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7th Public Talk - 21st July 1968
WHAT IS IMPORTANT is not to pile up words, or arguments, or explanations, but rather to bring about, in each one of us, a deep revolution, a deep psychological mutation, so that there is a different kind of society, a totally different relationship between man and man, which is not based on immorality, as it is now. Such a revolution, in the most profound and total sense of that word, does not take place through any system, or through any action of the will, or through any combination of habit and foresight.
One of our greatest difficulties is it not? is that we are caught in habit. And habit, however refined, however subtle, deeply established and engrained, is not love. Love can never be a thing of habit. Pleasure as we were saying the other day can become a habit and a continued demand; but I do not see how love can become a habit. And the deep, radical change that we are talking about is to come upon this quality of love, a quality which has nothing whatever to do with emotionalism, or sentimentalism; it has nothing whatever to do with tradition, with the deeply established culture of any society. Most of us, lacking this extraordinary quality of love, slip into 'righteous' habits; and habits can never be righteous. Habit is neither good nor bad, there is only habit, a repetition, an imitation, a conformity to the past and to the tradition which is the outcome of inherited instinct and acquired knowledge.
If one pursues or lives in habit, there must inevitably be the increase of fear and that is what we are going to talk over together this morning. A mind, entrenched in habit and most of our minds are must always live with fear. I mean by habit not only repetition but the habits of convenience, the habits into which one slips in a particular form of relationship as between husband and wife, as between the community and the individual, between the nations, and so on. We all live in habits, in traditional and well-established lines of conduct and behaviour, in well-respected ways of looking at life, in opinions so deeply entrenched, deeply rooted as prejudice.
As long as the mind is not sensitive, not alert and quick, it is not capable of living with the actuality of life, which is so fluid, so constantly undergoing change. Psychologically, inwardly, we refuse to follow the movement of life because our roots are deep in habit and tradition, in obedience to what has been told to us, in acceptance. And it seems to me that it is very important to understand this and to break away from it, for I do not see how man can continue to live without love. Without love we are destroying each other, we are living in fragments, one fragment in aggression with the other, one in revolt against the other; and habit, in any form, must inevitably breed fear. If I may suggest, please do not merely accept and say 'Yes, we do live in habits, what shall we do?', but rather, be aware of them, be conscious of them, be alive to the habits that one has; be aware not only of the physical habits, like smoking, eating meat, drinking, which are all habits, but also of the deep-rooted habits in the psyche, which accept, which believe, which hope and have despairs, agonies, sorrows. If we could together go into this problem of habit and also of fear and perhaps thereby come to the ending of sorrow, then there might be a possibility of a love that we have never known, a bliss that is beyond the touch of pleasure.
Most of us have grooves of conscious or unconscious habit; we think habits are right and wrong, good and bad, the behaviour habits and the habits which are not respectable habits which are considered by society immoral. But the morality of society is in itself immoral. You can see that fairly simply, because society is based on aggression, on acquisitiveness, on the sense of one dominating the other, and so on the whole cultural system. We have accepted such morality, we live in that frame of morality and we accept it as something inevitable and it has become a habit. To change that habit, to see how extraordinarily immoral it is though that immorality has become highly respectable to see that and to act with a mind that is no longer caught in habit, to act in a wholly different way, is only possible when we understand the nature of fear. We would very easily change any habit, break through any entrenched, deep-rooted habit, if there was no fear that in the breaking of it we would suffer even more, be even more uncertain, unclear. Please watch yourselves, watch your own state of mind, see that most of us would easily, happily, break a habit if there was not on the other side, fear, uncertainty.
What makes most of us hold on to our habits is fear. So let us go into this question of fear, not intellectually, not verbally, but by being aware of one's own psychological fears, by examining them. That is, let us give fear space so that it can flower and in the very flowering of it, watch it. You know, fear is a very strange phenomenon, both biologically and psychologically. If we could understand the psychological fears, then the biological fears can be easily remedied, easily understood. Unfortunately we start with physical fears and neglect the psychological fears; we are very frightened of disease and pain, one's whole mind is concerned with it and we do not know how to come to grips with that pain without bringing about a series of conflicts within the psyche, within oneself. Whereas, if one could begin with the psychological fears, then perhaps the physical fears can be understood and be dealt with, with sanity.
