Looking at Fear, that Extraordinary Jewel
Transcript of Talk 2, Brockwood Park, 26 August 1984
May we continue with what we were talking about yesterday morning?
I think it is important to remind you, if I may, if one may, that this is not an entertainment, this is not a weekend amusement in a nice place. Sorry for the bad weather, but there it is! We are in England! And we are not trying to convince you of any ideology, of any concept, or a series of programmed investigation. But rather that we are all thinking together if we can, over our problems, not only human, psychological, psychic problems, but also the problems outside of us, outside in the world which is so full of danger: terrorists, ideological commitments – the Communists and the so-called Democrats, the totalitarians and the dictatorships, and also all the great inventions that are going on in the world. Tremendous inventions, not only to destroy man and destroy the earth but also great inventions to distort the brain of the human beings. There are the computers, which is an extraordinarily important thing – we have been talking about it to some specialists who are building and who are concerned with the computers – in America and so on, and here. Computers probably can do almost anything that human beings can: think much faster, calculate much quicker – in seconds. Carry a million memories in a small chip. And also what is going to happen to the human brain when the computer, which can do almost anything – will the human brain wither? Please consider all these problems. Will the human brain, our brain, which has striven, struggled, aggressive, competitive, calculating, working endlessly to earn money, or to achieve some ideological concepts and pursuits. And the computer can do all this much better than any of us can. And then what happens to the human brain which now is so occupied with itself, will it wither away? Or will it be caught in the vast entertaining world, in the entertaining industry, not only the cinema, televisions, all the religious entertainments that are going on in the world in the name of God, which is another form of entertainment, whether it is done in the temples in India, or in Rome, or in some mosques, it is still entertainment. Or the brain will occupy itself with something much vaster, greater and deeper. That is, to turn, not selfishly, not self-centred, inward look but rather turn to something beyond all that which man has accumulated through millennia upon millennia. To find something vast, immeasurable, not to be measured by words, by thought and so on.
So we are not only at a crisis in the world psychologically, a crisis in our consciousness, but also there is a crisis going on at the present time in the world. And we were talking about yesterday morning, and we are talking over together, we are talking over our problems, not mathematical problems, or geographical or other kinds of problems, but human problems with all our fears, anxieties, sorrows, pain, depressions, long enduring conflicts. We are talking about those things because it is our life.
And we also talked about yesterday wasting our life. We mean by wasting doing things that are practically becoming meaningless, apart from earning a livelihood, and so on. And we were talking yesterday also about time, thought and security. The brain can only function excellently, at its highest capacity and energy when it is completely secure, when it is not living or holding on to some illusions, some concepts, beliefs, faith, some fantastic ideas or the ideals of Marx and Lenin and so on, or our own democratic ideals and holding on to them. We were talking about time and what relationship has time to security? Time being tomorrow, time being the thousand tomorrows following each other. Is there security in that tomorrow? Do we understand each other? The speaker is asking a question whether there is security in the pursuit of tomorrow, in the pursuit of the future, which is time. Right? Are we… please, we are talking things over together, I am not talking to myself, and this is important to understand if we want to go into ourselves and understand our whole… what we call the psyche, which is our being. And to understand that very deeply one must go into this question of security. We seek security in the family, in the community, in a commune, or in a particular sect whether it be the sect of Catholicism, or Protestantism and so on. Or Hinduism and so on. Is there security in time? Do you understand my question? Is there security in the future? And what is the future? The future is what we are now, what one is now, with all the turmoil, anxiety, depression, violence, self-centred activity, sorrow, affection and the pain of separation and the fear of death, is what is now, what we are now. That is our psyche, that is our consciousness, that is our being. And has that, which is the result of vast experiences, knowledge, of that which we have accumulated during thousands and thousands of years, that is what we are now. The tradition, our conditioning, both linguistically and, which is another matter, we won’t go into the question of whether the brain can be conditioned linguistically. Are you interested in all this? Sunday morning? (laughter) This is not a sermon. If you are really interested in your own life, not in what the speaker is talking about, if one is interested to understand this enormous, complex society in which we live, with all the immorality, with all the corruption, and the great sorrow every society brings to every human being, and that society which we have created, that society is not different from us. We have created it through our greed, through our violence, through our aggression, through our competitiveness and so on. We have made it. And we are caught in that which we have made. So we are fighting not only society externally, trying to adjust ourselves to it, and also rejecting it, and withdrawing ourselves from that society, it is all part of this self-centred projected activity of every human being in the world, whether he lives in the most smallest hamlet, village or in the great cities of the world. We have made this mess. And we are asking as what we are now, what is the future of us now? And has the future, that is tomorrow, and the thousand million tomorrows, is there security in that? We hope, and in that hope we try to find some kind of security in hope. Hope implies the future. So as we were pointing out yesterday, we should understand this very seriously because it may totally bring about a psychic revolution. We may look at the world and ourselves totally differently if we understand the nature of time. Time is not only to cover a distance from one point to another. Time is necessary to learn a language, to learn a skill, to build a house, to acquire a skill, to drive a car and so on, time is necessary. But is time, that is, movement of becoming – you understand? Are we together in all this? Or you’re getting mesmerised? (laughter) Please, the person is not important at all. The speaker is not important in any way. But what he says is important. Either we see the truth of it or the falseness of it, the logic, the sanity, the reason of it. That’s what matters, not the personal, personality cult. The speaker is merely a telephone and the speaker means it, it is not just a word.
