Why some fears are healthy …

We are often constrained and sometimes crippled by our fears. Consequently, we may think of fear as something undesirable. 

While some fears can certainly be undesirable, fear itself is not; it can be not just desirable, but even essential. It alerts us to danger so that we do the needful to protect ourselves. 

Fear plays a protective role not just in our physical survival, but also in our spiritual survival. The term ‘spiritual survival’ might sound like an oxymoron because the soul is indestructible. However, spiritual survival refers not to the survival of our soul, but to the survival of our spiritual awareness, our spiritual inclination and our spiritual prospects. These can be damaged or even destroyed if we indulge in indiscriminate sensuality and thereby have our consciousness inundated with worldly impressions that bury our spirituality. That’s why the Bhagavad-gita (16.21) refers to the forces of lust, anger and greed as the destroyers of the soul. 

By understanding the dangerousness of these lower drives, we can cultivate a healthy fear for them. Whenever anything tempting comes within our consciousness, we need to become alert and do whatever is necessary to protect ourselves. The fear that triggers such alertness is a healthy fear. 

If we don’t feel fear in tempting situations when we are still prone to relapsing into sensuality, then the absence of fear is not transcendence; it is ignorance: ignorance of our vulnerability, ignorance that can bring about the destruction of all the things that we hold sacred. By studying the Gita, when we cultivate healthy fears, we can pursue spiritual growth determinedly. Such growth can ultimately elevate us to the level of reality that is forever free from fear: the abode of our eternal, all-loving all-attractive Lord, Krishna. 

One-sentence summary:

If we aren’t afraid when we should be afraid, we aren’t in transcendence, we are in ignorance. 

Think it over:

  • How can fear be desirable, even essential?
  • Why is the term ‘spiritual survival’ not an oxymoron?
  • What healthy fear do you need to cultivate? Which tempting situations do you need to protect yourself from?


16.21: There are three gates leading to this hell – lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.

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1 Comment

  1. My realization is that anything connected to the Lord is perfect. Example fear of losing one’s Krishna Consciousness, attachment to the Lord, lust for more and more ways to serve the Lord, anger used for a good cause, intoxicating oneself in the nectar of the Lord’s name.

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