Paris 2nd Public Talk 20th May 1965
Unless one is completely satisfied with things as they are - with oneself, with world conditions, and with the general misery and confusion of man - unless one is satisfied with it, one must have asked oneself whether it is possible for a human being to change totally, to bring about a transformation within himself so that his mind and his whole being is totally new, fresh, young and innocent, vital. One has to ask oneself that question without quarrelling with the world and therefore with oneself - because quarrels with oneself don't produce much. What gives understanding, depth, is to put to oneself the right question; and to question is rather difficult, because, when we do question, most of us want an answer, a satisfying, pleasurable, agreeable answer, so our questions invariably produce a static state where the mind no longer functions freely.
So, one has to ask oneself whether it is possible for a human being to change, not merely superficially, but deeply; because superficially we are always changing. Outwardly we are being influenced by new inventions, by the comPuter, by automation, by the explosion of population, and by the demand for economic welfare and a good outward life. Those influences do bring about a certain superficial change. But what happens if one has gone beyond all that, and is aware that one is so easily influenced? Because we are influenced by climate, by food, by clothes, by the society, the culture in which we live; these things do influence superficially our character, our outlook, our various thoughts. But if we have gone a little bit further than all that and - without escaping into monasteries, into isolation, into the dogmas, beliefs and rituals which the churches and the various religions offer - have asked ourselves whether it is possible to bring about within oneself a radical change, then perhaps we can go into it together and discover for ourselves the whole significance of what is implied in that word `change', and whether a radical change is at all possible.
Mere discontent brings about a revolt against society. A revolt is a reaction; and any action, any deep, fundamental questioning born of reaction, can only produce a further series of reactions, and therefore cannot bring about total understanding. So one has to be rather aware of one's own discontent. Because most of us are discontented, and being merely discontented we are-easily satisfied; and that satisfaction is again a reaction. So we spin along from satisfaction to satisfaction, thinking that is a change.
Now, may I here point out that we are not discussing or talking things over together merely intellectually, that i-s, verbally, argumentatively. Rather one is trying to find out for oneself the truth of the matter, and therefore one has to listen without necessarily accepting what is being said, or rejecting it. You know, when one does listen intimately, as it were, one gets much more out of it. Because we are going to talk about something rather difficult, perhaps, and it would be rather futile if we treated what is being said as a mere intellectual entertainment, a thing to be argued over. But I think it would be significant if we could listen with a certain sense of ease, with a quality of attention in which there is neither effort nor resistance; because, for most of us, resistance is a defence mechanism which comes into operation so instinctively, so naturally. We instinctively withdraw when anything doesn't please us; we become defensive verbally, argumentatively, intellectually, in different ways, and such defensiveness prevents us from listening, investigating.
To investigate there must be a certain sense of freedom - freedom to inquire - and that is what we are going to do. We are going to inquire. But to. inquire, the mind must have the inclination to be free, otherwise one can't discover. There must be a certain intensity to search out what is true. But that inquiry ceases when we want a particular answer - an answer which will be satisfactory, or which will satisfy a projected desire. So one has to be rather aware of all this if one would really inquire into the question of whether there can be a fundamental change in human beings such as we ourselves are, with our traditions, our enormous past history - whether it is at all possible to bring about a radical revolution within oneself. But perhaps most of us are not so keen to have such a revolution, because we are satisfied with things as they are; we prefer to patch up our relationships, to cover things over so that we shan't have more trouble, more anxiety, more quarrels; and we escape into our beliefs. So most of us don't want a fundamental revolution within ourselves. But I am afraid one has to have such a revolution - a revolution which is not a reaction, a transformation which is not a calculated risk.
The world, technologically, is progressing enormously; there are vast changes going on, incalculable changes. A new society may come out of it, while we as human beings continue to be more or less the same, though a little more polished, a little more clever, a little more adjusted; but we shall not have resolved our sorrows, and there will be no ending to loneliness, to fear, no understanding of mortality. Most of us are inclined to be easy going, to be very easily satisfied, and so this question of whether it is possible to change fundamentally, never arises.
Now, when the speaker puts this question to you, either it becomes your own question and is therefore intimate, vital; or when it is put to you, you merely accept it and look at it as something outside of you. When you are hungry, no one need tell you. You know it for yourself. Similarly, when you ask yourself whether it is at all possible to bring about this radical change, it is your question, not my question. It then becomes your problem, not imposed by another. So if it is your own human problem, then you can look at it quite differently, not as an issue put before you by somebody else.
Change, surely, implies order. We are now in a state of disorder, and to change from disorder implies order: order in society, order within ourselves, and order in our values, our outlook. So to change, in the sense in which we are using that word, is to be free to bring about order. But society does not want freedom, because it is afraid that freedom implies disorder. That is why there is always imposed on the individual human being by society the restriction that he must not escape from the psychological structure of society. Society is afraid that freedom will bring about disorder, because society is satisfied to, live in the disorder which it calls order; therefore it cannot experiment totally. It is only the individual human being who can experiment and discover for - himself the total revolution which is, order.