And so we are trying to understand whether there is security in time. That is, we are the past, there is no question about it. And that past is operating, modifying itself, in the present. The present, if there is no fundamental change – not some superficial scratching – but fundamental change, the future is what we are now. So all time: the past, the future, the present, is in the now. Right? And that if we can really capture the significance of this, then we begin to see the implication of what it means to change. I wish I could discuss this matter with somebody who is following this intimately, closely, not just listening casually, because it is really very important, because it really will alter the whole way of looking at life. If you accept that there is no tomorrow, how do you look at the world, how do you look at yourself, how do you consider God? How do you consider becoming something? You understand? Becoming something implies time. And you see all time is contained in the now – you understand? – then what is becoming? Is there psychological becoming at all? I wonder if you follow all this.
And what does then – if you understand this – relationship mean? To be related to somebody in which there is no time, no becoming – do you understand? Are we following this a little bit? Or would you like to see a video? (Laughter) Because these are really important questions, fundamental questions one must ask oneself. What is it – what does it mean to change if there is no tomorrow, because tomorrow is now. And if change implies gradualness, then you admit time. And that time, the future, is now. So is it possible to change instantly, not allowing time to interfere at all. So can the brain, which has been accustomed to gradualness, and gradually become good, gradually end violence, gradually get over my idiocy and so on. The brain is accustomed to that. We are educated that way. You will gradually learn how to write properly at the school, how to learn mathematics gradually, take two years, and you have to take several years to become a doctor, but we have extended that same feeling, that same movement into the whole psychological world. So we say, ‘I will gradually become something’, – gradually learn how to meditate – good God – you understand? Gradually learn how to live peacefully. All that implies the – our conditioning to the concept of becoming. And if time is – if all time is in the now, which is a fact, it is a statement of a fact. That statement may not be true, so you have to find out for yourself if that statement is a fact or not, not merely be influenced or coerced, or encouraged by the speaker. Therefore one must have doubt, question, there must be scepticism to say ‘Is it true?’ So that your own brain is active, you yourself see things as they are.
As we were saying, if all time, the past, the present and the future, is contained in the now, what is our relationship to each other? That relationship between man and woman who are in conflict, each wanting to fulfil, each helping the other to sustain themselves; if one is weak he will depend on somebody strong and so on. That is the present relationship of conflict. And can that conflict end instantly, not gradually – you understand my question?
