London 2nd Public Talk 7th June 1962
This evening I would like to talk about fear, sorrow, and innocency.
We all have many experiences, and every experience leaves a mark; every thought, every influence shapes our minds in a certain way. And it is essential to die to everything we have known, so that the mind is young, fresh and innocent. Only an innocent mind, a mind which, though it has lived through a thousand experiences, is dead to the past - only such a mind can perceive what is true and go beyond the things put together by man. And fear, it seems to me, is one of the corruptive and destructive forces that make this innocency impossible.
Fear is psychological time. There is no fear if you have no psychological time at all. If there is no tomorrow into which you arc moving, and no looking back, every form of fear ceases. Fear comes into being when thought projects itself into the future, or compares itself with what it has been in the past. Psychologically, time is thought, both conscious and unconscious; and it is thought that creates fear.
We have every kind of fear: fear of death, fear of being ill, fear of old age, fear of losing the satisfactions we have known, fear of public opinion, of not fulfilling, of not being a success, of being a nobody. Being afraid, we seek various escapes, outwardly as well ; as inwardly; and, for most of us religion has become an extraordinary escape from fear. To understand fear, one must understand the whole process of thinking, the whole mechanism of thought.
As I pointed out the other day, it is important to listen to what is being said, without either agreeing or disagreeing; because we are dealing, not with ideas but with facts. We are dealing with facts, regardless of whether those facts are agreeable or unpleasant. And if we are able to look at the fact of fear, listen to the whole content of it, see the structure of it, then I am quite certain that the mind will instantly be free of fear.
But we do not know how to listen, because we are always trying to run away from fear; we want to resolve it, we want to discover a way out of it, we want to find its cause. We name the fact `fear', and then the word becomes all important; so we never listen to the fact.
Finding the cause of fear is not freedom from fear. After a great deal of analysis, inquiry, one may know the cause of fear; but at the end of it one is still afraid. And without really being free of fear, every form of search, every form of inquiry only brings about further illusion or distortion. A truly religious man, if I may use that word, has no fear psychologically, inwardly. By a religious man I mean a total man, not one who is merely sentimental or escapes from the world by drugging himself with ideas, illusions, visions. The mind of a religious man is very quiet, sane, rational, logical - and one needs such a mind, not a mind that is sentimental, emotional, fearful, caught in its own peculiar conditioning.
Now, if I can, I would like to go into the question of fear in such a way that, in the very act of listening, the listener is free of fear.
You know, we want to be free of fear always, for ever and ever. There is no such thing as being free for ever and ever. To understand this, one has to understand continuity. What gives continuity to something, pleasant or unpleasant, is thinking about it. When we think about something, we give it a continuity. We give continuity to fear by thinking about it - which doesn't mean that we mustn't inquire into the whole process of fear.
As I said, fear is time, in the psychological sense, and time is thought. Time is the process of becoming, avoiding, fulfilling: I am this and I want to be that. So time is the factor of fear. When you are immediately faced with something, whatever it be, at that moment there is no fear. But thinking about it causes fear.
Thought is the reaction of memory. Memory in the ordinary sense is necessary, otherwise we would walk in front of a moving bus, or take a poisonous snake in our hands. But when memory creates thought as a reaction, it becomes an impediment and creates fear. This is a psychological fact.
Death is the unknown; but when we say we are afraid of death, we are not really afraid of the unknown, but of leaving the known, leaving the things that we have experienced, enjoyed, built up. Thought is this memory of the known and its response; so thought can never be free. There is no such thing as freedom of thought, because thought is always conditioned, it is always the response of memory. And to be totally free of fear, this building up of memory as a continuity has to be understood.
As a mechanic, as a scientist, as an engineer, and so on, you need the continuity of memory, otherwise you could not function. But the continuity of thought as a bundle of memories concerning `me' and `mine', and the responses of that conditioned thought, is psychological time, which is fear. Thinking about death - the sudden ending of everything one has known - creates fear and gives it continuity. So, to really end fear, there must be the ending of thought. You may say, "That is completely crazy. How can I possibly end thought? If I end all thinking, how can I earn a livelihood? How can I go on with my job tomorrow morning?"
There are two different kinds of thinking: thinking in performing a function, and thinking in the sense of using that function to acquire status. The psychological continuity of thought that is built up in the use of function to acquire authority, position, prestige - it is this that brings about fear.
Please just listen to what is being said. Not that you must accept what I am saying, but just listen. I am not telling fables; I am not saying anything extraordinary. I am merely pointing out the fact that time, in the psychological sense, breeds fear. Time is the way of thought; and a man who would be totally free of fear, right through, has to end thought. That requires attention - not concentration, but total attention to every thought. If you can give total attention to every thought, whether important or unimportant, whether deeply significant or without great meaning, then you will find that in this state of total attention there is an ending of thought.
