Madras 1964 (1)
Madras 3rd Public Talk 19th January 1964
I would like this evening to talk about fear. One has to go into it deeply and not merely find some superficial remedy or a concept or an ideal to be applied as a means of getting rid of fear - which is never possible. I would like not only to go into it verbally but also to go beyond the word and enquire non-verbally if it is at all possible to be utterly free from fear, both the biological, physiological fear as well as the psychological fear.
For most of us, the word plays an important part. We are slaves to words. Our thinking is verbal, and without words, it is hardly possible to think. Perhaps there is a thinking which is non-verbal; but to understand the non-verbal thinking, we must be free of the word, the symbol, the verbal thinking. But for most of us, the word, the symbol, plays an extraordinarily important part in our life. And the mind is a slave to words - words like an Indian, a Hindu, a Brahmin, this or that. And to go into this question of fear very deeply, one must not only understand the meaning of the word but also free the mind of the word - if it is possible - and thereby understand profoundly the significance of fear.
To enquire very deeply, there must be a sense of humility - not as a virtue. Humility is not a virtue, it is a state of being - you are or you are not. You cannot come by it, you cannot cultivate it; you cannot be vain and put a layer of humility on that vanity - as most of us try to do. We are going to learn about fear. And to learn about fear and its extraordinary importance in life, its darkness and its dangers, one must learn about it. And therefore there must be that state of unapprehensive, unrewarded, not-sought-after humility.
For most of us virtue is merely a thing that we cultivate as a means of resistance to all the demands of our own desires as well as the demands of a particular society in which one happens to be. But virtue is something not within the field of time. it cannot be accumulated, it cannot be cultivated. It is, for example, `being good', not `becoming good'. The two things are entirely different. To flower in goodness is entirely different from becoming good. Becoming good is a means of a reward or punishment or resistance; in that, there is no flowering.
In the same way, there must be humility, as an immediate state but not as a state that you acquire. It is only that state that can comprehend, understand and learn. Because there is only learning, and not being taught and acquiring information - especially with regard to non-technological matters. You can acquire information, knowledge, about mathematics. But you have to learn about fear, not from books, not from psychological study, but through observation of oneself. And you cannot learn if there is no humility. So, one has to be both the teacher and the disciple for oneself, the disciple being the mind that learns. The person with the mind that learns is not a disciple that submits, accepts, follows. The person who submits, follows, is not seeking truth; he is merely conforming to a pattern of good behaviour which, he hopes, will ultimately reward him by giving him what he calls truth.
So, humility is something that is a state of mind in which there is no fear. Humility is different from respect. You can respect another; and because you respect, there is no disrespect. You respect the Governor, the Prime Minister, and kick your servant; in that, there is disrespect. So, humility has nothing whatsoever to do with respect; it is a quality of the mind. And it is only a mind that has humility that can learn. Therefore, it is only humility that can follow precisely every movement of thought. Because the mind is in a state of learning, it is in a state of attention, not concentration. We will discuss attention and concentration at another time when we talk about meditation.
We are talking this evening about fear. We are enquiring whether it is at all possible - not verbally, not ideationally, not theoretically, but actually - to be deeply, fundamentally, radically free of fear. I do not know if you have ever put that question to yourself - probably you have not. We accept fear, psychological fear, as inevitable, and therefore try to suppress it, or try to run away from it. But when you do put that question whether it is at all possible to be completely, totally free of fear, you discover something extraordinary for yourself, which is a state of mind that has not only humility but a quality of being completely in a state of innocency. We are going to talk about it this evening.
We are talking of fear, not about any fear. There is fear of various kinds, outwardly and inwardly, inside the skin and outside the skin. Outside the skin there is danger. Fear means danger - danger of losing a job, danger of death, an accident; fear of not having a particular position, not fulfilling, not having enough money; fear of poverty,. discomfort, disease, pain. Physical pain one can fairly deal with, there is a remedy - the doctor or the acceptance of a particular pain. One accepts a physical pain when one is conscious or aware that the physical pain does not distort the mind, does not make thought bitter, anxious, and when the mind is watching itself that it does not create, or is not afraid of, a future pain. One can deal with all that fairly intelligently, with fair balance and understanding. But we are talking about psychological fear which is much more complex, which needs astonishing enquiry and attention to go into. Because one can see very well that if there is any kind of fear in any form, psychologically, it distorts all perception.