And then what is action? Action is according to a memory, conditioned by the past, or action of tomorrow. ‘I will do this’, ‘I will try to understand’, ‘I will try to listen to what you are saying’. So what is action when there is no – when all time is now? You understand the question? I wonder! One is greedy, or one is violent. Violence has many aspects: conformity, imitation, adaptation, adjustment, or physical gestures, and action physically, hating somebody and so on, throwing a bomb. Those are all based on concepts, ideas, memories, ideals and so on. So if there is no tomorrow – you understand? – what then is action? (Sighs)
All right sir, put it the other way, perhaps we will get at it better. Most of the people in the world believe in God – right? I don’t know why but they do! In the ancient literature, the very ancient literature there is no mention of God at all. God is only a recent invention. And that God, whom we worship, whom we pray to, who has built the world, created the world, he is the essence of all that and so on and so on and so on. And all of us, most people in the world, are trying to achieve, or realise that sense of godliness. But if there is no tomorrow – you understand what is implied? – there is no sense of achievement at all, except you do achieve a job, do achieve a certain status, or you have – work hard to accumulate a lot of money, or power, for that there is plenty of tomorrows, specially for money and power. I wonder if you have ever gone into the question of power. Power over people, power of the few over the many, or the power of one, whether he be a guru, or a dictator, or the power of the few representing an ideal, holding this immense power to control, shape the human brain – the professors, the scientists, and every human being wants power in some form or another. The man over the woman, or the woman over the man, sexual power, the power of thought – you understand all this? Power of the man who says, ‘I know, and you don’t know. I will tell you all about it.’ – the power of knowledge.
So power is evil in any form, whether it is the power of the Pope, or the man over his servant. And all of us want some kind of power. We have never tasted the essence of humility, and innocence. The word ‘innocence’ means not to hurt another, or be hurt. May I go on? Or you want to see the video? Are you actually listening to what the speaker is saying? Listening not only with the ear, but listening beyond the word, grasping the significance instantly, not demanding explanation after explanation, description after description. Do we listen at all? Or we are always interpreting what is being said to suit our own conditioning, our own like and dislike and so on? If we could listen very seriously to this fact that all time is now, the past, the present and the future, then the truth of it becomes extraordinarily vital. It is a living thing, not just a series of words, concepts and beliefs. Then relationship, change and action have totally a different meaning.
We ought also to consider this morning the question of fear. Fear of the future – what might happen, fear of insecurity, fear of death, fear of what has happened in the past. There are so many fears that human beings carry with them. Or one dominant fear. Most human beings have fear, not only physical fears, of getting hurt, not only physically getting hurt but inwardly getting hurt. We have fear of that. We have fear of oppression, fear of losing a job, fear of unemployment in this country – there are people between 18 and 30 who have never known what work is. And so they become rowdy and you know all the rest of it, what is happening in this country and in the other parts of the world. We are not talking of a particular form of fear, not your particular form, or my particular form. I might be afraid of public opinion – I am not, but suppose one is – what somebody else might say. And there is the fear of not achieving, not achieving enlightenment – you know, whatever that may mean. Not – so many things we are frightened of. Agree? At least do we see this? As we said, we are not talking about a particular form of fear, but what is fear? You understand my question? One may be frightened of the dark. Or frightened of what one’s wife might say and so on. Those are all expressions of – multiple expressions of – the central fact of fear – right? So we are talking about the central fact of fear, the root of fear, not the various forms of fear. And what is the root of all this? And fear has been one of the major factors of our life, not only now but in the past millennia, centuries upon centuries ago. The most primitive people were frightened of thunder, lightening, so they made that into God. You understand? Anything that we are frightened of we make it into God, or into something to be worshipped or something to be killed. Probably that is what we are doing now. So we are frightened people. Frightened of a pain of yesterday recurring again today or tomorrow. Pain of losing one’s eyesight, hearing and ultimately dying. And we are asking: what is the cause of all the fear? What is the origin, the beginning of fear? And can that fear first psychologically, inwardly, not the fear of outward things, but first the inward – inside the brain, inside the very hidden part of the brain, the very recesses of the brain, what is fear? Why have we not solved it? If there is no fear at all, at all, inwardly, would we have gods? Yes sir, it is fear that is making, creating gods all over the world. So it is very important to understand and find out for oneself whether it is possible to be totally free of fear. First psychologically, inwardly, subjectively.
If you ask the speaker: ‘Are you talking this as a fact, or are you free of it subjectively?’ – what if he answered, ‘Yes’, and then where are you? Do you understand my question? So it is not important to ask whether the speaker is free or not but whether one is free or not, and how important, how essential it is to be free of fear.
So what is fear? What is the origin, the beginning, deeply? Not only in the deep levels of the brain, the so-called unconscious fears. The speaker doesn’t like to divide consciousness into the unconscious and conscious, it is all consciousness. You can play around with those words but consciousness is whole, you can divide it, either for profit, for amusement, or for various other subjective reasons. But consciousness is whole. It is really indivisible, but we like to divide, break it up.