So when I use the word `change', I am using it to imply a change from disorder to order; because, as individual. human beings, we are not in order. We are in conflict, we are miserable, we are confused, we are ambitious, greedy, envious - you know, the whole human structure. We are afraid, terrified of so many things; and to change this whole structure of fear, is to bring about order. So order is not the product of revolt, because revolt against society is a reaction, which will only produce a series of actions within the frontiers of society; and, like communism, or any other reaction, it will eventually come back to, what has been.
I am talking about the change which is not a reaction - which is not a reaction against society, against this so-called order, but is rather a process of understanding the whole structure of disorder; and the understanding of the structure of disorder brings about order, which is. radical revolution.
I hope I am making myself clear, but if not, we will discuss it after I have finished talking.
Change, we say, implies time. I am this, and to bring about a change within myself, which is to become that in the future, involves time, doesn't it? That is very simple. I am what I am, with all my anxieties, fears, despairs, hopes, miseries, and I want to change, to bring about order in all that; and to bring about order demands time. There is fear, and to be free of fear, we consider, will take time. I am afraid, and to overcome, or to understand, or to be rid of fear, involves time. That is fairly obvious - at least, that is what we think.
Now, what is time? Please, we are not discussing this philosophically, as an idea, as something which you have to learn; but one can understand, observe this thing for oneself.
Take fear. One is afraid of so many things, the ultimate fear naturally being death. But there is also fear of public opinion, fear of losing a job, fear of-being dominated - the whole network of fear that one has. One sees, one is aware that fear does breed every form of escape, and that fear does breed darkness, uncertainty, anxiety. So the mind ,gets confused, uncertain, and therefore escapes, because it has not been able to resolve this question of fear. It escapes in dogmas, in drink, in sex, in a dozen different forms of escape.
Now, to be totally free of fear at every level of one's consciousness, not just superficially but right through, one has to understand the nature, the structure, and the meaning of fear; and this process of understanding, we consider, takes-time. Please do listen to this. We say, "I am afraid, and I will find out the cause of fear". So we investigate into the cause of fear, or we analyse fear, or we ask an analyst, or otherwise escape from fear. All this implies time, doesn't it? We say, "I am not free, but one day I will be free from fear".
So time means moving from what is to what should be. I am afraid, but one day I shall be free of fear; therefore time is necessary to be free of fear - at least, that is what we think. To change from what is to what should be, involves time. Now, time implies effort in that interval between what is and what should be. I don't like fear, and I am going to make an effort to understand, to analyse, to dissect it, or I am going to discover the cause of it, or I am going to escape totally from it. All this implies effort - and effort is what we are used to. We are always in conflict between what is and what should be. The `what-I-should-be' is an idea, and the idea is fictitious, it is not `what-I-am', which is the fact; and the `what-I-am' can be changed only when I understand the disorder that time creates. Do you follow? When I am afraid, that is a fact: I am afraid. If I introduce the element of time, I give a continuity to what is, and therefore that creates disorder. Am I making myself clear?
You see, we are conditioned to think that time is necessary, that the gradual process is necessary to bring about any kind of change within oneself. For example, we all want to fulfil ourselves in different ways - as an artist, or in any one of ten different ways; we all want to fulfil, and in that fulfilment, which involves time, there is pain, there is anxiety, there is fear. I want to be that, but I am not that.
Our question then is: is it possible for a human being to change without introducing time at all? Can one be rid of fear totally, completely, immediately? Because if I am not free of fear immediately, I introduce the element of duration, which means that fear will continue; and where there is a continuity of fear, there is disorder.
So, is it possible for me to be rid of fear totally, completely, on the instant ? If I allow fear to continue, I will create disorder all the time; therefore one sees that time is an element of disorder, not a means to be ultimately free of fear. So there is no gradual process of getting rid of fear, just as there is no gradual process of getting rid of the poison of nationalism. If you have nationalism and you say that eventually there will be the brotherhood of man, in the interval there are wars, there are hatreds, there is misery, there is all this appalling division between man and man; therefore time is creating disorder. So when you introduce time as a means to bring about a radical change, you are furthering disorder, and not order. And if one understands that, not just verbally, but if one sees the truth of it, the fact of it, then that very discovery is a revolution in itself - because we are used to time.
Look: we know what jealousy is. Most people are jealous about something or other, and by allowing it to continue, there is pain, there is anxiety, there are quarrels, hatred, and so on. The continuity of jealousy produces more confusion. So, is it possible for a human being to be free of fear, or jealousy, completely and immediately? If you say, "No, it is not possible", then you have already made up your mind. The moment you say it is not possible, you have stopped experimenting, discovering; and most of us are apt to say it is not possible, because we are so lazy, so indifferent, that we would rather go on with our pain and pleasure, our jealousy and fear. We are so used to jealousy, to fear, that we would rather put up with the thing than find out whether it is at all possible to be totally rid of this extraordinary burden.
