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Part II, Chapter 1 - San Diego State College, 2nd Public Talk - 6th April 1970 - ‘Fear’

ONE HAS TO be serious, for only those who are vitally serious can live a life that is complete and whole. And that seriousness does not exclude joy, enjoyment; yet as long as there is fear one cannot possibly know what it means to have great joy. Fear seems to be one of the most common things in life; strangely we have accepted it as a way of life – just as we have accepted violence in all its various forms as a way of life – and we have become used to being psychologically afraid.

We should, I feel, go into the question of fear completely, understand it fully, so that when we leave this place we shall be rid of it. It can be done; it is not just a theory, or a hope. If one gives complete attention to this question of fear, to how one approaches it, looks at it, then one will find that the mind – the mind that has suffered so much, that has endured so much pain, that has lived with great sorrow and fear – will be completely free of it. To go into this it is absolutely essential that one has no prejudice which will prevent one from understanding the truth of ‘what is’. To take this journey together implies neither acceptance nor denial; neither saying to oneself that it is absolutely impossible to be rid of fear, nor that it is possible. One needs a free mind to enquire into this question; a mind that, having reached no conclusion, is free to observe, to enquire.

There are so many forms of psychological and psychosomatic fear. To go into each one of these various forms of fear, into every aspect, would take an enormous amount of time. But one can observe the general quality of fear; one can observe the general nature and structure of fear without getting lost in the detail of a particular form of one’s fears. When one understands the nature and structure of fear as such, then one can approach, with that understanding, the particular fear.

One may be afraid of the dark; one may be afraid of one’s wife or husband, or of what the public says or thinks or does; one may be afraid of the sense of loneliness, or of the emptiness of life, the boredom of the meaningless existence that one leads. One may be afraid of the future, of the uncertainty and insecurity of tomorrow – or of the bomb. One may be afraid of death, the ending of one’s life. There are so many forms of fear, the neurotic as well as the sane rational fears – if fear can ever be rational or sane. Most of us are neurotically afraid of the past, of today and of tomorrow; so that time is involved in fear.

There are not only the conscious fears of which one is aware, but also those that are deep down, undiscovered in the deep recesses of one’s mind. How is one to deal with conscious fears as well as those that are hidden? Surely fear is in the movement away from ‘what is; it is the flight, the escape, the avoidance of actually ‘what is; it is this flight away that brings about fear. Also, when there is comparison, of any kind, there is the breeding of fear – the comparison of what you are with what you think you should be. So fear is in the movement away from what is actual, not in the object from which you move away.

None of these problems of fear can be resolved through will – saying to oneself, ‘I will not be afraid.’ Such acts of will have no meaning.

We are considering a very serious problem to which one has to give one’s complete attention. One cannot give atten- tion if one is interpreting or translating or comparing what is being said with what one already knows. One has to listen – an art one has to learn, for normally one is always comparing, evaluating, judging, agreeing, denying, and one does not listen at all; actually one prevents oneself from listening. To listen so completely implies that one gives one’s whole attention – it does not mean one agrees or disagrees. There is no agreement or disagreement when we are exploring together; but the ‘microscope’ through which one looks may not be clear. If one looks through a precision instrument then what one sees is what another will also see; therefore there is no question of agreement or disagreement. In trying to examine this whole question of fear one has to give one’s whole attention; and yet, until fear is resolved it deadens the mind, makes it insensitive, dull.

How does it happen that the hidden fears are exposed? One can know the conscious fears – how to deal with them will come presently – but there are hidden fears which are perhaps much more important. So how will one deal with them, how will one expose them? Can they be exposed through analysis, seeking their cause? Will analysis free the mind from fear, not a particular neurotic fear, but the whole structure of fear? In analysis is implied, not only time but the analyser – taking many, many days, years, even the whole of one’s life, at the end of which perhaps you have understood a little, but you are ready for the grave. Who is the analyser? If he is the professional, the expert who has a degree, he will also take time; he also is the result of many forms of conditioning. If one analyses oneself there is implied the analyser, who is the censor, and he is going to analyse the fear which he himself has created. In any event analysis takes time; in the interval between that which you are analysing and its ending many other factors will arise which give it a different direction. You have to see the truth that analysis is not the way, because the analyser is a fragment among the many other fragments which go to make up the ‘me’, the I, the ego – he is the result of time, he is conditioned. To see that analysis implies time and does not bring the ending of fear means that you have completely put aside the whole idea of progressive change; you have seen that the very factor of change is one of the major causes of fear.

(To me, to the speaker, this is a very important thing, therefore he feels very strongly, he speaks intensely; but he is not doing propaganda – there is nothing for you to join, nothing for you to believe; but observe and learn and be free of this fear.)

