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The Impossible Question

Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970

Impossible Question Part II Chapter 2 2nd Public Dialogue Saanen 3rd August 1970

Krishnamurti: Yesterday we were talking about fear and the necessity of knowing oneself. I don't know if one sees the great importance of understanding the nature and structure of oneself. As we said, if there is no comprehension, not intellectual or verbal, but an actual understanding of what one is and the possibility of going beyond it, we must inevitably bring about confusion and contradiction in ourselves, with activities that will lead to a great deal of mischief and sorrow. So it is absolutely essential that one should understand, not only the superficial layers of oneself, but the total entity, all the hidden parts. -

And I hope in communicating with each other, in understanding this whole problem together, we shall be able to see, actually, not theoretically, if through self-knowledge the mind can go beyond its own conditioning, its own habits, its own prejudices and so on.

We were also talking about learning about oneself. Learning implies a non-accumulative movement; there is no movement if there is accumulation. If the flowing river ends up in a lake there is no movement. There is movement only when there is a constant flow, a strong current. And learning implies that; learning not only about outward things and scientific facts, but also learning about oneself, because `oneself' is a constantly changing, dynamic, volatile being. To learn about it past experiences in no way help; on the contrary, the past puts an end to learning and therefore to any complete action. I hope we saw this very clearly: that we are dealing with a constantly living movement of life, a movement which is the `me'. To understand what `me', which is so very subtle, there needs to be an intense curiosity, a persistent awareness, a sense of non-accumulative comprehension. I hope we are able to communicate with each other about this whole question of learning.

That is where our trouble is going to be, because our mind likes to function in grooves, in patterns, from a fixed conclusion or a prejudice, or from knowledge. The mind is tethered to a particular belief and from there it tries to understand this extraordinary movement of the `me'. Therefore there is a contradiction between the`me' and the observer.

We were also talking about fear, which is part of this total movement of the `me; the `me' which breaks up life as a movement, the `me' which separates itself as the `you' and the `me' We asked, `What is fear?' We are going to learn non-accumulatively about fear; the very word `fear' prevents coming into contact with that feeling of danger which we call fear. Look, Sirs, maturity implies a total, natural development of a human being; natural in the sense of non-contradictory, harmonious - which has nothing to do with age. And the factor of fear prevents this natural, total development of the mind. I'll go on a little and then we will discuss all this.

When one is afraid, not only of physical things, but also of psychological factors, in that fear what takes place? I am afraid; not only of physically falling ill, of dying, of darkness - you know the innumerable fears one has, both biological as well as psychological. What does that fear do to the mind, the mind which has created these fears? Do you understand my question? Don't answer me immediately, look at yourselves. What is the effect of fear on the mind, on one's whole life? Or are we so used to fear, have we accustomed ourselves to fear, which has become a habit, that we are unaware of its effect? If I have accustomed myself to the national feeling of the Hindu, to the dogma, to the beliefs, I am enclosed in this conditioning and totally unaware of what the effects of it are. I only see the feeling that is aroused in me, the nationalism, and I am satisfied with that. I identify myself with the country, with the belief and all the rest of it. But we don't see the effect of such a conditioning all around. In the same way, we don't see what fear does - psychosomatically, as well as psychologically. What does it do? Sirs, this is a discussion, you have to take part in it!

Questioner: I become involved in trying to stop this thing from happening.

Krishnamurti: It stops or immobilizes action. Is one aware of that? Are you? Don't generalize. We are having all these discussions in order to see what is actually happening within us; otherwise these dialogues have no meaning. In talking over what fear does and becoming conscious of it, it might be possible to go beyond it. So if I am at all serious I must see the effects of fear. Do I know the effects of it? Or do I only know them verbally? Do I know them as something which has happened in the past, which remains a memory and that memory says: `These are the effects of it'? So that memory sees the effects of it, but the mind doesn't see the actual effect. I don,t know if you see this? I have said something which is really quite important.

Questioner: Could you say it again?

