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Flight of The Eagle

Flight of The Eagle Chapter 7 Paris 2nd Public Talk 13th April 1969 'Fear'

Most of us are caught in habits - physical and psychological habits. Some of us are aware of them and others are not. If one is aware of these habits then is it possible to stop a particular habit instantly and not carry it on over many months to put an end to it without any form of struggle,to drop it instantly - the habit of smoking the particular twitch of the head, the habitual smile or any one of the various peculiar habits one has? To become conscious of chattering endlessly about nothing, of the restlessness of the mind - can one do that without any form of resistance, or control, and thus end it easily without effort and immediately? In that are implied several things: first the understanding that struggle against something, like a particular habit, develops a form of resistance to that habit; and one learns that resistance in any form breeds more conflict. If one resists a habit, tries to suppress it, struggle against it, the very energy that is necessary to understand that habit is wasted in the struggle and control. In that is involved the second thing: one takes for granted that time is necessary, that any particular habit must be slowly worn out, must slowly be suppressed or got rid of.

We are accustomed on the one hand to the idea that it is only possible to be free of any habit through resistance, through developing the opposite habit, and on the other hand to the idea that we can only do it gradually over a period of time. But if one really examines it one sees that any form of resistance develops further conflicts and also that time, taking many days, weeks, years, does not really end the habit; and we are asking whether it is possible to end a habit without resistance and without time, immediately.

To be free of fear what is required is not resistance over a period of time but the energy that can meet this habit and dissolve it immediately: and that is attention. Attention is the very essence of all energy. To give one's attention means to give one's mind, one's heart, one's whole physical energy, to attend and with that energy to face, or to be aware of, the particular habit; then you will see that the habit has no longer any hold - it disappears instantly.

One may think that one's various habits are not particularly important - one has them, what does it matter; or one finds excuses for one's habits. But if one could establish the quality of attention in the mind, the mind having seized the fact, the truth, that energy is attention and that attention is necessary to dissolve any particular habit, then becoming aware of a particular habit, or tradition, one will see that it comes to an end, completely.

One has a way of talking or one indulges in endless chatter about nothing: if one becomes so attentively aware, then one has an extraordinary energy - energy that is not brought about through resistance, as most energies are. This energy of attention is freedom. If one understands this really very deeply, not as a theory but an actual fact with which one has experimented, a fact seen and of which one is fully aware, then one can proceed to inquire into the whole nature and structure of fear. And one must bear in mind, when talking about this rather complicated question, that verbal communication between you and the speaker becomes rather difficult; if one is not listening with sufficient care and attention then communication is not possible. If you are thinking about one thing and the speaker is talking about something else, then communication comes to an end, obviously. If you are concerned with your own particular fear and your whole attention is given to that particular fear, then verbal communication between you and the speaker also comes to an end. To communicate with one another, verbally, there must be a quality of attention in which there is care, in which there is an intensity, an urgency to understand this question of fear.

More important than communication is communion. Communication is verbal and communion is nonverbal. Two people who know each other very well can, without saying any words, understand each other completely, immediately, because they have established a certain form of communication between themselves. When we are dealing with such a very complicated issue as fear, there must be communion as well as verbal communication; the two must go together all the time, or otherwise we shall not be working together. Having said all this - which is necessary - let us consider the question of fear.

It is not that you must be free from fear. The moment you try to free yourself from fear, you create a resistance against fear. Resistance, in any form, does not end fear - it will always be there, though you may try to escape from it, resist it, control it, run away from it and so on, it will always be there. The running away, the controlling, the suppressing, all are forms of resistance; and the fear continues even though you develop greater strength to resist. So we are not talking about being free from fear. Being free from something is not freedom. Please do understand this, because in going into this question, if you have given your whole attention to what is being said, you must leave this hall without any sense of fear. That is the only thing that matters, not what the speaker says or does not say or whether you agree or disagree; what is important it that one should totally, right through one's being, psychologically, end fear.

