O' sacred fellow, just know thyself
Away with dread of thieves and theft,
Up, up, awake, see what you are.
There's nothing to lose or fear for
No harm to thee ever accrue,
THY THOUGHT ALONE DOTH THEE PURSUE.
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In all, I spent six months with him; listening to his lucid talks, stories and rich thoughts touching upon sane, secure and serene living. I joined him in his prayers. He taught me some Sanskrit hymns and psalms of adoration to Goddess. We prayed together-always after midnight.
Day after day I began to feel in increased degrees - more composed and jubilant. Every morning I woke up with added vigor and cheer. Negative thoughts no more harassed me much. I thanked and prayed to God to bless me with the continuing fullness of that fine inner- state.
One night, Masthramji said 'young man! it is with delight that I note the change in you. By the grace of God, my experiments on you have worked in the desired way. You must have read that thoughts travel and that thoughts can be transferred. I employed the technique of sending out concentrated thoughts of fearlessness to you regularly, thrice a day, devoting 40 minutes for each time. Because you co-operated by praying with me systematically all these days and kept yourself open for the change, we have come by easy and quick results. Now, I will pass you over to a colleague of mine whom you will meet the day after tomorrow. He will do the rest to completely purge out the residual fear in you. When with the progress of your spiritual practices you are privileged to exclusively abide in the self, you shall also be able to operate this unique process for the benefit of others. Don't jump to it before that. "
I felt blest. I fell prostrate at his feet with tears of joy moistening them. What an admirable meekness! He shared with me, a dim - with little novice, the secrets of the whole process.
Alas, when I woke up next morning, the venerable Masthramji wasn't there. That made me sorrowful and bewildered. He had gone, I knew not where. Nor did I know if he would come back. I went into the town in search of him. I roamed all over the town but could not trace him. I quit the search.
I had to leave Sukkar, - I again knew not where to go. I went to the Railway station and with the little money which I had, I purchased a ticket for Mirpurkhas. Why for Mirpurkhas, I knew not also. I reached there the next day. I went to a small temple near the station. The priest there shunted me out. I then went to the town moving about here and there.
At the corner of a lane I saw three Fakirs standing. One of them beckoned me to them. I had never before met any of them. When I went near, the one who had called me, exclaimed ' so you have come eh!, as if he was waiting for me. That surprised me. The Fakir spoke Hindi. They took me to a tomb on the southern side of the town. I sat with them there and did justice to the food which they had brought from the town. After sometime, the other two fakirs left. Left to ourselves, the Fakir talked to me in Burmese and said that his name was Makrana sahib and that two days back he had received a telepathic message from his friend Masthramji who was till then in Sukkar. Continuing further, he told me that Masthramji had given him my description and had also intimated that I would be reaching Mirpurkhas early that morning. He said that he was also asked to be on the look-out for me.
I could understand the telepathic part of the communication to Makrana sahib from Sukkar. But I failed to get at how Masthramji could have known in advance that I would proceed to Mirpurkhas, even long before myself having abruptly purchased the ticket. This and Makrana Sahib's fore - knowledge about my knowing the Burmese language also, amazed me to the core. So. i began, ' Good Sire ! we have not met before'—Butting in, Makrana sahib interjected, "your surprise is understandable, don't labour questioning me. With developed intuition, one can know everything about anyone. “That was revealing. ‘What a wonderful achievement ! ', thought I.
Proceeding ahead again, he said, "Little friend! saints of Masthramji's attainments can always implant thoughts that can motivate anyone to act as desired by the operator. Before leaving you, through mental suggestions he directed you to visit Mirpurkhas. Impressionable as you are, you acted under the impulse of Masthramji's powerful mental suggestion and reached to this town here.
I spent the night in that tomb with Makrana sahib. After supper, making me to sit facing eastwards he stroke my brow-centre and sent me into a state in which I had ecstatic visions. When I regained myself from the mystical experience. Makrana sahib - the yogi, said, " There are two types of ties working on the human plane. One is earthly and the other is spiritual. With worldly ties with other souls one gets material benefits, while out of spiritual ties with elevated ones, one profits spiritually. Through communion anyone can cultivate, strengthen and make perennial either one or both of these ties. Your past connections with Masthramji and myself being spiritual, you were drown to us. With your willing cooperation we have been able to do what we have done. Henceforth FEAR will no more persecute you. "
The last sentence which he uttered with modulated intonations thrilled me and instantly every limb of my body became vibrant with bliss. With a former freshness that seven -words sentence rings in my ears even as I am writing this after a period of a year less to a score.
Makrana sahib then rose and seating himself a bit far from me began to pray. He offered his vocal prayers to the omniscient Lord in Arabic, Persian, Latin, English, French, Burmese, Sanskrit and Sindhi.
Prayers over, he finally said "We shall be parting in the early hours tomorrow. Before we do so, I want to arm you with the following dozen do's and don'ts. You must bear them well.
1)    Be moderate in your food habits and remain modestly a model in your ways.
2)    Talk less and listen more.
3)    Love all without getting lost in them.
4)    Keep yourself ever receptive for spiritual unfoldment through faith, sincerity and surrender.
5)    Be one-pointed in your sadhana - never change it.
6)    Don't look for short-cuts or expect the ' touch & go ' spiritual ripeness.
7)    Don't misuse your fearlessness or other attainments which you might come by.
8)    Don't snatch the reins of preceptorship.
9)    Share with others what you get and have; in doing so, take particular care not to get caught in the dragnet of praise and popularity,
10)  Don't get mixed-up with black art and sorcery.
11)  Don't cling to considerations of creed cum conventional convictions.
12)  Allow God to own you by your owning nothing.
If you followed these principles assiduously, the fearlessness which you have now gained will transport you to higher states of consciousness - making the present more meaningful and the future richly rewarding. It is now well past midnight and both of us need little sleep. So, you will please reserve the formalities for another occasion and leave me now to myself. “Punctuating thus, Makrana sahib suddenly slumped himself sideways to snatch a short sleep. There was no need for me to give vent to my feelings before one who could read them all. So, without saying anything, I spread my sheet of cloth and went to sleep.
Great souls do their job and whisk away without waiting for the vote of thanks. As did Masthramji at Sukkar, so also, Makrana sahib left-leaving me lying in the tomb there.
Wondrous are the results of prayers, autosuggestion and the company of advanced souls. They help us to oust the qualities which obstruct our progress and recharge us with all that we fall short of for self-uplift.
I have included in this book this personal experience of mine, and have dealt with it at length, solely in the sincere hope that it might help you also to become truly and thoroughly fearless.
In the third series of experiences of my wandering life, I shall share with you, beloved reader, more about Masthramji and Makrana sahib.

IN THE MEANTIME, MAY GOD BLESS YOU TO TIRELESSLY TRY AND TRIUMPH OVER FEAR. Amen.