Bombay 4th Public Talk 23rd February 1966
We would like this evening to go into the question of fear. But before we go into it, we have to understand that the symbol is not the actuality. The word is not the fact. The word `fear' is not the actual state of fear. But most of us live by words. To us words are very important. They have a certain value in communication. But in themselves they have no great significance. But what has significance is the fact which the word represents.
So we must be very clear, when we go into the question of fear and what is going to follow that, that the actual state cannot be experienced from the words, and that the word is not the thing. The word `tree', the word `woman', the word `man' is not the actual tree, woman, or man. And with most of us the symbol interferes with the actual perception of the fact. the word, the symbol, evokes the fear; that is, the word stimulates fear, or the word bars the understanding of fear. We have to see not only the significance of the word, but also that the word does not interfere with the fact.
And, therefore, one of the important things, it seems to me, is to be free first of the word - like 'Pakistani' or `Hindu' or `Parsi' or `Communist' - because the word hides the fact; the word with all its memories, content, significance, prevents the seeing of the actuality. And also the word stimulates the actuality - like the word `death; it immediately evokes many images, scenes, fancies, hopes, despair. But the word is not the fact. And it is important not only to understand this fact, this process - that the word is not the thing and the word does often prevent the perception of the actuality - but also to be free of the word, to observe the fact.
Because freedom is essential, to see, to observe, to hear, to feel, to think clearly, to examine. Freedom is absolutely necessary from the very beginning, not towards the end. That is, if I want to examine that tree or an idea or a feeling or a fact, I must be free to examine it, I must not be attached to my opinions, to my judgment, to my evaluations, to my prejudices, to my environmental influences. So freedom is essential from the very beginning, to examine. And the word `freedom' is not the fact, the fact is entirely different. Because the moment there is freedom to examine, then the word becomes insignificant; and then you realize how difficult it is to be free to examine.
To most of us freedom is not important at all. We do not want it. We are frightened of it. We would rather depend, we would rather live in the old pattern, in a particular society, culture, environment, and not demand that the human being must be completely free. And this freedom cannot be given - obviously. You cannot buy it. You can read about it in books. Reading books, asking another `what it is' - all that is merely a symbol, an idea, a word; and through the word we cannot get at the fact. So when we are going to examine this thing of fear, we have to be very clear from the very beginning that freedom is necessary, to examine - not acceptance; on the contrary there must be `no - saying'. You must say `no' rather than say `yes', to find out. One of the major factors or causes of the decay in this country, of the deterioration that is going on, is that we accept, and that, after accepting, we live in that which we have accepted. We never say `no'. `No' means a revolt. You can revolt as a reaction - which does not lead anywhere. But in the fact of saying `no' to a dirty, foul street, in that very assertion, there is action. The action is not after saying `no'. The action is simultaneous with the saying. Please follow all this carefully, because to understand fear, conscious or unconscious - which is one of the major problems of our life - there must be freedom to say "no" to it, there must be no attempt to find ways and means of escaping from it. We have developed through centuries a network of escapes. We are apparently incapable of facing the fact - facing the fact of war, the whole implication of it; facing any fact. Facing the fact demands action; whereas if you escape from action, if you escape from the fact, then the fact becomes the problem.
There is fear - we will go into it later, but first we must realize what it implies. There is fear. We have never come directly into contact with that fact. If we do, either we actually know that we are incapable of dealing with it, or we know how to deal with it. But if you escape from the fact, the escape becomes the problem, not the fact. It is one of the most difficult things to face a fact, because our minds refuse to look at anything directly. Please do observe this as an actuality, in yourself, not listen merely to words.
Fear, that is an awareness of danger, has many forms. There is no abstract fear. It is not an abstraction, it is an actuality. We know the process of how fear comes into being. Fear always exists in relationship to something. It does not exist by itself. And there is only one form of fear, which is for physical survival. If you see a snake, the whole metabolism of the organism changes, and you act - either you run away, or you do something; you act. That is one thing. This physical reaction is necessary, is essential; otherwise you will be destroyed. That is the whole structure of the brain is based on survival, physical survival. But the human being carries over into the psyche this fact and says that he must survive psychologically. Am I making myself clear? We will go into it now.
