New Delhi 1960
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 24th February 1960
If I may, I would like to think aloud with you about authority, fear, pleasure and love, and try to go into it all rather deeply and comprehensively. Perhaps in this process each one of us will be aware of his own fears and pleasures, and of what he calls love, so that together we can find out what is implied in these things, and whether it is at all possible to be free of fear. Because fear, of which one may be conscious or unconscious, is really a dreadful thing; it is most destructive, enervating, and leads to constant misery.
But before we go into that, I think we should be very clear in ourselves with regard to the approach we are going to take in examining these things. The approach is very important - how we look at a problem, how we understand it. Surely, true examination, true exploration, is possible only when we go beyond mere verbalization. If we are limited to words, we are not really capable of exploring, and words then prevent full comprehension.
So we must examine what we mean by the word, must we not? The word is, only a symbol, it represents an object, or something which we think and feel. The word and the object are two different things, but for most of us the word unconsciously becomes the thing. A word like `Hindu' or `Moslem' is a symbol which represents in your mind a certain type of human being, and for you the word is not separate from the person; like his name, that word awakens in your mind an image of the person, with certain qualities and characteristics, and the word becomes the person.
Now, I think it is essential to understand that the word is not the thing. The word `tree' is not the tree, it is only a symbol which conveys the idea of the tree. But for most of us, the word is the thing, and therefore the word has assumed great importance. We think in terms of words, of symbols; and I wonder if we ever think without words, without symbols?
If we are to examine this problem of fear and find out whether the mind is capable of being really free from fear - which means going most profoundly into the untrodden recesses of the mind where fear lurks - , we must begin, it seems to me, by understanding that the word is not the thing. The word `fear', or `love', or `authority', is not the thing it represents.
Most of us have an intense urge to follow, and either we are unaware of this urge, or we think it is natural, inevitable. In any case, it has become an extraordinary factor in our lives, and unless we are following something or somebody, we feel lost. We follow a guru, an ideal, a leader, or a political party, and this urge to follow is the basis of authority, is it not? "I do not know, but you know, so I will follow you. To me you are the embodiment of what I consider to be knowledge or wisdom, and therefore I follow you." Or I want power, position, prestige, political or religious, so I join the group which offers me these things, and follow its leader, who is going to help me achieve what I want in the name of peace, and all the rest of it. So, unless we understand this urge - the urge to follow, to be right, to be successful, to achieve a result - we shall not understand fear; and the urge is different from the word.
Sirs, unless you really apply this to yourselves, you won't be able to penetrate very deeply into the problem of fear.
Now, how does one look at a fact about oneself? Have you at any time really faced a disturbing fact about yourself? Or have you denied it, covered it up, found excuses for it, run away from it? Have you ever said to yourself, "I am a liar", or, "I am quite a stupid person", without bringing into it extraneous excuses, justifications, or condemnations? To say to oneself, "This is what I am", and stop there - surely, that is facing the fact of what one is. But to most of us that is completely unacceptable, because we live in a state of idealization, romanticism, of trying to become something which we are not. So, to face a disturbing fact about ourselves becomes an extraordinarily difficult problem.
You know, we are living in a monstrously stupid society; and seeing a desperately poor man when you yourself have just put on a good suit of clothes, you must feel, if you are at all sensitive, a sense of guilt. And the more sensitive you are, the more acute is that feeling. Now, is it possible to be aware of that sense of guilt, to face the fact and see all its implications, and not look away, or try to do something about it? Because any action with regard to the fact is an avoidance of the understanding of the fact.
Please, this is important to understand. I do hope you are following it, and that I am making myself clear. Because, unless we are able to look at a fact, there is no possibility of that fact bringing about its own right action. You know, as we said this morning when a few of us were discussing, a material has its own discipline. Do you understand? When you are working with a material, that material has its own discipline. You may make a pot but cannot paint a picture with clay. In the same way, if you do not understand the fact, but try instead to do something about it, you are introducing a factor which is not inherent in the fact. We will see it more clearly as we go along.
