Functioning within the habitual thought-swirls of the mind leads to several unfortunate mental states that spoil our lives. Self-awareness and listening to the movement of life can free us from those states and help us lead a peaceful life.

A majority of people in this world fall a prey to the tyranny of habitual thought. That is the field which holds us in the vortex of fear, anger, regret, jealousy, attachment and resentment. As long as we swirl within the thought-ridden mind, those vortices can only get stronger. The fear of loneliness and the fear of death – either of one’s own or that of the other – are two of the major disturbing factors in our lives. If we explore patiently into this matter, we begin to see that the primary cause for them is the thought process that creates the “I”. In the process of that understanding, we see the dispersion of the clouds responsible for the illusory base of the fear. The gradually clearing mental state releases us from the gnawing disturbance. It is easier said than done. However, even a small movement in that direction can bring in peace of mind, the basis for our evolution towards the ultimate. The closer we go to the ultimate, the more our inner harmony and the more vibrantly we live.

When we begin to understand the vaster context in which our little lives are transpiring, the domination by thought in us begins to be diffused in strength. We show interest in understanding fear rather than adopting methods to get rid of it. As long as we want to overcome fear, it will get the better of us and keep us under its thumb. That will make us be afraid of fear itself! Approaches like relying on a religious belief, a philosophic concept, being an atheist or agnostic – all of these can give us facades of relief but cannot bring about deep, inner freedom. Only when we see the fact of how thought brings in the illusion of the “I”, can there be a radical departure from the situation.

If the concept of reincarnation is used as a comforting factor against the fear of death, it cannot help either. However, if reincarnation is understood as part of the vaster scheme of things, then it is a different matter. There are areas of our life where clarity through patient self-awareness can dissolve the power of the vortices mentioned above. That reduces the illusory power of the ”I”. The following two are some of those areas:

1. Facing soul searching questions: Is the “I” something self-substantial or an entity produced by thought? Is there a state of awareness untouched by the past? What does it mean to be alive in the Now, unhindered by the mental accumulations?
By observing life as it flows through oneself and others, the above questions can be answered. What is important is that the answers to those questions are non-verbal. In that state of direct contact, the rational mind plays only a marginal role and the inner being gets involved. The intellectual interference is understood and put away. A hidden harmony becomes effective.

2. Pointers from philosophic writings and from paranormal phenomena:
Reflections on non-intellectual philosophic expositions can help us release ourselves from the thought domination. That leads to listening, not only to somebody talking, but to the whole of life. Aloneness, as different from loneliness, is understood. The purity of aloneness forms the basis for the dissolution of the fear.

Through self-awareness we discover the hollowness behind our noisy mind, such a mind being the home ground of the “I”. Our center of attention can move into the unspoiled consciousness behind the rattling of the work-a-day mind. Understanding the fear of loneliness or of death is possible from that pure awareness. The release from the fear takes place imperceptibly as we move into the region that is untouched by the noisy mind. We may say that understanding the hollow of our consciousness into which thought, like a cloud, streams in and creates the havoc, leads to abiding peace because we see the poison and keep away from it. The clearing process takes place of its own accord and progressively furthers itself. True freedom from fear begins to establish itself in the waking hours. Consequently, unqualified compassion flows out from us.

During a near death experience, the person is thrown into an expansive consciousness unhindered by the conditioned mind. That is why, after they come back, they all feel that the fear of death is washed away from them. Those of us who have not gone there can take the cue from them and understand what causes such a dissolution of fear. Reflections of that kind are the ones that bring about lasting changes in us.

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Author's Bio: 

Gopalakrishnan TC was born in Chennai, India, in 1941. He received his doctoral degree in Coastal Engineering from the North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA in 1978; served on the research and teaching faculty of some Indian and US universities; is a member of the International Association for Near Death Studies, Durham, NC, USA. He presented a paper at the 2011 conference of the Association.