Rosicrucian Writings Online


Does Fear Enslave You?

 OFTEN IT IS THE MASTER OF OUR LIVES AND
WE ARE UNCONSCIOUS OF IT
 
By The Imperator
[H. Spencer Lewis]
 
[From The Rosicrucian Digest April 1936]
 
 
MANY persons today are actually controlled or directed in all of their thinking and acting by the emotion of fear without being directly conscious of the degree or extent of the influence, while on the other hand there are multitudes who thoroughly realize that the greatest and most enslaving problem which they have to face is that of the Frankenstein of fear.
 
Many of our members, and hosts of our friends and acquaintances and thousands of individuals not connected with our organization, have written to us from time to time asking whether we could help them to escape from this subtle and ever-present influence of fear. Do not be too sure that fear is not affecting your life. You may be like millions of persons who glibly state that they are not affected by any superstitious beliefs, and yet a casual inquiry of their thoughts and practices in life will show that they are more or less guided by superstitious creeds or dogmas, ideas, or practices that they have almost unconsciously adopted.
 
Perhaps the greatest element of fear that is almost universal in human beings everywhere is fear of the unknown.
 
Among psychologists and psychiatrists fear of the unknown is classified as a fundamental emotion and as a logical and reasonable emotion. But the strange part about this fear of the unknown is that it increases with a certain degree of intelligence or with a certain degree of acquired knowledge. The very ignorant, unthinking, unintelligent person has less fear of the unknown than the one who has a smattering of knowledge and a small degree of wisdom. The little child who has not learned much of life has less fear of unknown things and is affected less by his lack of knowledge than the adult who has acquired some knowledge and has dabbled inconsistently and improperly into a lot of subjects which have given him a false or incomplete idea of many important principles. The child who knows nothing of fire does not fear it. The person who has had only a little experience with fire becomes enslaved by the fear of it, while the one who has learned much about it and has had much experience with it has little fear of it, and the same is true of many of the elements and principles of life.
 
It has been found that as we become better acquainted with the fundamental principles of all natural laws, we become less fearful of the unknown--the unknown principles, the unknown actions of these principles, and the unknown conditions and situations. The greatest expression of the fear of the unknown is made manifest by the average person when he realizes that he is on his so-called death bed or face to face with the possibility of imminent transition. The realization of the fact that the future state and future conditions across the borderline are unknown, creates the most horrifying fears and makes the prospect of transition the most dreadful picture, the most terrifying realization, in the human mind on the part of those who look upon the future state as an unknown condition.
 
Despite the fact that every branch, every denomination, and every division of the Christian religion teaches that life beyond death, or the life that follows this existence on earth is a magnificent and beautiful experience filled with all of the possibilities of joy and happiness, and despite the fact that all of these Christian denominations sing songs of joy in anticipation of their spiritual contact in the future, the average Christian on his death bed is like unto the average person of no religion at all in fearing the unknown beyond the grave. This is not meant as a criticism of the Christian religion, but a criticism of the weakness of human faith. Faith seems to sustain the average human being in matters that are of passing or temporary value, but when it comes to matters that have duration and continuous influence, faith seems to be of little value in the face of a lack of positive knowledge. Only those who feel that they have convincing knowledge of what the future holds in store for them or whose faith is sublime and transcendental, are unfearful of the change that takes place at transition and of what lies just beyond the borderline.
 
We see this trait of fear of the unknown made manifest when normal persons enter a building or structure with which they are unacquainted and find themselves in the dark and about to cross the threshold into a room that is unknown to them. The fear of what lies just beyond the threshold in such a case is identical with the fear of the future. And there are those who fear taking a journey on a steamship crossing the Pacific or Atlantic because, never having traversed the ocean and having no conviction or positive knowledge of what lies beyond the horizon, they are fearful of it. I have talked with scores of persons who began to express this fear the moment the great steamship had been freed from its dock and had pointed its bow toward the eastern or western horizon of the sea. Immediately they began to question what the evening would bring and the morrow, and what would happen in the dark of the night or in case of a storm, or what would happen when one's foot was placed upon foreign soil. But we have noticed that little children will rush into a dark room or into empty places unconscious of any fear or any hesitancy that might take hold of their actions. Yet after a child has been told something of the dark and given some little knowledge of its dangers or possible dangers, or fictitious dangers, this little knowledge makes him conscious of the fact that there is more knowledge which he does not possess and it is this lack of knowledge that constitutes the elements of the unknown.
 
