Krishnamurti: Talk 6
Transcript of Talk 6, Saanen, 20 July 1967
We will continue talking over together the whole complex problem of fear. I think we should bear in mind that we are concerned not merely about the peripheral changes but rather with a radical revolution in the very psyche itself; we must understand the psychological structure not only of the society in which we live, but also the psychological structure and the nature of ourselves. The two, society and ourselves, are not separate. We are society and living in a world that is so confused, so antagonistic and at war, we must bring about a revolution in ourselves – that’s the primary issue at all times. The more one is concerned, not merely with superficial change, with the world, with its misery, with its devilment, but really concerned with one’s own structure and nature, the more it seems to me one must become very, very serious. We are serious about certain things which give us a great deal of pleasure, a great deal of satisfaction, we want to pursue that pleasure at any price, whether it be sexual or the fulfilment of ambition, or some kind of gratification. But very few of us are serious in the sense of seeing the whole problem of existence, the conflicts, the wars, the anxieties, the despairs, the loneliness, the suffering. To be serious about these fundamental issues means a continual attention to these matters, not just sporadic interest, not an interest that you occasionally give when you have a problem that is biting you. This seriousness must be our background, from which we think, live and act; otherwise we fritter away our life discussing endlessly things that really don’t matter, which is such a waste of energy. The more one is serious inwardly, the more there is maturity. Maturity is not a matter of age surely? It is not a matter of gathering a great many experiences, or accumulating a great deal of knowledge. Maturity has nothing to do with age and time, but comes rather with this quality of seriousness. Such maturity is only possible when there is wider and deeper knowing of oneself.
This quality of maturity – must it be left to time, to circumstances, to inclination, or to a particular form of tendency? Is it like a fruit that ripens during the summer and is ready to fall in the autumn, taking time, many days of rain, sunshine, cloudy weather, and cold, and then after all the adversity of climate it is ready to be taken away? Is this maturity a matter of adversity? I feel there is no time to waste and that one must be mature immediately, not biologically or physiologically, but mature inwardly, completely ripe totally. Is that a matter of adversity, experience, knowledge, time and so on? I think this is an important question to ask of ourselves, because unfortunately we mature rather too early, biologically and die physically before we have understood the whole meaning of life.
We spend our days in regret, in remembrances, in building images about ourselves. Will this bring about maturity – or is maturity something that is immediate, not touched by time at all? Do please ask yourself this question – because we are here not just to listen to talks, to endless discussions, verbal exchange and the piling up of words, but we are here, it seems to me, and I say this with humility, not to accumulate knowledge and experience, but rather to see things directly and immediately, as they are. I feel that in that lies the quality of maturity in which there is no deception, no dishonesty, no double thinking, no double standard. We are here to see ourselves actuality as we are, without any fear, without the images which we have built about ourselves; each one of us has an image of what we should be, we have an idea that we are great, or very un- interesting, dull or mediocre – or, we have a feeling that we are extraordinarily affectionate, superior, full of wisdom, knowledge. These pictures we have of ourselves deny totally the perceiving of the immediate, of ‘what is’. There is a conflict between the image and ‘what is’, and it seems to me that maturity is a state of mind in which the image is not and there is only ‘what is’, in that there is no conflict whatsoever. A mind that is in conflict is not mature, whether the conflict be with the family, with oneself, with desires, with one’s ambitions, one’s fulfilments. Conflict at any level surely indicates a mind that is not mature, ripe, clear. A mind that is always seeking, demanding, hoping, can never mature.
When discussing together this question of fear, we must bear in mind that it is not just a fear, not just a particular form of fear, in which one is caught, but that it is fear itself, which is expressed in different ways. Desire changes its object; when one is young, one wants all kinds of enjoyable, pleasurable, sensual things, and as one grows older desire changes its object, it gets more and more complex, but it is still the same desire although the object of that desire changes. In the same way there is only fear, not the varieties of fears. When we go into this question of fear, we must bear in mind that one must see the totality of fear and not the fragmentation of fear. One may be afraid of the neighbour, of the wife, of death, of loneliness, of old age, of never having loved, or never knowing what love is and never knowing what this sense of complete abandonment is, be cause it is only in the total abandonment of oneself that there is beauty. Not knowing all this, one is afraid, not only of the known but also of the unknown. One must consider fear totally, not the fragmentary fears in which one is caught.
