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Question: Acharya Ji, Pranaam! My question is related to ‘confidence’. Confidence is something which is within ourselves. But there are situations, and there are circumstances, where we do not feel confident. Suppose a person is suffering from stage-fear, how can he bring confidence in himself, in such situations?
Acharya Prashant Ji: See ‘confidence’ and ‘fearfulness’, ‘confidence’ and ‘fear’, these two are actually two names for the same state of mind.
‘Fearfulness’ says, “I am at the risk of losing something important” That ‘something important’ can be anything – money, security, respect, relationship, whatever.
‘Confidence’ says, “These things are important, yes. But I am not at the risk of losing them.”
What is common between ‘confidence’ and ‘fear’?
I am repeating.
Fear says, “What I have from the world is important, and is at a risk of getting lost.”
Confidence says, “What I have from the world is of course important, but it is not at the risk of getting lost.”
Now, what is common between ‘confidence’ and ‘fear’?
Questioner: The dependence on the world.
Acharya Prashant Ji: Both say that what I have from the world, is surely important.
In fear you feel that it might be lost. In confidence you feel that there is no threat of it being lost. But remember, this feeling of ‘no threat’ depends on time. It depends on time. What is not threatened right now, will be threatened after five minutes, or after five days.
Confidence will surely turn into fear, because you have already made the basic preparation to be afraid. The basic preparation to be afraid is the thought that -‘What the world has given me is important’.
The root is there. Confidence is the point when the root has yet not expressed itself into the tree. The root is there, the tree is invisible. It has not yet come forth. Fear is the stage when the root has become a full-blown tree. But the root of both confidence, and fear is same – giving importance to external attainments.
Also, try to understand, let’s say when you are speaking to a friend, do you need confidence? Contrast that to when you are speaking to an enemy, when you are in a position where you feel that something is at risk, something is being threatened. You need confidence then, right?
You don’t need confidence in the everyday situations of your home, or with your friends. But for the interview room, everybody says, “I need confidence.” Right?
When do you need confidence?
When does the question of confidence arise?
The question of confidence arises only when you are afraid.
Do you see the linkage between fear and confidence? The one who is confident, is surely afraid. It’s just that he is not realising it at that point. If there is no fear, there is no need of confidence.
I am not at all confident, as I speak to you right now. I am just speaking simply, spontaneously. There is no confidence involved in this. When you are with a loved one, do you speak confidently? Or do you simply speak? Your presence is enough. Is it not? Or do you require confidence? But you surely require confidence when you are going to kill someone, because you are afraid.
Confidence is the shadow of fear.
But those who do not know this, they keep on saying, “You must be confident,” and now this thing has deeply entered our minds. It’s like saying that you must worship the colour white, or any other colour – yellow, red, blue, black. What you do not realise is that, for black to be visible on this board the background must be white.
White will always accompany black, that is the fundamental law of duality. No black, no White. Remove all whiteness from the world, and black will disappear. These are two faces of the same coin. You remove one face of the coin, and the other face too is gone. There cannot be coin with a single face.
Confidence is a disease, a disease that comes to those, who are basically afraid. You can put it the other way round. Fear too is a disease that comes to those who want to be confident.
Don’t ask for confidence.
Seek simple, spontaneous, unloaded being.
You don’t need to walk confidently, behave confidently, talk confidently.
You are alright as you are.
Confidence is not needed.
If you will inquire into confidence, you will see that there is a subtle aggression in confidence. Is that not so? Look at all your images of confidence, and you will see a hidden, a subtle, a fine aggression there. Which will inevitably be there, because fear and violence go together, always. Wherever there is fear, there would be aggression and violence. But our entire upbringing has been such that we have been told to worship confidence.
Don’t ask for confidence, ask for fearlessness.
Confidence and fearlessness are very-very different things.
Confidence means – fear is present.
Hence confidence is needed.
And that confidence is a false medicine.
Fearlessness is an entirely different thing altogether. Fearlessness means- “Fear is not there at all, what will I do with confidence? Fear is not there at all.”
Fearlessness, not confidence.
Do you understand this?
Simple fearlessness. And that fearlessness will come when you know that nothing important can be lost, when you can very carelessly say, “Take away what you want to take away, I will still be alright.” That is fearlessness.
As long as you keep giving importance to what you get from here and there, you will live in fear. and that is not necessary. Nobody wants to live in fear, right? Neither do you want to live in fear, nor do I want to live in fear. That is not necessary at all.
The more the world will mean to you, the more afraid you would be.
The more your mind is full of others, and thoughts of others, and opinion of others, want the others can give, what the others can take, what they are saying, how they are looking, how you are looking to others, as long as your mind is full of this, your face will be dripping with fear.
More is the presence of world in the mind, more is the life full of fear.
More is life full of fear, more is the demand of confidence.
Unfortunately, confidence is no treatment for fear.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Acharya Prashant, with students: Don’t ask for confidence, ask for fearlessness
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