As I said the other day, you are not merely listening, you are not merely hearing words, but you are listening and hearing at the same time. The speaker is merely using words to communicate. The nature of the word and the understanding of the word depend on both of us. But the art of listening is entirely yours. If you merely listen to the words and do not go directly where those words indicate, then you are stopping at hearing the words and proceeding no further. And as I said, we are learning. To learn there must be humility; and to learn one must listen, one must hear. To hear, to listen, to penetrate requires attention in which there is no resistance. That is, you hear the sound of that horn of the motor car, of the crow, of the coughing; and at the same time you are so attentive that you hear the word and you comprehend the meaning of that word intellectually, through your ears and all the nervous system and all the rest of it; and also there is the state of learning. And it is only such a mind that can go profoundly into this question of love.
We all have fear of various kinds, psychologically. Most of us have uneasily accepted them because we have found no way. We know various forms of fear: fear of death; fear of public opinion; fear of not being able inwardly to achieve, to gain, to arrive, to fulfil in something; the fear of not conforming; the fear established by an ideal. Please follow this a little bit. Most of us are rather simple idealists - `simple' in the sense `without much thought behind it'. We are conformists, the yes-sayers but never the no-sayers.
We are conforming and we are driven by society to conform, to imitate, to comply.
This is what is happening in this country at the present time. You have all been ideationally non-violent. You have accepted it verbally - perhaps not actually. But you have preached it, moralized about it endlessly. The saints, the politicians and all the people who want to do good politically, have preached this thing all over the world, beginning as a means of a political instrument and action. You have accepted and followed it for years as an ideal. And suddenly you have an incident and you all become military-minded with equal eagerness. And nobody objects to this extraordinary contradiction. A whole generation that has accepted non-violence is now being trained to accept violence!
Do you see the importance of this state of a mind that accepts the contradictories with equal ease? Surely such a mind, because it has accepted ideals, can be driven, like so many animals are driven. But a mind that is understanding fear has no ideals; therefore, it cannot be driven by any propaganda, by any politician, by any book, by any teacher, or by society. Such a mind, which is not driven or which is not conforming to a pattern of ideals, is facing each minute of every action and every thought, understanding every movement of thought and feeling, the actual, the factual, the what is which is much more significant than what should be.
What should be is the ideal; therefore, it is non-existent, illusory, it has no meaning whatsoever. But what is, the actual, is of immense significance; it is that alone that can be transformed, not what should be. So, with complete understanding you will wipe away all ideals. Therefore there is one burden the less - not that you become something different. When you wipe away the ideal you are actually confronted with the fact of what is - the fact that you are violent. And you can deal with that fact. But if you are all the time becoming non-violent, pretending, hypnotizing yourself, you are in a state of delusion. And generally such people are neurotic. But a man who is completely aware of himself has no ideals, he moves from fact to fact - which is the psychological fact of himself, the what is.
So, one of the factors of fear has been removed. Please do understand the enormous significance of this. The moment you are free of ideals - which are non-existent, which have no reality - you are confronted with what is. That is, you are violent; and when you are aware of yourself as being violent, you can deal with it; and there is no hypocrisy, there is no pretension, there is no putting on of a mask of non-violence, with burning hatred inside! So if you understand that, not verbally but actually, then you are free of this extraordinary contradiction of what should be and what is. And you have removed with one stroke this contradiction and, therefore, you are able to face this whole problem of conformity. Then there is no conformity but only the understanding of the fact of violence.
Our society is based on violence - violence which is competition, ambition, each one out for himself, isolating himself. You may say, "You must love your neighbour" - it is excellent! But at the same time you cannot be ambitious. The two, love and ambition, do not go together, because you are competing in your office for a better position, a better job, more money - you know the whole business of it!
So, you have to understand this process of ideals: how we project these ideals in order to escape from the fact, and the ideals encourage, bring about, conformity and contradiction and conflict and therefore bring about fear. You have to understand this whole structure of ideals. You cannot understand merely intellectually. There is no such thing as intellectual understanding; when you say, "I understand intellectually", you mean that you understand the meaning of the word. Understanding implies understanding totally with your mind, verbally, emotionally, intellectually, with all your being; and that understanding is complete, instantaneous. And if you understand this - about ideals, conformity, contradiction - then you have removed one major factor of fear.
