Saanen 6th Public Talk 2nd August 1962
This morning I would like to talk about something with which some of you are perhaps not very familiar, and that is the question of emptying the mind of fear. I would like to go into it rather deeply, but not in great detail, because one can supply the details for oneself.
But before we go into that question, one must know what is meant by learning, maturity, and self-knowing. These are not mere words, they are not just concepts, the meaning of which is easily captured. To go behind and see the real significance of the words requires a great deal of understanding. By understanding I mean that effortless slate in which the mind is totally aware without any impediments, without any bias, without any struggling to understand what the speaker is saying. What the speaker is saying has very little importance in itself. The really important thing is for the mind to be so effortlessly aware that it is in a state of understanding all the time. If we don't understand and merely listen to words, we invariably go away with a series of concepts or ideas, thereby establishing a pattern to which we then try to adjust ourselves in our daily or so-called spiritual lives.
Now, what I would like us to do this morning is something entirely different. I would like us from the very beginning to be in this state of effortless awareness, so that together we can go very deeply into the feeling, into the meaning that lies behind these words.
There is no movement of learning when there is the acquisition of knowledge; the two are incompatible, they are contradictory. The movement of learning implies a state in which the mind has no previous experience stored up as knowledge. Knowledge is acquired, whereas learning is a constant movement which is not an additive or acquisitive process; therefore the movement of learning implies a state in which the mind has no authority. All knowledge assumes authority, and a mind that is entrenched in the authority of knowledge cannot possibly learn. The mind can learn only when the additive process has completely ceased.
It is rather difficult for most of us to differentiate between learning and acquiring knowledge. Through experience, through reading, through listening, the mind accumulates knowledge; it is an acquisitive process, a process of adding to what is already known, and from this background of knowledge we function. Now, what we generally call learning is this very same process of acquiring new information and adding it to the store of knowledge we already have. One learns a language, for example, bit by bit, gradually building up one's knowledge of the syntax, the colloquial phrases, and so on - and that is probably what most of you are doing now. In listening to the speaker you are learning in the sense of acquiring knowledge. But I am talking about something entirely different. By learning I do not mean adding to what you already know. You can learn only when there is no attachment to the past as knowledge, that is, when you see something new and do not translate it in terms of the known.
We will discuss this later if you have not understood it, because I think it is important to differentiate between learning and acquiring knowledge. The mind that is learning is an innocent mind, whereas the mind that is merely acquiring knowledge is old, stagnant, corrupted by the past. An innocent mind perceives instantly, it is learning all the time without accumulating, and such a mind alone is mature.
But for most of us maturity is a process of ripening in experience, in knowledge, that is what we call maturity. A mature person, we say, is one who has had a great deal of experience, who is wise in years, who knows how to adjust himself to unforeseen circumstances, and so on. Moving in time he has gradually arrived at a fully ripened state. We consider that in time the mind matures by freeing itself from ignorance, ignorance being a lack of knowledge of worldly affairs, a lack of experience and capacity. A young person, we say, needs time to mature. By the time he is sixty he will have suffered; through all the pressures the strains, the travails of life he will have gathered experience, knowledge, and then perhaps he will be mature.
Now, to me maturity is something entirely different. I think it is possible to be mature without going through all the pressures and travails of time. To be completely mature, whatever one's age, implies that one is able to deal immediately with any problem that arises, and not carry it over to the next day. To carry over a problem from one day to the next is the very essence of immaturity. It is the immature mind that continues in problems from day to day. A mature mind can deal immediately with problems whenever they arise; it does not give soil for problems to take root, and such a mind is in a state of innocency.
So, to be mature is to learn and not to acquire knowledge. The acquisition of knowledge is essential at a certain level. You must have knowledge in dealing with mechanical things, as when you are learning to drive a car. You acquire knowledge in learning a language, in studying electrical engineering, and all the rest of it. But to be in the state of maturity of which I am speaking is to see oneself as one actually is from moment to moment, without accumulating knowledge about oneself; be cause that maturity implies breaking away from the past, and the past is essentially the piling up of knowledge.
