Osho on Why Fear Is a Psychological Armor

Fear is an accessory we carry wherever we are, or go. It need not be so, if only we break our minds free of its shackles

child with a teddy bear

Question: I feel an armor around me that keeps me from coming closer to people. I don’t know where it is coming from. How to have it melt away?

Osho: Everybody has that kind of armor.

There are reasons for it. First, the child is born so utterly helpless into a world he knows nothing of. Naturally, he is afraid of the unknown that faces him. He has not yet forgotten those nine months of absolute security, safety, when there was no problem, no responsibility, no worry about tomorrow.

To us those are nine months, but to the child it is eternity. He knows nothing of the calendar; he knows nothing of minutes, hours, days, months. He has lived an eternity in absolute safety and security, without any responsibility, and then suddenly he is thrown into a world unknown, where he is dependent for everything on others. It is natural that he will feel afraid. Everybody is bigger and more powerful, and he cannot live without the help of others. He knows he is dependent; he has lost his independence, his freedom. Small incidents may give him some taste of the reality he is going to face in the future.

God in a Teddy Bear

A child is weak, vulnerable, insecure. Autonomously he starts creating an armour, a protection, in different ways. For example, he has to sleep alone. It is dark and he is afraid, but he has his teddy bear, and he believes that he is not alone; his friend is with him. You will see children dragging their teddy bears at airports, at railway stations. Do you think it is just a toy?

To you it is, but to the child it is a friend. And, a friend when nobody else is helpful — in the darkness of the night, alone in the bed, still he is with him. He will create psychological teddy bears.

It is to be reminded to you that although a grown-up man may think that he has no teddy bears, he is wrong.

What is his God? Just a teddy bear. Out of his childhood fear, man has created a father-figure who knows all, who is all-powerful, who is everywhere present; if you have enough faith in him he will protect you. But, the very idea of protection, the very idea that a protector is needed, is childish. Then you learn prayer; these are just parts of your psychological armor. Prayer is to remind God that you are here, alone in the night.

Our prayers, our chanting, our mantras, our scriptures, our gods, our priests, are all part of our psychological armor. It is very subtle. It is not a question of religion. It is a question of fear and being saved from fear, so it is natural in a way. But, at a certain point of your maturity, intelligence demands that it should be dropped. It was good when you were a child, but one day you have to leave your teddy bear, just the same as one day you have to leave your God, just the same as one day you have to leave your Christianity, your Hinduism. Finally, the day you drop all your armor means you have dropped living out of fear.

And, what kind of living can be out of fear? Once the armor is dropped you can live out of love, you can live in a mature way. The fully matured man has no fear, no defense; he is psychologically completely open and vulnerable.

Fear Is in the Service of Death

At one point the armor may be a necessity… perhaps, it is. But as you grow, if you are not only growing old but also growing up, growing in maturity, then you will start seeing what you are carrying with you. Why do you believe in God? One day you have to see for yourself that you have not seen God, you haven’t had any contact with God, and to believe in God is to live a lie: you are not being sincere.

What kind of religion can there be when there is no sincerity, no authenticity? You cannot even give reasons for your beliefs, and still you go on clinging to them. Look closely and you will find fear behind them. A mature person should disconnect himself from anything that is connected with fear. That’s how maturity comes.

Just watch all your acts, all your beliefs, and find out whether they are based in reality, in experience, or based in fear. And, anything based in fear has to be dropped immediately, without a second thought. It is your armor. I cannot melt it. I can simply show you how you can drop it.

We go on living out of fear — that’s why we go on poisoning every other experience. We love somebody, but out of fear: it spoils, it poisons. We seek truth, but if the search is out of fear then you are not going to find it.

Whatever you do, remember one thing: out of fear, you are not going to grow. You will only shrink and die. Fear is in the service of death.

Drop the Armor of Fear

Mahavira makes fearlessness a fundamental quality of a religious person. And, I can understand what he means by fearlessness. He means dropping all armor. A fearless person has everything that life wants to give to you as a gift. Now, there is no barrier. You will be showered with gifts, and whatever you do you will have strength, a power, a certainty, a tremendous feeling of authority.

A man living out of fear is always trembling inside. He is continuously on the point of going insane, because life is big, and if you are continuously in fear… And, there is every kind of fear. You can make a big list, and you will be surprised how many fears are there – and you are still alive! There are infections all around, diseases, dangers, kidnapping, terrorists… and such a small life. And, finally there is death, which you cannot avoid. Your whole life will become dark.

Drop the fear! The fear was taken up by you in your childhood unconsciously; now consciously drop it and be mature. And, then life can be a light which goes on deepening as you go on growing.

Beyond Waterloo

Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by Horatio Nelson, but, in fact, the credit should not go to Nelson. Napoleon was defeated by a small incident in his childhood. Now, history does not look at things in this way, but to me it is absolutely clear.

When he was just six months old, a wild cat jumped on him. The maidservant who was looking after him had gone for something in the house; he was in the garden in the early morning sun and the fresh air, lying down, and the wild cat jumped on him. It didn’t harm him — perhaps, it was just being playful — but, to the child’s mind it was almost death.

Since then, Napoleon was not afraid of tigers or lions; he could have fought a lion without any arms, with no fear. But, a cat? That was a different affair. He was absolutely helpless. Seeing a cat he was almost frozen; he became again a six-month-old small child, with no defense, with no capacities to fight. In those small child’s eyes that cat must have looked very big; it was a wild cat. The cat may have looked into the eyes of the child.

Something in his psyche became so impressed by the incident that Nelson exploited it. Nelson was no comparison to Napoleon, and Napoleon was never defeated in his life; this was his first and last defeat. He would not have been defeated, but Nelson had brought 70 cats in front of the army.

The moment Napoleon saw those 70 wild cats his mind stopped functioning. His generals could not understand what had happened. He was no longer the same great warrior; he was almost frozen with fear, trembling. He had never allowed any of his generals to arrange the army, but today he said, with tears in his eyes, “I am incapable of thinking — you organize the army. I will be here, but I am incapable of fighting. Something has gone wrong for me.”

He was removed, but without Napoleon his army was not capable of fighting Nelson, and seeing the situation of Napoleon, everybody in his army became a little afraid: something very strange was happening.

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Osho was never born never died. He only visited this planet earth between 11 December 1931 and 19 January 1990. He was a charismatic and gifted speaker who became the leader of a worldwide new spiritual movement.


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