So let’s go into this question: what is the root of fear? Is it thought? Thought being the accumulated memories born of knowledge, experience, and thought born of knowledge and knowledge being limited, so thought is limited. Is fear, subjectively first, inwardly first, is that fear born of thought? Thinking about tomorrow, thinking about what might happen. One’s wife may run away. Thinking in terms of not the actual present, but in terms of the future, or the past. Is that the cause of fear, thought? If it is the cause of fear, which the speaker says it is and please don’t accept it, then what will you do with thought? You understand the question? If I am afraid of you because you might not get tomorrow a larger audience, a small audience, if I am frightened, I want to find out the cause of it. And the cause is I want to have a large audience to make myself – you know – I am glad you understand that! (laughter) And so on. And I want to find out the core, the origin of fear, how it comes. As we said the other day one is not analysing, one is watching, one is perceptive, which requires sensitivity, not a conclusion, not saying ‘I must get rid of it, I must do something about it, I must escape from it’ and so on, but watch it. To watch very clearly without any direction, without any motive, to see, to find out for oneself if thought is the origin of this fear. Then I say to myself what shall I do with thought, if that is the cause of fear how can I stop thought? You understand? Are we following each other? Please come on. Then I have to ask who is the entity that stops thought? Right? You are following this? That entity is also thought that wants to be free of fear – right? So one thought is battling with another thought – right? Do I see that clearly? That this is a battle between two thoughts. The thought that is saying I must be free from fear, and the thought that says what is the origin of thought. The origin of thought, thought says, is very thinking itself. And then the other thought says, how can I stop thinking? You understand the problem? So there is conflict. Are we following each other? So there is conflict. Then I assume how can I end that conflict? So I build this thing – one thing after another, one association after another and I am far away from fear. And I started trying to solve fear and ended up with such confusion, such conflict, such misery and still fear remains. Just hold on a minute.
And then I ask – one asks: is there another cause of fear? Time. Time is a movement, a series of movements, and time, which is tomorrow, I might lose my job, I might become blind, I might – all the rest of it – tomorrow. So time is a factor of fear – right? So time and thought are the roots of fear. Time is thought. So that is the root of fear. I understand this, one understands this intellectually, verbally; it has been explained very carefully. Time as tomorrow, time as the past, time as the present, and tomorrow is all important to me. A thousand tomorrows, tomorrow is all important because I want to get rid of it gradually. So I see – one sees very clearly that time and thought are the root of fear, time, thought is the root of fear. Do I see it as an idea, or do I see it as a concept, or do I see it as something actual, factual, not an idea and then work that idea into a fact? Are we following each other, a little bit at least?
What generally happens is one hears a statement, like, all time is now. I don’t quite understand it but I make an idea of it, a concept of it, and then I try to follow that concept. That concept is not the actual, so again I enter into the field of conflict. So can I, can one listen completely to this fact? That time and thought are the root of fear. Time-thought, is the root, the beginning of fear. Just to perceive it, not what to do about it. You understand? We want – unfortunately we want to achieve that, so we are making an effort. But if you listen quietly, silently, not be mesmerised, but listen to it quietly, deeply, then you see, then the very perception of that silence and watching, without any effort, fear has no place at all. This is not a romantic illusion. This is a fact. When you hold something without movement you see the beauty, or the ugliness of that jewel completely. But we never look at the jewel. We say, ‘How beautiful’ and pass it on. But when we hold it in our hand, the most extraordinary jewel in the world, and look at it carefully, how extraordinarily complex, how delicate, subtle, its capacity, so great. One begins to learn what it is. Learning is different from memorising – right? My lord! Are we saying too much in one talk?
Krishnamurti: Yes? Quite right. You are right. Saying too much in one talk – can’t be helped. Sorry! (laughter)
Have you ever held fear? Hold it. Not move away from it. Not try to suppress it, run away from it, or transcend it, or do all kinds of things with it, just to see the depth of the fear, the extraordinary subtleties of fear. And you can only be aware of all that when one is looking at it without any motive, without trying to do a thing about it, just watch it.
