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Quotes – Quips – Fear of the unknown is the mother of all fears

Fear of the unknown is the mother of all fears. Much of our anxiety and dread pertains to things and events of which we have no good knowledge. Looking these fears squarely in the face can often make them vanish into thin air, or at least make them appear less formidable.


For although we take joy and hope to be synonymous with life; pain, affliction, evil and injustice regularly impinge on our lives to shock us out of such notions.


The pursuit of happiness is a basic teleological urge motivating all human behavior. The reveler in the streets, the scientist involved in cutting-edge research, the connoisseur of art and the meditation adept, each derives immediate or prospective pleasure from his or her specific engagement physical, intellectual, emotional or spiritual. But that pleasure is never unmixed.


In its classificatory scheme of happiness (sukha) based on the three gunas, the Bhagavad Gita tells us that sattvika sukha is a result of prolonged, repeated and taxing effort that matures into a psychophysical state of joyous equanimity. All higher forms of pleasure are defined by this category.

Sensual pleasure, on the other hand, is rajasika and is characterized by an immediate sense of gratification. This satisfaction is not only transient but ends up in misery for reasons that we shall soon discuss.

The third category of tamasika sukha is delusion of happiness. The lazy and the callous, whose only source of happiness lies in sleeping it off, comprise this category of tamasika people, and their number is by no means insubstantial.


Even in our more mundane moments, sorrow is a great benefactor. It is sorrow that spontaneously collects our scattered minds and it is in sorrow that we usually turn Godward. Moreover, it is the contrite heart that is graced by God. It is for these reasons that Swami Vivekananda, echoing Mother Kunti, once prayed: “Lord, place me in a position where all others may criticize and abuse me, so that all my heart, mind, and love may turn to you alone.” Suffering may well be the remedy for evil.