Fear breeds guilt, anxiety; and anxiety in every form is the beginning of sorrow. There is the sorrow of not being loved; there is sorrow when someone to whom we are deeply attached is suffering or dying. And we have worshipped sorrow. This is especially true in Christianity, which has always regarded sorrow as a most extraordinary thing. Go into a church and you will see the Man of Sorrow. There is no ending of sorrow as far as most of us are concerned, because we have enthroned sorrow and live in its shadow throughout our days. Sorrow has become very respectable. It is a thing that every cultured man knows and keeps locked up in his heart; and when he goes to church, he worships it there, or he tries in various ways to escape from it.
But there is an ending of sorrow. Sorrow must come to an end completely, otherwise there can never be the religious mind of which I am speaking. Sorrow doesn't lead us to truth; but sorrow is of great significance because it indicates something. Unfortunately, most of us avoid that indication, that hint, and live with sorrow. If you examine it deeply, you will see that sorrow is self-pity, although you may call it something else. You have lost someone - a husband, a wife, a son - and your sorrow is self-pity at being left alone. We all know this self-pity that arises out of loneliness; and self-pity in every form, the concern about oneself, is the beginning of sorrow. The feeling of inferiority and the struggle to become superior, the conflict and the triumph of achievement, attainment, the misery of frustration - all these engender sorrow.
You see, very few of us ever face sorrow. We have probably never experienced sorrow directly. I will explain what I mean. We have directly experienced hunger, sex; but I wonder if we have direct]y experienced sorrow. We remain with that which is pleasurable, we want to continue in it; but sorrow we try to avoid, we never look at it. The desire to find a way out, to escape through words, through ideation, through belief, through drink, or what you will - all this prevents us from actually looking at the fact of sorrow.
My son dies, my wife or husband leaves me, and I am in sorrow. What actually has taken place? I am left alone, I am lonely, I have nobody to rely on any more. I had identified myself with that person completely, and now that he is gone I feel lost. The fact is that I am psychologically dependent; and this fact brings about other facts, various forms of escape that only perpetuate fear and sorrow.
So it becomes very difficult to look at and directly experience the fact of sorrow. The word `sorrow' has certain overtones of meaning; and to experience anything directly, totally, there must be freedom from the word. But you are slaves to words - to words like `British', `French', `Indian', `Christian', `Hindu'. Similarly, the word `sorrow' has an extraordinary hold on you. The word, the symbol has Centuries of religious propaganda behind it - that you must bear sorrow, that through sorrow you will find redemption, that through sorrow there will be peace, and so on. All this has conditioned the mind, and you never break through that conditioning. But to be free of sorrow you must shatter all the symbols, discard all the words and look directly at the fact. And you cannot look at the fact of your self-pity if the picture on the piano or on the mantelpiece becomes all-important for then you have identified yourself an idea, with a memory, with a thing that is dead, gone, and you are living in the past. To break away from the past completely, to destroy it totally with all its story, with all its memories, is the ending of sorrow.
Just as fear distorts the mind, bringing about various forms of illusion and corruption, so sorrow makes the mind dull, insensitive; because in sorrow the mind is concerned with its own darkness, with its own self-pity, with its own loneliness. And I assure you - not that you must believe, but I assure you - there is an ending of sorrow, and 'then one sees everything afresh, every incident, every movement of life anew. It is only when the mind is free from sorrow and from all fear that there is innocency. And the mind needs to be innocent, though it has lived a thousand years; because it is only the fresh, innocent. mind, the young mind, that is capable of seeing that which is beyond the measure of man.
But all this requires a great deal of attention, real seriousness - not a long face and all the rest of the absurdities, but the capacity swiftly to follow a particular thought right through to the very end, letting it unfold completely without hindering it; and this is not possible if you have moorings in the past.
You may come to these meetings and listen seriously, or casually, with half attention, but words and speeches will not alter the fact that one is afraid, and that there is sorrow. Most of us have never experienced a state of innocency, though we will argue, discuss, write, split hairs about all this, about who is right and who is wrong, what to do and what not to do. If you are rich or fairly well-to-do, you may go to an analyst; but no outside agency, no effort can free you from sorrow or fear. What brings freedom is attention, which is to face the fact out of emptiness and see things as they are without distortion. In that state of attention there comes an innocency which is virtue, which is humility.
