To understand is to conquer fear || Acharya Prashant (2012)


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Question: Sir, I am afraid of making decisions. I depend on others for my decisions. Please help me on this.

Shri Prashant: Can one really be afraid of making a decision? We are actually afraid that the decision will prove to be ‘wrong’. Is it the decision-making that terrifies us or the thought that my decision may turn out to be wrong?

Let’s look at ourselves. My real fear is that ‘I do not know what is right and wrong. Because all my life I have lived according to the criterion provided by others. I have no understanding of how to live intelligently and how to decide for myself. Can I really make a decision about something without really understanding it? And if I take such a decision then it is obvious that I would be afraid. I do not understand and yet I am deciding, so anything can happen. Like the roll of a dice or the toss of a coin, it is totally a random happening. Obviously, I am going to be afraid. When I really know, do I have the reason to be afraid?’

Another reason that we feel afraid in decision making is that we feel accountable, we feel a certain obligation, we feel that if our decision is wrong, what answers we will provide to others? We are not really afraid of the event as such. Rather, we are afraid that what kind of face will we show to others? Whichever fear we pick up, we discover that the fear is always linked to the other. Are we coming closer to it? Fear is never really about myself. Fear is always about somebody else. Even when I think that I am afraid about myself, I am actually afraid about losing something external provided by the other – like identities, respectability, acceptance, care etc., or certificates, or privileges and luxuries.

If you were to keep your mark sheets only to yourself, you would be far less afraid. What really makes you nervous is the fact that you have to show these mark sheets to others – parents, friends, employers etc.

Not understanding is the root of fear.

To not to understand is to become afraid.

Let’s take a direct example, there was no science, no technology around, there was little understanding of what was happening around. So what was man doing? He was afraid even of the forces of nature. There would be lightening and he would think that the gods are angry. There would be excessive rain and he would think that another god is angry. And he worshipped all kind of things that he didn’t understand.

Fear comes out of what you don’t understand.

To understand is to conquer fear.

So, there are three things that we have said so far:

1.To borrow a sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ from others is to live in fear.
2. All fear is the fear of the other.
3. Understanding is the conquering of the fear. To understand fear is to be unaffected by it.

A fourth thing now. There are several forms of fear. Things like hope, ambition, insecurity, dreams, violence, suffering, attachment, accumulation, goals, all of these are forms of fear. 

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