Putting Aside Fear As a Motive in the Relation Between God and Man

The sense of fear in relation to the Divine accompanies the seeker for some time. As long as there is any sense of difference, any sense of superiority the emotion of fear can creep in. Even Arjuna, who was given the vision of the supreme Divine form in the Bhagavad Gita, was overcome with a sense of fear when he realized that the person he joked with and treated in a casual manner was now able to reveal his divine side to him. He begged for forgiveness at that moment. And he prayed that Sri Krishna would treat him as a friend to a friend, a father to a son, a teacher to a disciple, all relations where trust and love ruled the relationship.

As the seeker progresses in the yogic path of Bhakti, however, the sense of fear must inevitably disappear. The relationship must change to one of unconditioned and unconditional love; and in such a relationship fear has no place. Sri Aurobindo discusses this transition: “The Divine even as the Master does not punish anybody, does not threaten, does not force obedience. It is the human soul that has freely to come to the Divine and offer itself to his overpowering force that he may seize and uplift it towards his own divine levels, and give it that joy of mastery of the finite nature by the Infinite and of service to the Highest by which there comes freedom from the ego and the lower nature. Love is the key of this relation, and this service…, is in Indian Yoga the happy service of the divine Friend or the passionate service to the divine Beloved. The Master of the worlds who in the Gita demands of his servant, the Bhakta, to be nothing more in life than his instrument, makes this claim as the friend, the guide, the higher Self, and describes himself as the Lord of all worlds who is the friend of all creatures…; the two relations in fact must go together and neither can be perfect without the other.”

“Love is the real key in both, and perfect love is inconsistent with the admission of the motive of fear. Closeness of the human soul to the Divine is the object, and fear sets always a barrier and a distance; even awe and reverence for the divine Power are a sign of distance and division and they disappear in the intimacy of the union of love. Moreover, fear belongs to the lower nature, to the lower self, and in approaching the higher Self must be put aside before we can enter into its presence.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 3, The Godward Emotions, pp. 541-542