So, it is not that one must be free from or resist fear but that one must understand the whole nature and structure of fear, understand it; that means, learn about it, watch it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it, not how to resist it through courage and so on. We are to learn. What does that word mean, `to learn'? Surely it is not the accumulation of knowledge about fear. It will be rather useless going into this question unless you understand this completely. We think that learning implies the accumulation of knowledge about something; if one wants to learn Italian, one has to accumulate the words and their meaning, the grammar and how to put the sentences together and so on; having gathered knowledge then one is capable of speaking that particular language. That is, there is the accumulation of knowledge and then action; time is involved. Now, such accumulation we say is not learning. Learning is always in the active present, it is not the result of having accumulated knowledge; learning is a process, an action, which is always in the present. Most of us are accustomed to the idea of first of all accumulating knowledge, information, experience and from that acting. We are saying something entirely different. Knowledge is always in the past and when you act, the past is determining that acting. We are saying, learning is in the very action itself and therefore there is never an accumulation as knowledge.

Learning about fear is in the present, is something fresh. If I come upon fear with past knowledge, with past memories and associations, I do not come face to face with fear and therefore I do not learn about it. I can do this only if my mind is fresh, new. And that is our difficulty, because we always approach fear with all the associations, memories, incidents and experiences, all of which prevent us from looking at it afresh and learning about it anew.

There are many fears - fear of death, fear of darkness, fear of losing a job, fear of the husband or wife, insecurity, fear of not fulfilling, fear of not being loved, fear of loneliness, fear of not being a success. Are not these many fears the expression of one central fear? One asks, then: are we going to deal with a particular fear, or are we dealing with the fact of fear itself?

We want to understand the nature of fear, not how fear expresses itself in a particular direction. If we can deal with the central fact of fear, then we shall be able to resolve, or do something about, a particular fear. So do not take your particular fear and say `I must resolve this,' but understand the nature and structure of fear; then you will be able to deal with the particular fear.

See how important it is that the mind be in a state in which there is no fear whatsoever. Because when there is fear there is darkness and the mind becomes dull; then the mind seeks various escapes and stimulation through amusement - whether the amusement be in the Church or on the football field or on the radio. Such a mind is afraid, is incapable of clarity and does not know what it means to love-it may know pleasure but it certainly does not know what it means to love. Fear destroys and makes the mind ugly.

There is physical fear and psychological fear. There is the physical fear of danger - like meeting a snake or coming upon a precipice. That fear, the physical fear of meeting danger, is it not intelligence? There is a precipice there - I see it and I immediately react, I do not go near it. Now is not that fear intelligence which says to me, `be careful, there is danger'? That intelligence has been accumulated through time, others have fallen over or my mother or my friend has said, be careful of that precipice. So in that physical expression of fear there is memory and intelligence operating at the same time. Then there is the psychological fear of the physical fear that one has had, of having had a disease which has given a great deal of pain; having known pain, purely a physical phenomenon, we do not want it to be repeated again and we have the psychological fear of it although it is no longer actual. Now can that psychological fear be understood so as not to bring it into being at all? I have had pain - most of us do - it happened last week or a year ago. The pain was excruciating, I do not want it repeated and I am afraid it might come back. What has taken place there? Please follow this carefully. There is the memory of that pain and thought says, `Don't let it occur again, be careful.' Thinking about the past pain brings fear of its repetition, thought brings fear upon itself. That is a particular form of fear, the fear of disease being repeated with its pain.

There are all the various psychological fears which derive from thought - fear of what the neighbour might say, fear of not being highly bourgeois and respectable, fear of not following the social morality - which is immorality - fear of losing a job, fear of loneliness, fear of anxiety - anxiety in itself is fear and so on - all the product of a life which is based on thought.

There are not only the conscious fears, but also the deep, hidden fears in the psyche, in the deeper layers of the mind. One may deal with the conscious fears, but the deep, hidden fears are more difficult. How is one to bring these unconscious, deep, hidden fears to the surface and expose them? Can the conscious mind do that? Can the conscious mind with its active thought uncover the unconscious, the hidden? (We are using the word `unconscious' non-technically: not being conscious of, or knowing, the hidden layers - that is all). Can the conscious mind - the mind that is trained to adjust itself to survive, to go on with things as they are - you know the conscious mind, how tricky it is - can that conscious mind uncover the whole content of the unconscious? I do not think it can. It may uncover a layer which it will translate according to its conditioning. But that very translation according to its conditioning will further prejudice the conscious mind, so that it is even less capable of examining the next layer completely.

