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Banaras 1954, Rajghat School

Banaras, India 5th January 1954 2nd Talk to Students at Rajghat School

I would like to talk this morning on a topic which may be rather difficult, but we will try and make it as simple and direct as possible. You know most of us have some kind of fear, have we not? Do you know your particular fear? You might be a&aid of your teacher, of your guardian, of your parents, of the older people, or of a snake, or a buffalo, or of what somebody says, or of death and so on. Each one has fear; but, for young people, the fears are fairly superficial. As we grow older, the fears become more complex, more difficult, more subtle. You know the words, `subtle', `complex' and `difficult', don't you? For example, I want to fulfil; I am not an old person, and I want to fulfil myself in a particular direction. You know what `fulfilment' means. Every word is difficult, is it not? I want to become a great writer. I feel if I could write, my life would be happy. So, I want to write. But something happens to me, I get paralysed and for the rest of my life I am frightened, I am frustrated, I feel I have not lived. So that becomes my fear. So, as we grow older, various forms of fear get come into being, fears of being left alone, not having a friend, being lonely, losing property, having no position, and other various types of fear. But we won't go now into the very difficult and subtle types of fear because they require much more thought.

It is very important that we - you, young people, and I - should consider this question of fear, because society and the older people think fear is necessary to keep you in right behaviour. If you are afraid of your teacher or of your parents, they can control you better, can they not? They can say `Do this and do not do that' and you will have, jolly well, to obey them. So, fear is used as a moral pressure. The teachers use fear, say in a large class, as a means of controlling the students. Is it not so? Society says fear is necessary and, otherwise, the citizens, the people, will just outflow and do things wildly. Fear has thus become a necessity for the control of man.

You know fear is also used to civilize man. Religions throughout the world have used fear as a means of controlling man. Have they not? They say that if you do not do certain things in this life, you will pay for it in the next life. Though all religions preach love, though they preach brotherhood, though they talk about the unity of man, they all subtly or very brutally, grossly, maintain this sense of fear.

If you have a large class of students in one class, how can the teacher control you? He cannot. He has to invent ways and means of controlling you. So, he says `Compete. Become like that boy who is much cleverer than you'. So, you struggle, you are afraid. Your fear is generally used as a means of controlling you. Do you understand? Is it not very important that education should eradicate fear, should help the students to get rid of fear, because fear corrupts the mind? I think it is very important in a school of this kind that every form of fear should be understood and dispelled, got rid of. Otherwise, if you have any kind of fear, it twists your mind, and you can never be intelligent. Fear is like a dark cloud and, when you have fear, it is like walking in sunshine with a dark cloud in your mind, always frightened.

So, is it not the function of education to be truly educated - that is, to understand fear and to be free of it? For instance, suppose you go off without telling your housemaster or teacher and you come back and invent stories saying that you have been with some people, while you have been to a cinema - which means, you are frightened. If you are not frightened of the teacher, you think you would do what you like and the teachers think the same. But to understand fear implies a great deal, much more than doing exactly what you want to do. You know there are natural reactions of the body, are there not? When you see a snake, you jump. That is not fear, because that is the natural reaction of the body. In front of danger, the body reacts; it jumps. When you see a precipice, you do not walk just blindly along. That is not fear. When you see a danger, or a car coming very fast, you sweep out of the way. It is not an indication of fear. Those are bodily responses to protect itself against danger; such reactions are not fear.

Fear comes in, does it not?, when you want to do something and you are prevented from doing it. That is one type of fear. You want to go to a cinema you would like to go out of Benaras for the day and the teacher says `no'. There are regulations and you do not like these regulations. You like to go. So you go on some excuse and you come back. The teacher finds out that you have gone, and you are afraid of punishment. So, fear comes in, when there is a feeling that you are going to be punished. But if the teacher talks over smoothly why you should not go to town, explains to you the dangers, eating of food which is not clean and so on, you understand. Even if he has not the time to explain to you and go into the whole problem why you should not go, because you also think, your intelligence is awakened to find out why you should not go. Then, there is no problem, you do not go. If you want to go, you talk it over and find out.

To do just what you like in order to show that you are free from fear, is not intelligence. Courage is not the opposite of fear. You know in the battlefields, they are very courageous. For various reasons they take drinks, or do all kinds of things to feel courageous; but that is not freedom from fear. We won't go into it, let us leave it at that.

Should not education help the students to be free from fear of every kind - which means, from now on to understand all the problems of life, problems of sex, problems of death, of public opinion, of authority? I am going to discuss all these things, so that when you leave this place, though there are fears in the world, though you have your own ambitions, your own desires, you will understand and so be free from fear, because you know fear is very dangerous. All people are afraid of something or other. Most people do not want to make a mistake, do not want to go wrong, specially when they are young. So they think that if they could follow somebody, if they could listen to somebody, they will be told what to do and, by doing that, they would achieve an end, a purpose.