Obviously, to look at fear, there must be no escape. We have all of us, cultivated escapes as a way of avoiding fear. The very avoidance of fear only increases fear that again is very simple. So the first thing is to see that the flight from fear is a form of fear. When we avoid it we are merely turning our backs on it, but it is always there. So realize not verbally or intellectually actually realize that one cannot possibly avoid it, it is there, like a sore tongue, like a wound, you cannot avoid it, it is there; that is one fact. Then, you must give space for fear to flower as you would give space for goodness to flower you must give space for fear to come out in the open; then you can look at it. You know, if you have ever planted a quick-growing vine, if you are interested in it, that if you come back at the end of the day you find it has already two leaves, it is already growing, so rapidly. In the same way see fear and give it space so that it is exposed. That means you are really not frightened to look at it. It is like a person who depends on others because he is frightened to be alone, and depending on others, a whole series of hypocritical actions take place; realizing the activities of hypocrisy, putting them aside, he can see how frightened he is to be alone, he can be with that fear, to let it move, let it grow, to see its nature, its structure, its quality.
When you can look at fear without any avoidance, there is a different quality to that fear. (I hope you are doing this, I hope you are taking your own particular fear, however cherished, however carefully one has avoided it, and are looking at it without any form of escape, without judgment, condemnation, justification.) Then the question arises if one goes as far as that as to 'who' is observing fear. I am frightened of it does not matter what frightened of death, frightened of losing my job, of getting old, of disease, one is frightened and not escaping, there it is. I look at it and to look at anything there must be space; if I am too close to it I cannot see it. And when you look at fear, giving it space and freedom to be alive, then who is looking at fear? Who is it that says 'I have not run away from fear, I am looking at it, not too closely, so that it can grow, it can live and I am not smothering it with my anxiety' then who is it that is looking at it? Who is the 'observer'? the thing observed being fear. The 'observer' is obviously the series of habits, the tradition, which 'he' has accepted and within which 'he' lives; 'he' is the behaviour pattern, the belief or avoidance of belief; the 'observer' is that is it not so? The 'observer' is the cultured entity; the cultured stylized, systematized mind, functioning in habit, is the 'observer' who is looking at fear; therefore 'he' is not looking at it directly at all. 'He' is looking at it with the culture, with the traditional ideology, so there is a conflict between 'him' with all his background and conditioning between 'him' the entity and the thing observed, fear; 'he' is looking at it indirectly, finding reasons for not accepting it, and soon there is thus a constant battle between the 'observer' and the thing observed. The thing observed is fear and the 'observer' looks at it with thought with thought which is the response of memory, of tradition, of culture.
One has then to understand the nature of thought. (Can we go into that? Look, it is a very simple thing, I hope I am not making it complicated.) I do not know what is going to happen tomorrow I might lose my job, I do not know, anything might happen tomorrow so I am frightened of tomorrow. It is thought that has produced this fear; it says I might lose my job, my wife might run away from me, I might be alone, I might have that pain which I had yesterday, and so on. Thought, thinking about tomorrow and being uncertain of tomorrow, breeds fear. That is fairly clear, is it not? If there is something immediate that is shocking with no time for thought to interfere, there is no fear. It is only when there is an interval between the incident and the response, when thought can intervene and say, 'I am frighten- ed'. One is frightened of death; the fear of death is the habit, the culture in which we have been brought up; so thought says, I will die some day, for God's sake let us not think about it, put it far away.' But thought is frightened about it, it has created a distance between itself and that inevitable day and so there is fear. So, to understand fear, one must go into the whole structure and nature of thought. Again, it is very simple to see what thought is. Thought is the response of memory; the thousands of experiences that have left a residue, a mark on the brain cells themselves. And thought is the response of those brain cells; thought is very material. So can I, can the observer, look at fear without invoking, or inciting, thought, with all the background of culture and explanations? can I look at it without all that? Then is there fear? I do not know if you are following all this?
First of all, one is frightened because one has not looked at fear, one has avoided it at all costs. The avoidance only creates fear, conflict and struggle, which produce various forms of neurotic action, violence, hate, sorrow and so on. Now when there is a looking without thought one has to be very sensitive, both physically and psychologically, highly sensitive and yet this is impossible when one is functioning within the limits of thought. To go beyond thought, which is the 'impossible' for most of us, is to discover whether it is possible' to be free, at all, of thought.
Can we go on? are we communicating with each other? I am sorry, if we cannot, we cannot.