What is the self? If one really looks at oneself one sees that it is a mass of accumulated experiences, wounds, pleasures, ideas, concepts, words. That is what we are: a bundle of memories.
Please, this is a rather complex thing we are examining, but if I go into it a little bit more, perhaps it will become clear to each one of us. We are psychologically the result of our educational and social environment. Society, with its codes of morality, its beliefs and dogmas, its contradictions, its conflicts, its ambitions, greeds, envies, wars, is what we are. We say that in essence we are the spirit, we are the soul, we are part of God, but these are merely ideas given to us by the propaganda of the church or of some religious society; or we have picked them up from books, or from our parents, who reflect the conditioning of a particular culture. So what we are essentially is a bundle of memories, a bundle of words.
Memory identified with property, with family, with name - that is all each one of us is, but we do not like to discover that fact for ourselves, it is-too unpleasant. We prefer to think of ourselves as extraordinarily intelligent beings but we are nothing of the sort. We may have a certain capacity to write poems or to paint pictures; we may be rather cunning in business, or very clever at interpreting a particular theology; but what we actually are is a bundle of things remembered - the wounds, the pains, the vanities, the fulfilments and frustrations of the past. All that is what we are. Some of us may be superficially aware of the fact that we are this residue of the past, but we are not aware of it deeply, and now we are looking at it - which does not mean acquiring knowledge about oneself. Please see the difference.
The moment you acquire knowledge about yourself you are strengthening yourself in the residue of the past. To see the actual facts about yourself from moment to moment, which is the movement of learning, is to be innocent of all knowledge about yourself. I don't know if I am making myself clear.
What does it mean when I say that I have knowledge about myself? Suppose I have been insulted, or flattered. That experience remains in my mind as memory. With the memory of that wound or of that pleasure I look at myself and I interpret what I see in terms of these past reactions. To interpret what one is in terms of the past merely depresses or elates one, and in that state there is no learning because there is no freshness, no spontaneity of perception. But if on; really sees oneself as one is and does not interpret it in terms of the past, if one just observes the fact of what is at every minute, then it is possible to learn about oneself without accumulation.
It is really not too difficult to see ourselves as we are, simply and clearly, without resistance. If one is a liar, if one is lustful, greedy, envious, one can fairly easily find that out. But most of us, when we discover what we are, immediately interpret it in terms of what we think we should be, and therefore we don't learn about what we are. I wonder if I have made this clear?
When we judge or interpret what we discover in ourselves, we are adding to what we already know, and therefore we strengthen the background of memory. This process does not bring freedom at all - and one can learn only in freedom. We like to think that the essence of the self is the non-self, but there is no such essence or spiritual centre; there is only the memory of things that are past, and this background of memory is always interpreting, judging, condemning that which actually is. Freedom from this background is the state of immediate maturity, and to be mature is to empty the mind of all fear.
Please, I hope you are listening and learning. To learn is not merely to understand the words of the speaker, but to see directly for oneself what lies beyond the words.
Now, is it possible for the mind to empty itself totally of fear? Fear of any kind breeds illusion, it makes the mind dull, shallow. Where there is fear there is obviously no freedom, and without freedom there is no love at all. And most of us have some form of fear: fear of darkness, fear of public opinion, fear of snakes, fear of physical pain, fear of old age, fear of death. We have literally dozens of fears. And is it possible to be completely free of fear?
We can see what fear does to each one of us. It makes one tell lies, it corrupts one in various ways, it makes the mind empty, shallow. There are dark corners in the mind which can never be investigated and exposed as long as one is afraid. Physical self, protection, the instinctive urge to keep away from the venomous snake, to draw back from the precipice, to avoid falling under the tramcar, and so on, is sane, normal, healthy. But I am talking about the psychological self-protectiveness which makes one afraid of disease, of death, of an enemy. When we seek fulfilment in any form, whether through painting, through music, through relationship, or what you will, there is always fear. So, what is important is to be aware of this whole process in oneself, to observe, to learn about it, and not ask how to get rid of fear. When you merely want to get rid of fear you will find ways and means of escaping from it, and so there can never be freedom from fear.