Krishnamurti: When I say I know the effects of fear, what does that mean? Either I know it verbally, that is intellectually, and I know it as a memory, as something that has happened in the past, and I say: `This did happen'. So the past tells me what the effects are. But I don't see the effects of it at the actual moment. Therefore it is something remembered and not real. Whereas `knowing' implies non-accumulative seeing - not recognition - but seeing the fact. Have I conveyed this?

When I say `I am hungry', is it the remembrance of having been hungry yesterday which tells me, or is it the actual fact of

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hunger now? The actual awareness that I am hungry now, is entirely different from the response of a memory which tells me I have been hungry and therefore I may be hungry now. Is the past telling you the effects of fear, or are you aware of the actual happening of the effects of fear? The actions of the two are entirely different - aren't they? The one, being completely aware of the effects of fear now, acts instantly. But if memory tells me these are the effects, then the action is different. Have I made myself clear? Now, which is it?

Questioner: Can you distinguish between a particular fear and actually being aware of the effects of fear as such - apart from remembering the effects of a fear?

Krishnamurti: That's what I was trying to explain. The action of the two are entirely different. Do you see that? Please, if you don't see it don't say `yes', don't let's play games with each other. It is very important to understand this. Is the past telling you the effects of fear, or is there a direct perception or awareness of the effects of fear now? If the past is telling you the effects of fear, the action is incomplete and therefore contradictory; it brings conflict. But if one is completely aware of the effects of fear now, the action is total.

Questioner: As I am sitting in the tent now I have no fear because I am listening to what you are talking about, so I am not afraid. But this fear may come up as I leave the tent.

Krishnamurti: But can't you, sitting here in this tent, see fear, which you may have had yesterday, can't you invoke it, invite it?

Questioner: It may be life fears.

Krishnamurti: Whatever the fear may be, need you say, `I have no fears now, but when I go outside I'll have them'. They are there! Questioner: You can invoke it - as you say - you can remember it. But this is the point you made about bringing in memory, the thought about fear.

Krishnamurti: I am asking: need I wait until I leave the tent to find out what my fears are? Or, sitting here, can I be aware of them? I am not afraid at this moment of what someone might say to me. But when I meet the man who is going to say these things, that will frighten me. Can't I see the actual fact of that now?

Questioner: If you do that, you are already making a practice of it.

Krishnamurti: No, it is not a practice. You see, you are so afraid of doing anything which might become a practice! Sir, aren't you afraid of losing your job? Aren't you afraid of death? Aren't you afraid of not being able to fulfil? Aren't you afraid of being lonely? Aren't you afraid of not being loved? Don't you have some form of fear?

Questioner: Only if there is a challenge.

Krishnamurti: But I am challenging you! I can,t understand this mentality!

Questioner: If there is an impulse you act, you have to do something.

Krishnamurti: No! You are making it so complicated. It is as natural as hearing that train roar by. Either you can remember the noise of that train, or listen actually to that noise. Don't complicate it, please.

Questioner: Aren't you in a way complicating it by talking about invoking fear? I don't have to invoke any of my fears - just being here I can survey my reaction.

Krishnamurti: That's all I am saying.

Questioner: In order to communicate here we must know the difference between the brain and the mind.

Krishnamurti: We have discussed that before. We are now trying to find out what fear is, learn about it. Is the mind free to learn about fear? Learning being watching the movement of fear. You can only watch the movement of fear, when you are not remembering past fears and watching with those memories. Do you see the difference? I can watch the movement. Are you learning about what is actually taking place when there is fear? We are boiling with fear all the time. We don't seem to be able to get rid of it. When you had fears in the past and were aware of them, what effect had those fears on you and on your environment? What happened? Weren't you cut off from others? Weren't the effects of those fears isolating you?

Questioner: It crippled me.

Krishnamurti: It made you feel desperate, you didn't know what to do, Now, when there was this isolation, what happened to action?

Questioner: It was fragmentary.

Krishnamurti: Do listen to this carefully please. I have had fear in the past and the effects of those fears were to isolate me, to cripple me, to make me feel desperate. There was a feeling of running away, of seeking comfort in something. All that we will call for the moment isolating oneself from all relationship. The effect of that isolation in action is to bring about fragmentation. Didn't this happen to you? When you were frightened you didn't know what to do, you ran away from it, or tried to suppress it, or reason it away. And when you had to act you were acting from a fear which is in itself isolating. So an action born out of that fear must be fragmentary. Fragmentation being contradictory, there was a great deal of struggle, pain, anxiety no?