Please, as the speaker talks, go into it yourself; do not merely hear the words and, just to agree, say, "What are you going to say next?" The next, what will come, I do not know yet; what will come will be equally difficult if you do not go into it yourself. We are moving, journeying together, lightening the mind from one of the major facts of fear.
Then, there is this whole question of discipline: which is, psychologically training ourselves to conform to a particular pattern, the so-called religious pattern or the moral pattern of a particular society. Discipline, actually, verbally, means `to learn'. I do not know if you have ever thought about discipline, if you have ever attempted disciplining yourself actually - not theoretically, but actually - to find out if you can discipline yourself, and what is entailed in it. If you have gone into it, you will see that there is resistance - resistance to a particular desire or to a particular want or to a particular impetus, urge; resistance or suppression which is control. All suppression, resistance, control is contrary to learning. If I learn about something, anger for example, not only am I aware I am angry, but also I observe the cause, the causation of that anger - anger being the reaction and so on - I go into it, I understand it. In that process of understanding there is no resistance, there is no need to control, because out of that understanding comes a different kind of discipline which is the act of learning.
I do not know if you follow all this. What we need is a free mind, not a disciplined mind - disciplined in the ordinary sense of that word - not a mind trained to conform to a particular pattern. The disciplined mind is a dead mind; it is a bureaucratic, narrow, petty, little mind; it is never free. And it is only the free mind that can understand, go beyond, take an infinite journey within itself
So, a mind that is merely disciplining itself - which is to resist, to control - is a mind that cannot possibly understand the nature of fear. We try to find the cause of fear. We say, "I am afraid because of that", and we think it is very important to find the cause of fear; but it is not at all important. We think that, by understanding the cause, we shall be rid of fear. If you observe, you will find that you may know the cause, but fear still goes on. So, the mere psychological search for the cause of fear is not the freeing of fear. That is one of the factors.
Then, there is the real factor that demands a great deal of understanding; and I am going to go into it now. There is, in all of us, the observer, the thinker, and the thought - two separate states; one is the thinker, the observer, the experiencer, and the other is the thing experienced, the thing observed, the thought. The two, as far as most of us are concerned, are separate; there is a tremendous division between the two. Please observe; do not accept or deny what is being said. Please observe yourself; allow the speaker to be merely a mirror in which you are observing, so that you see the actual, not what you would like to see.
There is a division between the thinker and the thought. And then there arises the question: how to bridge between the thinker and the thought? The thought creates the idea, the idea being rationalized thought; not many rationalized thoughts are put together as an idea, as a conclusion, as a concept. There is the thinker, and there is the concept which he has formulated through thought and which becomes the pattern. Therefore the thinker separates the concept away from him. So there is the conflict between the thinker and the thought, because he is always trying to correct the thought, to change it, to modify it, or to give it continuity.
Now, is this division actual? This division does exist. But is there such a thing as a thinker, apart from thought? If you do not think at all, where is the thinker? Please, listen. I am not putting a rhetorical question for you to answer, to agree or disagree with. If you put it to yourself as you are doing now, you will have to find out if, when there is no thinking of any kind, there is any centre from which to think. There is only thought, and thought creates the thinker for various psychological reasons, for security, as a means of further experience, as a centre from which to act, and so on and so on.
So, there is this division between the thinker and the thought and, therefore, there is conflict. As long as this division exists, there must be fear. The thinker is then trying to control fear, he is trying to dominate fear; he tries to resist fear, to get rid of it. Therefore he is always looking at it as though it is something apart from himself, and therefore, he is never free of fear. So, again, that is a major cause of continuity of fear. As long as there is a division between the observer and the thing observed, there is contradiction, there is division. The fear is there, and he is here; and observing fear, he wants to get rid of it; therefore he seeks all the methods of getting rid of fear.
If there is no thinker, but only the state of fear - the state of fear, not the entity that experiences fear - then you can understand it, go into it. I will go into it a little bit.
