Aspirants must learn that they are working with, and in, forces, and that right and wrong activity on the physical plane is due simply to a right or wrong direction of the force currents and not to anything inherently wrong or right in the energies themselves.
I. Fear. This is one of the most usual of the manifestations of astral energy, and is put first because it constitutes, for the vast majority, the Dweller on the Threshold and also in the last analysis is the basic astral evil. Every human being knows fear and the range of the fear vibrations extends from the instinctual fears of the savage man based on his ignorance of the laws and forces of nature, and on his terror of the dark and the unknown, to the fears so prevalent today of loss of friends and loved ones, of health, of money, of popularity and on to the final fears of the aspirant – the fear of failure, the fear which has its roots in doubt, the fear of ultimate negation or of annihilation, the fear of death (which he shares equally with all humanity), the fear of the great illusion of the astral plane, of the phantasmagoria of life itself, and also fear of loneliness on the Path, even to the very fear of Fear itself. This list could be largely extended but suffices to indicate the prevalence of fears of all kinds. They dominate most situations and darken many happy moments. They reduce man to a timid and frightened atom of sentient life, standing afraid before the stupendousness of the problems of existence, aware of his insufficiency as a man to cope with all situations and unable to leave his fears and questionings behind and step into his heritage of freedom and of life. Often he is so ridden by fear that he becomes afraid of his very reason. The picture cannot be too blackly colored, for fear is the dominant astral energy at this time and sensitive humanity succumbs all too easily to it.
You ask: What are the basic causes of fear? To that question, if carried far enough back into the esoteric history of the solar system there is no intelligible answer to be given. Only the advanced initiate can comprehend. Fear has its roots in the warp and woof of matter itself, and is par excellence, a formulation or effect of the mind principle, and a result of mental activity. The fact that birds and animals know fear puts the whole subject upon a wider footing than if it were simply a human failing and the result of the activity of the functioning of the human mind. It is not incident upon a man’s possessing a reasoning mind; if he used his reason in the correct way he could eliminate fear. It lies in what is called cosmic Evil – a high sounding phrase, conveying little. It is inherent in the fact of matter itself and in the play of the pairs of opposites – soul and matter. The sentient souls of animals and of men are subconsciously aware of factors such as:
- The vastness and therefore the sensed oppression of the Whole.
- The pressure of all other lives and existences.
- The working of inexorable Law.
- The sense of imprisonment, of limitation, and of consequent inadequacy.
In these factors, growing out of the manifested process itself and persisting and growing in potency during the ages, are found the causes of all modern fear and the basis of all terror, above all that which is purely psychological and not just the instinctual fear of the animal.
To concretize the matter more clearly would not help. Of what use is it to be told that fear is a quality of evil (or of matter) which colors fundamentally or characterizes the astral or sentient body of our planetary Logos? What have you gained if I outlined to you the problem of the great Life in Whom we live and move and have our being as He, on His Own cosmic plane, seeks liberation and faces His Own peculiar trials and tests? How can words adequate be found to convey a cosmic struggle between Lives so impersonal and exalted in consciousness that the words his, or he or tests prove simply laughable and convey no possible aspect of truth or reality whatsoever? Cosmic evil, cosmic progression, or cosmic problems can well be left to that distant time when aspirants have taken the third initiation, have lost all sense of separateness, and – being identified with the Life Aspect and not with the form side – can therefore enter somewhat into the state of consciousness of our planetary Logos, sense His destiny, and vision fleetingly the wonder of the consummation.
Let us confine our attention therefore to man and more particularly to average man, and see whence come the waves of fear which sweep him so constantly off his feet.
1. The Fear of Death is based upon:
- A terror of the final rending processes in the act of death itself.
- Horror of the unknown and the indefinable.
- Doubt as to final immortality.
- Unhappiness at leaving loved ones behind or of being left behind.
- Ancient reactions to past violent deaths, lying deep in the subconsciousness.
- Clinging to form life, because primarily identified with it in consciousness.
- Old erroneous teaching as to Heaven and Hell, both equally unpleasant in prospect to certain types.
