London 8th Public Talk 18th May 1961
It seems to me that when we are thinking about fear we have to consider its relation to conflict. For me, any form of conflict, outward or inward, is very destructive; it perverts one's thinking. When there is conflict, every problem leaves its mark on the mind; the mind becomes the soil in which the root of the problem grows. For most of us conflict seems so natural and inevitable that we accept it without question. We strive against it,. we say we must not be in conflict, hut invariably we are. So perhaps this evening we could go into it and see if it is at all possible, living in this rather mad world, for the mind to be free of it totally.
Now, before we go into that, I would like to talk about whether there is a way of thinking which is not positive. Because it seems to me that all our positive thinking is really only a reaction. I mean by `positive' when we say, `I must', `I must not', `I should be', `I should not be', and this positive thinking brings about its own reaction of resistance, negation. I do not know if I can communicate this easily; it requires a great deal of understanding to comprehend what is involved in what we call a positive approach to our problems.
The positive approach seeks an explanation of the problem, the rationalizing of it, trying to escape from it, trying to do something definite in order not to be caught in it. That is what we do in everyday life. That process I call positive thinking: it is a reaction to the problem.
The problem is conflict. We seem to be perpetually in conflict about so many things - in our relationships with the husband, the wife, the children, society; and in our relationship with ideas, beliefs, dogmas. We are in conflict in the search for fulfilment and in the frustration it brings, in the search for truth, God, what to do, what to think, how to behave, how to correct something which has gone wrong: there is this constant war going on within. And our approach to it all, it seems to me, is always positive - which is, to do something about it, to escape from it, to join societies, seek some kind of drug, whether a religious drug, a tranquillizer or what you will. And this positive approach is really a reaction to the problem, is it not?
Now, I feel there is a negative approach which is not a reaction, and not the opposite to the positive approach. At present, when I have a problem like conflict, I do not know how to resolve it; and so I resort to various forms of escape, through memory, thinking it out, battling with myself, hoping to get some kind of result, hoping that something will happen. For me, such an approach does not help us to be free from conflict. And I think there is an approach which is not the positive as we know the positive, but which is a negative process of understanding - not a reaction. I would like to go into it a little bit.
You see, the mind must be totally empty to see something new. And newness is not brought about by the investigation of the problem, the analyzing of it. If you are a mathematician, a scientist, or engineer, and so on, and you have a problem, you try to analyse it, look at it from every angle until the mind is exhausted and goes to sleep over it, or forgets it for a time; and in that interval, after an hour or so or a few days, the solution may appear. We all know this. But that answer is not the outcome of a mind which is new, fresh, empty. A new mind is entirely devoid of conflict. It has no problem. And whatever problem arises, whatever challenge comes to it, does not leave a mark, even for a second; because the mark which endures even for a second leaves an imprint, and so conditions the mind. You see, only the empty mind, not the blank mind, but a mind that is fully alive, responding to every challenge - not as a reaction, not as a problem, but completely absorbing it - , can instantly fathom it and finish with it immediately. And it is only an empty mind with that quality, of that nature, which can be free of conflict. It is only such a mind that is passionate. For me that word `passionate' has quite a different meaning from the ordinarily accepted meaning. I think one has to be passionate, one has to be intense - but not about something. This intensity is different from enthusiasm, which is. only temporary. A mind that is in conflict can never be passionate; and it is only a passionate mind that sees the beauty of life, the beauty of everything: and that beauty is an extraordinary thing.
So the question is: is it possible to be free of conflict - not theoretically, intellectually, verbally, not in a hypnotic state of mesmerizing oneself into saying it is or it is not possible, but actually? Is it really possible, living in this world, having relationships, going to the office, thinking, feeling, being brutalized by society, to be free of conflict? I do not know if you have asked yourself that question. Or am I imposing the question on you? Perhaps we have accepted conflict as inevitable and made God into the ultimate refuge of peace, calmness and all the rest of it.