Most of us are so insensitive physically, because we overeat, smoke, indulge in various forms of sensual delights not that one should not the mind becomes dull that way and when the mind becomes dull the body becomes, yet further, dull. That is the pattern in which we have lived; you see difficult it is to change your diet, you are used to a particular form of diet and taste, and you must have that all the time; if you do not get it you feel you will be ill, you are rather frightened and so on. Physical habit breeds insensitivity; obviously a drug habit, a habit of alcohol, smoking, any habit, must make the body insensitive and that affects the mind, the mind which is the totality of perception, the mind that must see very clearly, unconfusedly and in which there need be no conflict whatsoever. Conflict is not only a waste of energy but it also makes the mind dull, heavy, stupid. Such a mind caught in habit is insensitive; from this insensitivity, from this dullness, it will not accept anything new because there is fear (not something new as an idea, an ideology or a new formula that is the very height of stupidity and idiocy). Realizing how this whole process of living in habit breeds insensitivity, causing the mind to be incapable of quick perception, quick understanding, quick movement, we begin to understand fear as it actually is, we see that it is the product of thought and then we ask whether we can look at anything without the whole machinery of thought being brought into operation. I do not know if you have ever looked at anything without the machinery of thought. It does not mean day-dreaming, it does not mean that you become vague, that you wander in a kind of dull stupor, on the contrary, it is to see the whole structure of thought; thought which has a certain value at a certain level and no value at all at a different level. To look at fear, to look at the tree, to look at your wife or your friends, to look with eyes that are completely untouched by thought... when you have done it you will say that fear has no reality whatsoever and that it is the product of thought and like all products of thought except technological products it has no validity at all.
So, by looking at fear and giving it freedom, there is an ending of fear. One hopes that by listening to all this, this morning, listening, actually giving your attention not to the words or the arguments, not to the illogical or to the logical sequence, and so on but actually listening, to see the truth. And if you see the truth of this, of what is being said, you, as you leave this building, will be out of fear.
You know, this world, it is ridden by fear and it is one of the most monstrous problems that each one of us has. Fear of being discovered, fear of exposing oneself, fear that what you have said years ago might be repeated and you are nervous, you lie. You must know the extraordinary nature of fear and that when one lives in fear one lives in darkness. It is a dreadful thing. One is aware of it, one does not know what to do with it, the fear of life, the fear of death, the fear of dreams. As to dreams, one has always accepted as normal that one must have dreams, as habit that one must dream, that it is inevitable; and certain psychologists have said that unless you dream you will go mad. That is, they say the impossible is not to dream at all. And one never asks, 'why should I dream?' 'what is the point of dreaming?' Not the question as to what dreams are and how they are to be interpreted; which becomes too complicated and really has very little meaning. But can one find out if it is at all possible not to dream, so that when one does sleep one sleeps with complete fullness, with complete rest, so that the mind wakes up the next morning fresh, without going through all the battle? I say it is possible.
As we said, we find what is possible only when we go beyond the 'impossible'. Why do we dream? We dream because during the day the conscious mind, the superficial mind, is occupied we are not using any technological terms, please, just ordinary words, no particular jargon during the day the conscious mind is occupied with the job, with going to the office, going to the factory, cooking, washing dishes you know, occupied, superficially and the deeper consciousness is awake and yet not capable of informing the conscious mind because that is superficially occupied. That is simple. When you go to sleep the superficial mind is more or less quiet, but not completely, it is worrying about the office, what you said to the wife and the wife's nagging, you know the fears but it is fairly quiet. But into this relative quietness the unconscious projects and gives hints of its own demands, its own longings, its own fears which the superficial mind then translates into dreams. Have you experimented with this? it is fairly simple. To interpret dreams or say you must have dreams is not so important, but if you can, find out if there is a possibility of not dreaming at all; it is only possible if and when you are aware during the day of every movement of thought, aware of your motives, aware how you walk, how you talk, of what you say, why you smoke, the implications of your work, aware of the beauty of the hills, the clouds, the trees, the mud on the road and your relationship with another. Be aware without any choice, so that you are watching, watching, watching; and be aware that there is also, in that, inattention. If you do that during the whole day your mind becomes extraordinarily sharp, alert, not only the superficial mind, but the whole consciousness, the whole of it, because it is not allowing one secret thought to escape, there is not one recess of the mind which is not touched, which is not exposed. Then when you do sleep your mind becomes extraordinarily quiet, there is no dreaming at all and quite a different activity goes on. The mind that has lived with complete intensity during the day aware of its words and if it makes a mistake, is aware of that mistake, it does not say 'I must not' or 'I must fight it', it is with it, looking at it, being completely aware of the mistake has awakened the whole quality of consciousness; when it goes to sleep it has already thrown away all the old things of yesterday.
Fear (am I putting you all to sleep?) fear is not an insoluble problem. When there is an understanding of fear, there is an understanding of all the problems related to that fear. When there is no fear there is freedom. And when there is this complete psychological inward freedom and non-dependence, then the mind is untouched by any habit. You know, love is not habit, love cannot be cultivated habits can be cultivated and for most of us love is something so far away that we have never known the quality of it, we do not even know the nature of it. To come upon love there must be freedom; he mind is completely still, within its own freedom, then there is the 'impossible' which is love.