So analysis is not the way. When you see the truth of that, it means you are no longer thinking in terms of the analyser who is going to analyse, going to judge and evaluate, and your mind is free of that particular burden called analysis; therefore it is capable of looking directly.

How are you to look at this fear; how are you to bring out all its structure, all its hidden parts? – through dreams? Dreams are the continuation of the activity of waking hours during sleep – are they not? You observe in dreams that there is always action, something or other is happening in dreams as in the waking hours, a continuation which is still part of one whole movement. So dreams have no value. You see what is happening: we are eliminating the things to which you are accustomed, analysis, dreams, will, time; when you eliminate all those, the mind becomes extraordinarily sensitive – not only sensitive but intelligent. Now with that sensitivity and intelligence we are going to look at fear. (If you really go in to this, you turn your back on the whole of the social structure in which time, analysis and will is in operation.) What is fear? – how does it come? Fear is always in relation to something; it does not exist by itself. There is fear of what happened yesterday in relation to the possibility of its repetition tomorrow; there is always a fixed point from which relationship takes place. How does fear come into this? I had pain yesterday; there is the memory of it and I do not want it again tomorrow. Thinking about the pain of yesterday, thinking which involves the memory of yesterday’s pain, projects the fear of having pain again tomorrow. So it is thought that brings about fear. Thought breeds fear; thought also cultivates pleasure. To understand fear you must also understand pleasure – they are interrelated; without understanding one you cannot understand the other; this means that one cannot say ‘I must have only pleasure and no fear; fear is the other side of the coin which is called pleasure.

Thinking with the images of yesterday’s pleasure, thought imagines that you may not have that pleasure tomorrow – so thought engenders fear. Thought tries to sustain pleasure and thereby nourishes fear.

Thought has separated itself as the analyser and the thing to be analysed – they are both parts of thought playing tricks upon itself. In doing all this it is refusing to examine the unconscious fears; it brings in time as a means of escaping fear and yet at the same time sustains fear.

Thought nourishes pleasure – which has nothing whatever to do with joy; joy is not the product of thought, it is not pleasure. You can cultivate pleasure, you can think about it endlessly; you cannot do that with joy. The moment you think about joy it has gone, it has become something from which you derive pleasure and therefore something which you are afraid to lose.

Thought engenders loneliness but condemns it and so invents ways of escaping from it, through various forms of religious or cultural entertainment, through the everlasting search for deeper and wider dependences.

Thought is responsible for all these daily observable facts; they are not the speaker’s invention, or his peculiar philosophy or theory. What is one to do? You cannot kill thought, you cannot destroy it, you cannot say, ‘I’ll forget it’, you cannot resist it; if you do, it is again the action of another form of thought.

Thought is the response of memory: that memory is needed to function in daily life, to go to your office, your home, to be able to talk; memory is the storehouse of technological knowledge. So you need memory and yet you see how memory through thought sustains fear. Memory is needed in all purity and clarity of thought in one direction – technologically, to function daily, to earn a livelihood and so on – and yet you see the fact that it also breeds fear. So what is the mind to do? How will you answer this question, after having gone through the various facts of analysis, of time of escape, of dependency, having seen how the movement away from ‘what is’ is fear; the movement itself is fear? After observing all that, seeing the truth of all that – not as opinion, not as your casual judgment – what is your answer to this question? How can thought function efficiently, sanely and yet that very thought not become a danger, because it breeds fear?

What is that state of the mind that has gone through all this? What state of understanding has the mind, that has examined all these various factors which we have exposed, which have been explained or observed? – what is the quality of your mind now? – because on that quality depends your answer. If you have actually taken the journey, step by step, and gone into everything that we have discussed, then your mind, you will see, has become extraordinarily intelligent, live and sensitive, because it has thrown off all the burden that it had accumulated. How do you now observe the whole process of thinking? Is there a centre from which you think? – the centre being the censor, the one who judges, evaluates, condemns, justifies. Do you still think from that centre? – or is there no centre from which to think at all, yet there is thought? Do you see the difference?

Thought has created a centre as the ‘me’ – ‘me’, my opinion, my country, my God, my experience, my house, my furniture, my wife, my children, you know, ‘me’, ’me’, ’me’. That is the centre from which you act. That centre divides. That centre and that division are the cause of conflict, obviously – when it is your opinion against somebody else’s opinion, my country, your country, that is all division created by thought. You observe from that centre and you are still caught in fear, because that centre has separated itself from the thing it has called fear; it says, ‘I must get rid of it,’ ‘I must analyse it’, ‘I must overcome it’, ‘resist it’ and so on; thereby you are strengthening fear.

