Fearlessness is a necessary condition for realisation of truth. We have so many fears, both physical and psychological. Fear of loss of power can be as overpowering as fear of ghosts. However, becoming fearless does not mean disobedience or indiscipline. Arrogance is not a reflection of true fearlessness. Fearlessness that is accompanied by compassion is the true prerequisite for spiritual attainment.
While fearlessness relieves the mind from all tensions, compassion soothes it. Determination comes from fearlessness but without compassion it can be destructive and selfish. That is why Buddha sacrificed all qualities but compassion.
Without sorrow and misery life would have been less scary but then compassion would have disappeared completely. This possibly prompted Tagore to say, “In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart”.
At times when we are able to do good to others, why do we feel proud? The opportunity to serve others should be treated as an opportunity for self-improvement. This is a reason to feel lucky for being able to help someone in need. Instead of pride, what we ought to feel is gratitude for the opportunity to improve ourselves and thus progress further on the path of spiritual attainment. Compassion comes from humility which in turn originates from selfless action. It is not so easy to pursue selfless action. One has to practice it repeatedly like meditation. And this practice cannot be successful until we remove fear from the mind. Selflessness grows from fearlessness.
Ramakrishna asks, who are you to show mercy to others? The All-merciful has been rather generous to you to give you the ability and a full-fledged opportunity to utilise it selflessly. Hence, it is compassion for others, not mercy which we should be trying to feel. If we start thinking in this manner then the selfish attitude of the rest of society cannot disturb us or de-motivate us from pursuing what we believe in. The best way to avoid frustration is to forget completely if we ever did any good to others: forgetfulness in certain contexts can indeed be bliss. However, we must remember always what we took from others and try to reciprocate in whatever way we can. This is a practical way of developing selfless love and avoiding ego. Ego is so dangerous that it seeks every opportunity to emerge. To feel ‘I am polite’ is in itself egoistic.
Imagine yourself to be like a tree. The tree does not judge anyone: its nature is to give and it continues to do what it is supposed to do. Even if someone hurts the tree after enjoying the shadow it offers and its flowers and fruits, it remains indifferent. Its satisfaction lies in the fact that it has accomplished its assignments. It does not matter even if an undeserving person has taken full advantage and at the end hurt you. What matters is maintaining the right state of mind with equanimity.
Who you give to is unimportant; the fact that you can give without any expectation is what is desirable. As long as you have fear of frustration you cannot take recourse to selfless action. While donating to a needy person the Holy Mother Sarada Devi used to tell herself that along with the alms let the virtue of donating also get transferred to the receiver. This is what selflessness and compassion are all about.