Rising Above Fear
I get so tired of hearing self-proclaimed prophets, psychics, and remote viewers predict horrible outcomes in our world, without any vision of hope for an eventual outcome of peace and goodness. Sure, there are lots of bad things happening in the world and there is most certainly evil, in the human realm as well as in other realms. But come on, let's understand the real purpose of any prophecy or prediction: to agitate us into action, to solve the problems our world faces, to awaken us out of our sleep states of compromise and apathy, to change our destructive ways that are all too often based on ignorance, selfishness, and/or greed. So, the true purpose of any legitimate prophecy or prediction that forecasts doom and gloom is to become incorrect.
I appreciate hearing the few so-called prophets who talk of possible future events, of an “apocalypse,” from what I consider a more healthy and realistic perspective. Usually we think that an apocalypse brings destruction and very terrible things. It does, but out of that chaos can come sanity and healing. We can move out of our fears and see an apocalypse as an opportunity for revelation, enlightenment, rebirth, a new way of looking at things, and evolvement into something better.
I also can hardly tolerate the fear-based rhetoric on the mainstream television networks that emphasize the “war on terror” and the sensationalized murders, accidents, corruption in high places, and other bad news items. I'm also appalled at the number of horror and action films there are that focus on the terrible things in the world and feed people's lower, fear- and hate-based natures. Oh yeah, there are a few minutes spent on good news and there are some films that have social and artistic value, but they are in the minority.
Though I don't normally choose to watch films that are considered horror or are fear-based, I recall many many years ago seeing The Exorcism of Emily Rose because someone had recommended it, indicating that it was more of a psychological court drama than a film like the classic movie The Exorcist or other films that focus on demon possession and all of the supposed horrific distortions that result. What bothered me about the film is that the individual who supposedly was possessed by multiple nasty personalities thought that it was her mission, as a devout religious person, to continue living with these demons because it would show people that there is a world of other dimensions and spirits, and that if people realize this, maybe they would know that God exists. Excuse me! I personally don't think people find God through horror and destructiveness; that's twisted. I most certainly have not grown closer to God or true spiritual reality by hanging out with ghouls and goblins, whether real or make believe.
I recall a few years ago having two separate conversations about fear with two people who have known me in my childhood as well as in my adulthood—my sister, and an Apache friend who grew up with me on the San Carlos Apache reservation. In my conversations with each of these women, we talked of the place fear has had throughout our lives.
As mothers, my sister and I acknowledged that the fear and worry we still experience over our grown children will probably be with us for the rest of our lives. But we must be careful in not allowing this innate mothering concern to result in us mothers becoming “control freaks.” If we allow our fears concerning the well-being of our children to dominate us, we become “smothering mothers” who can either develop unhealthy, co-dependent relationships with our children that render them almost helpless, or cause a wide chasm of bitter resentment between us and our child that sometimes can never be bridged. What a fine line it is for mothers to walk—being an appropriately responsible parent who should take control, or being an over-controlling, fear-motivated parent who drives her child away or too far within.
Though I have had several nightmarish dreams about my children being harmed over the years, I recall one that stands out even today. When one of my daughters (who now is a mother herself) was around three years old, for about one month I had recurring dreams, each dream being a different scenario with the same outcome—her drowning. For two years I worried constantly about her, losing much sleep as a result. I recall being very anxious and nervously watchful whenever she was near any body of water, including her bath. Eventually, my fear of my precious daughter drowning or dying in some other kind of accident lessened as the months and years rolled by, with her surviving all the things that active, adventurous kids do. However, I still am jumpy whenever I am near a body of water with small children around.
What did those dreams so many years ago of my small daughter drowning mean? Besides taking them literally and being ever watchful that she was safe, I did consider if they were a warning that my toddler daughter was drowning in another way. Was she psychologically drowning in her home or pre-school environments? Were there certain people in her life who were harming her in some manner? Oh, I did all of the investigating possible, but could not come to any conclusion that my daughter was being harmed in any drastic way. I did much soul-searching, realizing many of my own shortcomings as a mother, but the only area in which I felt I was possibly smothering her was my anxious over-protectiveness, which I considered reasonable since I did have those dreams and children do die in drowning accidents.
I realize that dreams can be useful at times and indeed can be messages, literally or symbolically, but I also know that many times dreams are merely a hodgepodge of subconscious thoughts and emotions that are being released. Were those “drowning dreams” merely my own motherly subconscious fears being expressed? I don't know. All I know is that they were very real to me and did feed my fear for the safety of my little girl, and for a couple of years I became imbalanced in my concern.
