According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults. That’s 18% of the US population! How did we get so rooted in our fears and anxieties? In the article below, Sadhguru discusses the basis of our anxieties, and how to open ourselves up to a possibility beyond our fear.
Sadhguru: There is fear of just about everything. People are even afraid of being too happy. In different human beings, fear is at different levels. In some, fear is very apparent. In others, it is subdued and hidden, but it is there. So, what is the basis of fear?
One day, two men from the gas company were taking meter readings. They parked their truck at one end of the alley and started working through toward the other end. One was a senior employee; the other was a young recruit. When they reached the last house, they checked the meter while the woman in the house watched them through the window. After they finished, the senior man said, “Now, just to prove that age won’t stop me from running faster than you, let’s race to the truck. Let’s see who will make it first.” They ran full blast, and when they just reached the truck, they stopped. Right behind them the woman came huffing and puffing, trying to keep up with them. They looked back at her and asked, “Why are you running behind us?” She said, “I was watching you take the reading of my meter. When two gas men run so desperately, I thought I’d better run too.”
One aspect of fear is that it is cultural. It is just contagious; it grows among people. But even for that to happen, fear has to ignite in a human being first. Suppose you were the first human being on this planet. Obviously, there would be no buildings and no heating systems. Suddenly it becomes cold, it starts raining and you are all wet. Then thunder comes, lightening, forest fires and wind — you don’t know what is happening, where everything is coming from and where it is going. The first thing that arises in you is fear, because you do not know the beginning or the end of what is happening.
Even now, it is the same reality. The existence and survival of your tiny body in this vast existence is constantly under threat every moment. That is one level of fear, physical survival. But the existence of your personality — you as a person — is also constantly threatened by the social situations in which you live. Not just out on the street, but even in your house.
In your family, somebody is always stepping on you; maybe not physically, but in so many other ways. Physically, you are so small that you may be ignored, but personality-wise, you are quite big. In your workplace or in your family, you have spread yourself wide and people keep stepping on you, so there is constantly a fear of extinction or damage. So the personality is even more threatened than the little body. The little body being threatened can be managed if you create reasonably safe physical situations, but your personality being under threat is always on.
The root of your fear is just that whichever way you exist — as a physical being or as a personality — you exist as a limited human being. When you exist as a limitation, there is always a possibility that somebody will prick the bubble. Spirituality means you want to prick the bubble yourself. You don’t want to wait for your boss to do it, your mother-in-law to do it, your neighbor to do it, or the devil to do it; you want to do it yourself. If you burst the bubble, if you stop experiencing yourself as a limited person or a limited body, if your experience extends beyond that, you will see the basis of fear has been taken away from you. Absence of fear naturally leads to a blissful existence.