Why do we introduce time at all, in the sense we are talking about? Why do we accept the continuity of fear? Why? Please don't answer me - nor is this a rhetorical question. We have probably never asked ourselves why we allow fear to continue even for a day, even for a minute, knowing what damage, what hatred, what lies, what hypocrisy, what confusion and conflict it creates. We accept it, probably, because we are used to it, and because we don't know any other way except the gradual process of getting rid of it - at least, we think the gradual process is a way of getting rid of fear. But now one sees that when there is a duration of fear, during that period there is hatred, there is confusion, there is effort, there is misery. We accept it only because we are conditioned to it. So one asks oneself: is it at all possible without allowing time to interfere, to look at thought, to look at fear, and to understand the nature of fear - not the symptoms of fear, not the various forms of expression, or the causations of fear, but fear itself ?
Now, what is fear ?It is very important to understand this, because most of us are afraid; not only at a superficial level of one's consciousness, but deep down, one is afraid. There are many forms of fear, and we needn't go into all the the forms; but every fear is the outcome of relationship. Fear has a cause, it doesn't exist by itself, and we think that by understanding the cause, we will be rid of fear; but that is never possible. You know why you are afraid. You have probably thought about fear, looked at it, and you know the cause that gives rise to your fear; but though you know the cause, you are not free of the symptom. So one discovers that the mere finding of the cause, does not necessarily free one of fear; nor does analysis free one of fear. Again, analysis implies time.
So, how is one to be free of fear immediately? That is really the tremendous question that one puts to oneself. And you can put that question to yourself only when you have understood the implications of the gradual. Process of time.
How is one to be free of fear immediately? When I use the word `how', it is not to suggest an inquiry to find a process; because a process, a method, a system implies time, and therefore disorder. So, is it possible to be free of fear immediately?
Now, does thought deal with fear, or does thought create fear? Thought itself is the ground upon which fear grows. Please listen carefully, and don't say at the end of it that I am advocating thoughtlessness, or asserting that we mustn't think.
Let us suppose I am afraid of death - that is, of tomorrow, of old age, pain, suffering, and the inevitable end. Because it has had experience of Pain, disease, and the pleasures of youth, thought looks to the future; it projects or puts death at a distance, and whenever it thinks about death, it breeds fear. Or, because it has not understood this whole question of fear, it seeks beliefs, hopes, and all the rest of it. So, can I look at fear without the mediation, without the interference of thought ?
Am I making this clear enough? Verbal clarification is one thing, and actual clarification is another. You may tell me something verbally, and I may say, "Yes, I agree with you, verbally I see what you mean". But seeing verbally is not seeing. I can look at a flower, and though I see it with my eyes, the light, the colour, and all the rest of it, I see it only verbally. Seeing the flower with the eye is one thing, and seeing it with the word is another. Most of us see the flower with the word, and we don't see the flower actually. We have all kinds of ideas, knowledge, information, botanical concern, and so on and so on, when we look at a flower. Similarly, you may understand the verbal explanation up to now, and you may agree or disagree with that explanation; or you may not understand the words which have been used, or substitute your own words and translate what is being said into your own particular language. And therefore what happens? You are not actually looking at the nature of your own fear. So when you say, "I understand what you are talking about", is it that you are actually in contact with fear - with your own particular form of fear - or are you merely in contact with the word which gives you the indication that you are afraid?
You know, to be physically in contact with something is very easy. I can touch that microphone, and I know I am in contact with it. There is no time interval, there is a definite action taking Place. But we are never totally in contact with another human being, or with anything at all. If you will observe, this is not just a generalization, but an actual fact. I can come physically into contact with something, but to be in contact with fear is one of the most difficult things to do, because it requires tremendous attention - attention in which there is no waste of energy through words,through explanations, through escape. Only then are you directly in contact with fear - and that is what it means when we ask ourselves whether it is possible to be free immediately of fear. It means that all escape from fear has come to an end - all verbal escape. Because the word not only gives strength to the thing which we call fear by identifying itself with that thing, but also the word itself may be the cause of fear. We can see how the word `death', for example causes fear. So the word itself creates fear; and when we want to come into contact with fear, the word then becomes an escape. In touching that microphone, there is no escape, there is no word, there is no thought attached. But to come into contact totally with fear, one has to understand the structure, the meaning, the significance of the word. One has to be aware that thought is brought about by the word. Thought is a reaction to the word, and one has to be aware of that fact. I hope you are doing all this with me.