I have had many nightmares, scary dreams, that have caused me to be fearful. I recall going through a period in my own childhood where I had recurring nightmares of large spiders crawling all over the walls and floor of my bedroom. I would wake up in terror, shaking and screaming for my parents who would come in to comfort me, turning on the light to show me that there were no spiders, explaining why rationally it was not possible to have hundreds of giant spiders in my room. Then they would sit down on my bed and pray out loud with me, thanking God and the angels for being there to look over me. After that I felt comforted and safe, able to go back to sleep. Every time the spider dream (or any other nightmare) returned, my parents would patiently reenact the saving-me-from-fear scenario.
I remember the first time I saw a movie designed to create fear in its watchers. I was about twelve years old and was having an overnight stay with a friend who had a television. Since my home did not have TV. I was very excited about watching a late-night movie called Frankenstein's Daughter. For two weeks after that, I was terrorized by nightmares about man-made monsters coming to our house to brutally slaughter members of my family. My parents would explain to me that in reality there were no Frankenstein-like monsters and the movie was fiction, made-up, and then we would pray.
Today I am puzzled by the obsession that some people have in watching films or reading material that incites fear. I am reminded of the statement found in The URANTIA Book (in a section that discusses the human mind and the divine mind circuitry of the Absolute Mind) where we are told that “often, all too often,” we humans “subject” our minds “to animal fear and distort them by useless anxiety.”1 It seems pretty stupid to me that we would do such a thing for recreation.
How my parents helped me deal with my childhood fears gave me coping mechanisms that I have used throughout my life. Any time a fear raises its head, I use my reason, my scientific mind, to investigate the fear, to see its root and reason and whether the fear is even realistic. If it is something I need to address and do something about, I then take action to solve the problem. If the fear isn't really founded, I must adjust my mind to deal realistically with my fearfulness before it turns into some form of paranoia.
Here's where faith comes in—faith in the First Source and Center, a loving Personality more powerful than me and my fear. When my parents prayed to God, the Universal Father, in helping me cope with my fear, I knew deep in my soul that I indeed was in God's circle of caring spirit personalities. I did not see them, though I often sensed their presence around me, and I most certainly experienced the spirit presence of God within me. I think the prayer opened up my mind and heart circuitry to the divine presence, which helped me adjust psychospiritually to my reality and to realize that usually my fears were unfounded.
In the discussion on fear with my sister, we agreed that fear is very much a part of the human being, and that fear can be quite useful at times. Fear can save lives because it motivates action to get out of a dangerous situation or make necessary changes for continued survival, physical or psychospiritual. But fear can imprison people too. As my sister pointed out, if an individual lives in bondage of fear, fear often translates into worry, anxiety, anger, self-pity, lack of compassion, victimization, blame, hatred, and many other lower-nature attitudes and emotions that prevent us from being healthy and happy. If we allow fear to be a driving force in our lives and the reason for many of our choices, then eventually it will become paranoia, which, according to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, is fear that is delusional, at times psychotic, and involves excessive and irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others.
According to Rob Brezsny, the antidote for paranoia is pronoia, which is “an understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly.” Pronoia is “a means of training your senses and intellect so you're able to perceive the fact that life typically gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.”2 I like that. And it makes me think of something from the section called “The Life and Teachings of Jesus” in The URANTIA Book. “As you view the world, remember that the black patches of evil which you see are shown against a white background of ultimate good. You do not view merely white patches of good which show up miserably against a black background of evil.”3
As I grew up and out of my unfounded fears and into my faith in a real and loving God, my nightmares and other worries diminished until now I do have a general, overall attitude of pronoia that determines my reactions and choices in life. But I think my pronoia has an added spiritual dimension because of my faith in and experience of God and His/Her goodness, fused with an understanding of the scientific aspect of reality. I have come to realize—after studying and embracing the epochal revelation found in The URANTIA Book and The Cosmic Family volumes, and the science of our natural world and universe, on microscopic and macroscopic levels—that the destiny of each one of us humans is bonded with the destiny of the evolution of all of reality in the grand universe, ever moving toward divine pattern of complementary harmony and cooperation on all levels of reality—physical, mindal, and spiritual. In other words, the stars and galaxies are moving towards light and life, and so are we human beings, as individuals and as a species.
If we stay imprisoned in our fears, we will miss the many hints and nudges that come from the spiritual level of reality, and we will miss the glaring facts that are presented to us from the physical and mindal levels of reality. Our fears can keep us locked in destructive, habitual ways of responding to situations and people that challenge our superstitious and unrealistic belief systems.
