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On Resisting the Temptation to Fear, and the Overcoming of the Sin of Doubt
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
Luke XII. 32
The life of the true man is a life of mastery. Not of mastery over others. but of mastery over 'self' and all its weaknesses and indulgences, and over fear. He who overcomes himself and his fears becomes a master of life and all its experiences.
Nowadays, we are told, in the popular Press, "not to worry," by which is meant that we should dismiss the cause of our worry from our mind, and that we should go to see a funny play instead, or do, or see something that would cheer us up. This is good advice as far as it goes; but unfortunately it does not go far enough. neither are its effects lasting. When the performance is concluded, back comes the cloud of worry, with its fears and apprehensions, worse than before.
Religious people speak of "leaving it to a Higher Power". This is not much better than the advice given in the popular press, because although it acknowledges a Power higher than that of the world, it yet uses the term only as a kind of anaesthetic. It does not master the trouble, but merely causes one to sink down into a state of coma, allowing things to drift. Only too often it is simply a mere hoping for the best. People who give or follow such advice are not masters, but are simply slaves of those influences and experiences, which overwhelm man if he does not overcome them, and rise above them.
But the overcoming of fear is something more than "not worrying". Merely dismissing a thing from the mind for a time is not mastering it. It is not the act of a hero, but of a coward. It is merely putting off the evil day. Later on the trouble has to be met, and by that time it may have assumed giant's dimensions. The more we shrink from a trouble, and the more we try to run away from it, the worse it appears to be. Fear becomes our master, if we accept it. The only wise thing to do is to meet it now, and destroy it, while it is yet young and small, before it grows into a domineering and destroying giant.
Nowadays, it is known that we are subjects of suggestion. We are not tempted by an individual with horns and tail, but by suggestion. It is known, also, that the suggestion that we accept becomes part of our life. Fear is suggestion of evil. If we accept it, evil becomes part of our life; but if we destroy the fear, evil cannot enter our life. When fear has been cast out we find that the thing of which we were afraid, either never reaches us, or turns out to be blessing.
The great thing to be overcome is fear, because "fear hath torment". And not only so, it is the cause of disease and ill-health, and of failure, unhappiness, and a host of negative ills. Fear cannot he overcome by running away from the thing or experience of which we are afraid or which we dislike. Suggestion of evil, which strikes fear in our heart, cannot be destroyed by refusing to meet its challenge and going to an entertainment instead. Fear must be faced; it must be met, challenged and overcome. When this is accomplished, we generally find that there is no substance behind the fear. But even if this is not so, we find that the experience is not as bad as we expected, and that power is given us to pass through it creditably.
I want to emphasize the point that if fear is killed and suggestion defeated, so that they find no lodging place in our mind, the thing that we fear does not materialize. If we overcome our fear, the thing of which we are afraid is overcome also. The event may come, but not the fearful thing that we feared. Thus what we have to do is to become perfectly fearless about the thing or threatened experience that causes the fear.
Here let me digress a little in order to point out two errors into which we all are liable to fall. First the use of thought control in the wrong way, or of a false right thinking, which of course is not right thinking at all. We may think that we are controlling our thoughts and practicing right thinking by avoiding all thoughts of difficulty, disharmony, unpleasant duty or event that we know must be met in the near future This is an insidious evil, more destructive to character than the habit of worrying. This mental cowardice is an evil that feeds and flourishes on itself; it saps the will, undermines the character and reduces one to impotency. The more we practice it the weaker we become, and the less able to carry on the battle of life. If we dodge the issue in this way, in our thoughts, then it becomes impossible for us to meet life with resolution; impossible to make firm and wise decisions; impossible for us to stand firm when the great moral crises of life sweep down upon us.
Every thought of evil that challenges us: every thought of difficult duties that have yet to be met: every reminder of unpleasant experiences lying in store, must not be dodged but must be met, challenged, and overcome through a mental use of the will, and through a recognition and affirmation of the power of God and the reality of Truth. This must be done firmly until we overcome in our mind the difficulties that we are tempted to dodge, and we have a consciousness of victory. Inward victory is necessary first, after which an outward overcoming becomes possible. If we continually gain the victory, mentally, over our difficulties and the things we dread we become stable in mind, firm in will, wise in choice, and generally balanced and poised.