One can do the same thing with pain – of course not extreme pain. When you watch pain carefully, not trying to rush to the dentist immediately, when you watch it, stay with it, not morbidly but see the – all that is happening. How you react to it and so on, so on. If you do that the pain lessens, naturally. In the same way if you hold this jewel. Fear is an extraordinary jewel, extraordinary something which has dominated human beings for forty thousand years and more. And if you can hold it and look at it, then one begins to see the ending of it. Not the gradually, the ending of it completely. Which means fear is part of our self-centred, egotistic activity. Fear is, when the ego, ‘the me’, is isolated, when ‘the me’, the self, this self-centred movement, because it is separative, because it is the very essence of conflict and all the rest of it, that is the root of fear. But when you hear this, ‘How can one live’ you will say, ‘in the world without being self-centred?’ Right? This is natural, healthy question. But first be free and then you will find out, not the other way round. You understand what I am saying? It is like saying, ‘What is on the other side of the mountain?’ You have to climb the mountain to find out. But the description of what is on the other side of the mountain is still a description. But if you walked up the mountain then you will find out. You see what we want is guarantees. If I give this up will you assure me of that?! And there is no assurance. Actually there is no giving up. Right?
So we are asking now: if thought and time, or thought-time is the fact of fear? And we see it is. And the brain has been conditioned, shaped, moulded, has accepted fear as the way of life. And the brain is reluctant to let go. It has lived for thousands of years in the realm of fear, it has got used to it, all the cells, you know all that is going on inside, it says that is natural, that is part of our life. And either one learns through a tremendous shock, which is bad for the brain, or you see the fact instantly. And therefore action takes place instantly.
And we were talking about security. Obviously there is no security in the future – right? I wonder if we see that. Future is when you say, ‘I will be safe the day after tomorrow’, or ‘There is God in whom I’ll find security’, or in some form of illusions. Is there security in time? Please go into it. Or there is only security, complete security in the understanding the truth that all time is in the now. The now is the ultimate security. Come on sirs! Do you understand? The now is that which you are now. What you are is your consciousness – right? Your consciousness is what you are. Your consciousness – the consciousness contains your fears, your aspirations, your longings, your desires, your fulfilments, your depressions, your anxieties, sorrow, pain, all the rest of it, your gods, all that is your consciousness. And in that consciousness is this whole movement of time and thought – right? I wonder if you understand all this? You are your consciousness, aren’t you? No? Of course. No? So your consciousness is your faith, your belief, your nationality, your fears, your gods, you’re British, French, German, Indian, Sikh, and all these divisions in which thought has divided the world and human beings. So all that consciousness is you. The selfish activities and trying not to be selfish and so on and so on. The whole of that consciousness is you. And this consciousness is the consciousness of the rest of mankind because every human being in the world, everyone from the most primitive, from the most uneducated, to the most highly sophisticated, educated, they go through all this – faith, fear, longing, depression, anxiety, sorrow, pain, every human being in the world goes through it, whether he is a Communist, Socialist, Capitalist, or Democrat, or doesn’t belong to any group. So this consciousness is shared by all human beings. Right? I am afraid you won’t accept that. Quite right. Because you have been trained, educated, religiously and in other ways, that your consciousness is yours and nobody else’s. And somebody comes along and says, look at it carefully, what you are inwardly – the outward trimmings may be different – but inwardly your consciousness is like the man in a far away village: primitive, ugly, uneducated. He is just like you, almost similar to you. And so you are not individual at all. I know all this is very difficult to accept. You are the rest of mankind, you are humanity. And when you separate yourself then begins all the problem. The separation causes conflict, fear, isolation. And your heaven is filled with isolated spirits.
So is this a fact or not? Or just a romantic concept? That every human being suffers, either physically, or psychologically, inwardly. Every human being is anxious about something or other. Every human being is frightened. He wants some comfort, hope, God, a father figure, or a mother figure, whatever you like. So your consciousness is shared by all of us, by all of us, by all humanity, therefore you are humanity, not some separate British, French – for God’s sake! You understand all this?
Then one begins to realise the immense responsibility one has. Then one begins to realise the nature of love. Though you may love another, but that love is not restricted to one because you are the entire humanity. You are the world, and the world is you.
May I get up please?