Fear is our protector. Fear is the demon of the past.
In the Vedic philosophy of creation, fear arose in the moment the „I“ came into being. If there is a sense of I, there is also the instinct to protect this I-dentity.
Fear is a primary emotion and it is a survival instinct. Neurobiologically fear is generated in an area of the limbic system of the brain, called the amygdala. This area is basically responsible for integrating information coming in from the outside via the senses, triggering responses throughout its many connections with the central nervous system. It is also responsible for the formation and storage of memories associated with emotional events. Thus it is central for learning and consolidation of short-term into long-term memory.
So fear originally is our protector. It is a sense of caution, that inner feeling of “something is not right” and it its that sudden realisation of danger, that only lasts a moment and it leads to an arousal reaction to make us awake, alert and ready to fight or flee.
Note that the sensation of fear itself may only last few seconds – what we feel being anxious, is nothing but inner resistance, or a continued stress reaction of the body to whatever causes us to be “in high alert” or “avoidance”.
This kind of fear does not serve protection, but is anticipating that something may be going wrong. “The worst things in my life never happened”, said Mark Twain and this is what is describing best our anxiety, worry or dread of future events. The reason for this is fear of loss, being afraid of letting go of something. What we are protecting is not our physical self, but something we have come to desire literally as much as our own life.
Paying attention to fear is an important practice. Fear is protecting the “false self” and sensing fear, seeing and listening to it, recognising it and finally understanding it, does eventually lead us beyond fear, which in that sense may be even synonymous with ego.
Fear is the protector, the gatekeeper, the barrier. Fear is what is keeping us alive, but it is also what is keeping us in samsara, forever suffering being stuck in the painbody or the illusion of the egoic mind.
We have to learn how to work with fear to go beyond it.
“So fear originally is our protector.” There is truth in that. Perhaps like all other earthly qualities it bears an arch of transformation before (or maybe even the reality) of “beyond”?
For example, obstinacy can transform to stubbornness to perseverance. Perhaps limbic fear is what can transmute to ‘takwa’ usually translated as fear of God but in Sufism is really shivering awe in the face of the Majesty and Power of the One Reality.