The second error into which we are liable to fall is to fight against the experience which we dread, instead of becoming unafraid towards it. This is the cause of great suffering, for the semi-enlightened man knows enough about the power of prayer and the use of mind forces to create a great deal of extra trouble for himself. He tries to alter his life to suit himself, instead of seeking to go where life would lead him. He thus creates an inferno for himself; whereas Life would fain lead him, through experience, to his highest good, wherein is joy, harmony and peace. We have to overcome, although we must not rebel against, or run away from, the experience that we dread. What has to be overcome is not so much the experience as our own weakness. We have to overcome our fears; we have to overcome our reluctance to face life's difficulties, we have to go forward willingly to touch the bottom of every experience. Paradoxically, we must not attempt to overcome fear because we fear the cause of our fear, and wish to remove it. What we have to do is to destroy fear, so that we can face the issue, not merely bravely, but entirely without fear; and willingly, welcoming the experience with co-operation, thanking God for it, and praising Him for it.
Elsewhere I have said: "Overcome depression, and you overcome the cause of your depression." It is equally true to say that if you overcome fear, you overcome the cause of your fear.
Fear is of two kinds. There is the fear that is generated by some threatened unpleasant or painful experience of life. There are also the nameless fears of neurasthenia. I will deal with the former first. The remedy in each case is the same, yet in one sense it is different, as we shall show later.
First, then, let us consider the fear that is generated by difficult and alarming events, conditions or experiences. "Coming events cast their shadows before", in the form of fears, apprehensions, forebodings of impending evil, etc. Some sensitive people know when "evil" is approaching, through a sense of uneasiness. If they are uninstructed in such matters they simply worry and suffer, waiting for the calamity which in course of time duly comes to pass. Those who know what to do. at once set to work to realize the truth about God, His Divine order, and of themselves as children of God. until a sense of relief and peace is experienced. If they continue to maintain this sense of peace, then, when the evil happening comes to pass, they find that they are not involved in it, or are brought victoriously through it. Some may say at this point, that, if a coming event can be avoided, then it is not a coming event, but only a possibility, and all the talk about past, present and future being one is so much moonshine. Dunne shows us in his New Theory of the Universe. that while past, present and future are all stretched out as in one line, and the future is just as real as the past and the present; yet it is possible nevertheless, to avoid an experience. I explain this by the fact that the future as revealed in dreams, second sight. and such like, is not the real, perfect and true happening of life at all, but only the false. But this falsity, if it manifests, is as real in our present consciousness as anything can be. Indeed, because they are not the Real, such events can be avoided, not by seeking to avoid them, but through realizing the Truth.
I have already stated that we should never shrink from any experience; but be it noted, that God is the author of life and the protector of it and is not the cause of any negative ill. The Divine Providence does not lead us into danger, or disease, or accidents, or calamities, but protects us from them, if we do but deal with each event of life aright; and if we do but live every moment in conscious realization of the Presence of God.
The obvious thing to do is to realize the Truth. What do I mean by Truth?
I mean the truth about God - Love, and the truth about ourselves, as children of God abiding in the Light. God is Infinite Love, Divine Wisdom, Inexhaustible Resource, Omnipotent Power, and much more. God is Life Itself, Health, Wholeness, Harmony and all that is good. God, Who is all this; God, Who is the One Great Father Spirit, who is the Lord Omnipotent reigning supreme, is our Father. And we are His spiritual sons and daughters. Sons of God, spiritual beings, immortal, eternal, joint heirs with Jesus Christ - the friends of God.
Those who walk in the Light realize that they are spiritual beings, living in a spiritual universe, which is governed by spiritual laws, and that they are upheld by spiritual powers; while all the Divine Forces and the whole resources of a Heavenly Universe are behind them. Those who can but realize this find that it is true in spite of all the confusion and disorder of the world. They are in the world ( of disorder) , yet not of it. There is protection for every step. There is supply for every need. There is order at all times. The Divine Order is a reality. In it, every child of God is in his right place, at the right time, doing his right work, and doing it perfectly, as the late Mr. Rawson very wisely used to say.
If we did but live every moment in conscious realization of this great truth, which is the Truth about God, ourselves and the Universe, the ninety-first Psalm would be true in our experience. It would be true because fear (the suggestion of evil) would be killed utterly and have no power over us.
I can believe literally in the story of Daniel in the lions den. He, being a man of God, and one who had ventured his all and done great things for God, was delivered entirely from all fear. Because of this no animal could touch him. If we only had the same faith and trust and the same absence of fear through a realization of the presence and power of God, the Reality, we too would be immune.