But if one has asked oneself whether the mind can really be free of conflict, then, I think, one has to go very much deeper into the problem - which I hope we can this evening. Why does conflict arise? Why does conflict arise between me and my wife, my husband, my neighbour, between me and an idea? I will answer in my way; but if you can discover for yourself why you are in conflict, then I think my explanation and your own feeling will meet. Otherwise communication is impossible. I hope you understand what I mean.
So, I want to know why I am in conflict - not merely the superficial explanation, but I really want to go to the root of it. There is conflict consciously and also unconsciously, deep down in the innermost recesses of my mind, the secret conflicts of which nobody knows; and I want to go into the very depth of it. Now, does one analyze it, go into the reasons, or does one see it in a flash?
You know, even the Freudians and the Jungians and the analysts are beginning to change their ideas. They feel that they do not have to take months and years to unravel the poor individual. It is too expensive; only the rich can afford it, so they are trying to find a quicker means. Instead of having the patient rattle on day after day, month after month, they are trying, some of them, drugs, chemicals and a direct personal approach. Not that I have read books about it, but I have friends, analysts and non-analysts, who come and talk with me about all this. In the process of analysis, unless you are very, very careful, minutely observing and never twisting what you observe, you will miss something, misinterpret something, and the next examination will strengthen the fault. Do please follow this and realize that analysis, dissecting, tearing to pieces, is not the way. Nor is controlling, escaping.
I want to know why there is conflict, this mass of contradictions. Now, how are you going to find out the very root of the matter? Because, if one can find the root of it, then that very discovery will bring a negative approach, and it will not create a reaction which will have a positive action on what is discovered. Do you understand? I will go into it.
I want to know what is the cause of conflict, the total conflict - the contradictions, desire pulling in different directions, and the fear which arises. Now knowing is one thing, and actually experiencing is another. Is that not so? Knowing implies an observer who is looking on, and experiencing is a state in which there is no experiencer. That is, I can tell you verbally what is the radical cause of conflict, and you can agree, or disagree, or accept it and add it to your further explanations; or, there is an entirely different thing, which is that, in listening to the very description, you are at the same time experiencing the central issue that is creating conflict. Am I making it clear?
Look: knowing is one thing, and experiencing is another. Knowing about God or truth is one thing, but actually experiencing something of that immensity is quite different. Most of us are aware that we are functioning from a centre, the centre which has become knowledge, the centre which is experience, the centre from which all compulsive urges and resistances take place, the centre that is always seeking security. Please do not accept my words but actually experience the centre from which you think, the self. And where there is a centre there must be a circumference; and the battle is to reach the circumference, the what should be. The circumference is always something different from what is. Is that not so?
We know all this. We know that having experienced that all our activities, thoughts and feelings are shaped, projected, conditioned by the centre, the centre at once says, `I must get rid of it'. So there is a division between the centre and the thing that should be or the thing that has been. There is always this division, and conflict is essentially the war between the what should be and what is. The what is, which is the centre, is always trying to shape itself into the what should be, and from that duality arises conflict.
Now, the centre is the accumulated memories of experience, the result of the conflict with the opposite, with what should be. I am a lustful man, and I feel I should not be; and the conflict between the two creates memory which forms the centre. Is that not right? The centre is memory. Now, memory has no reality, it is not a fact; it is something dead, gone, finished, though at a certain level it can be used when necessary. But it is dead; and yet our life is guided by this dead thing, by something which is not real. From this we function, and so fear grows; and so there is the contradiction of desire.
Let us leave it there for the moment, and look at it differently.
I think most of us know what it is to be lonely. We know that state when all relationship has been cut off, when there is no sense of the future or of the past, a complete sense of isolation. You may be with a great many people, in a crowded bus, or just sitting next to your friend, your husband or wife, and suddenly this wave comes upon you, this sense of an appalling void, an emptiness, an abyss. And the instinctive reaction is to turn away from it. So you turn on the radio, chatter, or join some society, or preach about God, truth, love and all the rest of it. You may escape through God, or through the cinema; all escapes are the same. And the reaction is fear of this sense of complete isolation, and escape. You know all the escapes - through nationalism, your country, your children, your name, your property, for all of which you are willing to fight, to struggle, to die.
