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Questioner: How to control fear and panic?
Acharya Prashant: Obviously panic is a state when you feel…
(The questioner interrupts and completes his question)
Q: How to control fear and panic, and move towards our objectives?
AP: Ah! Now you have made it very difficult for me!
You are saying that you do not want to panic, and yet you want to keep moving towards your objective. Yes? Where do your objectives come from? From the structure of your mind, your beliefs, all that has been fed into you. That is what gives rise to your goals, and objectives, and targets, right? And where does fear and panic come from? From the same stuff that has been fed into you.
You want to retain the goodie-goodie part, and you want to get rid of all that troubles you. You say, “No I want to chase those objectives, but I do not want to feel the associated pain and panic.” How is it possible?
In fact those objectives, those goals and targets, are inseparable from fear. Wherever there is an objective, there would be fear associated with it. You hope to get something, and you fear that you may not get it. Don’t you see that a man who is chasing goals has condemned himself to live in fear?
Whenever you are having an objective, you want to meet the objective. Don’t you? And when you want to meet it, there is always a parallel thought that you might miss it. This thought itself is fear. Now you know why you panic, because of these objectives. To have an objective, and yet to remain centered, is a different thing altogether. That happens when the objective is not an external stuff.
It is possible to have an objective, and be on the road to it, very calmly. It is possible to work very energetically, without the fear of loss, or without the fear of failure. But that happen only when your objective is not arising from an internal sense of incompleteness.
Understand it like this:
When we set an objective, we say, “When I get that, X, I would be better-off.” Isn’t that the feeling while chasing every goal? That, “When I accomplish my mission, then something would be added to me. I would be a better man, I would be better-off.” Is that not so? Yes?
So all our objectives, in a way, start from, and feed on our sense of inferiority. “I am not quite alright right now. When I will reach that milestone, then I will have the right to feel better about myself.” Yes? Our inferiority becomes the engine that powers our journey. The more inferior you feel, the more speedily you run towards your goal. That is what happens with most people, in most cases.
So much so that most of us, unfortunately, come to a point where we feel that unless there is fear, no work is possible, no movement is possible. So if the boss wants the work done, he threatens the employee. No other engine is possible. Only when he is afraid, will he work. When the teacher wants the student to read, he says, “Unless you study, you are failing this semester.”
Do you see what is happening?
“Reach that objective, otherwise you are reduced. And reach that objective, and you are increased. Something is added to you.”
We forget that another mode of working is possible. It is possible to work energetically, beautifully, without having objectives.
‘I am alright, and because I am alright, I am working.‘ And obviously the objective, and the quality here cannot be the same as when I am working because I feel inferior. If I feel inferior, and I am working, then I am prone to panic attacks.
“Oh my god! I am feeling inferior, and this work was my chance to redeem myself. And if I lose this chance, then I continue to feel inferior.” So what do I do? I panic. “Another opportunity, may be the last one, is being stolen.” I am panicking. But if I am alright, first of all, my goals do not remain the same. My goals are now worthy goals. Secondly, I cannot panic, because whether or not those goals are achieved, I am alright.
Do you see that two things change? One, I do not chase the same goals. The goals change. The very quality of the work changes. Secondly, those goals are not the goals, in the same sense, as they used to be. And I am not chasing them in the same sense, that I used to chase. This chase has a different quality; these goals have a different dimension. I work hard, and yet I do not bother if I fail.
‘While working hard I was smiling, while achieving the goal I was smiling, and while failing, I was smiling. I was successful, people looked at me, and I was smiling. I lost the race, the people looked at me, and I was smiling. And it is not that I was not running hard enough. I ran as hard as I could. I too have an engine and that engine is not fear. My energy too rises from some place. I work, and I work hard.‘
Are you getting it?
Please do not think that one can work only when he is motivated by greed, or threatened by fear. Do not ask for ‘motivations and threats’. You demean yourself. To be motivated, is to become a mercenary. “Show me money, and I will work.” Or, “Show me money, and I will sell myself.” You know what that is. Or, “Show me a stick, put a gun on my head, threaten me, and I will work.” Is that nice?
You want to live like that; carrot and stick?
Then discover your real engine. It is a very powerful engine, discover it. You will have all the energy, you will be working. You will be moving, the world will be your playground. You will be dancing, but without the associated grief, suffering, and panic. Won’t that be nice?
I note this repeatedly; I mentioned this that it took me three and half hours to reach from Noida to this place. I expected to reach here at around half past ten. While coming here, I went to sleep in my car; I carry a pillow with me in the car. I woke up at half past ten, and found myself in the middle of thick traffic, and found an entire ocean of cars in Vasant Vihar, and it was still an hour to reach here.
I started looking at the faces of the people in the cars around, and they were all going to ‘work’, right? We are talking about ‘work’. I do not know whether I am biased, I do not think I am, but I did not see one joyful face there. When the engine is greed and fear, how can you be joyful while going to work? I will be returning in the evening, and I will again be surprised, if I see one joyful face.
I see tensed faces, I see angry faces, I see indifferent faces, I see bored faces, I see tired faces, I see complaining faces, but I do not see joyful faces. It should be a matter of celebration, “I am going to work. Wow! So exciting.” But it seems that the fellow would rather sit in the loo all day, than work. He would be more excited there.
You want that kind of life? Yes you are driving your own car, probably and inhaling all the wonderful fumes that Delhi has to offer, and your boss is calling you. “It is eleven!” or you are calling up your subordinates, “Yes I am stuck in traffic, but how dare you got stuck. You should have been there at nine.”
Isn’t that humiliating that you cannot even resign from these jobs, because you know that a salary cheque is waiting for you? Every single cell in your body wants to run away, and yet you cannot run away because there is a carrot dangling in front of you. Isn’t that demeaning? Yes?
Let work be celebration, let work be life.
You wake up, and you want to work. You wake up, and you do not want to run away from work. You wake up, and you want to straight away reach out to something.
Now work is holy, it is sacred. It’s your breath, it’s your heartbeat.
Now there is no question of ‘panic’, because this cannot be taken away from you or can somebody steal your heartbeat? Is it possible? So why panic? Who can take away my work from me? It is not possible. Yes you may decide not to pay me, but you cannot prevent me from working. And who wants to be paid for breathing? It’s okay. If you pay me, it’s a bonus. If you do not pay me, I would still breathe or would I not?
No, I am prepared for a surprise. Please tell me that I would rather not breathe, if I am not paid.
~Excerpts from a Samvaad session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at: How to get rid of fear and panic?| YouTube
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