I speak about Death as one who knows the matter from both the outer world experience and the inner life expression: – There is no death. There is, as you know, entrance into fuller life. There is freedom from the handicaps of the fleshly vehicle. The rending process so much dreaded does not exist, except in the cases of violent and of sudden death and then the only true disagreeables are an instant and overwhelming sense of imminent peril and destruction, and something closely approaching an electric shock. No more. For the unevolved, death is literally a sleep and a forgetting, for the mind is not sufficiently awakened to react, and the storehouse of memory is as yet practically empty. For the average good citizen, death is a continuance of the living process in his consciousness and a carrying forward of the interests and tendencies of the life. His consciousness and his sense of awareness are the same and unaltered. He does not sense much difference, is well taken care of, and oft is unaware that he has passed through the episode of death. For the wicked and cruelly selfish, for the criminal and for those few who live for the material side only, there eventuates that condition which we call “earth-bound”. The links they have forged with earth and the earthward bias of all their desires force them to remain close to the earth and their last setting in the earth environment. They seek desperately and by every possible means to recontact it and to re-enter. In a few cases, great personal love for those left behind or the non-fulfilment of a recognized and urgent duty holds the good and beautiful in a somewhat similar condition. For the aspirant, death is an immediate entrance into a sphere of service and of expression to which he is well accustomed and which he at once recognizes as not new. In his sleeping hours he has developed a field of active service and of learning. He now simply functions in it for the entire twenty-four hours (talking in terms of physical plane time) instead of for his usual few hours of earthly sleep.
As time progresses and before the close of the next century, death will be finally seen to be non-existent in the sense in which it is now understood. Continuity of consciousness will be so widely developed and so many of the highest types of men will function simultaneously in the two worlds that the old fear will go and the intercourse between the astral plane and the physical plane will be so firmly established and so scientifically controlled that the work of the trance mediums will rightly and mercifully come to an end. The ordinary common trance mediumship and materializations under controls and Indian guides are just as much perversions of the intercourse between the two planes as are sex perversions and the distortions of the true relationship and intercourse between the sexes. I refer not here to the work of clairvoyants no matter how poor, nor to the taking possession of the body by entities of high caliber, but of the unpleasant phenomena of the materialization seance, of ectoplasm, and the blind unintelligent work done by old Atlantean degenerates and earth bound souls, the average Indian chief and guide. There is nothing to be learned from them and much to be avoided. The reign of the fear of death is well-nigh ended and we shall soon enter upon a period of knowledge and of certainty which will cut away the ground from under all our fears. In dealing with the fear of death, there is little to be done except to raise the whole subject onto a more scientific level, and – in this scientific sense – teach people to die. There is a technique of dying just as there is of living, but this technique has been lost very largely in the West and is almost lost except in a few centers of Knowers in the East. More of this can perhaps be dealt with later but the thought of the needed approach to this subject can rest in the minds of the students who read this and perhaps as they study and read and think, material of interest will come their way which could be gradually assembled and published.
2. Fear of the Future. This is a fear that will as yet show a growing tendency to develop and will cause much distress in the world before it is obliterated. It grows out of three human capacities:
a. Instinctual psychological thought habits, which have their roots deep in the animal nature and hark back to the primal instinct of self-preservation. Savage races however, have little of this. That forward looking anticipatory state of mind is predominantly a human characteristic and is that germ of the imaginative faculty, linked to the mental processes, which will eventually merge into that intuitive meditation, plus visualization, which is the true basis of all creative work. But at present it is a menace and a hindrance. Ancient suffering, dire memories, haunting miseries, deep seated in the subconscious rise to the surface frequently and cause a condition of fear and of distress which no amount of reasoning seems able to quiet. Facilities of communication put even the most unimportant en rapport with the tragedies, pains and sufferings of his brother thousands of miles away. The economic catastrophe of the present time has brought about a condition of mass terror, and the more sensitive the individual the more he will react to this state of mind. Fear of the future is therefore a distressing blend of instinctual memory and anticipatory imagination, and few there are who escape this menace. Worry and anxiety are the lot of every man and cannot and will not be offset and overcome by any lesser factor than the soul itself.
b. The flashes of prevision emanating from the soul who is dwelling in the consciousness of the Eternal Now. When contact with the soul is firmly established and the consciousness of the Knower is stabilized in the brain then prevision will carry with it no terror. The picture will then be seen as a whole, and not as a passing and fragmentary glimpse as is now the case. So again, the remedy remains the same: the establishing of such close relations between the soul and the brain, via the trained and controlled mind, that cause and effect will be seen as one, and right steps can be taken to handle situations correctly and to the best advantage. Prevision seldom takes the form of forecasting happiness, and the reason is not far to seek. The race is at a point where the prodigal son is conscious of the husks and of the futility of earthly life. He is ready for a careful consideration of the Buddha’s message, and he is ready because he has been devoured for centuries by war and famine, by desire and by the economic struggle. The vista he sees before him appears black and forbidding and full of cataclysmic disaster.