What is fear actually - the psychological fear? It is a state when you are aware of danger psychologically: of losing your wife, of losing a job, and so on. Psychologically, what is that fear? Surely, it is time. If there was no time, then there would be no fear. Because I can think about something - think about the danger think about losing a job, think about death, think about the interval between the actuality and what might be - the lag of time is the cause of fear. If there was no time at all, if there was no tomorrow as when there is the thought "What will happen tomorrow?", if the mind was only concerned with the actual state of fear, then what would take place? There is chronological time by the watch. But if there is no psychological time, not only the time of tomorrow but the time of yesterday - that is, if thought does not think about what might happen tomorrow, or if thought does not go back into what has happened, and relate it to the present - , then you are confronted not with fear but only with a state.
If you have observed in yourself, do you know what actually takes place when you are afraid, when there is psychological danger? Suppose I am afraid, for example, of being found out what I am. If you found out about me, I might lose my reputation, my position and all the rest of it. So, I put on a mask. And behind that mask there is always anxiety a sense of guilt, a sense of watching so as never to remove that mask so that you will see something behind. That is my actual state. What you see is the mask, not my state; but what is behind the mask is my actual state, and I am afraid of this. Now, what is going on? You are not sufficiently interested in me to remove the mask, and look. Because you have your own masks, many of them, you are not concerned. But I am thinking that you might look. The "might", the future; and the past that I have done something which you might discover - I am caught in time. The process of thinking has made this time; and in that time - which may be a split-second, or a day, or ten years - thought is caught. Thought has created that time by thinking that you might look behind my mask. So, thought creates fear - fear comes because there is time. You cannot abolish it, you cannot say, "I shall not be afraid of time". You have to understand this extraordinarily subtle process.
Then, if you have gone sufficiently into the matter, you will also find that you really, actually, never experience that state of fear. It is not like standing at the edge of a precipice physically, or being confronted by a poisonous snake. There you are; it is there immediately, it demands an immediate response. But probably most of us have never confronted actually the state of fear, because they come to it through words, and words create the fear. Please go with me. Take, for example, the word "death". I am not talking of death; we will discuss it at another meeting. We are talking of the word, like God, like Death, like Communism and so on. The word plays an extraordinarily important part. The word "death" evokes all kinds of images, all kinds of fears: the word or the symbol or the thing that you have seen in the street, the dead body which is a symbol. So, the word creates that fear.
So you understand what is involved in this extraordinary process of fear - word, time, ideal, discipline, conformity and this division between the experiencer and the thing being experienced. All that is involved when you begin to enquire into fear; and you have to understand it totally, not in fragments. And if you have gone that far, you have to go much deeper still, into this whole question of the conscious and the unconscious.
Most of us live on the surface. All our jobs, all our routine, all our sensations are on the surface. We never delve, go, to the very depth of our consciousness and find out. And to find out, the superficial mind which is always active, must be quiet.
The mind has to be totally free of fear, because if there is any shadow of fear, at any level of your consciousness, unexplored, hidden, concealed, that will project an illusion that will darken. The mind that would really understand what is true, the real - the extraordinary state of mind that comprehends that thing called truth - must have, psychologically, no fear of any kind. There is the natural fear when you meet a snake, you jump away from it - that is quite natural; there must be that fear; otherwise, you will become neurotic; that is a normal reaction of a good, healthy mind. But we are talking of psychological fear, which is a neurotic state. A mind which would really understand, take a journey into the most extraordinary thing called reality and go deeply into it - where there is no measure, no time, no illusion, no imagination - must be completely free from fear. And, therefore, such a mind is always living, neither in the past nor in the future. Do not translate it immediately as a thing in the present, as some of the bigger philosophers, disappointed philosophers, talk about the present; that is to live completely in the present, to accept everything - good, bad, indifferent - in the present, to live there and make the best of it. I do not want to name the particular philosophy - what I have said is good enough; we know what it is.
So, a mind that is aware of all the things that are connected with fear, is not concerned with the past; but as the past arises, it deals with it, not as a stepping stone to the future. Therefore such a mind is living in the active present, and therefore comprehends every movement of thought, feeling, fear, as it arises. There is a great deal to learn. There is no end to learning. Therefore, there is no despair, no anxiety. This you must have completely in your blood, so that you are never caught in the things that have been done or that will be done in the future, so that you are never held in time as thought. It is only the mind that has emptied itself of all this fear, that is empty. Then in that emptiness it can understand that which is supreme and nameless.
January 19 1964
Madras 1964 (1)
Madras 3rd Public Talk 19th January 1964
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