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New Delhi 1964

New Delhi 4th Public Talk 1st November 1964

We were talking the other day about learning. Learning obviously implies a state of humility. But humility is not meekness; it is not a low estimation of one's own importance; it is not that "I do not know and you know; so teach me", but rather a mind that is alert and demands to know, to learn; it is not a state of acquiescence, acceptance. Humility is not a virtue. Humility cannot be cultivated - it is there, or it is not there. It is only the vain, proud people who cultivate humility - they put on a mask of humility; but they are not really, in the real sense of that word, humble.

So a mind that is learning must have this quality of not accepting, not denying, not estimating its own importance at any level, at any time; or it must have the quality of denying and really enquiring, asking, questioning, being critical - not only critical of what is being said, but also critical of oneself; critically aware, choicelessly aware of what is being said, and of oneself. Such a mind is necessary to learn. And we need to learn totally anew about our relationships, because the world is undergoing an extraordinary transformation, changing rapidly, and old traditions really have no meaning at all any more. Class divisions are disappearing - except perhaps in this country where tradition is very strong, where a certain pattern established by a few people, such as saints and mahatmas and all the rest of it, is followed, but it has no meaning at all.

We must question critically, intelligently the whole problem of relationship, not only relationship with the family but the relationship of man, between man and man as society; and that demands a mind which is critical, non-accepting, learning. But, unfortunately, most of us are so eager to be told what to do, so happily follow someone - a political leader or a religious leader or in fact any leader - if he can tell us what to do, because we do not want to enquire, learn, ask, demand; we are just satisfied to be led. And a mind that is being led, that is following authority, is incapable of learning and therefore cannot possibly understand the state of humility, which is not humbleness - that word is a dreadful word.

Humility is an energetic state of mind when it is totally aware of itself, of all its intricacies, its limitations, its conditioning, its prejudices, its shortcomings. It is only such a mind that can learn and can understand this extraordinary complex relationship between man and man, which is called society. Society is progressive, blindly driven by dictators, by revolutions, by economic circumstances, by war, by a few leaders who are really very capable and have drive; and that society is undergoing constant change, evolving. Therefore a mind that is not capable of learning about this movement of social evolution cannot possibly comprehend this vast movement; and therefore it becomes a mind that is dull, stupid, accepting, adjusting. So a mind that is learning is always ahead of society, however much that society is evolving. That is why we have to understand this quality of humility.

What is the state of your mind as you are listening? Are you listening to words, ideas? Are you waiting to be told what to do? Or, do you have a pattern of action which, for you, is very important, because it touches your immediate life - and when that pattern is questioned, you resist, you withdraw? You have to find out for yourself what is the state of your own mind, because we are going into the question of fear, and that requires an extraordinarily sharp, clear mind that is capable of learning, questioning, asking, demanding.

As we said just now, society is progressing, evolving. There are those who hinder, who go back; they go back to tradition, to all kinds of ideas which are traditional, old-fashioned - with a mind that is not contemporary, that is not ahead of society. They force society into a particular pattern, because they live in ideas, in concepts, in abstractions - as the communists, as the socialists, as the people in this country. They have patterns, concepts which they try to force on people; therefore such minds are not contemporary minds. I mean by a contemporary mind, a mind that is aware of the whole world-situation, not only economically but politically, scientifically, morally, psychologically, of the world that is torn between the East and the West, of the tremendous powers of destruction. These are facts; and one has to come to them with a fresh mind to understand, to learn - not come to them with a mind that is traditional, pattern-driven.

So, before we go into this question of fear, you have to find things out for yourself as a human being - not as an individual, because individuality comes much later. Individuality comes only when you are completely human, not animalistic - with its ambition, greed, envy, hate and all the rest of it. When the mind is free of all that, then only is it an individual mind. And in that state of mind which is individual, at that moment, something tremendous takes place, and you can go beyond that. You may pretend that you have got a soul, that you are independent, that you are the higher self and all the rest of it: they are just words that have no meaning, because you are merely the result of your environment. You are being taught certain patterns of thought, you live in a particular social tribe or race or group or family; and that conditions your mind, and then you repeat that. So a mind that is awake, that is demanding, questioning; that is aware of all the things that are implied in modern existence - such a mind must have the intense quality of humility. It is not a state of under-estimation of oneself, or of accepting, acquiescing, adjusting - such a mind is no mind at all. You have to think very clearly, to question very clearly, sharply - not only the speaker but everybody, all your political, religious, economic leaders so that your mind is made sharp through learning. But that learning is denied when you follow authority.

