Ojai 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 4th May 1982
One has been handed lot of questions. And I don't think it is possible to answer all of them. So we have chosen some out of those.
It is not possible to have a discussion with such a large group; nor have a dialogue, which is a conversation between two people. And so we have resorted to questions written down and to be answered. I don't know by whom, but I believe the questions have to be answered. I do not think that the speaker is going to answer the questions. But together we are going to investigate the question; its import, whether it can be answered superficially or go into it deeply. We are together going to find the answer; not that the speaker is going to reply to your questions, but together we are going to approach the question and see the implications of the question and find for ourselves the answer; which is much more reasonable, rational, and worthwhile. If one expects someone else to answer the questions, then one is not taking the responsibility at all. You are depending then on someone else, whereas if we could this morning together explore the question by carefully going into it, not analytically, but observing the quality, the nature, the structure of the question. If that is clear, that we are together going to investigate and find the answer for ourselves.
1st QUESTION: Our children are aware through television and other means of the threatening world they live in. The violence of crime, wars, nuclear danger. How do we help them to face this?
How do we face the problem, rather than the children? Because after all the parents are also the educators; not merely the teachers of a school, the parents, though they have brought them into the world, they are also really deeply responsible people to teach them. So, what is our responsibility? How do we meet these problems ourselves? The wars, the violence, the terrible things that are shown on television; the terrorism, and all the rest of it, how do we meet it. as parents, as human beings? I wish we could have a conversation about it, a dialogue, but that's not possible.
So how do I or you meet this terrible world? Do we accept things as they are, adjust ourselves to things as they are, modifying our lives but accepting things, status quo, as they are? Do we accept it? Or, if we do not accept them, how do we face the problem? How do I or you personally face the issue? Please, I am asking this question; don't just sit back and let me answer it. Let's find out together how do we face these problems.
What is our action? What shall we do? If I am a parent and I have several children, and I see the things that are going on in the world, the tribal wars, the terrorism, kidnapping, all the rest of it; as a parent how shall I educate him to face this life? First of all, how do I as a parent face these problems? Is my response casual; is my response traditional; my response that I cannot do anything about it, it's too vast, too complicated, and so I leave it to others; the politicians, the economists, the social reformers, and so on. Or, do I take the total responsibility of what is happening in the world?
If I am violent, dishonest, have no sense of a world, global outlook, not parochial attachments; is that possible? That is, to have a global relationship; psychologically; is that possible? Or, I live in a particular country and I have to obey its laws, follow its rules and so on, so I am committed to the limited outlook on life. Is it possible for me as a parent, and so a teacher, is it possible for me to break away from all this, break away from the usual mediocre tradition? And I am afraid most of us are mediocre - and is it possible, can I undertake to educate my children to have a global attitude towards life? What do you say to it? Or shall I leave it all to the teachers, in a school, however advanced, and let them educate my children? Not undertake the responsibility of educating them at home as well as in their holidays and so on.
By nature, by inheritance we are a violent people: aggressive, competitive, arrogant, we have come to that, through various biological demands and also psychological, perhaps necessities which have become habitual. And as we are violent people, we create a violent society and can I educate my children not to be violent? Come on, answer! Perhaps I can talk to them about it, if I have time. Probably we have not time; we are worried about our own problems; and get home rather tired after a long day and want to brush off the children; but if I have taken the responsibility to teach them, to help them, to understand this cruel world; I may talk to them, I may point it out to them. But the televisions, the children's friends, are all encouraging violence. So at home I tell them one thing, and when they go outside they are being gregarious, wanting to follow the tradition, not to be abnormal, different from others, they become like the rest of them, mediocre, cruel, thoughtless; you know what is happening. So, what shall I do? Please, it's your problem. What shall I, as a parent, do?
Can I give up my pleasures? I am in the habit of smoking - suppose; I am not - suppose I am in the habit of smoking, drinking, taking drugs, mildly, marijuana or whatever it is, and I tell my children not to do it; they won't believe me. They'll say, you're a hypocrite. Even though they may not tell me that. So will I give up all those things for my children? Go into it, sir, it's your problem. Will I give up my drink, my irritations, my anger, my drugs and alcohol for the sake of my children? I have heard several parents in Europe and elsewhere say, why should I give up my pleasures for my blasted children? Do you understand the attitude? They have to face the world; and if we make them soft they will be destroyed. So we must make them hard. And all the rest of it. So what shall I do?
