Bombay 4th Public Talk 2nd March 1962
I would like to talk this evening about fear. And I would like to talk about it so that we both of us leave this place free of fear, not temporarily but totally. It is possible.
But before I go into that, I would like to establish the quality of humility, because there is so little of it. Without humility you can't learn, and learning is not a matter of accumulation - when accumulated it becomes merely knowledge. There is a vast difference between accumulated information as knowledge, and learning without the centre of accumulation. And this is important to understand, because then what we talk about fear - the whole issue involved in fear - we are going to learn. Without humility you will never be free from that extraordinary thing called fear. So we must understand what is learning. Learning demands a mind that has clarity and compassion with precision. Without these two there is no humility. That is, a mind that is capable of thinking very clearly, rationally, sanely, without any perversion; and a heart that is precise - these two must exist where there is humility; and humility implies learning. Humility is not a quality to be cultivated. The moment you cultivate humility, it ceases to be what it is. It is not a virtue. Virtue is merely order. To have order is necessary. Order in the room, order in your mind, order in your life, order in your speech, dress and so on, order in your behaviour - all that implies virtue. But humility is not virtue. It exists from moment to moment. It exists when the mind is aware, learning, searching, absorbing. And humility is that quality which is essentially of the nature of affection; because without affection, without the sense of deep love, you can't learn.
So, learning is important - learning which is not a process of accumulation. You can learn from your wife, your husband, from your children, from your office. You can learn from your behaviour - how you behave, what you say, what you do. You can learn how deeply you are vain, how frustrated you are. And this process of learning is in flashes, from moment to moment. Do please understand this: learning cannot be continuous; the moment it has a continuity, it is accumulative and therefore it ceases to be learning. You can only learn when the mind is fresh, eager, innocent, and that can only happen when it is from moment to moment, when there is no accumulation, when there is no gathering, no storing up at a centre from which you learn. If there is a centre from which you learn, it is merely an additive process and therefore it ceases to be learning.
We are going to learn about the problem of fear. But to learn about fear is to have the capacity to investigate and to learn from that investigation - but not to be permanently free of fear. We are going to learn; but the moment you say, `I must be permanently free from fear', you have already established the knowledge of continuity, and therefore you will never be free of fear. So we are going to learn. And to learn there must be clarity of mind and the precision of compassion. Without these two, learning is not possible and there is no humility.
We have inherited from society many problems. We are born with problems and we die with them. We have thousands of them; everything we touch, everything we think about, becomes a problem; and we are never free, even for a single day, an hour, without problems. Even in sleep we are bedeviled with problems. To continue in a problem makes the mind dull, corrupts the mind. The problem you carry over from yesterday has already distorted the mind, the clarity of thought. But we go from day to day, year after year, with problems, unsolved, not understood; and they become a burden which distorts, which corrupts, which dulls the mind.
There are not only the conscious problems, but the unconscious problems which express themselves through dreams which need interpretation. And so, whether we are awake or whether we are asleep, there are problems, multiple problems. A problem is something which has not been resolved, which has not been understood; and we have inherited from society many problems to which our existence has added. The first thing, it seems to me, to realize is that a problem must be ended immediately, not carried over, whatever the problem is. Because, if it is not immediately ended, you get used to it, it becomes a habit; and a mind that is functioning in habit cannot think clearly, it has no compassion. So there needs to be a precision of thought which ends a problem immediately as it arises - whatever the problem may be, a physical or psychological problem. If you are ill, do not let that illness take root in the mind, because then it becomes psychosomatic - having a psychological problem which distorts thought and therefore affects the body physically. So, it is essential to end every problem instantly as it arises, so that the problem does not take root in the mind.
It is possible to live without problems at all - which does not mean that you avoid society, or that you withdraw and disappear into the mountains, into an asylum. Every minute there is a problem. I am posing a problem to you. I am saying that it is possible to live without a problem by ending the problem immediately, and that becomes a problem to you. You say, `How?' You have already many other problems, and you add this problem. There is no `how?'. But you have to understand the importance of ending a problem immediately it arises; you have to see that when a mind has a problem and continues to live with a problem of whatever kind it may be - the problem of husband, wife, sex, God, drink, earning a livelihood; whatever that problem may be - if the problem is not immediately resolved, it makes the mind dull, it corrupts the mind; and such a mind is incapable of learning. When you have problems, you cannot be affectionate; you are self-centred, you become hard, cynical. So one has to meet a problem - which is a conflict, which is an unsolved issue - as it arises, and, as it arises, to learn all about it.
And you can't learn if you approach it with past knowledge. That is why it is important to understand what it is to learn. For most of us learning is an additive process. You will say, `I will learn, I will experience, I will add; and from that I will be able to lead a better life, I will be able to understand better'. Is understanding the result of an accumulative process as knowledge? Or is understanding an immediate action? That is, when a mind has no problem, it can look, observe, watch, listen instantly. And that is only possible if each one realizes the necessity and the tremendous importance of resolving every problem as it arises, not allowing it to take root in the soil of the mind.