Many of our readers are passing through experiences just as alarming, and probably more wearing and disintegrating. Long struggles with misfortune, long drawn out illnesses of loved ones, unemployment, misunderstanding by others, misrepresentations, and other troubles, these they think may be harder to endure than the sharp and sudden experience of Daniel. But the remedy is the same, and that is God - to throw oneself utterly and completely upon God. so that fear is utterly routed. The power of God is always available; and when it acts it always restores harmony - in the case of sickness, health - in the case of disorder of life in any form, order and peace. God is not a God of disease, sickness and disorder, but of health, wholeness, harmony, order.
The troubles, disorders and disasters of life fill us with fear. We must look upon them as temptations. All these suggestions of impending evil are temptations. Our duty is to overcome them, to resist them, to send them about their business. If we kill the fear by finding God, and taking our stand in Eternal Truth, then the temptation is overcome and we are delivered. Let me emphasize once more the important point that fear must be overcome. Thoughts of fear, or suggestions of evil, must not be dodged, for then they enter the subconscious to bring forth fruit after their kind in the outer life. They must be overcome by Truth, for no evil can stand against it. If one of our near relatives has died of an insidious disease, the fear-thought will come to us that we too will fall a victim to it. We must not on the one hand accept this suggestion, nor on the other hand, lightly dismiss it or dodge it, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst. What we must do is to meet the thought or suggestion boldly, bring it into the Light of Truth and let the Light dissolve it away. In the realization of God as Life, and as Wholeness, and of ourselves as children of God sharing with our Father His life and His wholeness, the fear is destroyed. and with it whatever modicum of actuality it had behind it. Every other form of fear can be killed in the same way. and must be killed if we are to live lives of victory and overcoming. We should never retire to rest without destroying all our fears.
Now a word or two about the nameless fears of neurasthenia in its various forms. Fear is not the cause of neurasthenia, but is a product of it. Yet, in spite of this, the cure of this disease is accomplished almost entirely by the overcoming of fear. In other words, overcome your fear, and you overcome your neurasthenia. Neurasthenics suffer from lack of the power of concentration, of application, and also from nameless fears.
The cause is one, and the cure is one. No one can cure a neurasthenic, he has to work out his own salvation. This is not the time or place to discuss the cause or causes of neurasthenia, sufficient for our purpose is the fact that by the overcoming of his fears the Neurasthenic can win his way back to health and happiness. But how can he overcome his fears ? His life is full of fears. He is subjected to waves of fear which dominate him. They sweep down upon him at intervals, and overwhelm him. How can he overcome ? He can overcome by taking his stand in Truth. A spiritually awakened person has a great advantage over one who is not awakened. The latter can only follow his Nerve Specialist's advice to deny his fears and to affirm that he is strong and unafraid. This is very much like trying to lift oneself by one's own belt, but it is the best that can be done in the circumstances. With one who knows he is a child of God it is very different. Here let me digress once more. Some may say: "But how can I know that 1 am a child of God, or that I am spiritually awakened?" The answer is that if you have any love of spiritual and heavenly things at all, and even if you have but a small measure of understanding of spiritual things you may know that the Spirit of God is in you: and not only in you, but coming into expression through you, thus galvanizing you into life - the real life. No one can love or understand spiritual things at all except the Spirit be in him, for spiritual things can only be spiritually discerned. I said a moment ago that the neurasthenic can overcome his fears by taking his stand in Truth. It is a great day when he realizes the truth of the words "Within you is the Power". When once a man awakens to this truth he is a changed being. He knows that the Power within him is not the power of his usual self-hood, but the Power of the Infinite.
In his battle and struggle towards liberty and sanity he has to distinguish at all times the difference between the power of his finite self, and the Power of the Infinite that is within him. If he relies on the Power of "self", he falls. If he relies on the Power of the Infinite, he overcomes. "I can do all things", said Paul, "through Christ which strengtheneth me". And again, "Yet not I but Christ". This expresses perfectly what I want to convey. All things are possible through the Infinite Power, the Power of the Eternal Logos, within us. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." We are sons of God, because this same Word has been born in us.
Now, as a child of the Kingdom - as one in whom dwells the Infinite Life and Power of the Universe - the sufferer must refuse to accept the fear thoughts that attack him, or the suggestions of evil that assail him. He must look upon all such suggestions as temptations to sin. To doubt the Power within us, is to sin, for this Power is God. He can say: I am a child of God. Within me is the whole Power of the Universe. I go forward with Joy willingly to meet every experience, knowing that I shall find God in it, and Divine Love behind it. Whatever the experience may be, it can lead me only to my highest good. I welcome it, and thank God for it. The Divine Power within laughs at my fears. I walk in the Light; I abide in the Light; I am yoked with Christ and all is well."
'Be yoked with Me (walk in union with Me) and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.'
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