Adapted from "How To Live Without Fear And Worry" written by Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Nayaka Thero.
This book is distributed free by Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre.
Fear and worry seem to be part and parcel of human life. Man has so many fears - fear arising from insecurity, fear of enemies, fear of hunger, fear of sickness, fear of loss of wealth and possessions, fear of old age, fear of death and even fear of the next existence. Their worries are due to various commitments and responsibilities they have.
Of all adverse mental states, one of the most unhealthy and dangerous is prolonged worry. Worry is nothing more than a negative state of mind arising out of attachment to worldly pleasures. The stronger the attachment is to a thing, the greater is the fear of losing it.
Life swings like a pendulum. One moment, it swings towards favourable conditions which we receive so heartily; at another moment, it swings towards unfavourable conditions which we so desperately seek to avoid. We should not be disheartened when faced with problems, but instead act wisely in overcoming them. Should an unfortunate thing happen and if it is beyond our control, then with the support of our understanding of the nature of life, we must have the courage to face it. We must adopt a positive frame of mind when faced with such problems, rather than let it dwell on negative states.
It is profitable to wander out in the evening and look up at the sky. We see countless numbers of stars. Our world is only a tiny speck in the universe. When we consider the vastness of the universe with the tiny stars, and the tinier speck which we call the world, and our troubles will appear very minute indeed in comparison.
Life is unsatisfactory because it is impermanent. When a person has a happy life, he would like the passage of time to stand still. This ceaseless passage of time is so obvious a quality of our lives that we take it for granted. Within this ceaseless movement, all things we know are born, grow, decay and die, and we will go through this process with them.
The law of impermanence lays its cruel hands on all people. And all youth ends in old age, all health in sicknesses, all strength in impotence, all beauty in ugliness, and all life in death. Nothing can stop this process. Death follows birth, as night follows day. This process of change is common to all - to the poor and the rich alike, to the young and the old. But this seems to be the very thing some of us forget, living and acting as if we are immortal.
The love of life can sometimes develop a morbid fear of death. According to psychological studies, much mental stress is caused by our refusal to face facts and accept life's realities. Certainly worry and despair over illness will make it worse. We cannot pick and choose the kind of illness we desire, nor can we choose the suitable or auspicious time to die. But we can certainly choose to face illness and death without fear.
It is important to realize that we are born to this world to do some service for the weal and happiness of mankind. We will be remembered by humanity more for what we have done for mankind than what we have done for ourselves. When people see their own lives as being only a drop in an ever-flowing river, they will be moved to contribute their little part to the stream of life. Everyone hopes and desires to have a peaceful death after having fulfilled his lifetime duties and obligations.