In the next four or five talks - I do not know how many more there are - I am going to talk about a great many other things like death, religion, meditation. But without understanding all that has been said now, you will never be able to follow deeply the question of death and meditation. And that is why it is important to understand what it is to learn about your problem. And you can't learn about the problem swiftly, if you get accustomed to the problem; so, it is very important, not to get used to the problem. But that is what happens with most of us: we quarrel with our wives, our children, our neighbours; we walk on the filthy road, sit in the dirty buses; we never notice all this, we have got used to it. You will never notice a beautiful tree, the palm that stands by your house, because you have got used to it. You have got used to the way you talk to your servants; and the tremendous respect that you show to the man from whom you are going to get something - to that too you have got used. So the moment you get used to something, to whatever problem, corruption has set in, and dullness has begun.
I am stating all these facts because when we are going to investigate into the question of fear and learn about it and not make a problem of it, we have to understand very deeply the implication of learning. Because, you see, love demands a free mind, an unspotted mind. But our minds are spotted. We are not free, we do not know what love means. We know what lust means, we know what the acquisitive attachment to a family means; but it is not love. And a mind that is full of problems, torn with unsolved, unresolved issues can never love. Our feelings are dead. And it is the problems that have killed all our beauty, weighed down our instinctive, natural, spontaneous, free response, the quickness of the heart.
If you will listen this evening - not intellectually, not verbally, not with the idea that you are going to resolve your problems by listening; but just listen - then you and I will be able to communicate at that level where there is compassion which is precise, which brings clarity to the mind. It is only when you are emotionally - not sentimentally, not romantically, but emotionally - in contact with a problem, that the problem will be resolved. But we are never in such contact; we are intellectually or verbally in contact with the problem, but not emotionally, not vitally; because, we have got used to life, we have got used to the way we are living; we get used to our wives and our children, to our jobs, to the dirty city, to organized religions. You never see the restless sea and the beauty of a sunset, because you have problems. And the mind that has a problem is never an adventurous mind, is never a young mind; and to learn you need a young mind, an uncommitted mind, a mind not committed to any belief, to any church, to any organization, political or religious, or to the family. It is only then that you will learn. There is beauty in learning, not in acquiring knowledge that becomes tedious; where there is acquisitiveness, a piling up of knowledge, there is vanity; and vanity which is the essence of fulfilment, becomes bitter, cynical.
So, we are going to learn about fear. We are not resolving fear; but through learning about fear we are going to resolve it totally, so that there is an ending to fear. But if you start out with the intention, conscious or unconscious, saying what a marvellous thing it would be to be free of fear, then you will never be free of fear, then you will never learn. And we are going to learn. Fear is never constant; it is there, because of thought. Fear is there because of thought which projects that anxiety into the future, or which derives, from its knowledge of the past, what it has been `to be afraid', and therefore wants to avoid. Please follow this, not verbally but actually in yourself. You know you are afraid of so many things, aren't you?, afraid of your wife, your husband, afraid of your neighbour, afraid of your job, afraid of not reaching heaven, afraid of death, afraid of public opinion,. afraid with a thousand fears. Take one of them, with which you are ridden and with which you are familiar, and examine it as I talk about it; examine it, investigate it, observe it, watch it. Don't try to get rid of it or say, `I am going to watch it in order to get rid of it'. That way you are never going to get rid of it. But you are going to learn about it; and you will learn about it only when you see that it is not possible to get rid of it. You are going to learn about it and therefore you are going to understand it; and if you approach it that way, you will be totally free of it.
Thought is the origin of fear. If there was no thought, there would be no fear. If you had no thought about death - such as, `What would happen if I die?' - and if death took place immediately, there would not be fear. It is thinking about it that breeds fear derived from past experience and projected into the future. Please, what I am saying is very simple, not complicated. Observe it yourself. Thought is the result of time; time is memory. I am not talking about time; I am talking about thought as time. We are talking about thought and not time. Thought has built up, through experience, self-protective responses, physiological as well as psychological. When you meet a snake, there is the instinctive response of self-protection. That kind of fear which is self-protective, must exist; otherwise you will be destroyed; otherwise you will not pay your attention to the bus and you will rush into it, or you will walk into a pit. So there is the self-protective instinct, the physiological self-protective instinct built through time, through experience as memory, which responds when you meet a snake, when you meet an animal, when you see the bus. That response must exist for a sane, healthy mind. But every other form of fear is unhealthy, because it is brought about through thought, through the response of memory which has been accumulated through centuries of experience, and which thought projects.