Questioner: Sir, as a crippled person walks on crutches, so a person who is numbed, crippled by fear, uses various kinds of crutches.

Krishnamurti: That's what we are saying. That's right. Now you are very clear about the effect of past fear: it produces fragmentary actions. What is the difference between that and the action of fear without the response of memory? When you meet physical danger what takes place?

Questioner: Spontaneous action.

Krishnamurti: It is called spontaneous action - is it spontaneous? Please do enquire, we are trying to find out something. You are in the woods by yourself, in some wild part and suddenly you come upon a bear with cubs - what happens then? Knowing the bear is a dangerous animal what happens to you?

Questioner: The adrenalin is increased.

Krishnamurti: Yes, now what is the action that takes place?

Questioner: You see the danger of transmitting your own fear to the bear.

Krishnamurti: No, what happens to you? Of course if you are afraid you transmit it to the bear and the bear gets frightened and attacks you. This is all very simple, you are missing the whole point. Have you ever faced a bear in the woods? Questioner: There is someone here who has.

Krishnamurti: I have. That gentleman and I have had many of these experiences during certain years. But what takes place? There is a bear a few feet away from you. There are all the bodily reactions, the flow of adrenalin and so on; you stop instantly and you turn away and run. What has happened there? What was the response? A conditioned response, wasn't it? People have told you generation after generation, `Be careful of wild animals'. If you get frightened you will transmit that fear to the animal and then he will attack you. The whole thing is gone through instantly. Is that the functioning of fear - or is it intelligence? What is operating? Is it fear that has been aroused by the repetition of: `be careful of the wild animals', which has been your conditioning from childhood? Or is it intelligence? The conditioned response to that animal and the action of that conditioned response is one thing. The operation of intelligence and the action of intelligence is different; the two are entirely different. Are you meeting this? A bus is rushing by, you don't throw yourself in front of it; your intelligence says, `Don't do it'. This is not fear - unless you are neurotic or have taken drugs. Your intelligence, not fear, prevents you.

Questioner: Sir, when you meet a wild animal don't you have to have both intelligence and a conditioned response?

Krishnamurti: No Sir. See it. The moment it is a conditioned response there is fear involved in it and that is transmitted to the animal; but not if it is intelligence. So find out for yourself which is operating. If it is fear then its action is incomplete and therefore there is a danger from the animal; but in the action of intelligence there is no fear at all.

Questioner (1): You are saying that if I watch the bear with this intelligence, I can be killed by the bear without experiencing fear. Questioner (2): If I hadn't met a bear before, I wouldn't even know it was a bear.

Krishnamurti: You are all making such complications. This is so simple. Now leave the animals alone. Let us start with ourselves; we are partly animals too.

The effects of fear and its actions based on past memories are destructive, contradictory and paralysing. Do we see that? - not verbally but actually; that when you are afraid you are completely isolated and any action that takes place from that isolation must be fragmentary and therefore contradictory, therefore there is struggle, pain and all the rest of it. Now, an action of awareness of fear without all the responses of memory is a complete action. Try it! Do it! Become aware as you are walking alone when you go home; your old fears will come up. Then watch, be aware whether those fears are actual fears, or projected by thought as memory. As the fear arises watch whether you are watching from the response of thought, or whether you are merely watching. What we are talking about is action, because life is action. We are not saying only one part of life is action. The whole of living is action and that action is broken up; the breaking up of action is this process of memory with its thoughts and isolation, Is that clear?

Questioner: You mean the idea is to experience totally every split second, without memory entering?

Krishnamurti: Sir, when you put a question like that, you have to investigate the question of memory. You have to have memory, the clearer, the more definite, the better. If you are to function technologically, or even if you want to get home, you have to have memory. But thought as the response of memory, and projecting fear out of that memory, is an action which is entirely different.

Now, what is fear? How does it happen that there is fear? How do these fears take place? Would you tell me please? Questioner: In me it is the attachment to the past.