So what we are frightened of is not the physical pain, the physical danger, but the psychological fear - what people will think, losing a job, survival after death, and so on. The whole machinery of physical survival is one thing, and it is absolutely necessary. The more sensitive, alert, watchful you are, the more acute and therefore the greater is the demand that you must physically survive. Otherwise you cannot think, feel - obviously. But psychologically that physical survival of man is denied because of our nationality, our religious differences and class differences - which breed war; and so the physical survival is denied. Please understand. Obviously, this is a fact. So a man who would understand fear must be free of nationalism, of all religious beliefs and dogmas; otherwise he is not capable of examining it. When a man is totally free of fear psychologically, he can then observe, look, listen, and in that clarity act.
So what we are concerned with is not the physical survival but the psychological survival. You want to be a Hindu; you are a nation with your frontiers, with your particular, geographical division; and you insist on it, because that gives you tremendous satisfaction. And the other fellow on the other side of what you call the frontier does exactly the same thing. So physical survival is denied. He with his particular dogmas, religious beliefs, customs, habits, traditions, and you on the other side with your habits, with your particular idiosyncrasies, temperament, traditions, dogmas; so physical survival is denied through psychological insistence, demand - insisting on factors which are not facts at all.
We are going to investigate into fear, and we are understanding the nature of fear and whether it is at all possible to be totally free of that fear. Because fear darkens the mind, and you cannot think clearly; you are confused, you are almost paralysed when this fear comes into being.
To be totally free of fear, no effort is necessary. Please understand this very clearly. In order to understand something you have to look at it, to observe it - observe its nature, its structure, how it actually comes into being - you have actually to see. When you see something very clearly, you are obviously free. When you see something as poison, when you understand the whole nature of it, what is implied in it, obviously, at that moment you are completely free.
So effort is not necessary to be free of fear. Effort is necessary to escape from fear - to suppress it, to resist it, or to sublimate it. But the moment you understand the nature and the structure of fear, it is over. And you cannot understand it, unless you come into contact with the fact directly and not through the symbol or the word.
Now to understand fear we have to understand pleasure. Because all our values, all our relationships, are based on pleasure. Please understand this. We are not condemning pleasure. We are not saying whether it is right or wrong. We are examining it. And to understand pleasure we must go into the question of desire. Because desire and pleasure are related intimately with each other. Desire comes into being through reaction. You see a beautiful car, a woman or a house; there is a reaction, then there is contact, and then sensation; that sensation sets desire going. You can observe this factually every day - the seeing, the contact, the sensation; then desire. And what gives strength, vitality, continuity to desire? Look! Am I making the question clear?
There is a perception of that beautiful house - the proportion, the line, the depth, the beauty of it. The seeing, the contact, the sensation, the desire, and then the thought `I must have it', or `I must have that man or woman' - whatever it is. And what gives strength to this desire? Please follow this. Any form of suppression, control, or indulgence denies freedom. But if I understand the whole structure of desire, I will not suppress it, I will then know how to deal with it and I will deal with it. I see there is the perception of a nice house, a car, or a woman; desire arises - which is a normal, healthy reaction. To see a beautiful house is right; to see the beauty of it is essential. But what brings conflict into it, what makes it a problem? We are going to go into it.
So I have to find out what gives vitality, vigour, continuity to desire. If I could understand this, then desire has very little meaning. I can act upon it, or not act upon it; it won't bring about a problem. So I have to find out what gives it vitality, a continuity. Obviously, thought. I think about that house, I want that house; and the thought is building up the desire, and giving to that desire strength, purpose. Then the conflict begins. That house is going to give me pleasure, and the pleasure is created by thought - how I shall live more comfortably, how I will be important then, and the rest of that business. Desire in itself is not right or wrong, it is a fact. But when thought interferes with that desire and gives it a continuity as pleasure, then the problem begins. One sees a beautiful woman - unless you are paralysed, blind, you are bound to see her - and then a thought comes in, and the thought creates the various images of pleasure and then the problem.
So one has to understand the nature of thought - that is, first desire, then pleasure, then why thought interferes at all. If I find out the relationship between these three, then desire becomes a very small affair. I can see a beautiful house, and leave it. I see a beautiful woman and not produce all the reactions. Thought has been built through time. Thought is time. If you do not think, there will be no tomorrow. And we have to think; but, if that thinking is based on pleasure, on desire, then thought becomes a problem, then thinking becomes a danger.