If you consider what fear is and how to approach it, you will see that for most of us the word is much more important than the fact. Take the word `loneliness'. By that word I mean the sense of isolation that suddenly comes upon one for no apparent reason. I don`t know if this has ever happened to you. Though you may be surrounded by your family, by your neighbours, though you may be walking with friends or riding in a crowded bus suddenly you feel completely isolated. From the memory of that experience there is fear of isolation, of being lonely. Or you are attached to someone who dies, and you find yourself left alone, isolated. Feeling that sense of isolation, you escape from it by means of the radio, the cinema, or you turn to sex, to drink, or you go to church, worship God. Whether you go to church or take a pill it is an escape, and all escapes are essentially the same.
Now, the word `loneliness' prevents us from entering into a complete understanding of that state. The word, associated with past experience, evokes the feeling of danger and creates fear; therefore we try to run away. Please watch yourself as in a mirror, do not just listen to me, and you will see that the word has extraordinary significance for most of us. Words like `God', `Communism', `hell', `heaven', `loneliness', `wife', `family' - what an astonishing influence they have on us. We are slaves to such words, and the mind that is a slave to words is never free of fear.
To be aware of and learn about fear in oneself is not to interpret that feeling in words, for words are associated with the past, with knowledge; and in the very movement of learning about fear without verbalization, which is not to acquire knowledge about it, you will find there is a total emptying of the mind of all fear. This means that one has to go very deeply into oneself putting aside all words; and when the mind understands the whole content of fear and is therefore empty of fear, both conscious and unconscious, then there comes a state of innocency. For most Christians that word `innocency' is merely a symbol; but I am talking of actually being in a state of innocency, which means having no tear, and therefore the mind is completely mature, instantly, without going through the passage of time. And that is possible only when there is total attention, an awareness of every thought, of every word, of every gesture. The mind is attentive without the barrier of words, without interpretation, justification or condemnation. Such a mind is a light unto itself; and a mind that is a light unto itself has no fear.
Questioner: Is there no motive at all in learning about oneself? Krishnamurti: There is a motive in the sense that I want to know myself because without knowing myself I have no foundation for anything I do, no basis for anything I think or feel. The `myself' is so complex, so swift, so subtle, so cunning, and I must know myself completely, both the conscious and the unconscious, if I want to find out whether or not there is something real beyond my imagination, beyond my longing, beyond my desires, beyond the propaganda of church and society. To find out what is true, my mind must be clear, it must not be in a state of conflict, it must have no fear of any kind and no authority. That is obvious, is it not? There can be no dependency, no longing, no frustration - I must be completely empty of all that.
Now, how do I learn about myself? I cannot assert that I am the result of a particular society or culture, or that I am the soul, an eternal, spiritual entity, because these things are merely what other people have told me. To learn about myself I have to throw out all the religious nonsense that society has taught me. This means that I can have no fear of public opinion, and I must know what it is to be completely alone. If I merely add to or subtract from what I think I know saying there is a God, or there is no God, there is this and not that, then I am not learning.
Please do see this very simple fact. You cannot learn about yourself if you are trying to escape, or if you want to become a most extraordinary saint, which is utter nonsense. You can become what is called a saint by conforming to a pattern, by disciplining, denying yourself by eating only one meal a day, and all the rest of it; but in that way you will never find out what is true. To find out what is true you must be free of the desire to become a saint.
If you love your child, you observe him, you learn about him, don't you? You don't assume anything about him. You don't tell him that he must be like his elder brother, who is so clever. When you compare your child with another, you are destroying that child. In the same way, to learn about yourself there must be no comparison. You cannot be depressed or elated about yourself. You cannot assume anything; for assumption is based on authority, and the denial of authority is the beginning of learning.
What is important is to be curious about oneself. I do not mean mere intellectual curiosity, or being verbally stimulated to examine oneself because at the end of it one hopes to get some ugly result. To be really curious about oneself is to see all the twists and turns, all the stresses and strains, all the subtle and hidden ways of one`s own mind; and a mind that is tethered to knowledge cannot swiftly follow the everchanging movements of itself.
