Desire, attachment and fear
To observe without distortion
4th Public Talk, Ojai, California
May 11, 1980
May we continue with what we were talking about yesterday? We were saying, weren't we, that our brain, the whole of our mind also, has lived through many, many experiences, many accidents, every form of experience, and has accumulated a great deal of knowledge. And that knowledge has formed a pattern according to which we live. And that pattern has been created through time; not only time necessary to learn a language, to learn any kind of technique, skill, but also that very knowledge has created a whole structure of our existence, psychologically, inwardly, inside the skin, as it were. And apparently after many, many million years we have hardly psychologically changed at all. We have become more modified, more cunning, capable of arguing intelligently, or semi-intelligently. And this pattern, which has been created through time, and that pattern unless it is completely broken, as we went into it yesterday, we will not be able to create a new society. The society in which we live, with its wars, immorality, with its violence, terror, with its constant uncertainty, has been created by human beings, whether we live here, in the Far East, the Near East, it has been structured, put together by human beings. And unless the human beings psychologically radically, profoundly change, society cannot be changed. They have experimented, as the communists have done, change the environment hoping thereby to change man. Of course, this never can be done. Man overcomes the environment, and so on and so on, and so on.
So if one is at all serious, concerned with world events, with all the confusion and misery in which we all live, it becomes absolutely necessary to bring about a psychological revolution in ourselves. We said thought has created this mad, insane world. Thought thinks that it is rational, capable; in certain fields, in the technological, in the world of commerce and so on, there it is fairly rational, but psychologically it is totally irrational. Thought, as we said yesterday, is the outcome of memory, experience, knowledge. And we also said yesterday that thought is matter, and whatever it creates must belong to that. And can that thought, which is limited, as knowledge is always limited, can that thought bring about a radical change in itself? That's what we were talking about yesterday. And we should go much further into the problem.
Also please bear in mind that we are talking over together, it is not the speaker talking and you listening, but rather both of us exercising our brain, our capacities, our intellect, if we are rational, think over this problem together. Which does not mean you accept what the speaker is saying, but rather together you and he go into the matter. You know, it is an extraordinary thing in the Eastern religions doubt is encouraged - to doubt. In the Western religious world doubt is substituted, faith is substituted for doubt. Do you understand what I am saying? So our minds are rather more inclined to accept rather than to examine. Our brain refuses to see something new because it is caught in the same old pattern. And we are going to examine that pattern because we are not advocating any faith, on the contrary. We are not saying that you must believe or not believe, we are not doing any kind of propaganda, which is all too silly in these matters.
So we are going together to examine the whole issue that is involved in our human existence. If I may suggest, please don't take notes, one can't pay attention while you are taking notes. Sorry! And please don't take photographs and tape recorders and all that kind of thing because it disturbs others. So kindly refrain from doing all that kind of thing. I hope you don't mind. It's not a matter of copyright, or anything of that kind, it is merely for the convenience and the distraction that takes place when you are taking photographs and so on. What we are trying to do together is to examine what is going on now, not only in the world but also in ourselves, as we did in the last few talks.
So we are asking whether this pattern of existence in which the brain has established itself, seeking security, because that is the primary need for the brain, to be completely secure; whether that security is in an illusion, or in some fanciful idea, or some romantic concept, or in an image, spiritual, religious, and all that kind of thing, or the image that you have about your wife, or your husband, or your boy friend, or girl friend, or boy friend, and all that business. So the brain is always trying to find security because it is only then that it can function somewhat skilfully. This pattern has been put together by desire; first by thought, by desire, through attachment, through greed, and though it is caught in fear it seems incapable of escaping from that, or overcoming that, or being free from it. If you will kindly examine these three things together; that is, desire, though we examined together yesterday and in the previous talks, the whole movement of thought; desire, greed, attachment, fear. That's the pattern in which we are caught. And is it possible to break this pattern? Please enquire together with the speaker. That is, let's think over the matter together. Not that I am explaining and you are accepting, or you are rejecting and so on, but that is the problem that confronts us.
Desire has created so many problems, both sexual, various forms of objects to which desire drives, and desire to achieve success, desire to be better than somebody and so on and so on. This whole competitive existence of human beings. Perhaps competition is destroying the world - super powers, and so on, the importance given to success, to fulfilment, to achievement and so on. So we have to examine together the nature of desire. We are not saying you must suppress or fulfil desire, or evade, or overcome, but we are examining the whole momentum, the movement of desire. We are following each other?