I do not know if you have not noticed this worship of authority, in yourself and around you - particularly in countries that are old, in countries that have ancient traditions, in countries that are overpopulated. You know, the word "authority" originates, stems from the one who originates something - originates. We are not original, because we do not know, or we have not realized, what it is to think clearly, independently of what Sankara, Buddha, or any one else has said. To think clearly for oneself demands that one has no authority. But, unfortunately, in this country especially - and perhaps in other countries also - we are talking about it. We are not comparing this country with another country: that is an old trick of the politicians; when you say that this country is corrupt, the politicians say that it is better, that it is not so corrupt as the other country, and they think they have done some marvellous thing. What we are talking about is something entirely different. We are not comparing. We are seeing facts. And to see facts there must be no comparison - how can you compare? And to see facts - not intellectually - demands a great deal of affection, a great deal of sympathy, an intense sense of love, empathy. But that affection, love, is denied when you are worshipping authority.

Do consider what the speaker is saying; don't agree with it. Watch what is taking place in your own life, because following authority is one of the origins of fear. We have the Gita or some other book, and that book is our authority: that authority has no meaning whatsoever in relation to contemporary existence. Because the mind is afraid to wander away from what it thinks, is the real - the real as asserted by a certain group of people or by certain persons - , it accepts. You accept authority not only spiritually, if I may use that word, but also politically, religiously, in every way. Authority is not in just one particular direction, the authority of the wife over the husband and of the husband over the wife - to dominate. We all want power; and power goes with ambition, and ambition is a form of self-expression. We all want to express ourselves; which is, we want to be somebody in this world - as a writer, as a painter, as a politician, as a religious leader and so on and so on. So a mind that is enslaved by authority, - whether it is by the wife or by the husband or by society or by the people - a mind that worships authority cannot possibly have either affection, love or the capacity to learn. You can follow another, and by following another you do not solve your sorrow; you might run away from your sorrow, from your despair, because he might offer a hope, and that hope might be illusory, unreal, non-factual. Because we are so frightened of existence, we want some hope, and we invest the authority with that hope.

So a mind that would understand fear, must understand authority, self-fulfilment and the demand for power. Function gives power. That is, you are capable of doing something - capable of running a government, capable of putting machines together, capable of running a house properly, cleanly, simply - and that gives you a functional capacity. But, unfortunately, with that capacity goes status which is position, which is money. So a mind that would learn, has this intense - I was going to use the words "intensively aggressive humility". Aggressive humility is, of course, contradictory; but you understand what I mean - such a mind has the intensity of non-acquiescence, because humility goes with freedom. And if there is no freedom, you cannot possibly learn. So, to understand fear, you must understand this whole psychological process of authority - which does not mean that you disobey; you have to pay taxes. To understand why you obey is important, not that you must disobey. You obey, because inwardly, psychologically, inside your skin you are frightened: you might lose your job if you are not extra polite and cow-tow to some big man, the manager or the dictator, the boss or your guru; or you might lose your spiritual values and so on.

Sirs, you are not listening to a lecture. This is not a harangue, a moralizing talk. We are communicating with each other. We are trying to understand this complex problem of living together: and it is a very complex problem. It needs a fresh mind every day to understand your family, your wife or husband, or your children; it needs a fresh mind to learn your job efficiently. So we are trying to understand the problems. They are your problems and therefore you are not merely listening to words, rejecting, or accepting, or saying it is this, or having opinions. We are together looking, together understanding, together trying to explore this complex problem. So you are as active as the speaker, if not much more active.

