We encounter various fears throughout our lives. Our inner fears can reinforce many wrong beliefs, mislead our faith, and make us lose our way intellectually and spiritually.
And to my understanding, this is what is happening. Overwhelmed by our fears, we let them make our choices and thus empower them. One such fear my country is grappling with is that of superstitions.
Throughout India, millions of people are suffering from a pandemic called superstition. These superstitions make them vulnerable to exploitation by so-called spiritual gurus who prey on those who are desperate and afraid.
On a Monday afternoon, I was sitting in my coordinator’s room discussing my programme, and we were engrossed in our conversation. Suddenly, our attention turned to the man at the door. He had little spots of dirt on his trousers. He was carrying a little bag and looked frightened. My coordinator asked him to sit down. The man sat on the chair next to my coordinator and tears trickled down his face as he began to tell the story of his lost child. He took out a picture of his son from the little bag he was carrying. The boy looked about 15 years of age and he had been missing for two weeks.
The man said, “I have done everything I can think of to find out his whereabouts.” We could see the pain in his eyes. He had searched all his relatives’ houses. “I have faith in the spiritual Guru,” he told us, “He assured me to help find my son if I gave him ₹5,000. For the last two weeks, I have been to every place he suggested, but every time, I have been disappointed.”
The man had more faith in the baba (who called himself a spiritual teacher) than in the police. He didn’t even dare to make an official report. He said the baba had helped people when the police had failed to do so. Many people in his village had told him that the baba could tell him where to find his son.
To my surprise, my coordinator admitted that there was a point in his life when he had almost fallen into the same kind of trap because of superstitious beliefs. But very soon, he realised that fear can make one lose the ability to think and question.
Our coordinator asked one of our co-workers to go with the man and assist him in reporting the incident to the police. He also advised the man not to rely on such people in the future.
Fortunately, the man found his son who had run away due to his fear of failing in exams. He didn’t think he could muster the courage to face his family, especially his father, who had high hopes for him.
This and other similar incidents have led me to realise how innocence and the misguided belief systems we carry can make us fall prey to such evils. Even many educated people in this country share a mindset born out of fear. There is a dire need to tackle this issue.
One way to decipher our fears is to understand that our fears originate within us, and therefore, the solution has got to come from us too.
So, my dear fear, I am very thankful to you. But I would like to let you know that I have discovered your secrets. People run away from you but actually, you are the one who brings an individual closer to their own self. By comprehending and understanding you, we become aware of your non-substantiality. Only awareness can substitute you.
Whenever I voiced my opinion, whenever I stood up to you in revolt, you, like a generous being, succumbed to my revolution. I witnessed your egolessness when I confronted you. You admitted that my being was far more powerful than you.
I saw the miracle of you turning me from submissiveness to the height of emancipation. All it required was a little courage.
No empowerment can be as empowering as the one you confer.
I know life will provide me with plenty of opportunities to know you even better.
Now, to me, you no longer masquerade as an enemy!
I found out one more thing about you – you are petrifying when unknown. However, when fully explored, you disappear as if you never existed.