Religions, that is the institutionalised acceptance of some dogmas, rituals, images and so on, those religions have said, desire must be suppressed: in order to serve God you must come without any desire. I don't know if you have gone into it. We needn't go into that matter now. But we are not saying we must do that, we are examining. If we can understand the nature and the structure of desire, not verbally or intellectually, but actually, factually, then perhaps desire has its proper place. But now desire is so all consuming - instant fulfilment of desire, whether it is in meditation, whether it is in taking coffee, or whether going somewhere or other, it must be fulfilled, it must be acted upon instantly. Restraint is looked down upon, is even denied. But we are saying before we do anything about desire, whether it is right or wrong, whether it is noble or ignoble, whether it has a proper place in society and so on and so on, we must understand the nature of it. Right, sirs? Are we following each other? Good!
What is desire? What is the root of it, not merely the objects of desire which vary according to our age, according to our circumstances, environment, pressure and so on, what is the root of desire, how does desire come into being and why does desire play such an extraordinary part in one's life? Right? Please, sirs, as we said, we are talking over together, seeing the nature of desire, not according to the speaker. As he pointed out earlier, we must have doubt. Doubt is a very cleansing thing. But also doubt must be kept on a leash, as a dog is kept on a leash, you must let the dog go sometimes, run. But also we must keep it on a leash, occasionally. So in the same way doubt is an extraordinary quality of cleansing the mind, but also it must be kept on a leash.
So we are saying together let us talk over the nature of desire, and find out its proper place. What is desire? How does it come into being with all of us; with the most highly sophisticated, educated, intellectuals, with the ordinary person, and also with all those monks and saints who are consumed by desire? You may take a vow of celibacy, like the monks do, all over the world, but desire is burning in them. So we must carefully examine this thing. Right, sirs?
How do you approach this problem? You understand? How do you, when you want to examine the nature of desire, how do you look at it? You understand my question? How do you consider, or observe the movement of desire? If you are conditioned, your approach will naturally be partial. If you are enormously consumed by desire, then it will also be very limited. But to examine the nature of it one must have somewhat a free mind. Right, sirs? So let's do it together.
There is not only visual seeing; that is, you see something very beautiful, and the perception of it, the seeing of it, creates a sensation. Right? There is sensation, contact - right? - the seeing, the sensation, the contact, then what takes place after that? You understand my question, what I am saying? You see something, a woman, a man, a car, a picture; the seeing creates the sensation. Then the touching of it. Then what takes place? You are following this? Please follow it otherwise I will be talking and you will merely be listening, which will lead us nowhere.
So where does desire begin? Seeing, contact, sensation. Then thought creates the image and when thought has created the image through that seeing, sensation, contact, then thought creates the image, you, thought makes that desire to possess or not to possess. Right? I wonder if you are following this. You see a shirt, or a suit, or a dress, a car, or a beautiful woman, or a man, whatever it is. There is the sensation, contact, then thought creates the image, you in that shirt, in that dress, or in the car, at that moment desire is born. You are following all this? It is not what I am telling you; you are discovering this for yourselves. Right? Are we going together?
So desire is born when thought creates the image; when there is seeing, contact, sensation, then thought with its image sitting in the car, driving the car, or wanting, you follow, the whole momentum takes place. Then arises the question, if you are interested in it, is it possible to see something - the sensation is natural, the contact is natural - but to see when thought arises with its image, desire creates all kinds of complications. Right? I wonder if you are following all this. So the question is: is it possible for thought not to create the image at all? You understand? That is, seeing the car, the sensation, thought creating the image of you driving in that car - the power, the position, you know all the fun of it - but before thought creates the image not to allow that image to be formed. I wonder if you are following this. Vous avez compris? Have you understood something at all? Are we moving together?
So we are saying, discipline is not conformity - right - but the very observation of the whole movement of desire creates its own order. Are you following all this? You do it now as you are sitting there, watch your desire. You must have desire for something, even for heaven, for illumination, for beauty, for goodness, whatever it is. Observe how this desire comes into being. And the moment when thought creates the image then there is the whole of that energy directed. You follow? I wonder, are you capturing something? So desire then does not make disorder, as it is doing now. That is, then in the understanding of the nature of desire that very understanding is order, in which there is no suppression, no conformity, no conflict. Have you understood any of this? Well, sir, have some of you understood? Have some of you - not understood - see how desire works for yourself? Then you will see that every form of controlling desire, suppressing desire, overcoming desire, ends. Because you see how desire comes into being, and before it arises you are aware of the whole nature of the movement of desire. I wonder if you understand it, sir. I must talk to someone!