So one has to differentiate, when one understands authority, as to why one obeys the law, why one obeys psychologically. One has also to understand function and status, because through function one wants status. What we are more concerned with is not function but status. Because status gives us certain privileges, status becomes much more important than function. But if you are only regarding function - not status at all - then the cook is as important as the Prime Minister. They are merely doing functions, and there - fore you approach the two with quite a different mind - you do not kick the cook, nor do you lick the shoes of the Prime Minister. You treat them as functionaries - and therefore not as machines - as human beings liable to make mistakes. But the moment you think of status, then disrespect comes in; and the moment disrespect comes in, then you are lost; then you show respect to one and disrespect to another. A mind that understands this whole complex psychological problem of authority must go into all this, because that is one of the roots of fear.

We all demand self-fulfilment, we all want to be somebody. Probably you want to be sitting here instead of me; it is there in the mind. Because we all want to be somebody, to be known, to be famous, to have our names appear in the papers, we want to express ourselves - by writing a book, by painting a picture, or through the family, through the wife, through the children, through the work. Through everything, we want to express ourselves. We never question if there is such a thing as self-expression, but we want to express. The moment you begin to question this whole problem of expression, especially of oneself, then you will see that a mind that is seeking self-expression is always in conflict, is always inviting despair and therefore always frightened and therefore resisting, aggressive. So, you have to know, you have to learn, you have to be aware of this urge to selfexpress. What do you want to express? What do you mean by self-expression? It essentially comes down to this: to be known by the world, - which means what? - to be recognized as a big man, as somebody important, somebody who is very clever, who has attained en- lightenment, and all that stuff. And we are craving everlastingly to express ourselves in little things, in big things; and therefore there is competition. Out of this competition there is ruthlessness. And we think that this ruthless capacity, efficiency is progress. Do watch yourselves, please! You are not listening. Please watch your own life. Then you see how the more capacity, the more intelligence, the more drive you have, the more deeply, the more longingly you want to fulfil, you want to be somebody. When you want to be somebody, this desire is to self-fulfil either in God or in an idea - for God is an idea - or in a State or in the family. What is implied in this self-expression? You want to be; and the "you" is merely an idea, an abstraction, a memory; and that is one of the great sources of fear. So there is ambition, authority, self-expression and there is the fear of the tomorrow.

Now, what is fear? Fear cannot exist by itself. it is not an abstraction. An abstraction comes into being only when one runs away from fear into an idea, into a concept, into certain activities. Suppose one is afraid, and one's mind is incapable of facing it and seeks an escape from it; then any thought, any activity arising from that escape, from that flight from the fact of fear, breeds an abstraction, a life of contradiction; and a life of contradiction brings more fear, more conflict - all the complexities of existence. So you have to understand fear, because fear breeds illusions, fear makes the mind dull. I do not know if you have not noticed, when you are frightened for various reasons, how your mind absolutely withdraws, isolates itself and looks immediately to somebody to help it out; how it builds a wall round itself through various activities, through lies, through every form of activity except facing that fact.

So we are going to face the fact, this evening - not the speaker's fear, but your fear. How is one to understand that fear? The understanding of that fear is freedom from that fear, and we are going into that. We are going to take a journey, we are going together to commune with that thing which we call fear, because one has to see the importance of understanding fear. It is a necessity to understand it. A mind that lives in fear is a dead mind, is a dull mind; it is a mind that cannot look, see, hear clearly, directly. So, it is very important to understand one's relationships with others, with society, with everything, and to be free of fear, totally - not partially, not fragmentarily, not on various occasions, but completely. I say it is possible, and we will go into that. So, fear is not an abstraction, it is not a thing from which you can run away; it is there. Whether you run away for a day, for a year, for sometime, it catches you up wherever you are, and goes with you. You may turn your eyes away from it, but it is there.

Fear exists only in relationship to something else. I am afraid of public opinion, I am afraid of my wife, I am afraid of my boss, I am afraid of losing my job, I am afraid of death, I am afraid of pain; I am not healthy, I would like to be healthy and I am frightened of going back, of falling ill again; I am frightened because I am lonely; I am frightened, because nobody loves me, nobody has a warm feeling for me; I am frightened, because I have to be nobody. There are various forms of fear, conscious and unconscious. If you are at all aware - aware, not in the narrow sense but extensively - you can see the obvious fears: of losing a job and therefore playing up to the man above you, bearing all the boredom of it, his insults, his inhumanities; being frightened of not fulfilling; being frightened of not being somebody, being frightened of going wrong. So we have innumerable fears and consciously we can know them quite easily. If you spend half an hour consciously, deliberately, to find out your fears, outwardly at least, you can easily stop them. But it is much more difficult to find out the unconscious fears, deep down within you, which have a greater importance and which during your sleep become dreams and all the rest of it. I am not going into all that now.