Most of us are very conservative. You know what that word means, you know what it is `to conserve'? To hold, to guard. Most of us want to remain respectable and so we want to do the right thing, we want to follow the right conduct - which, if you go into it very deeply, you will see is an indication of fear. Why not make a mistake, why not find out? But the man who is afraid is always thinking `I must do the right thing, I must look respectable, I must not let the public think what I am or not'. Such a man is really, fundamentally, basically afraid. A man who is ambitious is really a frightened person, and a man who is frightened has no love, has no sympathy. It is like a person enclosed behind a wall, in a house. It is very important while we are young, to understand this thing to understand fear. It is fear that makes us obey, but if we can talk it over, reason together, discuss and think together, then I may understand it and do it; but to compel me to force me to do a thing which I do not understand because I am frightened of you, is wrong education. Is it not?

So, I feel it is very important in a place like this that both the educator and the educated should understand this problem. Creativity, to be creative - you know what it means? To write a poem is partly creative, to paint a picture, to look at a tree, to love the tree, the river, the birds, the people, the earth, the feeling that the earth is ours - that is partly creative. But that feeling is destroyed when you have fear, when you say `this is mine, my country, my class, my group, my philosophy my religion.' When you have that kind of feeling, you are not creative; because, it is the instinct of fear that is dictating this feeling of `mine, my country'. After all, the earth is not yours or mine; it is ours. And if we can think in those terms, we will create quite a different world - not an American world or a Russian world or an Indian world, but it will be our world, yours and mine, the rich man's and the poor man's. But the difficulty is when there is fear, we do not create. A person who is afraid can never find truth or God. Behind all our worships all our images all our rituals there is fear and, therefore your gods are not gods, they are stones.

So, it is very important while we are young, to understand this thing; and you can only understand it when you know that you are afraid, when you can look at your own fears. But that requires a great deal of insight which we want to discuss now. Because it is a much deeper problem which the older people can discuss, we will discuss that with the teachers. But it is the function of the educator to help the educated to understand fear. It is for the teachers to help you to understand your fears and not to suppress it, not to hold you down, so that when you leave this place, your mind is very clear, sharp, unspoiled by fear. As I was saying yesterday, the old people have not created a beautiful world, they are full of darkness, fear, corruption, competition; they have not created a good world. Perhaps if you going out of this place, out of Rajghat, can really be free from fear of every kind or understand how to meet fear in yourself and in others, then perhaps you will create quite a different world, not a world of the communist or of the congressist and so on, but a totally different world. Truly that is the function of education.

Question: What is sorrow?

Krishnamurti: A boy of ten asks what is sorrow? Do you know anything of sorrow? Do not bother who is asking. But a little boy asking what is sorrow is a sad thing, is it not?, it is a very terrible thing. Why should he know sorrow? It is the old people unfortunately who know sor- row. You as an elder person know sorrow. Do you know what sorrow means? When you see a beggar and a rich man going by when you see death, a body being burnt, when you see a dead bird, when you see somebody crying, when you see degradation, poverty, people quarrelling, hitting each other verbally and physically, all that is sorrow, is it not? When your father or mother dies, you are left alone and you have sorrow. But here we grow with death. You understand what I am saying that we grow with death? We are never happy human beings. You see a dead body being carried to the river and you are with your parents; and the parents say `Do not look, death is terrible'. So you begin. When you see a beggar - as a little boy, you cannot help seeing a beggar - with torn clothes, disease, wounds on his body and you feel so sorry for that man the parent or older people take you away without explaining. That is the calamity, a social misery, to have such people about. The parents are responsible as they do not explain all these things; they want to protect you, hide you from all that. They do not make you a revolutionary - which does not mean that you must become a silly communist; a revolutionary is some one very very different. They do not explain to you all these things. They are frightened and so they want to protect you.

Sorrow is something that has to be understood, tears have to be understood. There is no understanding when you are happy. When you smile, you smile, that does not need explanation. But you see we are brought up, here as well as outside unfortunately, without knowing how to think, how to observe, how to watch; and so we increase sorrow and multiply our trouble. But if we know, if the education that we have and the teachers that we have can point out these things, discuss, talk over these things, we may not be just the ordinary, every day, stupid fathers or mothers or politicians or clerks but real human beings who are really revolutionary and out to create a new world. Then perhaps we can understand, change and put away sorrow.

Question: What is the definition of the good world?

Krishnamurti: You know as I said yesterday this meeting is primarily meant for students who want to find out, who want to discuss. The older people, if they are interested to help the students to understand the problem, would do well not to ask the questions about their own personal problems. Probably, children are not interested in what the definition of the good world is.

Now, what is the mind that asks such a question? The mind says `what is the definition of a good world'? The statement is clear, you can look up a dictionary and there you will find a definition. We think that by finding a definition we have understood the problem. That is how we are trained, we think we understand when we have a definition. Definition is not understanding. On the contrary, it is the most destructive way of thinking. Why do you want to know the definition of the good world? Because you cannot think out the problem, you go to somebody - to Sankara, to Buddha, or to me or to some one else - and say `Please tell me the meaning of the good world'. If you can think it out, go into it, understand it, then perhaps you will have real enlightenment.