One sees that the mere conscious effort to examine the deeper content of the mind becomes extremely difficult unless the surface mind is completely free from all conditioning, from all prejudice, from all fear - otherwise it is incapable of looking. One sees that that may be extremely difficult, probably completely impossible. So one asks: is there another way, altogether different? Can the mind empty itself of all fear through analysis, self. analysis or professional analysis? In that is involved something else. When I analyze myself, look at myself, layer after layer, I examine, judge, evaluate; I say, `This is right,' `This is wrong,' `This I will keep,' `This I won't keep.' When I analyze, am I different from the thing I analyze? I have to answer it for myself, see what the truth of it is. The analyzer, is he different from the thing he is analyzing - say jealousy? He is not different, he is that jealousy, and he tries to divide himself off from the jealousy as the entity who says, `I am going to look at jealousy, get rid of it, or contact it.' But jealousy and the analyzer are part of each other.

In the process of analysis time is involved, that is, I take many days or many years to analyze myself. At the end of many years I am still afraid. So, analysis is not the way. Analysis implies a great deal of time and when the house is burning you do not sit down and analyze, or go to the professional and say, `Please tell me all about myself' - you have to act. An analysis is a form of escape, laziness and inefficiency. (It may be all right for the neurotic to go to an analyst, but even then he is not completely at the end of his neuroses. But that is a different question.)

Analysis by the conscious of the unconscious is not the way. The mind has seen this and said to itself"I will not analyze any more, I see the valuelessness of it; `I will not resist fear any more.' You follow what has happened to the mind? `When it has discarded the traditional approach, the approach of analysis, resistance, time, then what has happened to the mind itself? The mind has become extraordinarily sharp. The mind has become, through the necessity of observation, extraordinarily intense, sharp, alive. It is asking: is there another approach to this problem of uncovering its whole content, the past, the racial inheritance, the family, the weight of the cultural and religious tradition, the product of two thousand or ten thousand years? Can the mind be free of all that, can the mind put away all that and therefore put away all fear?

So I have this problem, the problem which a sharpened mind - the mind having put aside every form of analysis which of necessity takes time and for which therefore there is no tomorrow - must resolve completely, now. Therefore there is no ideal; there is no question of a future, saying, `I will be free of it.' Therefore the mind is now in a state of complete attention. It is no longer escaping, no longer inventing time as a way of resolving the problem, no longer using analysis, or resistance. Therefore the mind itself has a quality entirely new.

The psychologists say that you must dream, otherwise you will go mad. I ask myself, `Why should I dream at all?' Is there a way of living so that one does not dream at all? - for then, if one does not dream at all, the mind really has rest. It has been active all day, watching, listening, questioning, looking at the beauty of a cloud, the face of a beautiful person, the water, the movement of life, everything - it has been watching, watching; and when it goes to sleep it must have complete rest, otherwise on waking the next morning it is tired, it is still old.

So one asks is there a way of not dreaming at all so that the mind during sleep has complete rest and can come upon certain qualities which it cannot during the waking hours? It is possible only - and this is a fact, not a supposition, not a theory, not an invention, or a hope - it is possible only when you are completely awake during the day, watching every activity of your thought, your feeling, awake to every motive, to every intimation, every hint of that which is deep down, when you chatter, when you walk, when you listen to somebody, when you are watching your ambition, your jealousy, watching your response to the `glory of France,' when you read a book which says `your religious beliefs are nonsense' - watching to see what is implied in belief. During the waking hours be completely awake, when you are sitting in the bus, when you are talking to your wife, to your children, to your friend, when you are smoking - why you are smoking - when you read a detective story - why you are reading it - when you go to a cinema - why - for excitement, for sex? When you see a beautiful tree or the movement of a cloud across the sky, be completely aware of what is happening within and without, then you will see, when you go to sleep, that you do not dream and when you wake the next morning the mind is fresh, intense and alive.

Flight of The Eagle

Flight of The Eagle Chapter 7 Paris 2nd Public Talk 13th April 1969 'Fear'

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