I believe there is a real polarity between fear and love. Swami Sivananda shared how the fear of death underlies all other fears. I have found that fear is always connected with negative emotions in some way. Anger often masks fear. Even the big tough guys in juvenile hall and prison who others get afraid of are themselves scared: of being judged, stolen from or discriminated against.
Far from being passive, it takes tremendous courage to be truly non-violent. To face the threat of even being killed without reacting on the deepest cellular level is a feat that can be achieved only with years of meditation practice. Reactions of anger and violence are always based on the fear of what will happen to oneself if one does not respond to hatred with hatred. Fear begets more of the same.
As Martin Luther King Jr. shared in his 1963 “Strength to Love” speech,
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Just as the fear of death underlies all other fears, so too does Swami Sivananda share how the desire for love underlies all other desires. All the positive emotions (like gratitude, as Somikbhai shared he felt in large amounts when many of unexpectedly attended his dissertation at Stanford recently) are really a manifestation of love in some form.
I like how Ammachi (hugging saint from Kerala) shares that “True love is fearlessness.” True love, or fearlessness, is also a choice we can make in any given moment. To lead us, as in the moksha (liberation) mantra, from the unreal to the real. From darkness to light. From mortality to immortality.
In the quest for ultimate liberation of the soul (the real aim of the spiritual journey), I am reminded of how essential humility is. How a student once approached a spiritual guru (teacher) for knowledge, only to be dismissed by this great teacher.
“How could you refuse me knowledge? I am a learned scholar already – you need to lead me to full enlightenment!” the student exclaimed.
“How can I possibly teach you anything?” the great teacher calmly replied. “For your cup is already full.”
Like that, we must empty ourselves of everything we think we have known in order to receive the ultimate knowledge or Truth.
Another Wednesday meditator named Manvi shared about the battle within between fear and love, which reminded me of how the Bhagavad Gita seems to, on the surface, just be a dialogue between two mythical figures on the battlefield at the dawn of Indian history, as the warrior Arjuna freaks out to Krishna about whether to fight the battle ahead. The Gita’s real subject is the war within, the struggle for self-mastery that every person must wage to live a life that is fulfilling, a life that could meaningfully contribute to the lives of others. A life that can lead to the attainment of the lofty goal of full liberation from the sufferings of human life and thereby serve as an example for others.
I was reminded by BK Bose, a great teacher and founder of Berkeley’s Niroga Institute last weekend about how when reading texts like the Gita, there are often passages that on first glance seem confusing and that we thus often cast of, but how these passages have real treasures underneath that we have to dig to discover. And, as Krishna wisely reminds Arjuna,
“No effort on this path goes to waste.”
I really liked how yet another Wednesday meditator named Meghna built upon and ultimately transcended the polarity between fear and love by sharing how Jayeshbhai (co-founder of Manav Sadhna) told her when she was struggling to make a decision to
“do whatever arises in you from love, whether or not this seems like the right or wrong thing to do in conventional terms.”
I wholeheartedly agree with Jayeshbhai and with Martin Luther King Jr., who shared in his December 1968 Nobel Prize lecture how
“The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued that self-defeating path of hate.
Love is the key to the solution of the problems of the world.”