Saanen 5th Public Talk 21st July 1964
This morning I'd like, if I may, to talk about something which seems to me very important. It is not an idea, or a concept, or a formula to be carried out. Concepts, formulas, ideas, really prevent deep understanding of facts as they are. By understanding a fact I mean observing an activity, a movement of thought or feeling, and perceiving is significance in the very moment of action. The perception of a fact as it is must take place in the moment of action itself; and unless one comprehends facts to a great depth, one will always be hounded by fear.
Most of us, I think, have this enormous burden of conscious or unconscious fear. And this morning I would like to go into this problem with you and see if we cannot bring about a total understanding and therefore a complete resolution of fear, so that when one leaves this hot tent, one will literally and factually be free of fear. So may I suggest that you listen quietly rather than inwardly with me. We will argue, exchange words, verbalize our thoughts and feelings, a little later. But for the moment let us listen, in a sense, negatively - that is, without any positive assertion of the act of listening. Just listen. I am communicating with you - you are not communicating with me. I am telling you something. To understand what it is I want to convey, you have to listen - and in the very act of listening you will be able to commune with the speaker.
Unfortunately, most of us are incapable of this negative, silent listening, not only here, but also in our everyday existence. When we go out for a walk, we do not listen to the birds, to the whisper of the trees, to the murmur of the river; we do not listen to the mountains, and to the skies beyond. To be directly in communion with nature, and with other people, you have to listen; and you can listen only when you are negatively silent - that is, when you listen without effort, without mentation taking place, without verbalizing, quarrelling, discussing.
I do not know if you have ever tried listening completely to your wife or husband, to your children, to the car that goes by, to the movements of your own thought and feeling. In such listening there is no action at all, no intention, no interpretation; and that very act of listening brings about a tremendous revolution at the very root of the mind.
But most of us are so unaccustomed to listening. If we hear anything contrary to our habitual thought, or if one of our pet ideals gets kicked around, we become terribly agitated. We have a vested interest in certain ideas and ideals, just as we have in properties, and in our own experience and knowledge, and when any of that is questioned we lose our balance, we resist anything that is being said.
Now, if you will really listen this morning to what is being said, listen with alert, choiceless awareness, then you will find that you are following the speaker non-verbally - that is, without linguistic analysis - and are therefore moving with the meaning, the significance that lies beyond the word. It doesn't mean that you go to sleep, or that you are in some beatific state of self-satisfying sentimentality. On the contrary, listening requires a great deal of attention - not concentration, but attention. The two things are entirely different. If you listen with attention, perhaps you and I can go to those great depths at which creation can take place. And surely this is essential; because a mind that is superficial, anxious, endlessly worried over many problems, cannot possibly understand fear, which is one of the most fundamental things in life. If we do not understand fear, there can be no love, nor can there be creation - not the act of creating, but that state of timeless creation which cannot be put into words, into pictures, into books.
So, one has to be free of fear. Fear is not an abstraction. Fear is not just a word - though for most of us the word has become much more important than the fact. I do not know if you have ever thought of getting rid of fear totally and absolutely. It can be done so completely that there is never a shadow of fear, because the mind is always ahead of the event. That is, instead of pursuing fear and trying to overcome it after it has arisen, the mind is ahead of fear, and is therefore free of fear.
Now, to understand fear, one has to go into the question of comparison. Why do we compare at all? In technical matters comparison reveals progress, which is relative. Fifty years ago there was no atomic bomb, there were no supersonic airplanes, but now we have these things; and in another fifty years we shall have something else which we don't have now. This is called progress, which is always comparative, relative, and our mind is caught in that way of thinking. Not only outside the skin, as it were, but also inside the skin, in the psychological structure of our own being, we think comparatively. We say, "I am this, I have been that, and I shall be something more in the future". This comparative thinking we call progress, evolution, and our whole behaviour - morally, ethically, religiously, in our business and social relationships - is based on it. We observe ourselves comparatively in relation to a society which itself is the outcome of this same comparative struggle.
Comparison breeds fear. Do observe this fact in yourself. I want to be a better writer, or a more beautiful and intelligent person. I want to have more knowledge than others; I want to be successful, to become somebody, to have more fame in the world. Success and fame are psychologically the very essence of comparison, through which we constantly breed fear. And comparison also gives rise to conflict, struggle - which is considered highly respectable. You say that you must be competitive in order to survive in this world, so you compare and compete in business, in the family, and in so-called religious matters. You must reach heaven and sit next to Jesus, or whoever your particular saviour may be. The comparative spirit is reflected in the priest becoming an archbishop, a cardinal, and finally the pope. We cultivate this same spirit very assiduously throughout our life, struggling to become better or to achieve a higher status than somebody else. Our social and moral structure is based on it.
So there is in our life this constant state of comparison, competition, and the everlasting struggle to be somebody - or to be nobody, which is the same thing. This, I feel, is the root of all fear, because it breeds envy, jealousy, hatred. Where there is hatred there ia obviously no love, and fear is generated more and more.
