Yesterday, got an opportunity to hear a sermon on the fear grappling us and the ways and means to become fearless by overcoming fear. The speaker was one of the distinguished gurus of ISKCON order and he quoted extensively from the text of Bhagvad as also life of ISKCON founder A C Bhaktivedanta, more popularly known as Sri Prabhupada.
According to the speaker, three main causes of fear are:
(1) Lamentation of the past,
(2) Hankering for the present,
(3) Uncertainty of the future.
He dwelt upon on each one of the above that sounded very familiar to our day to day experience. He explains that we keep on regretting about the missed opportunities and bitter experiences of the past that determine our reaction to the present and future. Our present is distorted by hankering for the things that we don’t possess, while uncertainty of the future (mainly death) keeps us stressed, unhappy, anxious and fearful.
There were some interesting takeaways, including anecdotal, from the Guru’s sermon, a few of which I list out below:
(1) According to a survey, one of the biggest fears the people have is fear of flying, in spite of report after report declaring flying to be the safest mode of travel! This is followed by the fear of losing job, the third major fear being death ( many attendees guessed death to be the biggest fear, but the Guru explained, because death is an unpredictable future ever, people do not recognise it in their day to day existence)!
(2) 99% of the fears either never materialise or are lamentations of our past experiences. Only 1% fears are likely to come true!
(3) On-board an internal flight in US, Sri Prabhupad’s aircraft ran into worst kind of turbulence; while all the passengers were screaming and shouting, getting totally psyched by the fear of death, his mercy sat peacefully chanting the mahamantra ” Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”. Once the plane was out of turbulence zone, passengers started celebrating with wine and beer, while Prabhupada continued with his chanting!
(4) Sugreeva was mightily scared of his powerful brother Bali and lived the life fearfully, till Lord Ramas special messenger Hanuman introduced him to the Lord. How Lord saved him from Bali is a well known story!
(5) Bodily pursuits of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, gap between expectations and reality and time factor are the factors leading to fear and anxiety .
It was an interesting talk that lasted a little more than an hour and a half but it could be summed up in very simple terms – the panacea for all the evils including the fearfulness is the chanting of the above quoted mahamantra. I think the reason for popularity of the order of ISKCON is it’s simplicity of preaching celebration through dancing and chanting of the mahamantra that liberates humans from all miseries:
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare!!!