Chapter two of the Bhagavad-Gita (2:40) says, “No step is lost on this path, and no dangers are found. And even a little progress is freedom from fear.” This struck home the first time I read it. That’s understandable, for I’ve always felt from early childhood that if I didn’t face my fears, the fears would overrun me. Facing my fears straight on has always helped diminishes their psychological hold on me. Even so, freedom from fear is truly out of the question. Fear is a core survival emotion.
In pondering dreams, my own, and those others share, I invariably find fear to be an underlying impetus. I don’t mean a flee-the-tiger kind of fear mind you, although nightmares probably fit that bill. The fears to which I refer are the general apprehensions, insecurities, worries, and concerns that haunt waking life.
Interestingly, when I am deeply concerned about something and trying to solve the problem, an answer often comes after sleeping on it. In a biological sense, I’d say dreams are a way the nervous system manages the emotional currents that drive life — need and fear, essentially.
Naturally, we need to look beyond any bizarre details of a dream to see the bottom line of the dream. The nervous system, in building a dream, is not concerned with how logical the dream is. It just needs to reproduce the emotional context. The dream needs to match our emotional reality. Then the nervous system can work on that.
This Science News report, When dreams come true, supports some of what I’m saying here. At one point the researcher, Morewedge, says, “Our results suggest that the dreams most likely to affect our daily lives and relationships are the dreams that accord with our existing beliefs and desires”. My only quibble is that he fails to realize that fear and need form the foundation for desires and beliefs. (Also google [The Science Behind Dreaming].)
I’ve come to respect fear much more now. In my youth, fear was just something I always felt I had to push back on, and eliminate if possible. Now I see fear as the backbone of life itself. Without fear, there is no life. Fear is the wellspring of the survival instinct and need. Each living thing is born with its innate quotient of fear. Too much fear is as problematic as too little fear; fear can be our friend or our enemy. The balance between, the middle way, is the path evolution marches on.
That said, it is clear most are born with more fear, not less. Is that Nature being conservative? Fear is the source spring of need in all life; in humans, need + thought = desire. No wonder all religions take issue with desire, and the road to ruin to which it can lead. Therefore the sage desires not to desire.
I have regarded the Bhagavad Gita as a necessary base-line one needs to embrace to make hatha yoga (or any other ‘yoga’) truly Yoga, and not just a physical gymnastic-like exercise. I taught Hatha Yoga for a while but soon stopped for most of the students were uninterested in any base-line; a ‘cool’ exercise was what they sought. Of course, it isn’t really the Bhagavad Gita per se, but the ‘taoist’ message it conveys. This is why I ended up in Taoism; it is the best ‘ism’ I’ve run across that conveys The teaching that uses no words.
This is the quotation that guides my life. Glad to see it resonates with someone else.