So, is it possible to see a house, a woman, and yet not let thought interfere with it? Not deliberately, not say that thought must not interfere because it brings pain, sorrow and all the rest of it; but actually see the fact, not the explanation; see the actual fact that when thought interferes with desire or when thought gives importance to desire, then it becomes pleasure, and where there is pleasure, there is always pain. The two, pleasure and pain, are not separate; pleasure is pain. You can see that, very obviously. Most of our values, concepts, ideals, relationship between man, woman, neighbour and yourself - all that is based on pleasure, and hence all our problems. We function with the principle of pleasure. You know, there is a vast difference between pleasure and love. Consider it for a minute. All our relationship between man and woman, between ourselves and each other, is based on pleasure; and pleasure always brings pain. It is a fact. And where there is pleasure, there is no love. Love is not a process of thinking. Love is not the result of a thought, whereas pleasure is. If you understand that - not intellectually, verbally reasoned out - if you see the fact that pleasure destroys love, and where there is pleasure there is no joy; if you see very clearly that you function on pleasure, that all your activity, all your thinking, all your being including your gods, everything, is based on pleasure, which is the result of thought; if you see that it is thought which gives continuity to pleasure, which is desire; and if you see this whole structure, then where does fear come in at all?
Let us examine fear. Most of us are frightened of death. And there are other forms of fear - like darkness, what the neighbour will say, losing a job; a dozen other forms of fear. Fear is the same, though it may take different forms. Let us take one particular form of fear and go into it right through.
Most of us are afraid of death. We do not know what death means, but we are already afraid. And being afraid of this enormous fact, we try to escape from that fact. If you are a Hindu, you have your reincarnation; if you are a Christian, you have your resurrection. But you have not solved the problem of fear, or this question of death. You have escaped from it. Right? Don't deny it. Don't say, "Is there no reincarnation?" A man who is not frightened of death has neither hope nor despair. Now if you follow what is being said - not intellectually, not verbally, but actually - if you give your whole attention to it, if you give your whole attention to anything, conflict ceases; therefore, you are able to face it. That is, you are afraid of death; actually you do not know what that experience is. You have seen death. The image of death is in your mind, and you cling to the things known - your house, your family, your name, your bank account. You hang on to all that, because that is the only thing you have. And life as it is lived, is a conflict, a misery, a despair, a travail, an anxiety, a constant battle; each of us knows this very well. This life of going to an office for the next forty years, the boredom, the stupidity of our life - that is all we know; and we cling desperately to our sorrows, to our miseries, to our confusion, to our pettiness. We would rather have that than something we do not know.
What we are frightened of is not the unknown, but losing the known - the known being our miserable existence. Whether you are a millionaire or a poor man, our existence is a misery. Whether it is the life of a saint or the life of a sinner, it is still a misery, a conflict, a battle. To that we cling, and we say to ourselves `next life', a future life' - what we know being carried over into the next, the future life; at least we hope so. What we know is this misery, this sorrow - hoping for the better, next. Scientists are , enquiring into whether it is not possible to prolong life indefinitely through an artificial heart, kidneys and the various implantations, through having the body frozen for a number of years and put on a shelf and revived after a number of years. Where is your soul? Do you understand my question? Is there such a thing as the soul, which will survive and continue?
Thought is the result of time, thought being memory, experience and all the rest of it. This thought faces the fact that it may come to an end - and it is a very disturbing fact. And so thought invents all the network of escapes from this one fact, and thereby postpones, further pushes away, death to a distance. Obviously, sirs. At twenty you have another forty years to live, and then the inevitable death at the end of it. Even if you live a thousand years, there is always an end. So we have developed, through thought, a distance between the fact of death and the actuality of living - and the actuality of living is our misery, with occasional joy and pleasure. What we are afraid of is losing the known, losing our pleasures.
Now, to understand death you have to understand living - obviously. Because, without understanding what is living, how can you understand what is death - which must be an extraordinary phenomenon, as living is? Is it possible to live differently? Because if there is a mutation in one's living, then death will have a meaning in that mutation.
So our problem then is: Can there be a change in the life which I lead now, which is despair, fear, anxiety, every form of cunning escape, which we call living? If that change is to be something which I know, then it is not a change. I hope I am making myself clear. Because it is a very complex question: Is it possible for me to change totally so that, in the very act of that changing, death will take place?
Because what has continuity implies time. That is, I have lived a miserable life. I hope to change it in time and so I say, "Give me time". And hence I would rather postpone death. Because I do not know what is going to happen, I demand that time is necessary to change, and I avoid death. But if I know how to change immediately, then I have no fear of death. Do you understand my question? If I know completely how to bring about a revolution in my life, then death has no meaning any more as a thing of which I am afraid.
