Swami Vivekananda was an eminent Hindu spiritual leader whose lectures and writings have been a source of guidance for people of all sections of society.
Swami Vivekananda, born as Narendra Dutta in the Bengal Presidency of British India in 1863 was a prodigy by birth and an important disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, a great Hindu spiritual scholar in the 19th century.
His ideologies, “The divine, the absolute, exists within all human beings regardless of social status” and “Seeing the divine as the essence of others will promote love and social harmony” were the first of its kind in blending religion with humanity and nationalism in that period.
He was also the main force responsible for Hinduism reaching the western spiritual world. His speeches on his tour to the US are still famous and quoted everywhere for inspiration.
Swami Vivekananda’s teachings covered a wide range of topics from education, caste system, society to religion, womanhood and many other spiritual matters of importance.
In today’s article, we have a set of quotes from Swami Vivekananda himself on fear and fearlessness.
Fear is a natural feeling in living beings. It is an emotional state programmed by Mother Nature herself to assure our survival. Our body reaches a state of fear when it perceives something as a threat, and readies our physical body to fight or flee to safety.
But in today’s civilised world, we are afraid of so many inconsequential things.
Anxiety arising from fear of the unknown, the uncertainties and the changes we come across do nothing but harm our mind, body and soul.
Is fear just a survival instinct or a crutch developed from weakness and reluctance to face the ever-changing world?
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Here are Swami Vivekananda’s words that answer and explain fear and overcoming it.
Swami Vivekananda’s Quotes on Fear:
1. “All this is our work, our fear — fear, the beginning of misery, of disease, etc. By being nervous and fearful we injure others, by being so fearful to hurt we hurt more. By trying so much to avoid evil we fall into its jaws.”
2. “Always say, ‘I have no fear.’ Tell this to everybody –’Have no fear’. Fear is death, fear is sin, fear is hell, fear is unrighteousness, fear is wrong life. All the negative thoughts and ideas that are in this world have proceeded from this evil spirit of fear. This fear alone has kept the sun, air and death in their respective places and functions, allowing none to escape from their bounds.”
3. “Fear never leaves those who earn their livelihoods by unethical means or who cause harm to others. Therefore, at this time when we face the great fear of death, desist from all such behaviour.”
4. “If you read the Vedas, you will find this word always repeated — fearlessness — fear nothing. Fear is a sign of weakness. A man must go about his duties without taking notice of the sneers and the ridicule of the world.”
5. “In wealth is the fear of poverty, in knowledge the fear of ignorance, in beauty the fear of age, in fame the fear of backbiters, in success the fear of jealousy, even in body is the fear of death. Everything in this earth is fraught with fear. He alone is fearless who has given up everything.”
6. “It is true that fear is the sure cause of degradation and sin. It is fear that brings misery, fear that brings death, fear that breeds evil. And what causes fear? Ignorance of our own nature. Each of us is heir-apparent to the Emperor of emperors; are of the substance of God Himself. Nay, according to the Advaita, we are God Himself though we have forgotten our own nature in thinking of ourselves as little men.”
7. “No God to be afraid of. He is the one being of whom we shall never be afraid, because He is our own Self. There is only one being of whom you cannot possibly be afraid; He is that.”
8. “Only to selfishness comes fear. He who has nothing to desire for himself, whom does he fear, and what can frighten him? What fear has death for him? What fear has evil for him?”
9. “Then the other great source of misery is fear. Why does one man injure another? Because he fears he will not have enough enjoyment. One man fears that, perhaps, he will not have enough money, and that fear causes him to injure others and rob them. How can there be fear if there is only one existence? If a thunderbolt falls on my head, it was I who was the thunderbolt, because I am the only existence. …. But as soon as we have realised that ‘I am He, I am the Self of the universe, I am eternally blessed, eternally free’ — then will come real love, fear will vanish, and all misery cease.”
10. “The fear of reputation is stronger than the fear of death.”
11. “This I have seen in life — he who is over-cautious about himself falls into dangers at every step; he who is afraid of losing honour and respect, gets only disgrace; he who is always afraid of loss always loses.”
12. “Where one sees another, one hears another so long as there are two, there must be fear, and fear is the mother of all [misery]. Where none sees another, where it is all One, there is none to be miserable, none to be unhappy. [There is only] the One without a second. Therefore be not afraid. Awake, arise, and stop not till the goal is reached!”
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Swami Vivekananda’s teachings on Fearlessness:
1. “Be not afraid even if there is evil in your work, for there is no work which has no evil.
2. “Leave it unto the Lord, and do not look for the results.”
3. “The moment you fear, you are nobody. It is fear that is the great cause of misery in the world. It is fear that is the greatest of all superstitions. It is fear that is the cause of our woes, and it is fearlessness that brings heaven even in a moment. Therefore, “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.”
4. “Be not afraid, my children. Look not up in that attitude of fear towards that infinite starry vault as if it would crush you. Wait! In a few hours more, the whole of it will be under your feet. Wait, money does not pay, nor name; fame does not pay, nor learning. It is love that pays; it is character that cleaves its way through adamantine walls of difficulties.”
5. “Be not afraid, for all great power, throughout the history of humanity, has been with he people. From out of their ranks have come all the greatest geniuses of the world, and history can only repeat itself. Be not afraid of anything. You will do marvellous work.”
6. “Be not afraid. Think not how many times you fail. Never mind. Time is infinite. Go forward: assert yourself again and again, and light must come. You may pray to everyone that was ever born, but who will come to help you? And what of the way of death from which none knows escape?”
7. “You will gain courage, and at last like a lion you will roar out, ‘I am It! I am It!’.”
8. “Help thyself out by thyself. None else can help thee, friend. For thou alone art thy greatest enemy, thou alone art thy greatest friend. Get hold of the Self, then. Stand up. Don’t be afraid. In the midst of all miseries and all weakness, let the Self come out, faint and imperceptible though it be at first.”
9. “I am neither a man, nor a woman, nor a god, nor a demon; no, nor any of the animals, plants, or trees. I am neither poor nor rich, neither learned nor ignorant. All these things are very little compared with what I am: for I am It! I am It! Behold the sun and the moon and the stars: I am the light that is shining in them! I am the beauty of the fire! I am the power in the universe! For, I am It! I am It!”
The basis of Swami Vivekananda’s teachings on fear lies in the belief in oneself. He says that when you realise your significance in the creation and simultaneously your insignificance when you take into account the vastness of the Universe, you will attain the wisdom of life.
Meaningless fears will leave your mind and you will focus on more significant facets of your life. He says that once you attain the knowledge of your oneness with the Universe, you will generate joy and peace for yourself and all other beings.
This will ultimately eliminate all unwelcome fears from your life and set you free.
Through these enlightening teachings on fearlessness, one can find solution to life’s sufferings and lead a life free from all worries and useless pursuits.