So one has to understand fear. Now, fear may take different forms: I am afraid of public opinion, I am afraid of falling ill, I am afraid of losing my wife, I am afraid of being nobody. I am afraid of being lonely - do you know what that word means? Have you ever been lonely, have you ever felt what it is to be lonely? Probably not, because you are surrounded by your family, you are always thinking about your job, reading a book, listening to a radio, listening to the infinite gossip of the newspapers. So probably you never know that strange feeling of being completely isolated. You may have occasional intimations of it, but probably you have never come into contact with it directly, as you have with pain, with hunger, with sex. But if you do not understand that loneliness which is the cause of fear, then you will not understand fear and be free of it.

Fear may express itself in many forms - as it does - but there is only one fear. Fear is fear, not how it shows, not what are the mediums through which you are aware of the existence of fear. I may be afraid of public opinion, of death, of losing a job, of a thousand other things; but the fear is the same. Now, whether that fear is conscious or unconscious, one has to find out, one has to go into it. Unfortunately, we have divided life - as has been done by the latest psychologists and so on - as the conscious and the unconscious. Please listen to this: you may not be interested and probably you have not even thought about it. You might have read about it, if you are interested in psychology, or heard somebody talk about the conscious and the unconscious and so on. But it does not play a great part in your life, as hunger does, as losing a job does, as belonging to a certain class does. So we are going into it briefly for the moment. We are not going into any detail, or to explore it at great depth; one can, but we are going into it briefly.

One has divided the mind as the conscious and the unconscious. The conscious mind is the educated mind, the modern technological mind that goes to the office every day, which is bored, which is fed up with all the routine of it, the lack of love of doing something for itself. So the conscious mind becomes the mechanical mind - watch it, sirs - it can think mechanically, it can go to the office and function. It does all the things mechanically - sex, affection, being mechanically conscious of everything, being kind when it pays, kicking when it does not pay; the whole thing, the strange phenomena of modern civilization. Then there is the unconscious which is very deep, which requires great penetration, understanding. Either one can understand the whole thing - both the conscious as well as the unconscious - immediately, with one look, or you take time through analysis, through analysing all the intimations and hints of the unconscious which arise through dreams and so on. Please follow this.

As I said, you can understand this whole structure of consciousness which you, as a man or a woman, as a human being, the whole consciousness of two million years - not reincarnation of man, who has evolved from the lowest to the present state. All that development, all that psychological structure of society can be understood immediately, and also the whole psychological structure of society with its greed, envy, ambition, despair, can be completely eliminated. Or you can analyse the whole process of consciousness, analyse it step by step. We feel - not feel, but it is so - that analysis will not free the mind. Then, what will free the mind from ambition, greed, envy, anger, jealousy, and the demand for power - which are all animalistic? I do not know if you have watched animals. Go to a poultry yard where there are lots of chicken and observe the chickens. You will notice how one pecks the other and how they have established a social order. We also have all the animalistic instincts, consciously as well as unconsciously. And we can understand this whole psychological structure, and be totally free of this animalistic, instinctual relationship of man with man, immediately - and this is the only way to do it, not through analysis.

But to understand this thing, to understand this consciousness, one has to be really free, totally, of fear. Fear is the essence of the animal. Now, to understand fear one must come directly into contact with it - that is, non-verbally. Please do take your fear. You are afraid of something: may be of your wife, husband, children. Take it, look at it, bring it out - not suppress it, not accept it, not deny it, but - take hold of it, look at it. To look at it demands a mind fully aware, not a vague dull mind. Because when you look at fear, either you come directly into contact with it, or you go off to an asylum as people do, or you know what to do with it. And we are going into it directly, non-abstractly, non-verbally so that you come directly into contact. We said there are many causes of fear, but fear is always fear. The objects of fear and their relationship with you may vary, but fear is always the same, though it expresses itself in different ways.

