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Commentaries on Living Series 1

Commentaries on Living Series I Chapter 58 'Fear'

SHE HAD TRAVELLED a long way, half across the world. There was a wary look about her, a guarded approach, a tentative opening that would close up at any suggestion of too deep an inquiry. She was not timid; but she was unwilling, though not consciously, to expose her inward state. Yet she wanted to talk about herself and her problems, and had come all that distance expressly to do so. She was hesitant, uncertain of her words, aloof, and at the same time eager to talk about herself. She had read many books on psychology, and while she had never been analysed, she was entirely capable of analysing herself; in fact, she said that from childhood she was used to analysing her own thoughts and feelings.

Why are you so intent upon analysing yourself?

"I do not know, but I have always done it ever since I can remember."

Is analysis a way of protecting yourself against yourself, against emotional explosions and consequent regrets?

"I am pretty sure that is why I analyse, constantly interrogate. I do not want to get caught up in all the mess about me, personal and general. It is too hideous, and I want to keep out of it. I see now that I have used analysis as a means of keeping myself intact, of not getting caught in the social and family turmoil."

Have you been able to avoid getting caught?

"I am not at all sure. I have succeeded in some directions, but in others I do not think I have. In talking about all this, I see what an extraordinary thing I have done. I have never looked at it all so clearly before."

Why are you protecting yourself so cleverly, and against what? You say, against the mess around you; but what is there in the mess against which you have to protect yourself? If it is a mess and you see it clearly as such, then you do not have to guard yourself against it. One guards oneself only when there is fear and not understanding. So what are you afraid of?

"I do not think I am afraid; I simply do not want to get entangled in the miseries of existence. I have a profession that supports me, but I want to be free of the rest of the entanglements, and I think I am."

If you are not afraid, then why do you resist entanglements? One resists something only when one does not know how to deal with it. If you know how a motor works, you are free of it; if anything goes wrong, you can put it right. We resist that which we do not understand; we resist confusion, evil, misery, only when we do not know its structure, how it is put together. You resist confusion because you are not aware of its structure, of its make-up. Why are you not aware of it?

"But I have never thought about it that way."

It is only when you are in direct relationship with the structure of confusion that you can be aware of the working of its mechanism. It is only when there is communion between two people that they understand each other; if they resist each other, there is no understanding. Communion or relationship can exist only when there is no fear.

"I see what you mean."

Then what are you afraid of?

"What do you mean by fear?"

Fear can exist only in relationship; fear cannot exist by itself, in isolation. There is no such thing as abstract fear; there is fear of the known or the unknown, fear of what one has done or what one may do; fear of the past or of the future. The relationship between what one is and what one desires to be causes fear. Fear arises when one interprets the fact of what one is in terms of reward and punishment. Fear comes with responsibility and the desire to be free from it. There is fear in the contrast between pain and pleasure. Fear exists in the conflict of the opposites. The worship of success brings the fear of failure. Fear is the process of the mind in the struggle of becoming. In becoming good, there is the fear of evil; in becoming complete, there is the fear of loneliness; in becoming great, there is the fear of being small. Comparison is not understanding; it is prompted by fear of the unknown in relation to the known. Fear is uncertainty in search of security.

The effort to become is the beginning of fear, the fear of being or not being. The mind, the residue of experience, is always in fear of the unnamed, the challenge. The mind, which is name, word, memory, can function only within the field of the known; and the unknown, which is challenge from moment to moment, is resisted or translated by the mind in terms of the known. This resistance or translation of the challenge is fear; for the mind can have no communion with the unknown. The known cannot commune with the unknown; the known must cease for the unknown to be.

The mind is the maker of fear; and when it analyses fear, seeking its cause in order to be free from it, the mind only further isolates itself and thereby increases fear. When you use analysis to resist confusion, you are increasing the power of resistance; and resistance of confusion only increases the fear of it, which hinders freedom. In communion there is freedom, but not in fear.

Commentaries on Living Series 1

Commentaries on Living Series I Chapter 58 'Fear'

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