Anatomy of Fear


Anatomy of Fear

At 9:13 p.m. on Friday 25 April 2012, someone broke into my apartment. Jarred awake by the sound of laboured breathing and heavy workboots on the ledge outside my window—a sound somewhat uncharacteristic for a first-floor apartment—my entire being instantly stiffened. In less than an eighth of a second, my body’s biomechanical “press in emergency” button had been tripped, and as my heart kicked in and my digestion kicked out, the most ancient of all instincts took over my consciousness: I WAS AFRAID.

As the would-be intruder wrestled with the glass louvers (the all-too-thin barrier between him and me), which suddenly snapped under his determined grip, I found myself under the grip of a billion anxiety-enhancing neural-peptides now scourging my system. Game on, I was in full fight or flight mode. Fear had me.

Fear is certainly not a modern phenomenon; the dark is still scary. In our quest to understand why, modern science has searched the brain for the roots of fear and concluded that it is simply a chain reaction that starts with a stress-stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that trigger the physical and emotional aspects of our experience. And while underground addictions and aboveboard pharmaceuticals alike offer to soften the edges of our fear experience, at the spearhead of civilisation, we still find ourselves perplexed at how to break free of fear’s shackling grip, once and for all.

In seeking alternatives to my own tussles with this corrosive emotion, I stumbled upon the Bhagavad-gita, a Vedic wisdom text dating back more than five thousand years, which explains that “fear is caused by our absorption in the illusory energy.” (Purport 10.4-5)

Illusory energy?!

Before discounting the seemingly simple use of language, let us take a moment to consider the weight of what is being conveyed: the dictionary defines an illusion as “something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality.” (

As a result, reality seen through the eyes of illusion tends to be warped in two ways:

  1. We see what’s NOT there
  2. We DON’T see what IS there

The Bhagavad-gita cuts straight to the chase—we are absorbed in the illusion that we are separate from a greater spiritual reality. The ability to see this greater spiritual reality, and our connection to it, has nothing to do with the biomechanics of our eyeballs—a hard reality to digest in a society blind-sighted by a seeing-is-believing mentality.

So how does this relate to my would-be burglar—what was I not seeing that was there, or, vice versa, what was I seeing that wasn’t there? In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna teaches Arjuna how to cultivate a consciousness of connection—a connection with your eternal spiritual self. He explains to Arjuna that in this state of consciousness connection, he has nothing to fear in life, including death, because essentially, the spiritual aspect of his being is imperishable and indestructible; only his material body is sure to come to an end.

Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.

—Bhagavad-gita 2.12

Only when we are in harmony with what and who we really are, can we begin to break free of fear. Wholly identifying ourselves with our perishable body, naturally we will experience fear should our body face danger. Had I truly been in a state of conscious connection with my higher self when the intruder rattled at my window, my experience of the situation would have been quite different.

Real security is within. Real intelligence is to understand that. Real progression is to act on it. And the Bhagavad-gita As It Is will show you how.


To be continued…

About Author



Gopesvari grew up on a table grape plantation just outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Later, after her family returned to her father’s roots in Australia, she studied marketing and business in Adelaide. However, she soon began to seek outside the average in the average way—by travelling, and her journey to bhakti-yoga began when she stumbled into a yoga class one day…

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