Teaching a little child that he must not go here or there because of the bogey man--a habit that was quite common thirty to fifty years ago--made more children fearful of the unknown than any one other thing, and it had an influence upon them throughout their lives. The fictitious, mythical, fairy-like bogey man of their childhood grew as they grew until he was a Frankenstein of monster size in their adulthood, always just across the threshold, or just behind a door, or hidden just beyond a veil or curtain and ready to seize hold of them if they ventured too far.
 
And this leads us to the second analysis of the complex of fear. It is a hesitancy which unconsciously affects us and seizes hold of us in our thinking and acting when we are venturing into new lines, new acts, new fields of thought. It affects the business man in both his business and social affairs, and it affects the woman at home in her social and home affairs. It affects young and old alike. Experiences in life which beget wisdom and knowledge are the only things that eventually free such men and women from the influence of fear.
 
The emotion of fear is not always on the surface and it is not easily recognized as such. Many persons, if not most of the educated and intelligent men and women, have different names for this bogey man of fear. The most common name for it is Caution. Other names are Reasoning, Consideration, Analysis, Preparation, and Forethought. Those who claim that they have no superstitious beliefs will tell you that the hesitancy they manifest is due to a hunch, whereas in fact it is a superstitious belief that fear is warning them.
 
There is a vast difference between the hesitancy that results from real cautiousness and the hesitancy that comes from subconscious or conscious fear. One may be thoroughly adventuresome and free from any fear at all even in entering into an unknown field or taking part in an exploration of the unknown conditions of the wilds and explored portions of any continent, or even of entering the mouth of a sleeping volcano, and yet one can be cautious. Being cautious does not inhibit our actions and delay our procedure as much as it causes us to be on guard in consideration of the known things or anticipated possibilities.
 
Caution, preparation, analysis, and study are excellent matters of procedure in all the affairs of life. They beget progress and are the handmaids of adventure. Fear, on the other hand, frustrates our plans and turns our footsteps backward or enslaves us to our present position and makes us unable to proceed, to advance, to grow, expand, or develop.
 
It is claimed by some that fear is an inherited quality of nature, particularly when the fear complex is strongly developed and not of a subtle, subconscious nature. I will not argue the point, for it may be true that some degree of fear has been inherited through frights and fearsome situations experienced by the mother during the prenatal period, or through the inheritance of cowardice from either one of the parents; but whether inherited or acquired, fear is an emotion that can be overcome and for which we have no excuse, least of all the alibi that it is the result of some experience on the part of our forebears.
 
Fear is the very antithesis of bravery. It causes us to default in making of ourselves what we should be. It robs us of a divine inheritance far greater than any inheritance from our earthly parents.
 
Life is a conquest continually from the hour of birth to the hour of transition. Life is not merely a period of acquirement. We do not come into life empty-handed and empty-minded like a blank book with its unprinted pages ready to be filled with human experiences and with lessons and wisdom which we must learn bitterly or with joy. We come into existence fortified with an inner, divine, omnipotent wisdom that is ready as well as qualified to enable us to master every situation and to lift ourselves beyond those experiences in life which must come to those who are not brave but are fearful. Therefore, our lives are conquests resulting from the challenge of the wisdom and self within to the ignorant and superstitious earthly conditions around us. Only to him who is fearless is the conquest a success and only to the brave is given the palm of reward.
 
The divine and Cosmic laws sustain us in our bravery while God's consciousness and mind in us provide us with every means to overcome the germs of disease, the frailties of life, and the weakness we have acquired. Without fear in our consciousness and with an open mind and a willing attitude to let the laws of God and nature prevail, our battle against the odds of life is easy. But when fear is given its opportunity to influence us or when we allow its subtle influence to affect us unconsciously by our refusal to cast it out of our being, the conquest of life becomes a long and tedious battle in which the odds are against us to such a great degree that the average human being cannot possibly win the rewards that he should win.
 