So, you have to understand the process of thinking if you want to understand fear - which means you have to understand the thinker and the thought.
Please, what I am saying is simple; really I mean it, it is really simple. But if you are going to approach what I am saying, with your conditioning, that is what makes it difficult. You don't come to it, you don't listen to what I am saying, with a freshness. You are coming to it with what you know already, with what Sankara, Buddha, or X Y Z has said about the thinker and the thought; and therefore, you will approach what is being said, with a conclusion, with memory, with previous knowledge; and that is what makes it difficult. Please see that. So, if you are to learn about what is being said, you have to put all that aside; and you can only put all that aside when you are emotionally in contact with what is being said.
You know, to hold somebody's hand is not an intellectual fact; when you are emotionally in contact with that person, there is a rapport, there is a communication, a feeling between the two people. In the same way, to commune with each other we must emotionally hold our hands together, not intellectually. And you must have this emotional, compassionate, affectionate contact with the fact of fear, with the fact of thought which we are going to examine. Unless you are emotionally in contact with it, vitally, immediately, you won't go beyond the first few words. As long as there is a division between the thinker and the thought, fear is inevitable. Please see why. Because there is a contradiction between thought and the thinker. The thinker is trying to guide, control, shape, discipline thought; but out of this division there is conflict, there is contradiction; and where there is contradiction, there is the urge to conquer it, to go beyond it - which indicates the essence of fear. So you have to understand the process, how this division has arisen between the thinker and the thought, and not accept what somebody else has said - it does not matter who it is, the most ancient, enlightened, or the most recent. Don't accept a thing from anybody, but question. Don't follow anybody; when you follow, you are incapable of learning. And you can only learn when you are questioning without a motive. If you are questioning with a motive, you are only adding, you are trying to resolve something which can't be resolved. So, don't follow what is being said, and accept it as gospel truth - it is not. What another says is not gospel truth; you have to find out for yourself, without any restriction. And that can come about only when you are free, when the mind is unspotted and compassionate.
There is the thinker and there is the thought. We know this. This is what we do every day, the division. The thinker is the censor; the thinker is the judge; the thinker is the centre which accumulates knowledge, psychological experience and so on. It is the thinker that responds to any challenge; and his communication, his contact with something is through thought which he has created. But thought has created the thinker; there is no entity as the thinker, except what thought has created - if you don't think, there would be no thinker. All this division, the conflict, breeds fear. The centre, the observer, the experiencer, the thinker is established; and thought is vagrant, moving, changing. This centre never changes, it adjusts itself, it modifies itself, it puts on new clothes, a new varnish, new characteristics; but it is always there And that centre breeds fear, because it is always responding from a fixed point, however flexible.
So thought establishes the thinker - it is not the thinker who establishes thought - because if there is no thought, there is no thinker. It is possible not to think at all, not to have a single thought - it is that extraordinary state of mind which is empty and therefore contains all space. That can only come about through meditation; that we will see when we discuss meditation. But don't say, `I will wait till that day when you talk about meditation; then I will find out'. Then you won't. You must lay the foundation; and to lay the foundation you must be in contact; and you can't be in contact if you are merely intellectually and sentimentally in contact; you must be in contact totally with all your being, with your body, with your senses, with your heart, with everything that you have.
So, you have to understand the process of thinking. Thinking is the response to a challenge, whether great or little. The response is the result of memory which you have accumulated. When I ask you if you are a Hindu, you will say `Yes'. The response is immediate, because you have been brought up in that society, in that culture which says it is Hindu, Parsi, or whatever it is. All thinking is the response of memory. And memory is association. Memory is the result of innumerable conscious and unconscious experiences. Please, sirs, this is nothing new - what I am saying. Any psychologist, any person who has thought a little bit about this, will tell you this; but to understand the process of thinking and to eliminate totally the centre as the thinker which breeds fear - for that, you need clarity, you need to have an intellectual knife to cut everything that you can't completely understand.
Therefore what is demanded is not to have any authority - the authority of memory even, or the authority of your experience which has been conditioned through centuries, which has created the `me', the `I', the self, the ego. As long as that centre exists - and that centre creates the division between itself and thought - there must be fear. So, the question is how to bridge, how to put away the centre. Do not translate it as the ego, and get all kinds of ideas about it; merely keep to the fact that there is a centre from which you judge, you evaluate, you censor. That centre of accumulated experiences creates a division between itself and action, between itself and thought. And trying to overcome that division, and not being able to overcome it - that breeds fear. If you can bring these two together there is no fear; but you can't bring the two together, because there is only one fact which is thought, and not the thinker.