What do we mean by `good world'? It is really very important to go into this. The word has a meaning, has it not? it has a referencer it has an extraordinary meaning. A word like `God' or `love' or `sacrifice' or a word like `India' has great significance. Because you think you believe in God, the word `God' has a meaning to you, nervously you react to that word, psychologically you respond to that word. If you do not believe in God, that word is nonsense to you. If I have been trained in atheism or communism in which I do not believe, I react differently. Similarly, to you `good world' might mean something but to me it might have no meaning.

What do you mean by `good world'? There is no good world. The fact is the world is rotten, because there are wars there are divisions of people - the upper, the higher and the lower, the authority, the prime minister and the poor cook, the big politician and the starving man, the king who has got everything and the other fellow who has nothing. It is a rotten world. We are caught by the words `good' and `world'. We have to understand what that word `good' implies, we have to create a world which is good.

It is no good being carried away by words. We are always taught from childhood what to think, but never how to think. There is a science called semantics; in Greek, it means the meaning of words. There is a whole science being developed now because words have meaning. Words affect you mentally as well as physically and it is very important to understand them and not be affected by them. The moment the word `communism' is used, a capitalist goes into a shiver about it. Similarly, a man who has property is scared of the word `revolution; if you talk about revolution, he will throw you out. If you tell those who follow a guru, `Don't follow another, it is silly to follow', they get scared, they want to throw you out. This constant fear of word is due to lack of understanding. After all, education is the understanding of words and the understanding of communication through words. Am I wandering too far away from what you ask?

There is no such thing as `good world'. We must take things as they are and not idealize, we must not have ideals as to what the world should be. All ideals - the ideal school, the ideal country, the ideal headmaster, the ideal of non-violence - are nonsense they are ridiculous, they are all illusions. What is real is actually `what is'. If I can understand the actual thing as it is - the poverty, the degradation, the squalor, the ambition, the greediness, the corruption, fears - then I can deal with it, I can break it down. But if I say `I should be this', then I wander off into illusion. This country has been fed for centuries on ideals which are all illusion. You have been fed on non-violence when you are really violent. Why not understand violence and not talk of nonviolence? There would be quite a revolution if you have understanding of `what is.'

Question: How to get rid of fear?

Krishnamurti: You want to know how to get rid of fear? Do you know what you are afraid of? Go slowly with me. Fear is something in relation to something else. Fear does not exist by itself. It exists in relation to a snake, to what my parents might say to a teacher, to death; it is in connection with something. Do you understand? Fear is not a thing by itself, it exists in contact, in relation, in touch with something else. Are you conscious, aware that you are afraid in relation to something else? Do you know you are afraid? Are you not afraid of your parents, are you not afraid of your teachers? I hope not, but probably you are. Are you not afraid that you might not pass your examinations? Are you not afraid that people should think of you nicely and decently and say what a great man you are? Are you not afraid don't you know your fears? I am trying to show how you have fear, I and you have lost interest already. So first you must know what you are afraid of. I will explain to you very slowly. Then you must know also, the mind must know why it is afraid. Is fear something apart from the mind, and does not the mind create fear, either because it has remembered or it projects itself in the future? You had better pester your teachers till they explain to you all these things. You spend an hour every day over mathematics or geography, but you do not spend even two minutes about the most important problem of life. Should you not spend with your teachers much more time over this, how to be free from fear than merely discussing mathematics or reading a text-book? You have asked this question how to get rid of fear, but your mind is not capable of following it. The older people perhaps can. So we are going to discuss this with the teachers.

A school based on fear of any kind is a rotten school, it should not be. It requires a great deal of intelligence on the part of the teachers and of boys to understand this problem. Fear corrupts and to be free from fear one has to understand how the mind creates fear. There is no such thing as fear but what the mind creates. The mind wants shelter, the mind wants security the mind has various forms of self-protective ambition; and as long as all that exists, you will have fear. It is very important to understand ambition, to understand authority; both are indications of this term which is destruction.

Question: It is true, as you said, that fear corrupts the mind, especially with old people. It is also true that corrupt minds especially of the older people create fear. The problem appears to be how to eliminate such minds.

Krishnamurti: You have understood the question? The gentleman says `Should we not eliminate the older minds which are corrupted by fear'? This means what? Destroy the older people, put them into concentration camps? All minds, whether old or young, are corrupted by fear, either imposed from outside or self-created. It is not a question of getting rid of somebody. That is what they are doing all over the world - if I do not agree with you, you liquidate me you put me in a concentration camp. That is not going to solve the problem. What is going to solve the problem is the right kind of education which will help me to understand the problem of fear, how fear comes, how it comes from the past and how fear is created in the present, to be projected in the future. Sirs, do think about this; this is far more important than all your examinations, than your textbooks, than your degrees; B.A. or M.A. after your name means absolutely nothing though they may get you a job. The problem is not how to liquidate the old people or the young people with corrupt minds. What is wanted now is a revolution, a mind capable of thinking of all these problems differently and creating a new world.

January, 5, 1954.


Banaras 1954, Rajghat School

Banaras, India 5th January 1954 2nd Talk to Students at Rajghat School

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