To learn about yourself is to be without motive, and that is the beauty of self-knowing. You don't want to become a great person or a famous saint, you just want to learn about yourself as you would want to learn about a most extraordinary flower that you had found in the desert. We are in a desert, and we are the most extraordinary flowers. To look at the flower, to smell it, to understand it, we must love that flower.
Questioner: Is not an immature mind one that is caught in habits?
Krishnamurti: I wonder if you are exercising all your attention, or are merely waiting for me to awaken your intelligence, your awareness. Are you working intensely in spite of this heat, or are you being rather slack?
The question is: is not an immature mind one that is caught in habits? Now, I wonder why you put this question? Are you aware that you are immature, caught in habits, or are you merely pointing out what has already been explained please, I am not speaking derogatorily of the questioner. If you see that you are immature, caught in habits, as most people are, then the further question is how to be mature immediately, that is, how to break through habit completely, not at some future time, but now. Is that the question?
I see that I am caught in habit. Politically, religiously, as a writer, as a painter, as a man or a woman, I am caught in a particular way of thinking. Being an Englishman I have a certain tradition, with a fixed attitude towards life; or I am trained in Catholicism, in this or in that, and it has become a habit. Can that habit be broken immediately, or must it be done away with gradually over the years? If I say it will take time, that it must be done away with gradually over the years, what then is the state of my mind? Obviously my mind is lethargic, dull, thoughtless, unaware.
Nationalism, for example, is a habit, and it can be broken instantly; but it gives us pleasure, it gives us a sense of importance to be identified with a particular country, especially if it is a powerful one. Most of us like being identified with a particular government, with the flag, and all the rest of that nonsense, so we don't want to break the habit of nationalism, and then there is no problem. But if you want to break that habit - and you can only break it instantly, not over the years - , then how is it to be done?
Is there a method by which to break a habit? Surely, a method implies time, moving from a beginning to an end. If you see for yourself that time does not free you from habit, and that methods or systems are therefore of no avail, then you are actually faced with the fact that your mind is caught in habit. You are faced with it, not through words, not through ideas, but you directly seethe fact that your mind is crippled with habit; it is inescapably so. And then what happens? You are not trying to change the habit, you are not trying to break it down. You are simply faced with the fact that your mind functions in the groove of habit. And what happens when you are directly faced with a fact? What happens if you come. face to face with the fact that you are a liar, that you are jealous? If you don't try to change it, then the fact itself gives you enormous energy to break that fact completely. Do you understand? When you are directly faced with the fact, your mind is no longer dissipating itself in escapes, in denials, in trying to change the fact through time, and all the rest of it; therefore your attention is complete, all your energy has been gathered, and that energy totally shatters the fact.
Questioner: Can one dissolve fear completely by finding the cause of fear?
Krishnamurti: You know, if you are giving your complete attention, at the end of an hour of this kind of talk your mind must be tired, and your body must be tired too. To listen with complete attention is something which most of us have never done before, and it is very arduous.
The lady asks: is fear dissolved through knowing the cause of fear? Is it? One generally knows the cause of fear: death, public opinion, the things one has done that one doesn't want to be discovered, and so on. Most people know the cause of their fear, but that obviously doesn't end fear. Through analysis one may discover some hidden cause of fear, but again that does not free the mind from fear. What brings freedom from fear - and I assure you the freedom is complete - is to be aware of fear without the word, without trying to deny or escape from fear, without wanting to be in some other state. If with complete attention you are aware of the fact that there is fear, then you will find that the observer and the observed are one, there is no division between them. There is no observer who says, "I am afraid", there is only fear without the word which indicates that state. The mind is no longer escaping no longer seeking to get rid of fear, no longer trying to find the cause, and therefore it is no longer a slave to words. There is only a movement of learning which is the outcome of innocence, and I an innocent mind has no fear.
August 2, 1962
Saanen 6th Public Talk 2nd August 1962
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