Among all the destructive forces which make havoc among human lives, fear, without doubt, takes the lead. It is an unreasoning emotion. It silently steals into trembling souls when there seems to be no outward occasion, and again it marshals its forces in the production or persistence of a great epidemic.
Fear often becomes a mental contagion, and that forms the basis for its physical correspondence.
There is a tradition, in substance, that once as some pilgrims were leaving Bagdad they met the Plague about to enter the city. Upon inquiry, they were told that his errand was to slay a thousand people. It turned out that ten thousand died. Upon being reminded of the great excess after he had left, he replied: "I slew only the promised thousand, and fear killed the rest."
The recognition of the baneful effects of fear is not peculiar to the New Thought, for medical annals are crowded with illustrations of its deadly power. Some eminent writers of the regular school have given it credit for the ability to produce almost every known disease.
Upon no subject have some New Thought writers been more illogical and inconsistent than in their treatment of this negative state of consciousness. They have started with the foundation premise that "All is good," and then enlarged upon the fearfulness of fear.
To fear fear, is the worst kind of fear. One is reminded of a bit of poetic effusion that appeared not long since which describes the situation.
And now I hold my breath;
I am so scared for fear I'll worry
That I'm worried 'most to death.
It is worse than nothing to dwell upon the fearfulness of fear, and the fear thought, unless the scientific antidote is also presented. It is easy to say: "You must not fear," but as its exercise is involuntary, nothing is gained. No one wants to fear, but if he does, something more is required than to say: "Don't."
Although almost every system of vital thought has had its corresponding devil, one should not be expected in the New Thought. But as treated by some of its professed exponents, fear may well be called the New Thought devil. He can exist only in the consciousness, but when there entrenched, either by theology or the New Thought, he is very real, in effect.
How can this great Adversary be disposed of? Not by solemn warning, but only through a discovery of his beneficence.
Let us stick to our text: All is good. When rightly understood there are no exceptions.
Someone will exclaim: "What a paradox!" or even: "What an absurdity! Do you mean to say that there is any goodness in fear?" Not so long as it is feared. How, then, shall the fearfulness of fear be taken away? There is but one possible way, and that is by convincing the fearful that it has use and beneficent purpose, when understood.
If something has no existence, save in consciousness, so long as one believes that it is against him it is really destructive. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
Suppose one to be groping in a cellar. He does not mind the darkness, for the air is rather warm and agreeable. There really is no enemy lurking there, but he is now told that there is, and warned. He then feels real danger. He does not dislike the darkness and dampness, but fears the hidden enemy. He discovers a stairway leading up to the light and haste us to ascend. His supposed enemy has served a useful purpose.
If you are dwelling in the basement of your own consciousness on the plane of seductive and selfish falsities, and are quite content, nothing less than the specter of fear will drive you higher. It cannot go higher, for there is its home, but it has done you a favor in making you uncomfortable. Now you look about for an escape which before you did not desire. You unwittingly have invited the enemy, and it has done you a friendly act. It impelled you to leave the region of dark and disorderly thoughts and go higher into the realm of the spiritual consciousness. This always has been open for you, but you would not ascend until fear goaded you from behind.
The simple understanding that such is the why and wherefore of fear transforms and disarms it. After its mission has been performed we look back upon it as an angel of light in disguise. It was the darkness in us that distorted it and made it look ugly.
We turn the tables on our supposed enemies by loving them. We thereby give them lifting power for us.
If we love the lower realm because our thoughts and deeds make us at home there, it is well if a few specters close up behind us to hasten our progress.
If we are unresponsive to the drawing power of high ideals in front, we invite negatives to come and roughly push us from behind. We must comply with the universal forward trend.
Everything works for good, but not for us until we recognize the goodness of the moral order. When fully interpreted evil ceases to be evil, and becomes educational experience.
Could one look into the consciousness of people, a person would rarely be found who has not his peculiar private fear. It may be called a weakness or an idiosyncrasy. He may never mention it, and his nearest friend may never suspect it. Often he is aware that it is utterly unreasonable, but it sticks and will not depart at his bidding. He should turn about and make a special friend of it, and thereby not only strip off its disagreeable features, but also make it a fulcrum over which he can hasten his spiritual development.