The question then is – can one perceive the totality of fear? Can one see fear completely, and not its various aspects? I may be afraid of death and you may be afraid of loneliness, another may be afraid of not becoming famous, or living a life which is so boring, lonely, drugged, weary, a routine. One may be afraid of so many things and we are apt to wish that we could solve each fear by itself, one by one. Such a wish seems to me, to be immature, for there is only fear.
Can the mind see the totality of fear and not merely the different forms of fear? You understand my question? Now how is it possible to see the totality of fear as well as these different aspects of it – the central structure and nature of fear and also its fragmentation, such as the fear of the dark, the fear of walking alone, the fear of the wife or the husband, or losing the job? If I could understand the central nature of fear then I should be able to examine all the details, but if I merely look at the details then I shall never come to the central issue.
Most of us, when there is fear, are apt to run away from it, or suppress it, control it, or turn to some form of escape. We do not know how to look. We do not know how to live with that fear. Most of us are, unfortunately, afraid of something, from childhood until we die; living in such a corrupt society, the education that we receive engenders this fear. Take your particular kind of fear, if you are at all aware, watch your reactions, look at it, look at it without any movement of escape, justification, or suppression, just look at it. I may have a particular fear of disease, can I look at it without any tremor, without any escape, without any hope – just look at it?
I think the ‘how to look’ is very important. The whole problem lies in the words ‘to look, to see and to listen’. Can I look at a fear without the word that causes that fear? Can I look without the word which arouses fear, like the word ‘death’? The word itself brings a tremor, an anxiety, just as the word ‘love’ has its own tremor, its own image. Can I look at that fear without the word, without any reaction, justification, or acceptance, or denial; can I just look at it?
I can only look when the mind is very quiet, just as I can only listen to what you are saying when my mind is not chattering to itself, carrying on a dialogue with itself – only then can I listen to what you are saying completely. If I am carrying on my own conversation, with my own problems, my own anxieties, I am incapable of listening to you. In the same way can I look at a fear, or a problem that I have, can I just look at it, without trying to solve it, without trying to build courage and all the rest, can I merely observe it? One can observe a cloud, a tree or a movement of the river with a fairly quiet mind because it is something that is not very important to each one of us, but when there is fear, despair, when one is directly in contact with loneliness, with jealousy, with an ugly state of that kind, then can one just look at it so completely, one’s mind so quiet, that one can really see?
A quiet mind is not to be cultivated; a mind that is made to be quiet is a stagnant mind, it has no quality of depth, width and beauty. But when you are serious you want to see fear completely, you no longer want to live with fear for it is a dreadful thing; you have had fear, you must know how it warps, twists, how it darkens the days. When you become serious, intense, it is like living with a serpent in your room, you watch every movement, you are very, very sensitive to the least noise it makes. To observe fear you have to live with it, you must know and understand all its content, its nature, its structure, its movement. Can one live with fear in this way? Have you ever tried living in this way with anything, living with yourself first, living with your wife or husband? If you have tried living with yourself you begin to see that ‘yourself’ is not a static state, it is a living thing – to live with that living thing your mind must also be alive, it cannot be alive if it is caught in opinions, judgments and values. To live with a living thing is one of the most difficult things to do, for we do not live with the living thing but with the image and the image is a dead thing to which we continually add and that is why all relationships go wrong.
To live with fear, which is alive, requires a mind and a heart that are extraordinarily subtle, that have no conclusion, no formula and therefore can follow every movement of fear. If you so observe and live with fear – and this doesn’t take a whole day, it can take a second, a minute – you begin to know the whole nature of fear and you will inevitably ask: who is the entity that is living with fear, who is it that is living with it, following it, that is observing it? Who is the ‘observer’ and what is he observing?