Krishnamurti: Let's take that one thing. What do you mean that word `attachment'?

Questioner: The mind is holding on to something.

Krishnamurti: That is, the mind is holding on to some memory. `When I was young, how lovely everything was.' Or, I am holding on to something that might happen; so I have cultivated a belief which will protect me. I am attached to a memory, I am attached to a piece of furniture, I am attached to what I am writing because through writing I will become famous. I am attached to a name, to a family, to a house, to various memories and so on. I have identified myself with all that. Why does this attachment take place?

Questioner: Isn't it because fear is the very basis of our civilization?

Krishnamurti: No Sir; why are you attached? What does that word attachment signify? I depend upon something. I depend on you all attending, so that I can talk to you; I am depending on you and therefore I am attached to you, because through that attachment I gain a certain energy, a certain elan, and all the rest of that rubbish! So I am attached - which means what? I depend on you; I depend on the furniture. In being attached to the furniture, to a belief, to a book, to the family, to a wife, I am dependent on that to give me comfort, to give me prestige, social position. So dependence is a form of attachment. Now why do I depend? Don't answer me, look at it in yourself. You depend on something, don't you? On your country, on your gods, on your beliefs, on the drugs you take, on drink!

Questioner: It is part of social conditioning.

Krishnamurti: Is it social conditioning that makes you depend? Which means you are part of society; society is not independent of you. You have made society which is corrupt, you have put it together. In that cage you are caught, you are part of it. So don't blame society. Do you see the implications of dependency? What is involved? Why are you depending?

Questioner: So as not to feel lonely.

Krishnamurti: Wait, listen quietly. I depend on something because that something fills my emptiness. I depend on knowledge, on books, because that covers my emptiness, my shallowness, my stupidity; so knowledge becomes extraordinarily important. I talk about the beauty of pictures because in myself I depend on that. So dependence indicates my emptiness, my loneliness, my insufficiency and that makes me depend on you. That is a fact isn't it? Don't theorize, don't argue with it, it is so. If I were not empty, if I were not insufficient, I wouldn't care what you said or did. I wouldn't depend on anything. Because I am empty and lonely I don't know what to do with my life. I write a stupid book and that fills my vanity. So I depend, which means I am afraid of being lonely, I am afraid of my emptiness. Therefore I fill it with material things or with ideas, or with persons.

Aren't you afraid of uncovering your loneliness? Have you uncovered your loneliness, your insufficiency, your emptiness? That is taking place now, isn't it? Therefore you are afraid of that emptiness now. What are you going to do? What is taking place? Before, you were attached to people, to ideas, to all kinds of things and you see that dependence covers your emptiness, your shallowness. When you see that, you are free aren't you? Now what is the response? Is that fear the response of memory? Or is that fear actual do you see it?

I work hard for you, don't I? (Laughter) There was a cartoon yesterday morning: a little boy says to another boy, `When I grow up I am going to be a great prophet, I am going to speak of profound truths but nobody will listen'. And the other little boy says, `Then why will you talk, if nobody is going to listen?' `Ah', he said, `us prophets are very obstinate'. (Laughter)

So now you have uncovered your fear through attachment, which is dependency. When you look into it you see your emptiness, your shallowness, your pettiness and you are frightened of it. What takes place then? See it Sirs?

Questioner: I try to escape.

Krishnamurti: You try to escape through attachment, through dependency. Therefore you are back again in the old pattern. But if you see the truth that attachment and dependency cover your emptiness, you won't escape, will you? If you don't see the fact of that, you are bound to run away. You will try to fill that emptiness in other ways. Before, you filled it with drugs, now you fill it with sex or with something else. So when you see the fact of that, what has happened? Proceed Sirs, go on with it! I have been attached to the house, to my wife, to books, to my writing, to becoming famous; I see fear arises because I don't know what to do with my emptiness and therefore I depend, therefore I am attached. What do I do when I get this feeling of great emptiness in me?

Questioner: There is a strong feeling.

Krishnamurti: Which is fear. I discover I am frightened, therefore I am attached. Is that fear the response of memory, or is that fear an actual discovery? Discovery is something entirely different from the response of the past. Now which is it with you? Is it the actual discovery? Or the response of the past? Don't answer me. Find out, Sir, dig into yourself.