Yet if men carried the concept of brotherhood with all its implications into the life and work of every day, into all intercourse whether between the capitalist and the laborer, the politician and the people, between nation and nation, or between race and race, there would emerge that peace on earth which nothing could upset or overturn. So simple a rule, and yet utterly beyond the mental grasp of the majority!
c. A mass of individual distress and fear can be taken on by an individual and yet have nothing to do with him whatsoever. It is quite possible for a man to tune in on the fears of other people whilst he himself has literally nothing to fear of any kind. He can so identify himself with their forebodings of future disaster that he interprets them in terms of his own coming experience. He is unable to dissociate himself from their reactions and absorbs so much of the poison in their emotional and mental auras that he is swept into a very vortex of terror and of fear. Yet, if he did but know it, the future holds for him no hidden catastrophes. He is simply deluded, but the effect on his astral body and upon his solar plexus is identically the same. This is painfully the case now where there are so many thousands of sensitive aspiring souls, inexperienced in the handling of the world karma, wide open to the suffering of others and unable to distinguish between their own destiny in the immediate future and the destiny of others in their environment.
It is possible also for the more advanced aspirant and those upon the Path of Discipleship to contact ancient vibrations of evil and misery on the astral plane – evil long past and gone; it is possible for them to read a tiny fragment of the akashic records which concerns coming distress to an individual or a group, which they themselves may never see and yet nevertheless appropriate the conveyed information to themselves and suffer consequently.
3. Fear of Physical Pain. Some people have this fear as the underlying cause of all their anxieties, little though they may recognize it. It is really a result of the other three classes of fears; of the strain which they put upon their astral body, and the tension caused by the use of the imaginative faculty and the reasoning tension in the physical nervous system. This system becomes very much over-sensitized and capable of the most acute physical suffering. Ills and ails which would seem of no vital importance to the ordinary and more phlegmatic types are aggravated into a condition of real agony. This should be recognized by those who care for the sick and steps should be taken to minimize the physical condition through the use of sedatives and of anesthetics so that undue strain should not be put on an already overworked nervous system.
You ask me whether I am endorsing the use of ether and chloroform in operations, and of sedative drugs. Not basically, but most certainly temporarily. When man’s contact with his soul is firmly established, and when he has developed the faculty of passing in and out of his physical body at will, these helps will no longer be needed. They may be regarded in the meantime as emergency measures, necessitated by world karma and the point of evolution of the race. I am not of course referring to the use of narcotics and of drugs by hysterical and unbalanced people, but to the judicious use of ameliorants of pain under the wise guidance of the physician.
4. Fear of Failure. This affects many people along many lines. The fear that one may fail to make good, the fear that we may not gain the love and admiration of those we love, the fear that others despise us or look down upon us, the fear that one may fail to see and grasp opportunity, these are all aspects of the fear complex which colors the lives of so many worthy people. This can be based upon an environment which is uncongenial and unappreciative, on an equipment which seems inadequate to its task, and in many cases has its roots in the fact that a man is a disciple, or a really big soul ready to tread the Probationary Path.
He has had a touch of soul contact; he has seen the vision and the possibility; he looks at his personality and ranges it up alongside the work to be done, and the quality of the people with whom that has brought him into contact. The result is an inferiority complex of a most powerful kind, because fed by real streams of force from above. Energy, we know, follows thought and is tinctured by the quality of that thought. The man turns a critical and disgusted eye upon his personality and by so doing feeds the very things which he deplores and thus renders himself still more inadequate to the task. It is a vicious circle of effort and must be offset by a complete realization of the truth contained in the words: “As a man thinketh, so is he.” As he dwells upon the nature of his omniscient soul, he becomes like that soul. His thought is focused in the soul consciousness and he becomes that soul in manifestation through the medium of the personality.
This is but a brief summation of the major fears which afflict humanity and serves only to open up the subject and give opportunity for a few practical suggestions.