So the problem then is: not death, not fear, not pleasure; but is it possible to change, to bring about a total mutation immediately, instantly? Now to find that out, one has to be free of the idea of time. That is, any effort implies time. Obviously that is simple. And is it possible to change? Take, for instance, a very small thing like smoking; is it possible to drop it instantly? If you can drop it instantly, there is no effort, there is no time, there is no conflict; there is a mutation. Now you can only drop it instantly if you are totally attentive to the fact that you are smoking - not resisting, not indulging, but being attentive to the whole implication of smoking. And you cannot be attentive if you find reasons to continue, or to discontinue, smoking or its pain, or if you are frightened of it. You can only be free of it, when you are completely attentive of every movement of your hand - going to the pocket, taking out a cigarette, putting it to your mouth, lighting a match, putting it to the cigarette and puffing it - the whole of that habit.
When there is attention, there is no effort. Please do understand this simple thing. Once you understand it, everything becomes clear. Where there is attention, there is no effort. It is only inattention that brings about effort. It is only inattention that brings about conflict. So when you are totally attentive to your whole life - your miseries, your conflicts, your desires, your pleasures, your memories, your thoughts, your activities - when you are totally aware, then you can look at every fact as fact - not translate it in terms of pleasure or pain, nor give the fact a continuity through pleasure.
So a man who would understand death, has to understand living. And living is not the thing which we call `living', which is a battleground, both inwardly and outwardly. Living is something entirely different, in which there is no fear at all. And to be rid of fear there must be freedom from the very beginning, so that you can examine it, you can look into it, you can face it. Then you will see that living is dying, because living is from moment to moment. What has continuity is despair, not living; and when there is despair, obviously, there is thought. Thus the whole vicious circle of thought is caused. The whole problem of life and death involves the bringing about of a mutation, not in some futile date, but immediately, instantly; and that instant mutation takes place when you are completely attentive.
There is one thing which one has to go into, and that is the question of what love is. Most of us have different concepts, ideas, opinions - sacred love and profane love; love of the one man, and love of the many; can you love the many, if you love the one? And we know love, because we are jealous. To us jealousy is part of love. You love your wife, your children, the family; all that business there is jealousy, envy, ambition, greed. You don't treat the family as a unit of convenience; but the family becomes strongly important, and the family then becomes antisocial. And where there is jealousy, envy, greed, ambition, competition, obviously there is no love. We also know that the word `love' is not the fact. And if there is no love in our heart, in our being, do what we will, there will always be misery, conflict.
So, how does the mind or the heart come upon the strange thing called `love'? Every one talks about it - the politician, the crook, the exploiter, the priest, the guru. Everybody has that word `love' on his lips. But to find out what it is is another thing. To know what it means is quite a different thing. You cannot possibly know it when there is jealousy, envy of another, when your wife looks at another, when you are seeking power, position, prestige. There is no love when a guru says he knows and you don't know, though he may talk about love, though he may preach about love. The moment anybody says `I know' and `You don't know', the man who says `I know', knows no love.
So love is not a thing easily to come by. One has to be aware most profoundly of the various characteristics, the various conflicts - just be aware, watch, listen. And there can be no love if the mind is dull. Most of our minds are dull, because the mind is made dull through the kind of education that you have. To prepare yourself for a technological job, you concentrate all your energy on that one thing. What happens when you concentrate on one thing? The other parts wither - which means you are not sensitive, you are not aware of beauty.
And religions have defiled beauty. Beauty is considered a sin, because it stimulates your senses. Therefore you must deny it; you cannot look at a tree and see the beauty of it. The loveliness of the sky, of a river in full flow - all that is denied, because through that way you might get sensual, which is again a pleasure. Therefore, for the so-called religious people beauty is related to pleasure - they are not religious at all, they are really worldly people, they have not understood life.
To understand life, you cannot deny life. You have to understand it, you have to live it. And you cannot live it, if you are not free - free from the very beginning, from the very childhood, so that you can look, watch, listen, feel. And out of this watching, listening, looking, you become gentle, tender, considerate, polite; there is a neighbour. Where there is considerateness, there is affection; and affection is not something of the intellect. And when you have that affection, then perhaps out of that will come love - not in time, not tomorrow.
And surely when violence ceases - not through non-violence; violence ceases only when you are faced with the fact of violence - when the mind is quiet, when the heart has really understood deeply what living is - not this constant misery, despair and sorrow - then out of that understanding you will know what love is. And when there is that love, then you can do what you like. And then the heaven is opened - not the heaven in some far-off, mystical world, but in this world, living here.
February 23, 1966
Bombay 4th Public Talk 23rd February 1966
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