There is no reality when you say the `thinker'. The `I' is a bundle of memories, nothing permanent; it is no more permanent than thought is permanent. But the mind wants, thought wants, security; thought wants permanency; therefore, thought establishes itself as a centre, and that centre speaks of the permanent high self, the cosmic self, the super self and God, and all the rest of it; but still it is in the process of thought. So unless you have completely understood the whole mechanism of thinking, fear will always exist. You know, they have now all kinds of chemicals, drugs that will get rid of your fear; you can take a pill and become very tranquillized, very quiet, very peaceful. Anxiety, guilt, envy and all those things that man has battled with through the centuries can be got rid of through a pill. This is a fact. But you see, taking a pill does not absolve you from having a petty mind, a narrow mind, a limited mind, a stupid mind. It is still there; you have only drugged it, you have put it aside into abeyance. What we are concerned with is not giving or taking pills, but wiping away the pettiness of the mind, which means the pettiness of thought; thought is always petty, because thought is never free, because thought is the response of what has been in terms of what will be.
So the question is: in understanding fear, is it possible for thought to end - which is for thought not to project into the future, and therefore for the mind to see the fact every minute, as it arises, without any projection? You understand? The fact is: one is afraid of death. We are not talking about death, we will talk about it at another time; we are now talking about fear.
Now thought projects itself into the future. It does not want to die; it does not know what it will be in the future; it knows what it is in the present with all the turmoil, the ache, the anxiety, the sorrow, the misery that it lives in; and it projects itself into the future and is afraid. Because it is confused, uncertain, not clear, it projects an idea of permanency and therefore it is afraid that it may not reach permanency. It is afraid of public opinion, because it wants to be respectable; because respectability is a very paying thing, society recognizes it, it is a noble thing; and so, it is afraid of what society may say, therefore it guards itself. It is afraid of the dark, it is afraid of all the unconscious, uncovered issues. Still it is a process of thinking. So one has to meet each fact as it arises, without thought, merely to observe it, as each fact arises in a flash.
Now, sir, I am going to explain it a little more, because I see you will not be able to follow quickly. There is the fact that I am afraid of my wife. Thought has created it, my action has created it, and I am afraid. I am taking that as an example - really I am not afraid, because I am not married. You can take something of which you are afraid. I am afraid of my wife. I have done something which I am ashamed of, or which I want her not to know. Or she nags me and I do not want all that; I will rather get used to it, and so I have got used to it - which is: my mind has accepted it, and the acceptance has become a habit; I don't pay attention any more to whatever she says. So, my mind has formed a habit. Acceptance - therefore taking on what she is saying, casually - has corrupted my mind; I have become dull to it; it has become a habit, and I dare not break from that habit; because, breaking away from that habit implies change, and I do not want change. So I am afraid. And that is a fact.
How is it possible to understand that fact of fear without introducing thought? Because, thought either wants to reject it or accept it or change it or modify it, according to its convenience. You understand what I am saying? How to meet this fact that I am afraid, without the background of fear, of thought? Because, thought will translate it, will interpret it, will shape it, will deny it, will want to get over it, will try to conquer it. Thought will not understand it, because thought is the result of memory; it only can respond to what it already knows, and therefore it is incapable of meeting fear. Fear always comes and goes, it is not constant. Though fear may be in the unconscious permanently, it expresses itself not continuously but in flashes. How is one to meet those flashes of fear without thought?
Those who have permanent fear, become neurotic; they have other problems. But those who are more or less rational, have not any constant fear; they meet fear occasionally, or they meet it often when they meet their wife. So when you meet that fact, you have to meet that without thought, to meet it completely - which means, having understood the whole process of thinking intellectually, verbally and with compassion which gives precision and which gives immediate contact with the fact. To meet the fact totally implies meeting it not only intellectually but emotionally. And this process of learning of the fact is not possible when you approach it with thought which already has known, thought being the outcome of the known.
Can you meet fear without the known? Then you will see, if you can so meet it, that there is no fear, because it is the projection of the known that creates fear. The projection of thought is the result or the response of the known, creates fear. Thought as time creates fear. And when you have understood the whole process of thought and are able to look at the fact, when you are able to see the fact, are able to be emotionally in contact, totally, with the fact, then you are not approaching with thought which is the result of the known; therefore, you are approaching it anew. A new mind is not afraid, a new mind is enquiring.
So, as I said at the beginning of this talk, there must be humility. Humility never accepts and never denies. It is arrogance, to accept or deny. Humility is that extraordinary capacity to learn, to find out, to investigate. But if you have already the accumulation of your investigation, then you are not learning; therefore, you cease to be humble. And it is very important to have humility because it is that essential quality which has affection. Without humility there is no love, and love is not a thing that has roots in the mind, roots in thought. So it is only from this extraordinary sense of humility, there comes the sense of precision with compassion and clarity of mind. It is only then that fear ceases. And where there is the cessation of fear, the ending of fear, there is no sorrow.
March 2, 1962
Bombay 4th Public Talk 2nd March 1962
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