People and animals can be afraid. What is the distinction between the two? The Species-Specific Defense Reactions (S.S.D.R.) is perhaps at the root of a “fear” response. Could the mental capacity / consciousness level in a life form play a role in what happens next? Most of us are probably more interested in how we can dissolve the cloud of fear that darkens our daily activities. Would a shift in our awareness of the moment alleviate the necessity to “be afraid”?
To be afraid most definitely has an influence on our conscious development. We are practically nurtured to be afraid of practically everything. We have been taught to accept “being afraid” as a normal aspect of our daily experiences. The proper word would be “conditioned” to accept fear. Please don’t misunderstand this statement. Fear was, is and will always be a part of our species; at least from a biological standpoint. What about the psychological ramifications of fear? This deals more specifically with our discussion.
“Species-Specific Defense Reactions (S.S.D.R.) or avoidance learning in nature is the specific tendency to avoid certain threats or stimuli; it is how animals survive in the wild.” (Wikipedia) What has our species “mind” done with the fundamental S.S.D.R. functions? We were very likely introduced to fear weeks after our conception. I realize that this is debatable; but worth considering. A baby will feel what the mother feels. It is introduced to fear. It is conditioned to be afraid. This is from the standpoint of our SSDRs a normal process. What has developed beyond these normal Species-Specific Defense Reactions is significant.
There are situations in this human experience that require fear or even being afraid. We would not be where we are now if we didn’t have the capacity to fear.
Here are two examples of “being afraid” that have nothing to do with real fear. We are taught / conditioned in early childhood to fear a “God” and death. Does this have anything to do with tangible fear? It goes downhill (form consciousness development) from this point. We are continually bombarded with fear factors that have nothing to do with a need to fear. The psychological suffering and “the being afraid tendency” occurs once we have been conditioned to accept these fears as being real. Imagine your daily experiences without the continual tendency to be afraid. We are unfortunately programmed to be afraid.
Take a look in any direction. What do you see? The menacing cloud of fear can be felt everywhere. It is a hungry, preying element in our existence. This however has nothing to do with actual fear. There is a species necessity for fear; and there is being afraid. These are not the same. We could say that “there is a being afraid of fear”. This “being afraid of fear” invokes most of the mind conditioned behavior reactions that occur.
I wish to present some insight concerning the influence of “being afraid” in our personal and collective intellectual / consciousness development in the next article.