BENGALURU: WHAT IS FEAR? Fear can exist only in relation to something, not in isolation. How can I be afraid of death, how can I be afraid of something I do not know? I can be afraid only of what I know. When I say I am afraid of death, am I really afraid of the unknown, which is death, or am I afraid of losing what I have known? My fear is not of death but of losing my association with things belonging to me. My fear is always in relation to the known, not to the unknown.
My inquiry now is how to be free from the fear of the known, which is the fear of losing my family, my reputation, my character, my bank account, my appetites and so on. You may say that fear arises from conscience; but your conscience is formed by your conditioning, so conscience is still the result of the known. What do I know? Knowledge is having ideas, having opinions about things, having a sense of continuity as in relation to the known, and no more. Ideas are memories, the result of experience, which is response to challenge. I am afraid of the known, which means I am afraid of losing people, things or ideas, I am afraid of discovering what I am, afraid of being at a loss, afraid of the pain which might come into being when I have lost or have not gained or have no more pleasure.
There is fear of pain. Physical pain is a nervous response, but psychological pain arises when I hold on to things that give me satisfaction, for then I am afraid of anyone or anything that may take them away from me. The psychological accumulations prevent psychological pain as long as they are undisturbed; that is I am a bundle of accumulations, experiences, which prevent any serious form of disturbance - and I do not want to be disturbed.
Therefore I am afraid of anyone who disturbs them. Thus my fear is of the known, I am afraid of the accumulations, physical or psychological, that I have gathered as a means of warding off pain or preventing sorrow. But sorrow is in the very process of accumulating to ward off psychological pain. Knowledge also helps to prevent pain. As medical knowledge helps to prevent physical pain, so beliefs help to prevent psychological pain, and that is why I am afraid of losing my beliefs, though I have no perfect knowledge or concrete proof of the reality of such beliefs. I may reject some of the traditional beliefs that have been foisted on me because my own experience gives me strength, confidence, understanding; but such beliefs and the knowledge which I have acquired are basically the same - a means of warding off pain.
Fear exists so long as there is accumulation of the known, which creates the fear of losing. Therefore fear of the unknown is really fear of losing the accumulated known. Accumulation invariably means fear, which in turn means pain; and the moment I say "I must not lose" there is fear. Though my intention in accumulating is to ward off pain, pain is inherent in the process of accumulation.
Wherever there is a desire for self-protection, there is fear. When I see the fallacy of demanding security I do not accumulate any more. If you say that you see it but you cannot help accumulating, it is because you do not really see that, inherently, in accumulation there is pain.