So greed is a form of desire. Greed is encouraged by all the industrialists, by the commercial, you know, all that business, it is encouraged. And that is becoming an immense problem in this world. Materialism is part of this greed.
Then from that we can move to the question of attachment. Most of us are attached to something or other; it may be a piece of property, old furniture, or a picture, or an idea, or a belief, or an experience. Watch yourself, please. You know you are attached to something, or to a person, to some experience that one has had. Where there is attachment - please listen, just observe the consequence of attachment. We are not saying you mustn't be attached, just observe the nature of attachment, and then out of that observation comes right action with regard to attachment. If you are attached to a belief, what is the nature of that belief, who has created the belief? You understand? You are attached to a religious concept, a religious image, or to a person. What is implied in that attachment? First, please just listen. Just listen, then we can move together. You know you are attached to something, why? Is it that you are lonely? Is it by being attached to something you feel sufficient in yourself? Is it that if you are not attached to anything you feel completely isolated, empty? Is it being attached to a person gives you comfort, security, a sense of identification? The consequences of all that is the loss of it, the fear of losing it, jealousy, anxiety, hatred, the sense of being deeply wounded. So attachment will inevitably lead to all this. Right?
Now when the speaker explains all this, is it an idea or an actuality? You understand what I am saying? Have you formed an idea of attachment, or you actually see for yourself that you are attached? And see for yourself the consequences of it? And so it is not an idea which you accept, but you are observing the movement of attachment. Right? Now, what will you do about it? You understand my question? When you have observed the nature of attachment, how thought creates the image about a person, and is attached to that image. Right? And to the person, the image is far more important than the person. I wonder if you are following all this? So can attachment, with all the consequences which brings great conflict, misery, confusion, antagonism, can all that end? Then what takes place when you end attachment? You are following? Please, sir. You understand my question? You are attached, you know, you have intellectually or actually observed the consequences of attachment, with its conflict, fear and so on. Is it an action of will, to say, I will end attachment? Or you have an insight into attachment? If you have an insight into attachment because you see the whole movement of it, then there is an ending of it. Not that you are attached to something else. You understand? One may be attached to that person or to that idea, and letting that attachment go and be attached to another person, another idea. We are talking of the ending of all attachment, which brings enormous psychological conflict. Have you the insight into it, and therefore end it?
Then what takes place? When you end something - you understand - when you stop drinking, if you do, or when you stop smoking, or any of those things, both physically and psychologically, what happens? Sirs! Do you want me to tell you? You see, that is the danger. That's how you create authority, dependence on another. Whereas if you discover for yourself when you end an attachment completely, what is the state of the mind that has been caught in the pattern, and in the movement of that attachment. What happens to the mind? Something totally new takes place, doesn't it? You have broken the pattern of attachment, therefore naturally something other than this pattern comes into being. Are you doing this? You see you are all so frightened. That is the root of it.
So we have to examine what is fear. You are interested in all this? Yes? Not casually, sitting under the trees on a lovely morning, and looking at the leaves, the light on the leaves, and so on, enjoying it, and those mountains behind. We are saying something very, very serious, you can't play with this kind of thing. Because it will radically transform your way of living, and if you don't want to be radically transformed don't listen to all this. Probably you are not, anyhow. But if you are serious you may be listening. So we are not entertaining you, intellectually, emotionally, or romantically. This is a very, very serious matter of life.
So we have said desire, greed, attachment, is part of our life, daily struggling, conflict, occasionally happy, life. And now, let's examine together, and I mean together, what is fear, why we are so frightened. And this problem of fear has not been solved at all though we have lived a million years, we are still carrying on in the same old pattern of fear. So what is fear? Isn't one afraid of letting go of attachment? Whether the attachment to a person, belief, a concept; the communists have created a concept, and if you talk to a communist, a card-carrying communist, he is afraid to let that pattern go, he won't think of anything anew. Right? Or talk to a very practising Catholic, or a Protestant, or any Hindu, Buddhist, it is the same thing. They are afraid. Because in that pattern, in a conclusion, in a belief, there is security, there is a sense of stability, strength. Whether that idea, that image, that concept be an illusion, that very illusion gives you security. In attachment there is a certain sense of well-being, safe. Right, sirs?