Can the mind look at fear without the centre? – can you look at that fear without naming it? – the moment you name it ‘fear’, it is already in the past. The moment you name something, you divide it off. So, can you observe without that centre, not naming the thing called fear, as it arises? It requires tremendous discipline. Then the mind is looking without the centre to which it has been accustomed and there is the ending of fear, both the hidden and the open.

If you have not seen the truth of it this evening, do not take it home as a problem to think about. Truth is something which you must see immediately – and to see something clearly you must give your heart and your mind and your whole being to it immediately.

Questioner: Are you saying that, rather than trying to escape from fear – what is in essence fearing fear – we should accept fear?

Krishnamurti: No, sir. Do not accept anything. Do not accept fear but look at it. You have never looked at fear, have you? You have never said, ‘Well, I am afraid, let me look.’ Rather you have said, ‘I am afraid, let me turn on the radio’ – or go to Church or pick up a book, or resort to a belief – any movement away. Having never looked at fear you have never come directly into communication with it; you have never looked at fear without naming it, without running away, without trying to overcome it. just be with it, without any movement away from it and if you do this, you will see a very strange thing happen.

Questioner: After you meet fear, can you become it?

Krishnamurti: You are fear; how can you become it? You are fear, only thought has separated itself from fear, not knowing what to do with it, resisting it; dividing it from fear it becomes the ‘observer’ of that fear which resists or escapes from it. But the ‘observer’, that which resists, is also fear.

Questioner: Sir , a great deal of frustration exists because people are not permitted to tape record lectures, privately. Could you tell us why, please?

Krishnamurti: Sir: I will tell you – it is very simple. First of all: if you are taking a recording of this talk, it is very disturbing to your neighbour – you are fiddling with the instruments, all the rest of it. Secondly, what is more important: to listen, directly, now, to what is being said, or to take home a recording and listen to it at leisure? When the speaker is saying, ‘Do not allow time to interfere’, you say, on the contrary, ‘Well, I’ll record what you are saying and take it home.’ Surely fear is now; you have it in your heart, in your mind now.

Questioner: If that is true then why does the Foundation sell tapes?

Krishnamurti: Is that not the most important thing: to listen directly to what is being said now, while you are here? You have taken all the trouble to come here and the speaker has taken all the trouble to come here also. We are trying to communicate together, trying to understand something now, not tomorrow. And the understanding ‘now’ is of the highest importance, therefore you must give all your attention to it.

You cannot give all your attention if you are taking notes, if you are giving half your attention to a tape recorder.

You may not understand all this immediately, so you may want to listen to it again. Then buy a tape, or do not buy a tape, a book or not a book – that is all. If you can take in all that has been said this evening during an hour and ten minutes, completely, so that you absorb it wholly, with your heart and mind, it is finished. You have not done it, unfortunately; you have not given your mind to all this before; you have accepted fear, you have lived with fear and your fear has become habit. What the speaker is saying is to shatter all that. And the speaker says, ‘Do it now, not tomorrow’. Our minds are not used to seeing the total nature of fear and what is implied in it. But if you could see it immediately, you would leave this hall with ecstatic mind. But most of us are not capable of it, and therefore the tapes.

Questioner: You observe fear and find yourself moving away from it. What are you to do?

Krishnamurti: First of all, do not resist moving away. To observe fear you must give attention, and in attention you are not condemning, not judging, not evaluating, but just observing. When you move away, it is because your attention has wandered, you are not attending – there is inattention. Be inattentive, but be aware that you are inattentive – that very awareness of your inattention is attention. If you are aware of your inattention, be aware of it, do not do anything about it, except be aware that you are inattentive; then that very awareness is attention. It is so simple. Once you see this you will eliminate conflict altogether; you are aware without choice. When you say, ‘I have been attentive, but now I am not attentive and I must become attentive’, there is no choice. To be aware means to be aware without choice.

Questioner: If, as you say, fear and pleasure are related, can one remove fear and so enjoy pleasure completely?

Krishnamurti: Lovely, wouldn’t it be? Take away all my fears so that I can enjoy myself in my pleasures. Everybody right through the world wants the same thing, some very crudely, some very subtly – to escape fear and hold on to pleasure. Pleasure – you smoke, it is a pleasure, yet there is pain within it because you may get a disease. You have had pleasure, whether as man or woman, sexually or otherwise, comfort and so on: when the other looks away you are jealous, angry, frustrated, mutilated.

Pleasure inevitably brings pain (we are not saying we cannot have pleasure; but see the whole structure and you will know then that joy, real enjoyment, the beauty of enjoyment, the freedom of it, has nothing whatsoever to do with pleasure or therefore with pain or fear. If you see that, the truth of it, then you will understand pleasure and give it its proper place.