This is about one of my childhood friends – an extremely talented and popular child in her circles. She would make a name wherever she went. She was a very friendly child. However, in spite of being extremely talented, she was dead scared of the stage. As a child, whenever she used to go up to the podium to deliver a speech or to enact out a play or to render her dialogues, her feet would shiver, her heart would beat as if she had a pounding staff in there. Her hands would go as cold as dead; her face muscles would constrict making her cheeks red and hot. And once she was done, she would feel as light as a feather. It would always end with a big round of applause.
As she aged, she did mature with the thought that these were just feelings that she had to overcome. She would make up her mind to be more confident and fearless the next time. Why fear when HE is here? Why fear when she had done her homework? These and many more thoughts would make her more introspective and give her an elated feeling that she was more mature than before.
Come teenage and here she was with more talent in her store. A great mimic, a wonderful orator, an excellent actor, a good singer, a bubbling friend and a very creative person. This is how her people knew her. She was in her engineering course when she competed in a singing competition. The prelims were held in the auditorium and there she was standing, again, as a bunch of nerves. Where did the introspection go? Where were those elated moments of maturity? All of them vanished on seeing the teeming row of audience. She sang the song “tere mere milan ki yeh raina” from the movie “abhiman”. She held the paper with the lyrics so tight that her palms began to sweat making the paper all wet. Though she closed her eyes tight while singing, she occasionally opened to see the audience’s reaction and the judges seem to be very pleased by the song. They were whispering something among themselves and she wondered what it could be. The song was done and again a round of big applause for the song. Few people asked her the lyrics and few others patted her for her voice and “bhava”. She was elated and once again started the introspection with its usual conclusions.
Years rolled by. She is now a working professional in an MNC. And wherever she went, music followed her. She gave performances in office occasions and became a known figure . But before every occasion, she would be one bundle of nerves shivering and her heart beating fast. It was a known beginning and a known outcome. But did she ever learn? Did her introspection give her any direction and maturity?
Life also goes on like this with fear taking the center stage.But why do we fear? What is it that goes on in our mind before a performance, while performing? Why is it that even though we are well prepared, we still have a pinch of fear in ourselves? I am just taking one example of where fear can arise.
When we get prepared for some goal, we first start by putting our expectations and outcomes. A plethora of questions and doubts rises in or minds. And it all begins with the negative thought. Our negative vasanas are so much engraved in our karma that we tend to think all the negatives first. A thought of all positives will be considered as being over confident by us and even elders at home. So, it all starts with the negative thoughts – What if I make a mistake? What if it doesn’t go well? What if I forget? What if people don’t like it? What if no one appreciates? These and many other questions pour into our little mind, confusing and deluding it. And these result in a physical show of shivering, fast heart beat, reddening of the face, sweating of palms etc. So, are we going to allow this state forever? Are we just going to live with fear all our lives? Is there any way out for this? THERE IS.
All these emotions are due to our EGO. The feeling of “I” within and associating it with the body is the root cause for all emotions. When we do an act, we do it with the thought as “I am doing it”. “I have to get the benefit”. “It is because of “ME” that I succeeded”. It is this possessiveness that gives rise to emotions like fear, anger, greed and jealousy. In other words, EGO is “Edging God Out”. As long as we associate our actions and the result with the “I” in us, this life is going to be miserable.
Our scriptures, be it the Vedas, or the GITA or the Upanishads, or the dharma shastras – all convey a common message and that is “not to dwell in the fruits of our action”. What we ought to do is : do our work and prepare ourselves for whatever be the outcome. Let us not go into the future and get anxious of what will happen. We have to do our best and for this we have prepare well. When we are ready and our preparations are satisfactory to us, then the fear does come down a bit. I am telling this out of personal experience.
I had enrolled myself for a program in my apartment complex. This was my first classical performance in my apartment. I started to practice in an earnest way. One day, I got to hear Shri. Chinmayananda’s commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita- chapter 2, sloka 47. I heard it with great intent. Many a time, we hear these upanyasams and discourses but hold on to the vibrations for a very short period. As time passes, it wiles away and we are back to our old self. This time, I was so impressed by the interpretation, that I decided I had to try and put to practice what he said. So, whenever I practiced for the program, I made sure that I would clear my mind of all thoughts (positive and negative) that would sow the seed of expectations. Any such thought was “consciously” avoided. Even when I spoke to family members about the program, the result aspect was consciously avoided. Every time my mind drifted towards these thoughts, I consciously brought it back. Oh!!! It was very tough. Hundreds of hooded serpents in the form of thoughts kept hitting my mind and I somehow kept reiterating what Shri. Chinmayananda said, prayed reverently and turned them away. As an outcome, believe me, there was definitely a feeling of calmness and peace within.
I also realized that what a slave we are to our minds. We give to all its whims and fancies with absolutely no control over it. If only we could control the mind, miracles could happen every moment.
On the day of the program, there was a bit of fear which I can say was because of the vasanas; but, surely not because of “not knowing the unknown future”. To my surprise, I found that as I sang on the D-Day, there was no shivering, no sweating, and no redness of my cheeks. The voice came out loud and bold. I received a lot of positive response and appreciation after this program. The feeling was so good – not the feeling of success or appreciation but the feeling of fearlessness, the feeling of “not expecting the unknown”.
Our scriptures are such great storehouses of lessons. They make our life so easy and peaceful. It is we who shun them and make life miserable. If we were to take what is said in a positive way and follow them, I am sure material success will automatically follow along with the spiritual quest.