Fearless from the Heart

“Perfect fearlessness can be attained only by him who has realized the Supreme, as it implies freedom from delusion. One can always progress towards this goal by determined and constant endeavor, and by cultivating self-confidence.”

Self-confidence and determined endeavor are qualities that are not unheard of when one is trying to achieve a particular goal. I have been told a countless amount of times to “believe in myself,” or to “try harder,” and these suggestions were only amplified in my time at Andover, a place that often serves as an accentuated microcosm of an individualistic society. These qualities had been to me an obvious component of the recipe for achieving a type of perfection, be it in academics, social capital, leadership qualities, fearlessness and the list goes on.

Naturally, finding a combination of the words “perfect,” “endeavor,” and “self-confidence,” in the texts of Mahatma Gandhi was unsettling. With the fairly one-dimensional portrait I had of Gandhi, one of a revolutionary man both in matters of the heart and of the mind, I initially could not understand how he could use the same tired rhetoric as a way in which to achieve the noble goal of perfect fearlessness. It felt like there had to be so much more involved in the process of one making it to that seemingly impossible feat. I was angry, I felt as though Gandhi spending so much time to eloquently describe perfect fearlessness was wasted in the regurgitation of a meritocratic way of thinking. It was after a fine re-reading of his passage about bravery that I realized how my own cynicism and biases were hampering me from understanding how useful Gandhi’s words were. When I believed that constant endeavor and self-confidence were the key to attaining perfection of any sort, I was thinking of these qualities as originating from the mind. If my mind was set on a goal, then I could achieve it by living in this calculated matter and projecting the idea of working hard and self-confidence to the entire world. What I was missing was a look inwards at what organ Gandhi truly had in mind when speaking of “determined and constant endeavor,” and “cultivating self-confidence.” I had forgotten to approach fearlessness with my heart. 

The words of Jayeshbai come to mind in this circumstance. He said,  “the heart knows now what the mind knows tomorrow.” When placing such an influence on my mind and my intellect in regards to fearlessness, I dismiss the wisdom of the heart, the only part of my soul that is fully capable of displaying these qualities in the most selfless and free of manners. Gandhi was not simply regurgitating the words of the individualists before and after his time. To me, he used these words because they are true, but only with a complete shift in mindset, one that forces us to be fearless from the heart.