Am I educating my children, as a parent at home, or am I educating myself as well as the children? You follow my question? I, as a parent, I feel I have to educate them; but I carry on my own ways; dishonest, having no integrity, occupied with my own problems, with my own ambitions and so on, can I, as a parent and a teacher of my children, educate myself as well as my three or four children? That means I have to break up the pattern in which I have been living. If I love my children, I have to. Because perhaps the influence of the home is far more important than the influence of the school, where the parents are supposed to love their children, care for them, look after them, see to their behaviour, the language they use; cultivate their good taste, appreciation of beauty; that means I myself am educating, all the time. Educating in the sense that, not live in the same old pattern; the same old habits of past generations and amusements and pleasure. Obviously I must give them up. But will the parents do this? Will you do it for your children? And will you help as a parent to bring about a new school?
This has been a problem with which the speaker has been associated for the last 60 years. There are several schools in India, here there is one here, and England. And this is a problem. Not only the biological sexual problem of an adolescent; and also the society is so brutally strong, the outward environment; you may bring them up very, very carefully, but the structure of society is so powerful.
From this arises rather an interesting question: society now demands engineers, scientists, businessmen; computer experts; architects; builders of roads, engineers, society demands that. So there lies the money and all the rest of it. If the society demanded a totally different group of people, you are following? - that is, a group of people who are not concerned with nationalism, with violence, with drugs, alcohol, all those things; but are deeply integrated, have integrity - you follow? Will society demand such a people? Obviously not. Some years ago speaking in Switzerland, where we have been for the last 21 years, at the beginning the particular place where we were speaking, Saanen, didn't want us, at all, in the place. Because - the majority of the people who came there didn't smoke, didn't go to the butcher, didn't drink; so the village people said, why do you come here if you don't spend money? You follow the point of this?
As society does not demand a group of people who have this sense of integrity, the sense of wholeness in their life, a profound religious life, not the traditional religious which has no meaning at all. As society does not demand such people, can we as a group be those people? Do you understand my question? It is a very interesting point. Then we'll have such a person, such a human being, who has such strength, such vitality in himself. And such a group becomes essentially important. They are like a light in darkness. So are there such parents who will be that?
Or, we are all so casual, sloppy, indifferent; please, sirs, this is a very, very serious question because you are bringing about a new generation of people. If that generation is merely the continuation of what you are, with all the violence and all the stupidities of war, society will then become more and more immoral, more and more destructive. So, as a group of parents, is it possible that we demand of ourselves the highest excellence in behaviour, in conduct. Right? So we educate our children in a totally different way.
2nd QUESTION: Great teachers have been on earth; Buddha, Jesus. Do you think there will be less conflict, more understanding when you also depart, or is the world moving in an unalterable direction?
Have we ever noticed that the followers destroy the leader and the leader or the teacher destroys the followers? Have you ever considered that? The Buddha, two thousand five hundred years ago, before Christianity came into being, talked about love, conduct, and so on, not to worship anything. And his followers made images of him, followed him, and so destroyed him. Right? There are various scriptures written down from memory, but the disciples always either exaggerate, distort, or extol; and lose the real depth of his teaching. And the Christian world - I hope I am not treading on anybody's toe - the Christian world, I am sure, have also made up that person into something incredible. And probably when the speaker kicks the bucket, dies, there will be the same phenomena going on.
All this points to something extraordinary. Why have human beings all over the world created symbols and worship the symbols? The symbols have become far more important than the truth of any of those people who have said things which are utterly true. Why do we want interpreters? The mediators between that truth and yourself; you understand my question? The priest; the priests have existed from the ancient of times. The Sumerians, 7,000 or 8,000 years ago, had the priests; so did the Egyptians, the ancient Egyptians. And there are these modern priests: the evangelists, the local priests, the priests at Rome; they will all tell you or interpret or come between you and that. Why do we allow all this? You understand my question? Why can't we as human beings look to anybody? Because the whole history of mankind, his suffering, his agony, his desperate uncertainty, loneliness, it's all in the book. Not in sacred books and holy books and all that; in the book which we are. We are the history of mankind. And if we can read that book ourselves, we will need nobody outside to help.