Questioner: Sir, in that emptiness surely there is openness towards the world? Krishnamurti: No, I am asking something entirely different. The fear of emptiness, of loneliness and all that insufficiency which you have not been able to understand sufficiently to go through with it and finish it has brought about fear. Is it your discovery now, here in the tent? Or is it recognition of the past? Have you discovered that you are attached because you depend, and that you depend because of fear of emptiness? Are you aware of your emptiness and of the process this implies? Becoming aware of that emptiness, is there fear involved in it or are you merely empty? Do you merely see the fact that you are lonely?

Questioner: If you can see that, you are not alone any more.

Krishnamurti: We'll go step by step if you don't mind. Do you see that? Or are you going back to the old dependency, the old attachment, to the regular pattern being repeated over and over again? What is going to take place?

Questioner: Sir, isn't this the whole human predicament I don't think I am as well off as a small dog, who hasn't got all these problems.

Krishnamurti: Unfortunately we are not dogs. I am asking something which you don't answer. Have you discovered for yourself the fear that takes place when you see your emptiness, your shallowness, your isolation? Or, having discovered it are you going to run away, get attached to something? If you don't run away through dependency and attachment, then what takes place when there is this emptiness?

Questioner: Freedom.

Krishnamurti: Do look at it, it's quite a complex problem, don't say it is freedom. Before, I was attached and I covered

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up my fear. Now, by asking that question, I discover this attachment was an escape from the fear which came into being when I was aware of my emptiness for a split second. Now I have finished with running away. Then what takes place?

Questioner: I was going to say that after that split second there is another escape.

Krishnamurti: Which means you don't see the futility of escapes. Therefore you keep on escaping. But if you do see, if you are aware of your emptiness, what takes place? If you are watching very carefully, what generally takes place is, you ask: `who is aware of this emptiness?'.

Questioner: The mind.

Krishnamurti: please don't jump into it. Go step by step. Who is aware of it? The mind? A part of the mind is aware of another part which is lonely? Do you see my question? I have suddenly become aware that I am lonely. Is it a fragment of my mind which says `I am lonely?' In that there is a division. As long as there is a division there is an escape. You don't see this!

Questioner: What happens when you experience the emptiness? When you experience this loneliness, you are no longer aware of it.

Krishnamurti: Look sir. Please listen. You need here a persistent observation, not any conclusion, or anything that you think should be. That is, I am aware of my emptiness. Before, I have covered it up, now it has been stripped and I am aware. Who is aware of this emptiness? A separate segment of my mind? If it is, then there is a division between emptiness and the thing that is aware that it is empty; then what takes place in that emptiness in that division? I can't do anything about it. I want to do something about it and I say, `I must bring it together', `I must experience this emptiness', `I must act'. As long as there is a division between the observer and the observed, there is contradiction and therefore there is conflict. Is that what you are doing? A separate segment of the mind watching an emptiness which is not part of itself? Which is it? Sirs, you have to answer this! If it is a part that is watching, then what is that part?

Questioner: Is it intelligence born out of energy?

Krishnamurti: Don't complicate it, it is complex enough. Don't bring in other words. My question is very simple. I asked: when you are aware of this emptiness from which you have escaped through attachment, and you are no longer running away from it, who is aware? It is for you to find out.

Questioner: This awareness that you are empty is another escape and you see you are nothing else but all these things put together.

Krishnamurti: When you say, "I am aware of my emptiness', it is another form of escape and we are caught in a network of escapes. That's our life. If you realize that attachment is an escape, then you drop that escape. Are you going from one escape to another? Or do you see one factor of escape and there. fore you have understood all the factors of escape?

Sirs, you cannot possibly sustain a continuous watchfulness for more than ten minutes and we have talked for an hour and fifty minutes. So we had better stop. We will continue with the same thing tomorrow, until it becomes real to you not because I say so; it's your life.

3rd August 1970.

The Impossible Question

Part 2, Public Dialogues Saanen 1970

Impossible Question Part II Chapter 2 2nd Public Dialogue Saanen 3rd August 1970

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