Chapter 6: I Am a Living Light
The first question:
What is fear made of? It is always there behind a corner, but when I turn to face it, it is only a shadow. If it is nonsubstantial, how does it manage to have such a power over me?
Fear is as nonsubstantial as your shadow, but it is. The shadow also exists - nonsubstantial, negative, but not nonexistential - and sometimes the shadow can have a great impact on you. In a jungle when the night is approaching you can be frightened of your own shadow. In a lonely place, on a lonely path, you can start running because of your own shadow. Your running will be real, your escaping will be real, but the cause will be nonsubstantial.
You can run away from a rope thinking that it is a snake; if you come back and you look closely and you observe, you will laugh at the whole stupidity of it.
But people are afraid to come to places where fear exists. People are more afraid of fear than of anything else, because the very existence of fear shakes your foundations. The shaking of the foundations is very real, remember. The fear is like a dream, a nightmare, but after a nightmare when you are awake the aftereffects still persist, the hangover persists. Your breathing has changed, you are perspiring, your body is still trembling, you are hot. Now you know that it was just a nightmare, a dream, nonsubstantial, but even this knowing will take time to penetrate to the very core of your being. Meanwhile, the effect of the nonsubstantial dream will continue. Fear is a nightmare.
You ask me, “What is fear made of?” Fear is made of ignorance of one’s own self. There is only one fear; it manifests in many ways, a thousand and one can be the manifestations, but basically fear is one, and that is that “Deep inside, I may not be.” And in a way it is true that you are not.
God is, you are not. The host is not, the guest is. And because you are suspicious - and your suspicion is very valid - you don’t look in. You go on pretending that you are; you know that if you look in you are not. This is a deep, tacit understanding. It is not intellectual, it is existential, it is in your very guts, the feel that “I may not be. It is better not to look in. Go on looking out.” At least it keeps you befooled, it keeps the illusion intact that “I am.” But because this feeling of “I amness” is false it creates fear; anything can destroy it, any deep encounter can shatter it. It can be shattered by love, it can be shattered by meeting a master, it can be shattered by a great disease, it can be shattered by seeing someone die. It can be shattered in many ways, it is very fragile. You are managing it somehow by not looking in.