In the first place, the average individual in his lack of understanding and in his wilful refusal to investigate and study the more fundamental principles of our existence does not realize that the fear of a thing animates it, strengthens it, and enthrones it until it becomes a master which whips us and holds us in humble position and inactivity. The moment we allow our consciousness to form a realization of a thing through our fear of it, we create that thing into a reality where before it was non-existent. By giving credence or consideration to our fear of anything we immediately tie upon our ankles and our wrists the shackles and the chains which the fearful thing has created out of fiction or out of imagination, or out of the superstitious beliefs of the day.
 
I have seen persons in perfectly healthy and normal condition go aboard a steamship and immediately rush to their cabins to undress and go to bed, out of fear of the possibility of seasickness. I have seen them a few hours later in the night suffering all of the unpleasantness of mal-de-mer, and I have heard them speak of the disagreeable effects of the rocking and tossing of the ship when, in fact, the ship was still at anchor attached safely and steadily to the pier and had not moved one inch from where it had been for days. The belief that the ship was to leave at midnight whereas in fact it was scheduled to leave after midnight has caused many to become seasick within an hour after midnight while the boat was still waiting for the rising tide to take it out of the dock in the morning. I have seen persons enter an airplane fully anticipating that the moment they stepped into it they would become air sick, and the influence of this fear made itself manifest before there was any real physical cause for their condition.
 
Men and women have approached business propositions with a timidity, hesitancy, and an attitude of mind based upon the emotion of fear within them and from the very start the success of their plans was doomed and each and every failure, each and every incident that delayed them in their progress, and each and every unfortunate incident was easily traceable to the fear that dominated their thinking and their acting. More fortunes in money and in the material things of life have been lost by those who hesitated out of fear than by those who ventured too quickly and without caution. Bravery and fearlessness beget power and a venturesome, optimistic, constructive attitude of mind, and this in turn attracts favorable conditions even when there are some unfavorable ones to be overcome. Fear creates a pessimistic attitude inwardly if not outwardly. And this attitude of mind attracts failure and it inhibits constructive thinking and it makes the mind cynical, doubtful, and creative of unfavorable anticipation which in turn become realities that enslave the individual.
 
There is only one way in which each individual can eliminate from his consciousness the influence of fear. It is first of all by becoming familiar with the fundamental principles of life and establishing a firm conviction in the mind and heart that all of the activities of the universe are essentially constructive and good, and that it is only our angle or view-point of some of these forces and operations in the universe that make them have the false appearance of being destructive. The second point is to establish in our minds and consciousness the absolute and eternal fact that all of these good and constructive processes of nature are the result of the constructive, beneficent, merciful, loving consciousness of God, and that God is love and goodness and that all seeming unkindnesses and injustices are due to our misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or miscomprehension of things as they are. The third is to become convinced of the fact that man is possessed of the creative power of God and that he is master of his own career and can create, both mentally and physically, the things that he requires, the things that he can image, and the things which will make him what he should be or what God intended him to be. The fourth is to practice the principles of this faith or belief in the omnipotence and goodness of God and the creative power within man by refusing to visualize that which is unfortunate, destructive, unhappy, sinful, or inharmonious to our best interests. The fifth point is to be venturesome and brave in the realization that we can overcome the evil more easily than we can escape the conclusions and creations of our own thinking; that poverty, ill health, unhappiness, misery, and failure in the conquest of life are things that we create if we give life to them, power to them, through our fear--our belief--of them.
 
The manifestation of fear--even in the guise of hesitancy and caution because of analysis and study--is a sign of weakness and never of strength. The strong are brave and the brave are venturesome. The weak are hesitant and the hesitant are fearful and the failures are of this class inevitably. Each new venture into the unknown, whether it be the unknown of finances, the unknown of business, the unknown of study and investigation, the unknown things of life, the unknown principles of religion, the unknown labyrinth of mental power, each venture into these unknown things is a victorious conquest and each brings strength to the character, fortitude to the emotions, and encouragement and progress to the mind and heart. Be brave, therefore, and make sure that your hesitancy, your extreme carefulness, your doubts and your delays for investigation, are not the alibis of fear and therefore the balls and chains that hold you in a false place in life and let only the dazzling picture of success and happiness pass before you as a parade upon the horizon while you are entombed in your false position and must watch the parade go by.
 

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