Now perhaps you will ask some questions. And may I suggest that your question be to the point of what I have been talking about. Don't ask, for example, how to stop war. We can discuss that another time. Don't ask what to do about the atom bomb, or whether it is right or wrong to enter the Common Market. You see, each one of us has problems; we are ridden with problems. Everything we touch with the hand, the mind or the heart, becomes a problem. And when you ask a question about a problem, I am quite sure you are expecting an answer. But there is no answer apart from the problem itself. What is important is not the finding of an answer to the problem, but preventing problems from arising. A man who is ill wants to get well, and there are doctors who will treat him. But there are also doctors who will work to prevent disease, and that is much more important than the curing of symptoms. Unfortunately, most of us merely want to be cured of symptoms. We don't know how to prevent the problem from arising in the first place. There is great beauty, great sensitivity in being aware of every problem as it arises and dealing with it immediately, ending it on the spot, so that it is not carried over to the next day. This can be done, not by taking a drug, or trying to forget or escape from the problem, but simply by seeing that the problem, whatever it be, has no answer apart from itself. I am talking of psychological problems, not mechanical ones. In looking at a problem with total attention there is the ending of that problem.
Questioner: Is total attention essential with regard to pleasurable things, as it is with regard to unpleasant or painful ones?
Krishnamurti: You see, we want to give continuity to pleasurable things. We go back in memory to the joys of childhood, to the pleasures we experienced long ago, or we cling to that which we are enjoying now; and we want to put an end to the things that are not pleasurable. But when one gives total attention, one gives it to the pleasurable as well as to the painful. The desire for the continuity of pleasure is the beginning of sorrow. Why shouldn't pleasure end? You want pain to end, but pleasure you want to continue, and to be dependent on pleasure dulls the mind, it makes the mind insensitive, just as pain does. Avoiding what we call sorrow, and seeking pleasure - both bring about that peculiar inattention of a lazy mind. The mind that has had lots of pleasure, that seeks pleasure and lives in pleasure, is a stupid mind; and it is also a stupid mind that avoids or continues in sorrow. But, you see, to understand total attention is quite a - I was going to use the word `problem'.
To be attentive is to enter a room and see the people, the proportions of the room, the colour of the carpet, the pictures on the wall - everything. But you can't do that if you say, "I don't like that picture", "There is my friend", "I don't like the colour of the carpet", "The room is not in right proportion", and so on and so on. If your mind is chattering, dividing itself into like and dislike, then you are not attentive.
You know, you can look at a flower either botanically or non-botanically. If you look at it botanically, even then there is a certain quality of attention. But you can also look at a flower non-botanically, which is to look at it without knowledge. Please don't translate `without knowledge' as being a state of ignorance. To be without knowledge is to have wisdom; for knowledge has continuity, and wisdom has no continuity. To be attentive implies a state of attention which has no border, no limit, no boundary. You observe everything, take in everything. But you cannot do that if there is a motive behind your attention, however worthy that motive may be. If you say, "I will attend in order to end my sorrow", then you are not attentive.
Try sometime, if you will, to look totally at a flower, or a tree, or a human being. Look without knowledge, without thinking - which is not to be in a condition of amnesia or blankness. You will find, when you do so look at something, that there is an extraordinary state of attention which is not concentration. Concentration is exclusion. A mind that is attentive can concentrate effortlessly, without exclusion. But a mind that has acquired concentration through effort, through training, discipline - such a mind can never be attentive. Questioner: One finds that the mind can actually be quiet for only about thirty seconds. What then do you mead by quietness of the mind?
Krishnamurti: First of all, quietness of the mind is not a state to be achieved. You can't take various steps to it, you can't practise a system in order to become quiet, because such disciplinary action only makes the mind dull. A conforming mind is a dead mind. That is the first thing to realize. A conforming mind, whether it conforms to the dictates of society, to a neighbour's opinion, to the dogmas of the church, or to any other structure of authority, can never be sensitive - which doesn't mean that you are going to disobey the policeman. That is quite a different matter. I am talking of conformity in the sense of obeying the authority of tradition, of a book, of a system, of a belief. The mind that conforms to a pattern, which is a form of discipline - such a mind is not quiet, it is merely insensitive. That is the first thing to comprehend deeply. Behind our conformity is the desire to be psychologically secure. A mind that is seeking security can never be free; and it is only in freedom, complete psychological freedom, that there can be stillness of the mind.
So there are no steps to a still mind. Moreover, you really don't know what stillness of the mind is. All that you are concerned with is to experience that state and hold it; therefore you say it doesn't last more than thirty seconds. Why should it last? You see, what is important to you is not the thing itself but what it gives you. Therefore you want to know how to come to it and whether it is enduring, so you bring in the element of time: it must have continuity, it must last more than thirty seconds. Silence that has continuity is not silence. If you come to it through time, it is not stillness of the mind.