Our difficulty is we want others to read it and tell us what we are, what we should do. And the difficulty is to read the book of ourselves. And to read that book we need careful observation of every movement of thought, feeling, reactions; and we don't do it because we want something, an easy way to everything. So: thought then invents all the rituals, the marvellous architecture of ancient cathedrals, temples and mosques; and the things that are in the temples, in the mosques, in the cathedrals and churches are put there by thought; invented by thought. And thought is not sacred, which we will go into when we talk about it. And as long as we depend on others, whether it be Buddha and so on, we shall always live in conflict, our life will become hypocritical. Is this so or not? Or, the speaker is merely fantasy. The accuracy of investigation demands that you have flexible scepticism.
So that the outside agency, whether it's the Saviour, the Buddha, or in India, Krishna and so on, as long as that exists there'll be division among people and that division will inevitably bring about conflict. Truth is not Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or Islam; it is truth, and it doesn't belong to anybody. Like love doesn't belong to you or to me, it is love, compassion. And our minds are so conditioned - two thousand years of Christianity, of propaganda, very clever, thought-out propaganda; and the same thing in the Asiatic world. So, is it possible to be totally, completely free from all dependence? To have one's own deep abiding unshakeable integrity; which involves no fear and so on. Otherwise we create gods, saviours.
3rd QUESTION: My behaviour indicates that I am afraid. Yet the actual perception of fear is elusive. How do I reach and deal with this deep-rooted but unconscious emotion?
Do you want to go into this now? I was going to deal with it on Saturday. It doesn't matter, we'll deal with it on both days.
If one has observed, this problem of fear has existed from time immemorial. Right? It has existed with man. And man has lived with it; both consciously or hidden deep down; its roots very, very deep. And either we have escaped from it through logic, through analysis, through any form of entertainment that helps us to avoid coming directly into contact with it, and holding it; or we have suppressed it. Right? We are doing this. Or we neglect it; we say, what, we have lived with fear for million years, say, what does it matter now? And one knows the consequences of fear. The physical shrinkage, a tendency to be hypocritical, resistance, an avoidance of the fact that one is really afraid.
So if one really profoundly wants to be free from that reaction called fear, one has to go to the very root of it. There are biological fears: the body, the organism, which must protect itself; and the fear of disease, old age, death, and the fears of past memories. So fear is again a common ground upon which all human beings stand. So either we deal with it superficially or enquire into it very, very deeply.
What is the root of fear? I know - one knows various forms of fear: death, old age, fear of tomorrow, fear of uncertainty, fear of insecurity, fear of not being loved or loved and not receiving that love, fear of loneliness; fear of loss, fear of not having anybody to depend on, and so on. There are various forms of fear; the fear of the dark, the fear of light. Do we deal with the outward forms of fear: That is, I am afraid of my wife, or I am afraid of a bully; a bully bullying all the time, you lie, you do all kinds of things; and there is the fear of that constant pressure of an aggressive, slightly demented person. So do we want to deal with fear superficially, which is intellectually, verbally, or do we want to go into it very, very, very deeply? Or, you go into it observing its very nature, structure, how it comes into being.
When we want to deal with it deeply, go to the very root of it, what is the root of fear? Please, I am not telling you; the speaker is not pointing out; we are together investigating into a tremendous complicated problem, which has crippled humanity. And out of fear we have done all kinds of things; invented all the gods on earth. If there is absolutely no psychological fear, then you are beyond all gods. So what is basically the root of fear?
Is it time and thought? Please, we are investigating, I am not telling you; I am questioning. Is it time, the future; or the past; and is it also thought, thinking about the future; thinking about the past; thinking what might happen, or what has happened. The future is time. The past is time. The past modifying itself in the present moves towards tomorrow, the future. The remembrance of an incident, which has caused fear, and the future of that incident awakening the new fear - you are following all this? Am I talking to myself, or we are meeting each other? So there is horizontal fear and vertical fear. Right?