To most of us, following somebody or something - an ideal, a precept, a goal, a political or religious leader - has become very important. We follow thoughtlessly, and we never find out why we follow. Without looking at the fact, I'd say, "It is natural, it is human, it is inevitable to follow; it leads me to success. Besides, what would become of me if I did not follow somebody, or some ideal? I would be lost". Such explanations prevent us from looking simply at the fact that we follow. But if we do look at the fact that we follow, without justifying or condemning it, then the fact, which is the material, has its own discipline and its own action.
Sirs, I feel that the mind can be totally free from fear. And fear is a most destructive, corrupting element, is it not? I am merely stating it as a fact, not as a condemnation. When the mind is afraid, it is not capable of thinking clearly, feeling deeply; it is not capable of perception. It sets going various inhibitions, conflicts and destructive responses. If the mind is not really free from fear, then the urge to follow, which is the demand for authority, is established; therefore the mind becomes a slave to something - to a leader, to a political organization, to a religious belief, and so on.
Sirs, unless you are alertly observing your own minds, what is being said will sound very complicated and very difficult; but it is not. The real difficulty is that most of us are not at all sensitive. We live on the surface - going to the office, quarrelling over sex, pursuing the casual pleasures - and with that we are satisfied. But if we want to find out how to free the mind from fear, we have got to understand this question of authority - authority at every level, whether it is the authority of the policeman who asks you to keep to the left, or the authority of the government, or the authority of the priest, or the authority of your own mind, which has accumulated experience and knowledge, and acts according to the dictates of that background. As long as the mind is a slave to authority, imposed or self-created, it is incapable of understanding the full depth of fear and being free of it.
Now, what is fear? Let us explore it a little bit. I am not talking of any one particular fear - fear of darkness, fear of losing one's job, fear of a snake, fear of tradition, of public opinion, fear of death, fear of pain, and so on. These fears are all in relation to some particular thing, are they not? But I am talking of fear in relation to everything, not in relation to just one particular thing. If we understand profoundly the central fact of fear, we can then be free of fear in relation to everything, and thereby bring about a mind that is intelligent.
Most people are afraid of death, are they not? And the older we grow, the more there is this nightmare of fear. I am not discussing death - we will talk about that some other time. But fear of the fact of death is not something that you can analyze and be free of. Do you understand what I mean?
I do not know if you have ever analyzed yourself, analyzed your own feelings and ideas. If you have, you will know what is implied in analysis - not the analysis done by a professional psychiatrist or psychologist, but self-analysis. In the process of analysing yourself, as you will have found if you have ever done it, there is always the analyzer and the analyzed, with the analyzer assuming a position of authority as the one who knows.
Is all this becoming rather complicated? I hope not. But if we would understand this nightmare, this dark shadow of fear, I am afraid we have to go through all this. It isn't child's play to be free of fear; it's not just a matter of saying, "I won't be afraid". You have to observe and understand the extraordinary complications of the thing called fear; and I am only pointing out that analysis is not the way. I may analyze myself and see that I want to follow because, without following somebody or something, I am afraid that I shall go astray. But the fear of going astray is much stronger than the process of analysis, and after analyzing myself, I find that I am still afraid. So analysis, whether done by oneself or by another, merely maintains fear at a deeper or a different level. Analysis, then, is not the way to resolve fear.
Now, what is fear? Surely, fear is always within the field of time. I am afraid of dying - dying the next moment, or ten years later. The thought of tomorrow with its uncertainty, and the thought of yesterday with its pleasures and its pains, creates a web of fear. Sirs, have you ever noticed that you are not afraid of something with which you are instantly faced? If in going round a corner you suddenly meet a snake, the body responds immediately, it instinctively jumps away; there is no fear because there is no time to think. But the moment you begin to think, fear comes into being.