Now, most of us do not come into contact with fear. The moment fear shows itself in any form, we run away from it. There is the fear of death. I am not going to talk about death today, but we will do it another day if there is time. When you are afraid of death, your whole defensive psychological machinery is set going immediately; you invent beliefs, you run away from it, you have visions, you have dreams; but you avoid that thing. So the first thing to realize is that any form of escape not only perpetuates and strengthens fear but creates conflict, and therefore the mind is incapable of coming directly into contact with fear. Suppose the speaker is afraid; he has an idea, he has some hope; and that hope, that idea, that escape becomes much more important than the fear itself, because he is running away from the fact, and the running away - not the fear - creates conflict. When a man is directly in contact with something, non-verbally, non-abstractly, without escape, there is no conflict; he is there. It is only the man who has ideas, hopes, opinions, all kinds of defences - for him there is conflict; and that conflict prevents him from coming directly into contact with fear.

Most people have fear and they have invented a network of escapes: going to the temple, the incessant activity of a restless, stupid mind; they have invented so many fears, so many escapes, and therefore their conflicts increase. So one has to be aware of it - not "How am I to escape?" or "How am I to stop from escaping?" Because the moment you understand that every form of escape from fear only creates more conflict and therefore there is no direct contact with fear, and that it is only with a direct contact with fear that you are free - when you understand that, not intellectually, not verbally, not as something you hear from somebody, but actually, for yourself when you see that - then you do not escape at all. Then the temple, the book, the leader, the round-the-corner guru - all those disappear. Then you are not ambitious.

The escape from fear can be actual - that is through radio, temple, activities. Or it can be through abstractions - that is, the word helps us to escape from fear. Please listen to this, and you will see. Fear is not an abstraction, it is not a word; but, for most of us, the word has taken the place of the fact. You see that? The word fear which is an abstraction has taken the place of the fact which is the actual fear, and therefore you are dealing with the abstract word and not with the fact. I hope I am making myself clear. So, you have to understand fear - I mean by "understand" not verbally, not intellectually, but face it - and be completely free of it, totally, right through your being. And you can only do it when there is no escape of any kind - escape through activity, through some form of running away, or escape through the word which, for most people, takes the place of the actual fact. When you understand this, then you are directly in contact with fear. In that contact there is no time interval, there is no saying, "I will get over it" or "I will develop courage" - which is equally stupid - when you are frightened. It is like those people who are violent and everlastingly talking about non-violence. It is too stupid, because it has no validity at all. What has validity is violence, and you can deal with it; but to talk, to go round the world preaching about non-violence is just a hypnotic, unrealistic mind. So we are dealing with facts; and we cannot deal with "what is" if there is any form of escape, conscious or unconscious.

There is physical fear. You know, when you see a snake, a wild animal, instinctively there is fear; that is a normal, healthy, natural fear. It is not fear, it is a desire to protect oneself - that is normal. But the psychological protection of oneself - that is, the desire to be always certain - breeds fear. A mind that is seeking always to be certain, is a dead mind, because there is no certainty in life, there is no permanency. And because you try to establish permanency in your relationship with your wife, with your family and all the rest of it, you have jealousy and the dreadful thing called family. When you come directly into contact with fear, there is a response of the nerves and all the rest of it. Then, when the mind is no longer escaping through words or through activity of any kind, there is no division between the observer and the thing observed as fear. It is only the mind that is escaping, that separates itself from fear. But when there is a direct contact with fear, there is no observer, there is no entity that says, "I am afraid". So, the moment you are directly in contact with life, with anything, there is no division - it is this division that breeds competition, ambition, fear.

So what is important is not "how to be free of fear?" If you seek a way, a method, a system to be rid of fear, you will be everlastingly caught in fear. But if you understand fear - which can only take place when you come directly in contact with it, as you are in contact with hunger, as you are directly in contact when you are threatened with losing your job - then you do something; only then will you find that all fear ceases - we mean all fear, not fear of this kind or of that kind. Because out of the freedom and the understanding and the learning about fear comes intelligence, and intelligence is the essence of freedom. And there is no intelligence if there is any form of conflict, and conflict must exist as long as there is fear.

November 1, 1964.


New Delhi 1964

New Delhi 4th Public Talk 1st November 1964

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