One of the small fears that often makes life seem unbearable is the fear of a dentist. A woman who had suffered from this fear for a lifetime, and who had been learning to drop resistances in other ways, was once brought face to face with the necessity for going to the dentist, and the old fear was at once aroused,—something like the feeling one might have in preparing for the guillotine,—and she suffered from it a day or two before she remembered her new principles. Then, when the new ideas came back to her mind, she at once applied them and said, “Yes, I am afraid, I am awfully afraid. I am perfectly willing to be afraid,” and the ease with which the fear disappeared was a surprise,—even to herself.
Another woman who was suffering intensely from fear as to the after-effects of an operation, had begun to tremble with great nervous intensity. The trembling itself frightened her, and when a friend told her quietly to be willing to tremble, her quick, intelligence responded at once. “Yes,” she said, “I will, I will make myself tremble,” and, by not only being willing to tremble, but by making herself tremble, she got quiet mental relief in a very short time, and the trembling disappeared.
The fear of death is, with its derivatives, of course, the greatest of all; and to remove our resistance to the idea of death, by being perfectly willingly to die is to remove the foundation of all the physical cowardice in life, and to open the way for the growth of a courage which is strength and freedom itself. He who yields gladly to the ordinary facts of life, will also yield gladly to the supreme fact of physical death, for a brave and happy willingness is the characteristic habit of his heart:—
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.”
There is a legend of the Arabs in which a man puts his head out of his tent and says, “I will loose my camel and commit him to God,” and a neighbor who hears him says, in his turn, “I will tie my camel and commit him to God.” The true helpfulness from non-resistance does not come from neglecting to take proper precautions against the objects of fear, but from yielding with entire willingness to the necessary facts of life, and a sane confidence that, whatever comes, we shall be provided with the means of meeting it. This confidence is, in itself, one of the greatest sources of intelligent endurance.
SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS may be truly defined as a person’s inability to get out of his own way. There are, however, some people who are so entirely and absolutely self-conscious that everything they do, even though it may appear spontaneous and ingenuous, is observed and admired and approved of by themselves,—indeed they are supported and sustained by their self-consciousness. They are so completely in bondage to themselves that they have no glimpse of the possibility of freedom, and therefore this bondage is pleasant to them.