By: Niánn Emerson Chase
Though we should be aware of the multitude of problems facing our planet, I can hardly tolerate the slanted fear-based rhetoric in much of the mainstream media that emphasizes the war on terror and the sensationalized murders, accidents, and other bad new items. Also appalling are the number of popular horror and action films that focus on the terrible things in the world and feed people’s lower, fear- and hate-based natures. Oh yeah, there are a few minutes spent on good news and there are some films that have social and artistic value, but they are in the minority.
I remember the first time I saw a movie designed to create fear in its watchers. I was about twelve years old and was having an overnight stay with a friend who had a television. Since my home did not have T.V., I was very excited about watching a late-night movie called Frankenstein’s Daughter. For two weeks after that, I was terrorized by nightmares about man-made monsters coming to our house to brutally slaughter members of my family. My parents would explain to me that in reality there were no Frankenstein-like monsters and the movie was fiction, made-up, and then we would pray.
Today I am puzzled by the obsession that some people have in watching films or reading material that incites unreasonable fear. I am reminded of the statement found in The URANTIA Book (in a section that discusses the human mind and the divine mind circuitry of the Absolute Mind) where we are told that “often, all too often,” we humans “subject” our minds “to animal fear and distort them by useless anxiety.”1 It seems pretty stupid to me that we would do such a thing for recreation.
How my parents helped me deal with my childhood fears gave me coping mechanisms that I have used throughout my life. Any time a fear raises its head, I use my reason, my scientific mind, to investigate the fear, to see its root and reason and whether the fear is even realistic. If it is something I need to address and do something about, I then take action to solve the problem. If the fear isn’t really founded, I must adjust my mind to deal realistically with my fearfulness before it turns into some form of paranoia.
Here’s where faith comes in, faith in the First Source and Center, a loving Personality more powerful than me and my fear. When my parents prayed to God, the Universal Father, in helping me cope with my fear, I knew deep in my soul that I indeed was in God’s circle of caring spirit personalities. I did not see them, though I often sensed their presence around me, and I most certainly experienced the spirit presence of God within me. I think the prayer opened up my mind and heart circuitry to the divine presence, which helped me adjust psychospiritually to my reality and to realize that usually my fears were unfounded.
As we all know, fear is very much a part of the human being, and that fear can be quite useful at times. Fear can save lives because it motivates action to get out of a dangerous situation or make necessary changes for continued survival, physical or psychospiritual. But fear can imprison people too. If an individual lives in bondage of fear, fear often translates into worry, anxiety, anger, self-pity, lack of compassion, victimization, blame, hatred, and many other lower-nature attitudes and emotions that prevent us from being healthy and happy. If we allow fear to be a driving force in our lives and the reason for many of our choices, then eventually it will become paranoia, which, according to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, is fear that is delusional, at times psychotic, and involves excessive and irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others.
According to Rob Brezsny, the antidote for paranoia is pronoia, which is “an understanding that the universe is fundamentally friendly.” Pronoia is “a means of training your senses and intellect so you’re able to perceive the fact that life typically gives you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it.”2 I like that. And it makes me think of something from the section called “The Life and Teachings of Jesus” in The URANTIA Book. “As you view the world, remember that the black patches of evil which you see are shown against a white background of ultimate good. You do not view merely white patches of good which show up miserably against a black background of evil.”3
As I grew up and out of my unfounded fears and into my faith in a real and loving God, my nightmares and other worries diminished until now I do have a general, overall attitude of pronoia that determines my reactions and choices in life. But I think my pronoia has an added spiritual dimension because of my faith in and experience of God and His/Her goodness, fused with an understanding of the scientific aspect of reality. After studying and embracing the epochal revelation found in The URANTIA Book as well as the science of our natural world and universe (on microscopic and macroscopic levels), I have come to realize that the destiny of each one of us humans is bonded with the destiny of the evolution of all of reality in the grand universe, ever moving toward divine pattern of complementary harmony and cooperation on all levels of reality: physical, mindal, and spiritual. In other words, the stars and galaxies are moving towards light and life, and so are we human beings, as individuals and as a species.
If we stay imprisoned in our fears, we will miss the many hints and nudges that come from the spiritual level of reality, and we will miss the glaring facts that are presented to us from the physical and mindal levels of reality. Our fears can keep us locked in destructive, habitual ways of responding to situations and people that challenge our superstitious and unrealistic belief systems.
I grew up on Native American reservations, and I used to tell ghost stories with my Apache friends and become scared out of our wits. Now, of course, I’ve outgrown those fears because I realize that most of those ghost stories are “the mind at mischief,” with superstitious, overactive imaginations going wild. We also used to get so frightened when we believed certain bullying peers who threatened us with having their medicine man relative (who dabbled in “black magic”) put a curse on us. I have also outgrown those fears about curses and black magic (that were just as much a part of the traditional Apache religion as was the belief in good medicine men and women who brought healing, and good spirits who helped human beings), but many of my Apache friends have not. Nor have many others of all races outgrown their fear of demons who might possess them, and ghastly ghosts who can haunt places and people.
We are all meant to evolve from the fear of demons and ghosts haunting us to experiencing the nourishment of angels. “Evolutionary religion is born of a simple and all-powerful fear, the fear which surges through the human mind when confronted with the unknown, the inexplicable, and the incomprehensible. Religion eventually achieves the profoundly simple realization of an all-powerful love, the love which sweeps irresistibly through the human soul when awakened to the conception of the limitless affection of the Universal Father for the sons and daughters of the universe.”4
“The only emotion actuating you [humans] which is somewhat difficult for the angels to comprehend is the legacy of animal fear that bulks so large in the mental life of the average inhabitant of Urantia [Earth]. The angels really find it hard to understand why you will so persistently allow your higher intellectual powers, even your religious faith, to be so dominated by fear, so thoroughly demoralized by the thoughtless panic of dread and anxiety.”5
I am amazed at how fearful we humans get with new experiences, with unknown territory, with anything that may challenge our comfort zones—whether they are persons, uncertain outcomes, or ideas. Often family, friends, and acquaintances react with fear, distrust, and disappointment when someone they know goes through some major change, some form of transformation, as Jesus’ family did when he made the transition into public ministry.
Though fear is an integral part of human experience and can be useful at times, if we allow fear to overtake us, it becomes a burden that poisons us mentally, destroying our peace of mind and happiness. If we allow the perfect love of the Universal Father/Mother to permeate us, then indeed the truth that “the love of God casts out all fear”6 will be our reality. If we continue in our faith walk, fusing the reality of spiritual truth with scientific truth, we will make “the important discovery that many human perplexities are in reality non-existent, that many pressing troubles are the creations of exaggerated fear and the offspring of augmented apprehension.”7
Simply put, use faith over fear and allow balance and intelligent discernment to be your guiding principles when addressing your fears, whatever they may be.
1 The URANTIA Book, Paper 9, Section 5, Paragraph 7
2 From Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings by Rob Brezsny
3 The URANTIA Book, Paper 195, Section 5, Paragraph 12
4 Ibid., Paper 90, Introduction, Paragraph 3
5 Ibid., Paper 113, Section 2, Paragraph 5
6 Ibid., Paper 48, Section 6, Paragraph 8
7 Ibid., Paper 143, Section 3, Paragraph 6