You are asking yourself – who is the observer, who is it that is living, watching and taking into account all the movements of the various forms of fear and is also aware of the central fact of fear? Is the observer a dead entity, a static being – has he not accumulated a lot of knowledge and in formation about himself, learnt so much, had so many experiences – is not all this experience, this knowledge, this infinite variety of loneliness and suffering, the past, a dead thing, memory; is it not a dead thing that observes and lives with the movement of fear? Is the observer the static dead past or a living thing? What is your answer? Are you the dead entity that is watching a living thing; or a living thing watching a living thing? In the observer the two states exist – when you observe a tree, you observe with the botanical knowledge of that tree and also you observe the living movement of that tree, the wind on the leaves, among the branches, how the trunk moves with the wind; it is a living thing and you are looking at it with accumulated knowledge about that tree and that knowledge is a dead thing – or, you look at it without any accumulated knowledge, so that you, who are a living thing, are looking at a living thing. The observer is both the past and the living present – the observer is the past, which touches the living present.
Let us bring it much nearer. When you, who are the observer, look at your wife, your friend, are you observing with the memories of yesterday, are you aware that yesterday is contaminating the present – or, are you observing as though there were no yesterday at all? The past is always overshadowing the present, the past memory – what she said to me, what he said to me – the pleasure, the flattery of yesterday, the insult of yesterday, these memories touch the present and give it a twist. The observer is both the past and the present, he is half alive and half dead, and with this life and death he looks.
Is there an observer who is neither of the past nor of the present, in terms of time? That there is the observer who is of the past, is fairly clear – the image, the symbol, the idea, the ideologies and so on, the past – yet he is also actively present, actively examining, looking, observing, listening. That listening, that looking is touched by the past and the observer is still within the field of time. When he observes the object, fear, or whatever it is, within the field of time, he is not seeing the totality of fear. Now can the observer go beyond, so that he is neither the past nor the present, so that the observer is the observed, which is the living? This, that we are talking about, is real meditation.
It is very difficult to express in words the nature of that state of mind in which there is not only the past as the observer, but also the observer who is actually observing listening and yet with a chapter, a root in the past. It is because the observer lives in the past and in the present which is touched by the past, that there is a division between the observer and the observed. This division, this space, this time interval, between the observer and the observed, comes to an end only when there is another quality, which is not of time at all, which is neither of the past nor of the present; then only is the observer the observed, and this is not a process of identification with the observed.
I was told by someone who had studied these things, that in ancient China, before a painter of nature commenced to paint, he sat in front of a tree for days, months, years – it doesn’t matter – until he was the tree; not that he became the tree, not that he identified himself with the tree, but he was the tree. This means that there was no space between the observer and the observed, there was no experience as the observer experiencing the beauty, the movement, the shadow, the depth of a leaf, the quality of colour. He was totally the tree and only in that state could he paint. In ancient India this also existed, they were not trying to be fashionable, non-objective, non this and that and all the modern tricks. Identification with something is fairly easy but it leads to greater conflict, misery, and loneliness. Most of us identify ourselves with the family, with the husband, with the wife, the nation, and that has led to great misery, great wars. We are talking of something entirely different and you must understand this, not verbally, but at the core, in your heart, right at the root of your being, then you will see that you will be for ever timelessly free of fear, and only then will you know what love is.
One must understand the observer and not the thing observed, for that has very little value. Fear has very little value actually if you come to think of it; what has value is how you look at fear, what you do with fear or what you do not do with fear. The analysis, the seeking of the cause of fear, the everlasting questioning, asking, dreaming, all that is of the observer; so that understanding the observer has a greater value than understanding the observed. As one looks at the observer, which is oneself, one sees that oneself is not only of the past, as the dead memories, hopes, guilt, knowledge, but that all knowledge is in the past. When one says ‘I know’, one means, ‘I know you as you were yesterday; I don’t know you actually now.’ Oneself is the past, living in the present touched by the past, overshadowed by the past, and tomorrow is waiting, which also is part of the observer. All that is within the field of time in the sense of yesterday, today and tomorrow. That is all one knows and with this state of mind, as the observer, one looks at fear, at jealousy, at war, at the family – that enclosing entity called the family – and with that one lives. The observer is always trying to solve the problem of the thing which is observed, which is the challenge, which is the new, and one is always translating the new in terms of the old, one is everlastingly, until one comes to an end, in conflict. One cannot understand intellectually, verbally, argumentatively, or through explanations, a state of mind in which the observer has no longer the space between himself and the thing observed, in which the past is no longer interfering, at any time, yet it is only then that the observer is the observed and only then that fear comes totally to an end.