In my conversation about fear with my childhood friend from San Carlos, we discussed how we used to tell ghost stories as children and become scared out of our wits. Now, of course, we've outgrown those fears because we realize that most of those ghost stories are “the mind at mischief,” with superstitious, overactive imaginations going wild. We used to get so frightened when we believed certain bullying peers who threatened us with having their medicine man relative (who dabbled in “black magic”) put a curse on us. Both my friend and I have outgrown most of those fears about curses and black magic, which were just as much a part of the traditional Apache religion as was the belief in good medicine men and women who brought healing, and good spirits who helped human beings. But many of my friend's Apache friends and relatives have not evolved out of those superstitions of curses. Nor have many others of all races outgrown their fear of demons who might possess them, and ghastly ghosts who can haunt places and people.
My friend told of an experience when one night she awakened to the realization that there was another personality in her room, a being that was not of this dimension. She was terrified, for this was a new experience, though, being brought up in the traditional Apache culture, she has always been aware of the existence of personalities of another dimension. Because my friend was going through a process of deep self-evaluation and healing and because I am aware of certain nonmaterial personalities who are present with us when we go through these dark nights of the soul, I was sure that this personage my friend saw was actually there to nourish and encourage her in her struggles to expand and heal. When I shared my thoughts on who was present with her that night, she immediately resonated with that and knew that her terror had resulted because she was not familiar with this presence.
I read the following from The URANTIA Book to my friend: “Evolutionary religion is born of a simple and all-powerful fear, the fear which surges through the human mind when confronted with the unknown, the inexplicable, and the incomprehensible. Religion eventually achieves the profoundly simple realization of an all-powerful love, the love which sweeps irresistibly through the human soul when awakened to the conception of the limitless affection of the Universal Father for the sons and daughters of the universe.”4 Both of us could relate to that for we both had grown in our own understanding and experiences of God and the spiritual world, my friend more recently, for in her own struggles to rebuild her own brokenness she had encountered her own spirituality at a more personal and deeper level than ever before.
Since we were talking about personalities of another dimension who are here for our benefit, I told her about what The URANTIA Book says about angels. “The only emotion actuating you [humans] which is somewhat difficult for the angels to comprehend is the legacy of animal fear that bulks so large in the mental life of the average inhabitant of Urantia [Earth]. The angels really find it hard to understand why you will so persistently allow your higher intellectual powers, even your religious faith, to be so dominated by fear, so thoroughly demoralized by the thoughtless panic of dread and anxiety.”5
My friend and I continued to converse about how fearful we humans get with new experiences, with unknown territory, with anything that may challenge our comfort zones—whether they are persons, uncertain outcomes, or ideas. My friend shared with me that her family and friends seemed angry with her because of her attempts to start a new life by making some changes in her lifestyle and moving to a new place. I told her that they probably were fearful of losing her as they knew her, for they were comfortable with her as she was, even in her downtrodden and broken state. Often family, friends, and acquaintances react with fear, distrust, and disappointment when someone they know goes through some major change, some form of transformation.6
I realize that fear is an integral part of almost every human being on this planet. Fear has many faces, many facets, and there are many reasons for it. Fear can be useful at times, but usually, if we allow fear to overtake us, it becomes a burden that poisons us mentally, destroying our peace of mind and happiness. If we allow the perfect love of the Universal Father/Mother to permeate us, then indeed the truth that “perfect love casts out all fear”7 will be our reality. If we continue in our faith walk, fusing the reality of spiritual truth with scientific truth, we will make “the important discovery that many human perplexities are in reality non-existent, that many pressing troubles are the creations of exaggerated fear and the offspring of augmented apprehension.”8
We all fear cancer, right? And rightfully so. But we should also fear fear. Let me explain. The basic concept is that normal healthy cells in our body have the ability to regenerate and repair themselves. But cancer cells exist when that normal functioning goes awry and the cells begin to attack themselves, regenerating inappropriately and dysfunctionally. In simple terms, it's a good process gone bad, and we all know it can lead to the destruction of parts of the body or possibly the entire body. In a sense, it's not much different with our fears. A little fear, operating under normal human conditions, can be a good thing, something that protects us and keeps us safe and healthy. But too much, gone awry, can wreck the same kind of havoc and destruction (on physical and mental/emotional levels) as a literal cancer. So use faith over fear, allowing balance and intelligent discernment to be your guiding principles when addressing your fears, whatever they may be.
2 From Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings by Rob Brezsny
3 The URANTIA Book, p. 2076
4 Ibid., p. 986
5 Ibid., p. 1243
6 I recommend listening to my teaching, “The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself,” by Niánn Emerson Chase
7 The URANTIA Book, p. 552
8 Ibid., p. 1611