Most of us, surely, have experienced lying, not telling the truth - and we do it because we don't want to be found out, we don't want to expose ourselves to criticism; so fear is at the bottom of our inaccurate statement. That is, the mind foresees what it is going to be asked, and is prepared and willing to lie in order to cover up what it is afraid to acknowledge. If you observe yourself you will see that fear always, under all circumstances, involves time, yesterday and tomorrow - the thing that may happen tomorrow, or the thing that was done yesterday, which may be discovered and condemned at any moment. So, fear is essentially a process of time.
Sirs, instead of taking notes, or memorizing words, I wish you would actually watch your own minds in operation. You are all afraid, aren't you? If you were not, you wouldn't be sitting here. I do not know if you have ever thought about it; but a really happy man is not afraid - not the man who is happy because he has a few things, but a supremely happy man who is inwardly rich with the eternal virtues, who never seeks God, never goes to a temple. But most of us, unfortunately, are not in that position. Most of us are afraid in one way or another, at a superficial level, or very deeply. And may I suggest that you look at your own fear, whether it is the fear of your boss, of your wife or husband, of public opinion, of losing your job or your health, of death, of not being one of the important ministers, or what you will. Just watch your own fear and you will see, if you observe very carefully, that it involves time - the feeling that you might not be or become something, that you must change and might not be able to, and so on. So time is the factor of fear: time as yesterday, today and tomorrow; time as the past functioning in the present and bringing about the future; time by the clock, as well as time inwardly, psychologically.
So, the mind can be free of fear only when it is capable of freeing itself from time - which is to see the fact, to face the fact, and not try to change the fact. Please, this is important to understand; because, if you can at the end of this talk get up with that sense of freedom from fear, then you will know what love is. Then you will know what joy is, and you will be a human being mature with dignity and clarity and character. Character is clarity. A mind that is afraid is never clear. That is why it is important to understand how to look at a fact, and to find out what makes the mind give to the fact the quality of time. The fact is you are afraid, and you see that fact; but you have introduced the quality of time by saying, "I must change the fact, I must do something about it, I must be courageous". All such thinking introduces the factor of time, because change is in time. So, to look at a fact without explanations, justification, or condemnation, implies the cessation of time.
Do please listen to this. It is not complicated. It demands attention, and attention has its own discipline. You don't have to introduce a system of discipline. You know, sirs, what this world needs is not politicians, or more engineers, but free human beings. Engineers and scientists may be necessary, but it seems to me that what the world needs is human beings who are free, who are creative, who have no fear; and most of us are ridden with fear. If you can go profoundly into fear and really understand it, you will come out with innocency, so that your mind is clear. That is what we need, and that is why it is very important to understand how to look at a fact, how to look at your fear. That is the whole problem - not how to get rid of fear, not how to be courageous, not what to do about fear, but to be fully with the fact.
Sirs, you want to be fully, totally with the wave of pleasure, don't you? And you are. When you are in the moment of pleasure, there is no condemnation, no justification, no denial. There is no factor of time at the moment of experiencing pleasure; physically, sensually, your whole being vibrates with it. Isn't that so? When you are in the moment of experiencing, there is no time, is there? When you are intensely angry, or when you are full of lust, there is no time. Time comes in, thought comes in only after the moment of experiencing; and then you say, "By Jove, how nice", or, "How terrible". If it was nice, you want more of it; if it was terrible, fearful, you want to avoid it; therefore you begin to explain, to justify, to condemn, and these are the factors of time which prevent you from looking at the fact.
Now, have you ever faced fear? Please listen to the question carefully. Have you ever looked at fear? Or, in the moment of being aware of fear, are you already in a state of flight from the fact? I will go into it a little bit, and you will see what I mean.
We name, we give a term to our various feelings, don't we? In saying, "I am angry", we have given a term, a name, a label to a particular feeling. Now, please watch your own minds very clearly. When you have a feeling, you name that feeling, you call it anger, lust, love, pleasure. Don't you? And this naming of the feeling is a process of intellection which prevents you from looking at the fact, that is, at the feeling.
