Fear is as nonsubstantial as your shadow, but it is. The shadow also exists—nonsubstantial, negative, but not nonexistential—and sometimes the shadow can have a great impact on you. In a jungle when the night is approaching you can be frightened of your own shadow. In a lonely place, on a lonely path, you can start running because of your own shadow. Your running will be real, your escaping will be real, but the cause will be nonsubstantial.
You can run away from a rope thinking that it is a snake; if you come back and you look closely and you observe, you will laugh at the whole stupidity of it. But people are afraid to come to places where fear exists.
People are more afraid of fear than of anything else, because the very existence of fear shakes your foundations.
The shaking of the foundations is very real, remember. The fear is like a dream, a nightmare, but after a nightmare when you are awake the aftereffects still persist, the hangover persists. Your breathing has changed, you are perspiring, your body is still trembling, you are hot. Now you know that it was just a nightmare, a dream, nonsubstantial, but even this knowing will take time to penetrate to the very core of your being. Meanwhile the effect of the nonsubstantial dream will continue. Fear is a nightmare.
What is fear made of? Fear is made of ignorance of one’s own self. There is only one fear; it manifests in many ways, a thousand and one can be the manifestations, but basically fear is one, and that is that “Deep inside, I may not be.” And in a way it is true that you are not.
Godliness is, you are not. The host is not, the guest is. And because you are suspicious—and your suspicion is valid—you don’t look in. You go on pretending that you are; you know that if you look in, you are not! This is a deep, tacit understanding. It is not intellectual, it is existential; it is in your very guts, the feeling that “I may not be. It is better not to look in. Go on looking out.” At least it keeps you fooled, it keeps the illusion intact that “I am.” But because this feeling of “I amness” is false, it creates fear. You know that anything can destroy it, any deep encounter can shatter it. It can be shattered by love, it can be shattered by a serious disease, it can be shattered by seeing someone die. It can be shattered in many ways, it is very fragile. You are managing it somehow by not looking in.
This is the situation with the ego too. You don’t look in, that is your only hope: “Who knows? Maybe it is there.” But if you look, your intuitive feeling says it is not there.
This false ego, which you have created by not looking in, by continuously looking out, is the root cause of fear. You will be afraid of all those spaces in which you have to look. You will be afraid of beauty because beauty simply throws you within. A beautiful sunset, and all those luminous colors in the clouds, and you will be afraid to look at it because such great beauty is bound to throw you inside yourself. Such great beauty stops your thinking: For a moment the mind is in such awe, it forgets how to think, how to go on spinning and weaving. The inner talk comes to a stop, a halt, and you are suddenly in.
People are afraid of great music, people are afraid of great poetry, people are afraid of deep intimacy. People’s love affairs are just hit-and-run affairs. They don’t go deep into each other’s being because going deep into each other’s being, the fear is there—the other’s pool of being will reflect you.