So I am - we are asking, is it time? The past, the present and the future. I am afraid - one is afraid of the present: the instability, the threat of war; the bomb that some country, another great tribal country, might put on this, and so on. So one is afraid of the past, the present, and the future. It is a movement. Right? This is not something that is static, it is a movement. And so a movement means time; from here to the village requires time to travel, to go to the village. From one point to another point means time. So we are asking if time is one of the factors of fear. Logically, it seems so; rationally, sanely. And is thought also the root of fear? I think tomorrow might bring me unemployment, I will be unemployed tomorrow. The thinking about it while I am employed, thinking about tomorrow is also the beginning of fear. Right, you are following? Thinking about the past, the incidents, the psychological accident which has brought about certain forms of fear; thinking about the past, thinking about the future, thinking about the actual moment of life in which there is such tremendous uncertainty, thought breeds fear. Right? You are following all this?
So time and thought are the major factors of fear. And if they are, and as in reality they are, what is one to do? You understand my problem? Are we meeting each other? You have explained this to me; that time and thought is the root of fear, you have gone into it, you have explained it; not in great detail, but I've captured the meaning of what you have said. Now, then you ask me, is it an idea that you have accepted, the words that you have accepted, or listening what you have said to me, from that listening I have made an abstraction of it into an idea and I'm struggling with the idea. Then I ask, how am I to put that idea into action? You see the difference? Vous avez compris? You have understood what I am saying? Is this clear?
We have the habit of making abstractions of a fact. Those abstractions become ideals, ideas, concepts, conclusions; all verbal. And then I ask myself, how am I to carry out these ideals, these ideas, these concepts, that time and thought are the root of fear. You've understood? I have made an abstraction of what you have told me; time and thought are the root of fear; and I am pursuing the idea, how am I to carry it out in life. The speaker says, please don't do that. Don't make an abstraction of what you have heard, that time and thought are the root of fear. Don't translate into an idea, but find out the truth of it, the actuality of it. That is, I see that I really am afraid of the past, which is so. Also I am afraid of the present, because the things are so incredibly destructive around me. And also I am afraid of tomorrow, the future: the atom bomb, the nuclear bomb, the mugging, the mad terrorists and the politicians with their game; that's the present, so also the future. So, I see the fact, not the idea, that time and thought are the root of fear. On next Saturday, I'll go into it much more, in a different way, but this is the root of fear. Now what shall I do? I realize, I see the fact. I see the truth of what you have told me. Not romantic, idealistic, all that; that has no meaning. I see the truth, the actual truth, of what you have told me.
Then the difficulty arises, if you have gone that far, who is the observer who actually sees the fact? You understand all this? Or is this too difficult? All right, who is the observer says, ah yes, I see the truth of it? Is the observer different from what he sees? You understand my question? When I say, yes, I see the truth of what you have told me, I have already played a trick, which is: I see the truth of it; that means I am different from the truth. You are following? Right, is this clear? Wait a minute, let me put it much more simply. When I am angry, is that anger different from me? Or, at the moment of anger, there is no difference. There is this tremendous reaction. A few seconds later I say, I have been angry, therefore I have divided myself as the 'me' who has been angry. Right? You see this? So, when you have told me the truth, the fact, that time and thought are the factors of fear, I listen to it very carefully and I say, yes, I see the truth of it; and the perception of that truth is something out there and me watching it. You are following? Or, there is no observer but only the fact of it. You understand the difference? Are we meeting somewhat? I observe that tree. In that observation words spring up, that's an oak tree, and the very naming of that tree prevents me from actually looking at it. You have understood? If I go to a museum and see a picture, a painting by the old masters - I don't like modern paintings - and I go there and look. When I compare one master against another master, I am not looking at the actual painting of a particular master. Right? I am comparing, judging, I am never observing very closely without any sense of other painters, looking. So, when I observe, when I see the truth of what you have told me, there is no division between the observer and the observed. There is only the truth of it, not, I see it. And that perception, which is holistic, frees the mind from fear completely. Have you got this? Don't look, please, so puzzled.
