Anything worth having requires hard work, whether it’s our mind’s spiritual union with God, our relationships, or our accomplishments. The game of life itself would be no fun if we didn’t have to challenge ourselves to exercise our minds and overcome maya. One of the most rewarding things that requires hard work is overcoming fears. I’ve been reflecting a lot about the process of discomfort that is involved when we overcome a fear.
I am now just two weeks from being in my last year of studies. When I started off this adventure, it was the uncomfortable process of learning how to live alone and manage the house that has now given me lots of hilarious stories like setting my roti on fire. At work obviously I do things daily that challenge me, from dealing with an angry patient to sitting with the dying, or suturing a face; but I think it’s different to be in a structured learning environment versus free-style learning in life. The greatest depth of my learning since I’ve been in medical school has definitely been outside of school, in my personal and spiritual growth. I am thankful for Waheguru for sending me people in my life who challenged me, inspired me, and reminded me that temporary discomfort is necessary to overcome fears and weaknesses. I have pushed myself very hard so that I could grow. This was only possible with the support of having people who were understanding that it takes time and practice to learn and master anything in life. The first time we do something is never easy or comfortable, but practice makes it so much better and easier next time. I think one of the biggest of these personal growths was learning how to put down all my walls, so that I could learn how to trust in the vulnerability of sharing my feelings and life experiences. It was uncomfortable and difficult, but really the one thing that set the stage for me to be able to deeply accept and love myself in order to reach a realm of spiritual depth I didn’t know existed. That was a feeling of freedom that I don’t think can ever be reversed because I don’t remember now what it felt like to not love this much or feel this free.
Fear gets in the way of our relationship with ourselves and ultimately, I think our relationship with God. We are letting something in maya control us and limit us from being able to enjoy life fully- fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of whatever. I think there is an amazing thing that happens when we learn that even if whatever you feared came true, you would still be okay with God by your side. Guru Ji tells us “O mind, meeting with the True One, fear departs” (Ang 18 SGG Ji), and “You are my Protector everywhere; why should I feel any fear or anxiety?” (Ang 103). So the ultimate way in which we tackle our fears is our connection to God. It allows us to see that our other fears aren’t real: “He alone is fear-free, within whom the Lord abides, and who is delighted day and night with His immaculate Name” (1041). There are people who disliked Guru Nanak and even threw rocks at him. Guru Ji travelled on 5 Udaasis in uncertain conditions of not knowing when he would eat and sleep. Yet through all these situations, there was just trust and faith in God that kept him fearless and living in bliss. I think it's worth it for all of us to both simultaneously examine how our fears are holding us back and working on our relationship with Waheguru so that we become fearless.