Now, if one realizes that all escapes are the same, and if one really sees the significance of one escape, then can you still escape? Or, is there no escape? And if you are not escaping, is there still conflict? Do you follow? It is the escape from `what is', the endeavour to reach something other than `what is', that creates conflict. So a mind which would go beyond this sense of loneliness - this sudden cessation of all memory of all relationship, in which is involved jealousy, envy, acquisitiveness, trying to be virtuous and all that - , must first face it, go through it, so that fear in every form withers away. So, can the mind see the futility of all escapes, through one escape? Then there is no conflict, is there? Because, there is no observer of the loneliness: there is the experiencing of it. You follow? This loneliness is the cessation of all relationship; ideas no longer matter; thought has lost its significance. I am describing it, but please do not just listen; because, then, when you leave this hall, you will be left with ashes. After all, the purpose of these discussions is to free oneself actually from all these terrible entanglements, to have something else in life than conflict, the fear and the weariness and boredom of existence.
Where there is no fear there is beauty - not the beauty the poets talk about and the artist paints, and so on; but something quite different. And to discover beauty one has to go through this complete isolation - or rather, you do not have to go through it, it is there. You have escaped from it, but it is there, always following you. It is there, in your heart and your mind, in the very depths and recesses of your being. You have covered it up, escaped, run away; but it is there. And the mind must go through it like going through a purgation by fire. Now, can the mind go through it without reaction, without saying it is a horrible state? The moment you have a reaction, there is a conflict. If you accept it, you still have the burden of it; and if you deny it, you will still come across it round the corner. So the mind has to go through it. Are you following all this? Then the mind is that loneliness, it has not got to go through it; it is that. The moment you think in terms of going through and reaching something else, you are again in conflict. The moment you say, `How am I to go through, how am I to really look at it?', you are caught in conflict again.
So there is emptiness, there is this extraordinary loneliness which no Master, no guru, no idea, no activity can take away. You have fiddled with all of them, played with all of them; but they cannot fill this emptiness - it is a bottomless pit. But it is not a bottomless pit the moment you are experiencing it. Do you understand?
You see, if the mind is to be entirely free of conflict, totally, completely without apprehension, fear and anxiety, there must be the experiencing of this extraordinary sense of having no relationship with anything; and from that comes a sense of aloneness. Don't please imagine that you have it; it is quite an arduous thing. It is only then, in that sense of aloneness in which there is no fear, that there is a movement towards the immeasurable; because, then there is no illusion, no maker of illusion, no power to create illusion. So long as there is conflict, there is the power to create illusion; and with the total cessation of conflict all fear has ceased, and therefore there is no further seeking.
I wonder if you understand. After all, you are all here because you are seeking. And, if you examine it, what are you seeking? You are seeking something beyond all this conflict, misery, suffering, agony, anxiety. You are seeking a way out. But if one understands what we have been talking about, then all seeking ceases - which is an extraordinary state of mind.
You know, life is a process of challenge and response, is it not? There is the outward challenge - the challenge of war, of death, of dozens of different things - and we respond. And the challenge is never new, but all our responses are always old, conditioned. I do not know if this is clear. In order to respond to the challenge I must recognize it, must I not? And if I recognize it, it is in terms of the past; so it is the old, obviously. Do please see this because I want to move a little further.
To a man who is very inward, the outward challenges no longer matter; but he still has his own inward challenges and responses. Whereas I am talking of a mind that is no longer seeking, and therefore is no longer having a challenge and a response. And this is not a satisfied, contented state, a cow-like state. When you have understood the significance of the outward challenge and the response, and the significance of the inward challenge which one gives to oneself and its response, and have gone through all this swiftly - not taking months and years over it - , then the mind is no longer shaped by environment; it is no longer influenceable. The mind that has gone through this extraordinary revolution can meet every problem without the problem leaving any mark, any roots. Then, all sense of fear has gone.
I do not know how far you have followed all this. You see, listening is not merely hearing; listening is an art. All this is a part of self-knowing; and if one has really listened and gone into oneself profoundly, it is a purification. And what is purified receives a benediction which is not the benediction of the churches.
May 18, 1961
London 8th Public Talk 18th May 1961
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