You are not tired? Can we go on with this? It's very important to understand this. I am afraid - suppose I am afraid, psychologically - I then try to control it, I try to rationalize it, I try to escape from it, I go to somebody to help me to resolve it, so I am always acting on it. Right? Is that clear? That's what we are all doing: acting upon it either to dissipate it or to control it or to run away from it or to suppress it This is what we do, acting upon it. So there is always this conflict. Right? Is that clear? The struggle not to be afraid; which is a conflict. Now, can that conflict end? You understand, I am putting the question differently. Can that conflict between me and the fear, me controlling the fear, suppressing and so on, and thereby this division which inevitably brings conflict, can that conflict end? You get the point? That's my question. I say, how can that conflict end? Why does this division between the 'me', the I who is trying to suppress, control, dominate fear, why is there this division? Is this division actual? Or is it merely semantic? Verbal? Or, not being able to solve the problem, thought has divided itself as the 'me' and the fear. You understand?
Am I talking to myself or can we go on? Sorry, you probably have never thought about all this. So, it is important to resolve this conflict, because we live in duality; I am this, I should not be that, I should be that. So there is always this duality which brings about conflict. Right? Now; I want to find out - no, I won't use that, I want to - can this conflict end? Is there - please listen to it - is there an opposite? I am afraid, the opposite is, not to be afraid. Right? Or have courage. Is there an opposite to fear? Or, there is only the ending of fear, not the opposite of fear. I wonder if you see all this. So, is there an ending of fear - the ending being no conflict? Right? If I end it through conflict, that means I'll go on, it'll be perpetual. You get this? So, can this end. To end something, there must be no me who is trying to end it. Right? If I try to end it, I am in conflict with it. Right? But is there an observation of this reaction called fear without the past interfering with that observation? The past being the remembrances, the many fears I have had. So the past, can it abstain from looking at the fact without the memory of yesterdays? You haven't understood?
Look, sir; if I am married, I meet my wife every day. Every day, rather boring, every day. Listen carefully please, don't laugh. Every day. So, I begin to know her; I know how she looks, what her gestures, all the rest of it, words, so gradually I have built up a knowledge about her, and whenever I look at her all the knowledge comes out. Right? The knowledge is the past. Right? Because I have built the knowledge day after day, day after day, day after day, accumulated it through various incidents and so on and so on. So, whenever I see her, this knowledge which is the past looks at her. Right? You are doing this! This is nothing new. Only we are putting into words. And so this knowledge is the remembrance of things past meeting the present and so dividing. Right? Physically of course my wife is not like me; male and female. But psychologically I have divided myself. You understand? The remembrance of the accumulated memories, which is knowledge about my wife, has separated as the 'me' and her. Got this? The past has brought about this division. Now, similarly, the past remembrances of fears, past remembrance of accidents of fear, the happenings of fear, is stored in the brain. And that brain is remembering the past and so when the present reaction, when it comes, you name it immediately as fear, and record it as fear.
You follow this? Right, is this clear? No, don't tell me this is not clear. I can't help it, sorry. I'll try to put it three or four different ways
The past is time. The past is the observer. And so the observer says, yes, that is fear. I know it's fear, because I have had it so many times. So, the moment it recognizes, it's part of the past. Right? You see this fact. So, can you look at that reaction, is there an observation of that reaction, without the past? And when the past observes you maintain the same movement. But when there is an observation without the past, you are looking it afresh. Which is, when you observe fear from the past, you are using an energy which has already been employed year after year. Right? That's a wastage of energy. Is there a new energy that meets this fear without the past? You understand the question now? Oh, for God's sake!
You see, fear exists only - I realize, one sees the truth that time and thought are the root of fear. Fear exists when there is inattention, when there is no attention. Right? If I give complete attention to fear, it doesn't exist. But my brain has been conditioned not to give attention to this reaction. When you have sexual feeling you - right? Whereas, what do you call it, fear, if you give total attention to it, which is not to analyze it, not to rationalize it, not to escape from it, not to observe it from the past, attention means giving your whole energy to look. Right? Then when you do, fear is not.
I can't go on into this. We can go into it in a different way; on Saturday we'll go into it very much more. Because the mind that has fear is a destructive, aggressive, neurotic mind. Whereas a mind that is utterly free of fear, psychologically, is an extraordinary mind.
We had better stop. We meet again Thursday, if you want to.
Ojai 1st Public Question & Answer Meeting 4th May 1982
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