As I said, please just listen. Don't ask, "How am I not to be comparative? What am I to do to stop comparing?" You can't do anything to stop it. If you did, your motive would also be born of comparison. All that you can do is just to see the fact that this complex thing we call our existence is a comparative struggle, and that if you act upon it, try to alter it, you are again caught in the comparative, competitive spirit. What is important is to listen without any distortion; and you will distort what you are listening to the minute you want to do something about it.
So one sees the implications and the significance of this comparative evaluation of life, and the illusion of thinking that comparison brings understanding - comparing the works of two painters, or two writers; comparing oneself with another who is not so clever, less efficient, more beautiful, and all the rest of it. And can one live in the world, both outwardly and inwardly, without ever comparing? You know, to be aware of the state of a mind that is always comparing - just to recognize it as a fact and abide with that fact - requires a great deal of attention. That attention brings about its own discipline, which is extraordinarily pliable; it has no pattern, it is not compulsive, it is not the act of controlling, subjugating, denying, in the hope of understanding further the whole question of fear.
This attitude towards life which is based on comparison, is a major factor in the deterioration of the mind, is it not? Deterioration of the mind implies dullness, insensitivity, decay, and therefore an utter lack of intelligence. The body is slowly deteriorating because we are getting old; but the mind is also deteriorating, and the cause of this deterioration is comparison, conflict, competitive effort. It is like an engine that is running with a great deal of friction: it cannot function properly, and it deteriorates rapidly all the time it is running.
As we have seen, comparison, conflict, competition, not only breed deterioration, but also fear; and where there is fear there is darkness, there is no affection, no understanding, no love.
Now, what is fear? Have you ever really come face to face with fear, or only with the idea of fear? There is difference between the two, is there not? The actual fact of fear, and the idea of fear, are two entirely different things. Most of us are caught in the idea of fear, in an opinion, a judgment, an evaluation of fear, and we are never in contact with the actual fact of fear itself. I think this is something we have to understand rather widely and deeply.
I am afraid, let us say, of snakes. I saw a snake one day and it caused me a great deal of fear, and that experience has remained in my mind as memory. When I go out walking of an evening, this memory comes into operation, and I am already afraid of meeting a snake; so the idea of fear is much more vital, more potent than the fact itself. Which means what? That we are never in contact with fear, but only with the idea of fear. Just observe this fact in yourself. And you can't artificially remove the idea. You may say, "Well, I will try to meet fear without the idea; but you can't. Whereas, if you really see that memory and ideation are preventing you from being directly in communion with the fact - with the fact of fear, with the fact of jealousy, with the fact of death - then you will find quite a different relationship taking place between the fact and yourself.
To most of us, idea is far more important than action. We never act completely. We are always limiting action with an idea, adjusting or interpreting action according to a formula, a concept, and therefore there is no action at all - or rather, action is so incomplete that it breeds problems. But once you realize this extraordinary fact, then action becomes an astonishingly vital thing, because it is no longer approximating itself to an idea.
Fear is not an abstraction, it is always in relation to something. I am afraid of death, afraid of public opinion, afraid of not being popular, of not being known, afraid of not achieving anything, and so on. The word `fear' is not the fact, it is only a symbol representing the fact; and for most of us the symbol is far more important than the fact - religiously, and in every other way. Now, can the mind free itself from the word, the symbol, the idea, and observe the fact without interpretation, without saying, "I must look at the fact", without any idea about the fact at all? If the mind looks at a fact with an opinion about that fact, then it is merely dealing with ideas, is it not? So this is something very important to understand: that when I look at a fact through an idea, there is no communion with the fact at all. If I want to be in communion with the fact, then the idea must completely disappear. Now, let us proceed from there and see where it leads.
There is the fact that you are afraid of death, afraid of what somebody will say, afraid of a dozen things. Now, when you are no longer looking at that fact through an idea, through a conclusion, through a concept, through memory, what actually takes place? First of all, there is no division between the observer and the thing observed, no `I' separate from that thing. The cause of separation has been removed, and therefore you are directly in relation with the sensation which you call fear. The `you' with its opinions, ideas, judgments, evaluations, concepts, memories - all that is absent, and there is only that thing.
What we are doing is arduous, it is not just a morning's entertainment. I feel that when one leaves this tent this morning one can be deeply and completely free of fear - and then one is a human being.
So, you are now facing the fact: the sensation or apprehension which you call fear, and which an idea has brought about. You are afraid of death; I am taking that as an example. Ordinarily death is merely an idea to you, it is not a fact. The fact comes into being only when you yourself are dying. You know about other people dying, and the realization that you also are going to die becomes an idea which breeds fear. You look through the idea at the fact, and this prevents you from being directly in contact with the fact. There is an interval between the observer and the thing observed. It is in this interval that thought arises - thought being the ideation, the verbalization, the memory which offers resistance to the fact. But when there is not this gap, that is, when there is the absence of thought, which is time, then you are completely confronted with the fact; and then the fact operates on you - you do not operate on the fact.
I hope you are getting all this. Is it too much on a hot morning?
