When your body is sick it needs the help of a strong mind to repair it. Your fear worsens the situation; fear makes the body weaker. Fear is not in the body. Fear is in your mind. When you don’t accept what is happening in the body, and when you identify yourself as the body, the fear comes. That drains you completely, so you lose your immunity. The mind over-thinks and that leads to anxiety, worry, and fear.

As you face challenges in life, don’t allow yourself to become overcome fear. I always say that faith and fear never go together. If you have faith, what is there to be afraid of? There is nothing in this world to fear. If you have fear, if you’re afraid, it is because you have forgotten your faith. I will tell you a story:

Once, millions of people were gathering at a religious place of pilgrimage. There was a very saintly old person who couldn’t really walk that far distance to join everyone. He had a small hut somewhere on the way, but it was hundreds of miles away. The pilgrims were passing through, and he had the opportunity to see all who were going to the pilgrimage. At one point he saw a kind of peculiar figure, not a human figure, going toward the place of pilgrimage.

The saint stopped him and asked, “Hey, who are you? You look a little funny. Where are you going?”

“Oh, I’m going for the pilgrimage.”

“Ah, what is your purpose?”

“Well, I have an assignment.”

“Tell me, what is the assignment? What is your name?”

“I’m named Mister Cholera.”

“What? You’re Mister Cholera? Why are you going there?”

“I have been assigned to remove five hundred people from the face of the earth, and am taking that pilgrimage as an excuse. I’m going to fulfill my mission.”

“Oh, I see. Well, if that is God’s purpose, you should do it, because people go there and forget about their sanitary conditions. They create the environment for that, so probably you will have lots of disciples.”

When the pilgrimage was over, everybody returned to their homes. At that time the news flashed, saying that almost fifteen hundred people had died of cholera. This saintly person was a little annoyed. “Why should one who calls himself God’s messenger tell a lie? He could just as well have told me that he was going to claim fifteen hundred lives. He said only five hundred, but took a thousand more. I must watch for him and ask him this question.” So he carefully looked for him, and, of course, after a couple of days Mister Cholera passed by.

The saintly man approached him, “Sir, will you please stop?”

“Yes, I know your thought. I know why you have stopped me. But don’t make me responsible for that. I did only my job; I took only five hundred.”

“How dare you say that? There were fifteen hundred people who died.”

“Well sir, that’s due to my follower, my friend.”

“Who is that friend?”

“Mister Fear. I took only five hundred. But because people heard there was cholera, the very fear of cholera killed another thousand. What can I do sir?”

It’s a fact. Fear of the disease kills more people than the disease itself. So make the mind strong. After all, what is it that we are afraid of? One day we are going to die. If death comes, say, “Oh, you have come. You are going to take away this garb and get me a new one? Okay, take this and get me a new model.” If you only have right understanding, there’s no room for fear.

To overcome fear, build up thoughts of hope, courage, and faith. Don’t dwell on your troubles. Use your mantra or prayer; read scriptures. If you have faith in God you need not be frightened of anything. If God doesn’t have the power to take care of things, why should you go in search of God? With that faith in the Supreme Power nothing can affect you. Once a South Indian saint saw the angel of death face to face, and told him, “Don’t you know God is protecting me? You better run away quickly. If God finds you coming near me God will surely destroy you. Please run, save yourself.” How could he say such a thing to death itself? Because he had tremendous faith in God. That is the strength of a devotee. So build up the body, build up the nerves, and build up the mind until your faith is so strong there is no fear at all and you are the master.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda, from To Know Your Self: The Essential Teachings of Swami Satchidananda