As long as there is fear there is no love. What is love? There are so many explanations of love, as sex, as belonging to somebody, being not dominated by somebody, being nourished psychologically by another, all the thinking about sex; it is all generally understood as love – and there is always anxiety, fear, jealousy, guilt. Surely where there is such conflict there is no love. This is not an aphorism to learn but rather a fact to observe in oneself; do what you will, as long as there is fear, as long as there is any form of jealousy, anxiety, you cannot possibly love. Love has nothing what so ever to do with pleasure and desire – pleasure goes with fear, and a mind that lives in fear must obviously always be seeking pleasure. Pleasure only increases fear, so one is caught in a vicious circle. By being aware of that vicious circle, just by watching it, living with it, never trying to find a way out of it – for the circle is broken not because you are doing something about it – you will break that circle. Then only when there is no pleasure, no desire or fear, then there is something called love.
Questioner: It seems to me that fear is necessary to our self-protection.
Krishnamurti: Yes Sir, that’s fairly clear isn’t it? Physical fear is directly related to biological existence. As long as one must have physical security there must be fear.
Obviously that it true. As long as I depend on somebody for food and shelter I must be afraid, physically, of not having food and shelter tomorrow. But modern society – the welfare society – sees that one has food and shelter and clothing. Even though I may have food, clothes, and shelter, which are absolutely necessary, yet beyond that there is fear because I want to be secure psychologically, I want to be secure in my relationship with another, in my position which I have built as of the most extraordinary importance, a position which gives me a status, a regard from others; so there are not only physical fears but also psychological fears. The psychological fears have created a society which sustains or maintains the physical fears. The psychological fears come into being when we are German, French, English, Russian, with our nationalism, our stupid flags, with our kings and queens and separate armies and all that immaturity. That nonsense is destroying us. We are spending millions and millions on armaments and in destroying others. There is no security for us, physically even; not so much here in Switzerland, or in Holland, or in England, but go to India, go to the Middle East, go to Vietnam – for the great insecurity there, we are all responsible. What is of first importance, is to understand and therefore go beyond, above, the psychological securities, the vested interests which we have in nationalities, in the family, in religions and all the rest; then we shall have physical security and there will be no wars.
Q: How is it that the dead past has such an over whelming influence over the actual present?
K: How is it that the dead past has such control over the thing which I think is living – I think it is living? But is it living – or are we only the dead past, to which we are trying to give life, in the present? Which means, are you living – you understand – living? You may eat, you may have sexual experience, you may climb the mountains, but all those are mechanical actions. But are you actually living or is it the past living in the present so that you are not living at all – the past continuing in the present, giving it a quality of living? I don’t know if you have ever observed yourself – what is, ‘yourself’? There is ‘yourself’ which is the dead weight of the past and you say you are living in the present. What is the thing that says – ‘I am living’, that consciousness that says – ‘I am alive’ – apart from the physical organism that has its own responses, its own motivation? What is the thing that says – ‘I am alive’ – is it thought, is it feeling? If it is thought, obviously thought is always the old – if you really saw that thought is always the old, if you really saw it as you feel hunger, then you would see that what you think is living is only a modified continuation of the past, it is thinking. Is there any other living thing? – not God in you, which again is another form of thought, thought having invented God, because thought in itself is so uncertain, so dead that it has to invent a living thing – is there really a living thing, living independently of any motive, any stimulation, any dependence; is there a living thing that is not subject to circumstances, to tendencies, to inclination? Go into yourself and you will find out – find out, and if you can live with what you have found out, then perhaps you will be able to go beyond it and come upon something that is timeless living.