You see, I feel that to live with fear of any kind is - if I may use the word - evil. Living with fear is evil because it breeds hatred, distorts your thinking and perverts your whole life. So it is absolutely necessary for the religious man to be completely free of fear, outwardly as well as inwardly. I do not mean the spontaneous response of the physical body in safeguarding itself, which is natural. It is normal, when you suddenly see a snake, to jump out of the way - that is merely a self-protective physical instinct, and it would be abnormal not to have such a reaction. But the desire to be secure inwardly, psychologically, at any level of one's being, breeds fear. One sees all around one the effects of fear, and one realizes how essential it is for the mind not to be a breeding ground of fear at any time.
If you have listened attentively to what has been said this morning, you will have seen that fear is never in the present, but always in the future; it is evoked by thought, by thinking of what may happen tomorrow, or the next minute. So fear, thought and time go together; and if one is to understand and to go beyond fear, there must be the understanding of thought as well as of time. All comparative thinking must stop; all sense of effort - in which is involved competition, ambition, the worship of success, the striving to be somebody - must come to an end. And when that whole process is understood, there is no conflict at all, is there? Hence the mind is no longer in a state of deterioration, because it is capable of meeting fear and is not the breeding ground of fear. Now, this state of freedom from fear is absolutely necessary if one is to understand what is creation.
For most of us, life is a boring routine, and there is nothing new in it. Whatever new thing takes place, we make into a routine immediately. Someone paints a picture, and for a second it is a new thing - and then it is all over. Pleasure, pain, endeavour - it all becomes a routine, a bore, an everlasting struggle with very little meaning. We are always seeking for something new - the new in pictures, the new in painting. We want to feel something new, to express something new - something that will not immediately be translated in terms of the old. We hope to find some trick or clever technique through which we can express ourselves and feel satisfied - but that again becomes a terrible nuisance, an ugly thing, something to kick against. So we are always in a state of recognition. Anything new is immediately recognized and thereby absorbed into the old. The process of recognition is, for most of us, astonishingly important, because thought is always functioning from within the field of the known.
The moment you recognize something, it ceases to be new. Do you understand? Our education, our experience, our daily living - all this is a process of recognition, of constant repetition, and it gives a continuity to our existence. With our minds caught in this process, we ask if there is anything new; We want to find out whether or not there is God. From the known we seek to find the unknown. It is the known that causes fear of the unknown, so we say, "I must find the unknown, I must recognize it and bring it back into the known". This is our search in painting, in music, in everything - the search for the new, which is always interpreted in terms of the old.
Now, this process of recognition and interpretation, of action and fulfilment, is not creation. You cannot possibly express the unknown. What you can express is an interpretation or a recognition of what you call the unknown. So you must find out for yourself what is creation, otherwise your life becomes a mere routine in which there is no change, no mutation, and with which you get bored very quickly. Creation is the very movement of creation itself - it is not the interpretation of that movement on canvas, in music, in books, or in relationship.
After all, the mind has within it millions of years of memories, of instincts, and the urge to go beyond all that is still part of the mind. From this background of the old springs the desire to recognize the new; but the new is something totally different - it is love - and it cannot be understood by a mind which is caught in the process of the old trying to recognize the new.
This is one of the most difficult things to communicate; but I would like to communicate it, if I can, because if the mind is not in that state of creation, it is always in the process of deterioration. That state is timeless, eternal. It is not comparative, it is not utilitarian, it has no value at all in terms of action, you can't use it to paint your beastly little pictures, or to write your marvellous Shakespearean poetry. But without it, there is really no love at all. The love that we know is jealousy, it is hedged about with hate, anxiety, despair, misery, conflict; and none of that is love. Love is something everlastingly new, unrecognizable; it is never the same, and therefore it is the highest state of uncertainty. And it is only in the state of love that the mind can understand that extraordinary thing called creation - which is God, or any other name you like to give it. The mind that has understood the limitations of the known and is therefore free of the known - only such a mind can be in that state of creation in which there is no factor of deterioration.
Do you want to ask any questions on what we have talked about this morning?
Questioner: Is the feeling of having an individual will the cause of fear?
Krishnamurti: Probably it is. But what do you mean by that word `individual'? Are you an individual ? You have a body, a name, a bank account; but if you are inwardly bound, crippled, limited, are you an individual? Like everybody else, you are conditioned, are you not? And within that limited area of your conditioning, which you call the individual, everything arises - your miseries, your despairs, your jealousies, your fears. That narrow, fragmentary thing, with its individual soul, its individual will, and all that messy little stuff - of that you are very proud. And with that you want to uncover God, truth, love. You cannot. All that you can do is to be aware of your fragment and its struggles, and see that the fragment can never become the whole. Do what it will, the spoke can never become the wheel. So one has to inquire into and understand this separate, narrow, limited existence, the so-called individual.
What is important in all this is not your opinion or my opinion, but to find out what is true. And to find out what is true, the mind must be without fear - so completely denuded of fear that it is totally innocent. It is only out of that innocence that there is creation.
July 21, 1964
Saanen 5th Public Talk 21st July 1964
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