When I say that one can be completely free of fear, I do not mean freedom from the desire to avoid being knocked down by a bus or a lorry - that is the natural instinct to protect the physical organism. But when thought builds up a word picture of it, then that picture creates fear. So, can the mind look at fear without the word - without allowing itself to escape by saying, "I will get rid of fear eventually" - and thereby come totally into contact with the thing which is called fear?
You know, we are never really in contact with anybody, are we ? I may be in contact physically with my wife or husband, or with my children, but there is no other contact, is there? I have memories of my wife, of my husband, of my children, of my neighbour, and it is with these memories that I have contact. I have pictures, images, remembrances, both pleasant and unpleasant and these interfere and prevent my being in contact directly with another. To be in contact with another is to have no intervening screen of remembrance.
So, is one directly in contact with fear? I wonder if you understand the question and all that is involved in it. Are you looking at fear as an observer, fear being the observed? Are you the thinker, observing the thing which is called fear?l Or are you looking at fear, but not as an observer, and therefore there is no censor, no centre from which we are looking, so that fear is the only fact?
Let me put the thing differently. Most of our life is a conflict, a struggle between what is and what should be. And we are used to effort, to this constant battle which is going on within the skin, within ourselves, this adjustment, this quarrel between the what is and the hoped-for what should be. We are used to this constant battle, and that is all we know. we are conditioned to it from childhood Our whole social structure - our religious concepts, our morals, everything - is based on this constant effort to become.
Now, don't say, "If there were no effort, if there were no striving, what would we be? We would be monkeys as before, we would stagnate". That is the usual response. But in our very striving there is a great part of us which is the animal, the monkey, and it is this constant greed, envy, fear, anxiety, this tremendous demand to be satisfied with pleasure and the continuation of pleasure. The demand for the continuation of pleasure brings effort, and our social, moral, religious, ethical values are based on pleasure. We know what love is only because of pleasure. Perhaps, when we understand the significance and the structure of pleasure, then love will have quite a different meaning in which there is no jealously, no possessiveness, no domination. But to come to that, one has to see the nature of this effort which is transforming what is into what should be. The what should be is the continuation of pleasure. We call it the noble, the good, the virtuous, but behind the facade of words there is this pursuit of pleasure.
So, is it possible to change, to bring about a radical revolution within ourselves? And there must be such a revolution, otherwise our life remains so shallow, empty, dull, stupid, mediocre; there is nothing new. Is it possible, without effort, to end fear? You can end fear only when there is direct contact with that feeling which is called fear without the intervention of thought as the word; and this happens immediately if one has understood the whole nature of time, pleasure, confusion and disorder. All this requires great energy. After all, to attend to anything, to attend to what is being said, requires energy. But if you are not interested in what is being said, if you are looking at somebody el;e, if you are thinking - goodness knows what - or clinging to some complicated way of approaching life, then all this is a bore, and you are dissipating energy; therefore you are not giving complete attention. Complete attention demands energy, both physical and neurological - energy in which there is no dissipation through words, through escape, through trying to get beyond what is. It is only when there is this total energy that the mind can look at what is; and by the very fact of that attention - which is total energy applied to this thing called fear - you will find out for yourself that one can be completely free of fear.
Perhaps you will ask questions, or we can discuss this matter.
Questioner: What about fear related to daily happenings, to the events of daily life?
Krishnamurti: Surely, one meets the daily happenings; but we generally meet them with fear and apprehension, because we already know the pain or the pleasure that a particular event has previously brought about. So we meet the daily events already conditioned by fear. You see, I am afraid we are not quite understanding this issue - probably I have not made it clear. You know, we approach every event of life, every happening, with the past, with a memory, with the knowledge of yesterday, with all its pleasures, pains, fears, hopes. We meet every happening through the past, and so we are never directly in contact with anything. We are always in contact with the past, and that past is what meets the present, which creates contradiction and therefore effort, fear, and so on and so on.
What is it that we are trying to do in this talk? Are you trying to find out from me how to meet life? Are you looking for a method, a system, a standard of conduct, of behaviour? Or are you and I together investigating the problem, going into this whole question of fear? If you are merely listening to discover a method which will end your fears so that you can live differently, and so on, then I am afraid you and I will have no relationship at all; there can be no communion or communication between us, because you want one thing, and I am talking about a different thing. But if what we are doing is taking a journey together, then it is your discovery, not mine.
Throughout the world there is domination and tyranny - the tyranny of governments, the tyranny of churches in the name of God, in the name of love and peace. We have every form of authority thrust upon us, and most of us accept it because it is satisfying. But the man who would discover what is true, what is real, must put aside all authority - obviously including the authority of the speaker - so that his own mind begins to unfold itself, and see all the dark recesses of itself; and that, surely, is the only intelligent and creative thing to do.
May 20, 1965
Paris 2nd Public Talk 20th May 1965
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