Indian Psychology - When Fear and Violence Meet
by Swami Veda Bharati
Fear and violence are too closely intertwined to know where one begins and the other ends.
As I promised in the last column, the focus this time will be on the correlation of fear and violence.
In its essentials, violence is both the very nature as well as the cause of fear. It is also the product of fear. It cannot be determined where violence ends and fear begins, and where fears ends and violence begins.
In the animal kingdom, of which we constitute a part, there is a well-known phenomenon of pheromones, the subtle smells of the body that change with changing emotions. The correlation of emotions and pheromones are not yet fully studied, but the hormonal, and consequent pheromonal, changes in the event of fear and aggressive violence, are, by and large, the same.
The Yoga-sutras of Patanjali, in their exegesis, are very clear on this equation. We summarize the argument below.
Our greatest fear is that of death; it is abhi-ni-vesha, which even the most learned suffer with the same intensity as a moron or an insect does. We do not realize that we fear death because we constantly visit death upon others - the daily deaths of all kinds and degrees. Through our anger and harsh voice, our daily selfish decisions, we cause fear in others. By killing to eat, by instituting wars, we are cause of fear in the hearts of millions.
Deep in our intuitive faculty, we know the laws of karma. We know that whatever we visit upon others is going to boomerang and return to us. Only our clearest conscience knows this, but it gets obscured by the dross, dirt and fog accumulated in our subconscious mind. This unconscious mind, instead of prompting us to examine ourselves and improve and grow, makes us defensive. We offer to ourselves, and then to the world, all kinds of excuses for our behavior, and convert our defensiveness to offense, through leveling accusations. This then propels us either to run away, if the imagined 'other' we have created, is more powerful than us, or to accelerate the attack with all the weapons (bricks and stones, court cases, shouts of abuses, nuclear bombs) at our command, in the hope of winning and vanquishing the 'enemy'.
Yet, the generic 'enemy', the internal tendency to enmity and fear, remains. Once one enemy is vanquished, another springs up in our imagination. The imagination takes form and becomes a real person or group. Thus we invite further hostilities. To pre-empt the consequences of those hostilities, we stockpile weapons (choicest stare-stones, word-bricks, court files, swords, nuclear bombs).
This dangerous cycle begins with our own tendencies. Our mental self is divided against itself, because there are 10,000 nations at war in the continent called our Skull.
Here, we generate our 'other', the part of ourselves we do not like, the aspect we would like to dis-identify with, the part about which we say, 'this is not really me'. This 'non-me' we have generated, is projected outwards to some imaginary entity and granted a personality, which we are ready to fight or flee from.
Thus do the energy waves of the subtle world become visible and heavy tangible forms.
The answer to this fear-generating mechanism lies in re-integrating ourselves. This is achieved through various methods such as contemplation of cosmic realities of 'maya' and what transcends it, self-examination and the intense desire to become beautiful in heart and mind. By identifying our ugly spots, we replace them with their opposites such as universal amity, forgiveness, seeking forgiveness, bending down in humility (NOT in cowardice, be careful!). Finally try meditation, which re-integrates our warring neurones, and stops generating stress hormones, fear-pheromones, and harsh tone-stones.
Once we see the success we have achieved not in winning a war but in winning over the supposed enemy even once, it encourages us to go further.
Gradually, the mind begins to become a playground of the gods.