Thinking born of fear is ever negative and destructive. A fearful man is incapable of right thinking; fear dulls his mind and heart; his thinking becomes blunted. It would be idle to expect a fear-ridden brain to function normally. Such a brain cannot think constructively. The first condition for sane thinking’s is total freedom from fear. The mind must be absolutely fearless, and the brain, and indeed the whole environment, must be free from fear. Only in the right atmosphere will sane thinking become possible. A man oppressed by fear cannot think straight.
Why are you afraid? Why is man ridden by fear? In fact fear is the outcome of wrong thinking. A man's individuality is determined by his thought. He has accepted certain ideas and beliefs and the whole environment is intimated by fear. A man who has understood even a little bit of spirituality, whose dry and anguished existence has been even slightly touched by the grace of religion, cannot but be fearless. He who is not fearless cannot be spiritual or religious; he cannot be sane. Fear is the root of all disease, of all conflict and of unspiritual. Can a fearful man experience truth? People talk of soul and of God endlessly, but they live in illusion. How can a man ridden by fear know anything of highly subtle and supra-sensual elements? The mind is never free of fear—fear of ill health, fear of old age, fear of death and of separation; fear of loss of things an persons—the mind is ever dominated by fear and the power of consciousness quite overthrown thereby, and one talks of soul and of God! Will the soul manifest itself in a state of fear? Never.
Fear can only give rise to a goblin; it cannot lead us to soul or God. Fear is the creator of evil spirits; with many people, it takes the form of a ghost or demon. It is a kind of mental projection; in the very moment of fear, a ghost begins to take shape before our eyes; it is the projection, the image, the reaction of a fear-afflicted mind. Is such a mind capable of any subtle penetration?
Lord Mahavira pronounced a subtle truth. He never said that non-violence alone constituted religion, despite the common belief. On the basis of my own understanding I can say that Lord Mahavira emphasized much more the importance of fearlessness than of non-violence. The spirit of non-violence is implicit in fearlessness; without fearlessness this spirit cannot manifest itself in life. A coward can never be truly non-violent.
The man who is too much attached to life, who is afraid of dying, cannot be non-violent. Nothing is impossible where there is no fear of death; for all incompetence owes its existence to this fear. One is greatly attached to life and is, therefore, afraid to die. But is one's removal from the scene, of much moment? Will one's death unpeel the world? Who cares! Of course, when a man is alive, his friends and relatives pretend to love him forever. But who remembers him after death? For a few days, there is a formal exhibition of grief; then all is forgotten. Once a year, on the occasion of the death anniversary, people do perfunctorily pay a tribute to the memory of the dead, "He was a good man", they say, "May his soul rest in peace!" That is all. As long as a man is infatuated with life, he cannot think straight. The first condition of constructive thinking is complete freedom from the fear of death.