You know, when you see a bird and say to yourself that it is a parrot, or a pigeon, or a crow, you are not looking at the bird. You have already ceased to look at the fact, because the word `parrot', or `pigeon', or `crow' has come between you and the fact.
This is not some difficult intellectual feat, but a process of the mind that must be understood. If you would go into the problem of fear, or the problem of authority, or the problem of pleasure, or the problem of love, you must see that naming, giving a label, prevents you from looking at the fact. Do you understand?
You see a flower and you call it a rose, and the moment you have thus given it a name, your mind is distracted; you are not giving your full attention to the flower. So, naming, terming, verbalizing, symbolizing prevents total attention towards the fact. Right, sirs? Shall we go on? All right. We are continuing what we were talking about at the beginning. We are still asking ourselves if it is possible to be choicelessly aware of a fact; and the fact is fear.
Now, can the mind - which is addicted to symbols and whose very nature it is to verbalize - stop verbalizing, and look at the fact? Don't say, "How am I to do it?", but put the question to yourself. I have a feeling, and I call it fear. By giving it a name I have related it to the past; so memory, the word, the symbol, is preventing me from looking at the fact. Now, can the mind, which in its very thought process verbalizes, gives names, look at the fact without naming it? Do you understand? Sirs, you have to find this out for yourselves, I cannot tell you. If I tell you and you do it, you will be following, and you won't be free of fear. What matters is that you should be totally free of fear, and not be half-dead human beings - corrupt, miserable people who are everlastingly afraid of their own shadow.
To understand this problem of fear, you have to go into it most profoundly, because fear is not merely on the surface of the mind. Fear is not just being afraid of your neighbour, or of losing a job; it is much deeper than that, and to understand it requires deep penetration. To penetrate deeply you need a very sharp mind; and the mind is not made sharp by mere argumentation or avoidance. One has to go into the problem step by step, and that is why it is very important to comprehend this whole process of naming. When you name a whole group of people by calling them Moslems, or what you will, you have got rid of them, you don't have to look at them as individuals; so the name, the word has prevented you from being a human being in relationship with other human beings. In the same way, when you name a feeling, you are not looking at the feeling, you are not totally with the fact.
You see, sirs, where there is fear there is no love. Where there is fear, do what you will - go to all the temples in the world, follow all the gurus, repeat the Gita every day - , you will never find reality, you will never be happy, you will remain immature human beings. The problem is to comprehend fear, not how to get rid of fear. If you merely want to get rid of fear, then take a pill which will tranquilize you, and go to sleep. There are innumerable forms of escape from fear; but if you escape, run away, fear will follow you everlast- ingly. To be fundamentally free of fear, you must understand this process of naming, and realize that the word is never the thing. The mind must be capable of separating the word from the feeling, and must not let the word interfere with direct perception of the feeling, which is the fact.
When you have gone so far, penetrated so deeply, you will discover there is buried in the unconscious, in the obscure recesses of the mind, a sense of complete loneliness, of isolation, which is the fundamental cause of fear. And again, if you avoid it. if you escape from it, saying it is too fearful, if you do not go into it without giving it a name, you will never go beyond it. The mind has to come face to face with the fact of complete inward loneliness, and not allow itself to do anything about that fact. That extraordinary thing called loneliness is the very essence of the self, the `me', with all its chicaneries, its cunningness, its substitutions, its web of words in which the mind is caught. Only when the mind is capable of going beyond that ultimate loneliness, is there freedom - the absolute freedom from fear. And only then will you find out for yourself what is reality, that immeasurable energy which has no beginning and no end. As long as the mind spawns its own fears in terms of time, it is incapable of understanding that which is timeless.
February 25, 1960
New Delhi 1960
New Delhi 4th Public Talk 24th February 1960
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