A number of years ago, a crowd of anti-war protesters in Washington DC were gathered in front of a federal building and were suddenly confronted with a phalanx of heavily armed police wielding guns, batons and potentially tear gas cannisters, arriving with numerous paddy wagons, who surrounded them and began to move in. A vibration of fear went through the people assembled there, as they thought they could be beaten, arrested, or both. Then someone began to chant “OM” and the crowd picked it up. Suddenly the vibration of fear was gone and transformed into a courageous strength to face whatever would come.

Leaders of non-violent protest movements, whether Mahatma Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, or others, worked to convince their followers to accept the worst with courage and not to flinch before the beatings, the bullets, the dogs, and the arrests. They opposed fear with self-sacrifice and dedication to a higher cause.

A discipline once asked the Mother: “When one feels frightened, what should one do?”

The Mother responded: “That depends upon who you are. There are many ways of curing oneself of fear. … If you have some contact with your psychic being, you must call it immediately and in the psychic light put things back in order. This is the most powerful way.”

“When one does not have this psychic contact, but is still a reasonable being, that is, when one has a free movement of the reasoning mind, one can use it to reason with, to speak to oneself as one would to a child, explaining that this fear is a bad thing in itself and, even if there is a danger, to face the danger with fear is the greatest stupidity. If there is a real danger, it is only with the power of courage that you have a chance of coming out of it; if you have the least fear, you are done for. So with that kind of reasoning, manage to convince the part that fears that it must stop being afraid.”

“If you have faith and re consecrated to the Divine, there is a very simple way, it is to say: ‘Let Your will be done. Nothing can frighten me because it is You who are guiding my life. I belong to you and you are guiding my life.’ That acts immediately. Of all the means this is the most effective indeed, it is. That is, one must be truly consecrated to the Divine. If one has that, it acts immediately; all fear vanishes immediately like a dream. And the being with the bad influence also disappears like a dream along with the fear. You should see it running away at full speed, prrt! Voila.

“Now, there are people having a strong vital power in them and they are fighters who immediately lift up their heads and say: ‘Ah! an enemy is here, we are going to knock him down.’ But for that one must have the knowledge and a very great vital power. One must be vitally a giant. That does not happen to everyone.”

“So there are many different ways. They are all good, if you know how to make use of the one that suits your own nature.”

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, Living Within: The Yoga Approach to Psychological Health and Growth, Disturbances of the Vital, Fear, pp. 50-53

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at http://sriaurobindostudies.wordpress.com and podcast at https://anchor.fm/santosh-krinsky He is author of 16 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.