Then there is this question of the observer and the observed. If there is a `you' who experiences silence, it is not silence. The moment you are aware that you are happy, it is no longer happiness. The moment you say, "I am in an extraordinary state of humility", it is gone. For you, silence is a state which you experience, as you experience hunger, and you want to hold that experience, you want it to continue. So there is a duality: you, and the thing to be experienced. If you go into this very deeply you will find that the silence you have experienced and want to continue, is merely the recognition of a thing that is over; therefore it is no longer silence.
Please, this is perhaps a little bit complicated, and it requires attention on your part. What I am saying is this: silence is not to be `experienced'. To `experience' silence is a terrible thing. What is involved in that experience? There is a recognition of the thing you have experienced as silence, which is the response of your memory. Thought recognizes silence. And the moment thought recognizes silence, it is no longer silence; it is something of the past to which you have given the name `silence', in the present.
So, to understand what silence is, you must be free of conformity and imitation, free of authority, free of the experiences of yesterday which you have accumulated. For all the experiences that you have accumulated are conditioned as well as conditioning; they are of the past and strengthen the past. Also there must be an ending of the thinker and the thought as two separate things, for this division gives rise to the conflict of duality. Then, if you are not seeking silence, if there is no demand for any experience whatsoever because you have understood the whole significance of experience - then perchance, when you are not looking, silence may come. It is only the innocent mind that is silent. And if one has gone so far, then in that silence there is an extraordinary movement without an observer watching the movement; there is only a movement, there is no experiencer and therefore no experiencing. Time is not.
For most of us that is merely hearsay and therefore has no value. What has value is to see the fact that authority of any kind is destructive, whether it be the authority of tradition, of the Saviour, of the Master, or of the present speaker. We seek authority because we want security, we don't want to go wrong, we want to do the right, the safe, the respectable thing. And a mind that is respectable is not only a bourgeois, mediocre mind, but it is insensitive and utterly incapable of being totally attentive. When there is total attention, there is virtue - which is not the imitation of virtue as practised by a respectable society. Then virtue is something new, fresh, to be picked up every day, round every corner. Then you will find there is a silence, and in this silence there is a creation which is immeasurable.
Questioner: If we see things as they are with total attention, with choiceless awareness, what happens to the various forms of art, and in particular to those forms concerned with words?
Krishnamurti: Is beauty something put together by man? Is beauty a matter of capacity or personal taste? Or is beauty something beyond thought and feeling, something which has nothing whatsoever to do with capacity, with inclination, with like and dislike or personal taste?
And what is the need of expression? You may express something in words, in the form of a poem, or you may express it on canvas or in marble; you may express it in your kitchen, or by holding another's hand. But what is the need of expression? I am not saying that you should not express.
You may express something, you may put it into words; but the word is not the thing. The symbol is never the real. But you have expressed it, and because you have capacity or talent, the expression becomes significant; it has value, it brings a profit; and then begins all the circus around it.
Now, as I was saying, in total attention there is a creation which cannot be expressed in words, in symbols, in ideas. It is total energy. I may have the gift of writing poetry; but how can I express in words that total energy, that extraordinary thing called creation? If you don't like the word `creation', give it any other name; `God' or `dog' will do just as well. One feels, perhaps, that there is such a thing - a movement of creation, an immensity, a timelessness. But how can you express in words the immeasurable? And even when it is expressed, the expression is not the thing itself. So of what value is poetry in relation to that? What significance, what importance, what meaning has poetry to a man or a woman who has understood this total attention? Has such a person any need to go out and look at works of art, visit museums, attend concerts? Do you understand? When you have drunk at the fountain of creation, what need have you of anything more?
You see, for most of us, art, poetry or music has become very important. We are like the people at a football match who are watching the players. A few are playing, and thousands are only watching. But when you have extricated yourself from the whole psychological structure of society, what significance has the word, the shape, the sound, the symbol?
I am afraid you are listening to the speaker, expecting to be put in that state by some miracle, or hoping to be led to it by him; but you can't be. You have to work tremendously hard. It requires immense energy to listen rightly. It requires all your attention to destroy inattention; and then there is no distraction of any kind. There is f no such thing as distraction, ever, to a man who is attending. But to the man who is concentrated there is always a distraction.
Art has its own place, obviously; but that is not the end of the matter. Only when you can go beyond art, beyond the beauty that man has put together - only then will you know for yourself that beauty which is incapable of being expressed. And when there is that beauty, there is no need to seek any more.
June 7, 1962
London 2nd Public Talk 7th June 1962
Texts and talks of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti quotes. Books about
J Krishnamurti. Philosophy.