We are not analysing, we are merely observing the movement of fear, which is totally different from analysis. I know there are a great many analysts here; they think I don't understand, I am a bit peculiar in this matter, rather conditioned, peculiar, rather crazy. I have met many of them, I know them. So we are not analysing, I want to make this perfectly clear. Because analysis implies the exercise of thought. Thought is partial, limited, because all knowledge is limited, and always living within the shadow of ignorance. And analysis is a process of exercising knowledge that has been acquired, and operating from that knowledge. We are saying quite the contrary: observation is entirely different from analysis. Just to observe the nature of fear. So it becomes very important to understand what is observation - observation which is not, let me repeat it a thousand times, not analysis.
So what is observation, to observe? To observe that thing without naming that thing, because the moment you have named that thing as a tree, you are observing it with a word, with a concept, with an image. Go into it, sir, with me for a moment. But to observe that thing without the word - if you can do it. And that is comparatively easy. But to observe psychologically your reactions, all that goes on inwardly, just to observe it without saying it is good, or bad, this is hate, this wrong, this is right - without any movement of thought, just to observe. Right? So we are observing the reaction which we call fear. Fear that comes into being when you feel that it is necessary not to be attached, whatever it is. Then the immediate reaction is fear. Because in attachment you have found security, safety, a sense of protection, and with the ending of that there is this quivering of what is going to happen. Can I tell my wife, or my husband, or boy, or whatever it is, I am not attached? What will she do, or he do? You understand what I am saying?
So we are now examining together the nature - observing, sorry - we are observing the nature and the movement of fear. That means your mind is free from all analytical conditioning. Right? Is it free? Or you hold that back, the analytical process, and you say, well, I'll observe without analysis - that can't be done. That's only playing games. To observe, the whole sense of analytical conditioning must end, otherwise you cannot observe properly, accurately. Because all our education, all our conditioning is to analyse, see the cause, see the effect, try to change the effect and so on and so on. Only analysis is much more complex than that but I am putting it very briefly, rather insufficiently. But to observe is much more arduous than analysis. To observe your wife or your husband, or your boy, or whatever it is, without the image that you have created about that person. You understand my question? Each one of us has an image about the person with whom we live. And in that image there is security. But that image is not the actual person. How that image is created, whether that image can end, is a different problem. Which is, that image is created by thought, by constant interaction, and with that image we live. And so the image and the actuality are two different things. Right? And so there is conflict, obviously. It's struggle between two people, man, woman, or wife, and so on and so on, constant struggle, conflict between two people because they live on images. When there is no image perhaps there will be love, compassion, affection, care.
So let us together observe the nature of fear. Why after millions and millions of years we have not resolved that problem. You understand my question, sir? Why? We have resolved many problems outwardly in the world, in the environment and so on, but fear is not out there but in us. It is a psychological reaction, and why haven't we with all our cunning, with all our knowledge, with all our experience, resolved this problem of fear completely? Is it we have never looked at ourselves but always relied on others to tell us what we are? You understand? We have never looked at ourselves actually what we are. Not according to philosophers, psychologists, and the experts, because they themselves have never looked at themselves. They have ideas about themselves. Is it that we have never observed ourselves as we observe ourselves in a mirror? The mirror, if it is a clean mirror, then it doesn't distort, it shows exactly what you are, what your face is like. But to so observe ourselves without any distortion, demands that you look without any motive, without any desire, without any pressure, just to watch, just to observe. So similarly, we are going to observe the movement of fear.
Most of us are afraid, we are not talking about physical fears, that is also involved - but losing a job, you know all that, not having employment, not having enough money, having had pain, physical pain, fear of having the pain again. So there are all the physical fears. And it is much more important to understand first the psychological fears, because then perhaps we can do something about physical fears more sanely, rationally. Right? May we proceed? We are doing it together, you are not listening to me. We are together observing this extraordinary thing called fear which man has carried for a million years. And the speaker says it can be ended completely psychologically, all fear, if you have the capacity to observe this fear, not direct it, not say I mustn't have it, or I must have it, I must - you know, all that.
What is fear? Is fear time? You understand? Time being that which has happened yesterday, and that which might happen tomorrow. You understand? Which is time, is that the cause of fear? Go into it slowly, let's go into it slowly, because when we have finished observing fear this morning it must end so completely that you have no psychological fears at all. Then you are a rational, sane human being. Because at present we are irrational. Is fear time? That is, having had knowledge of fear - right - the knowledge of fear, that is, you have lost somebody, or somebody has given you the feeling of insecurity, not being able to understand, to grasp, all that. You follow? Is knowledge part of fear? You are following? You are attached to somebody, and that attachment has given you safety, security, a sense of communion, talking over. And the ending of it creates a sense of insecurity. Right? Does that insecurity create fear? Obviously. Which is what? The knowledge of ending something might bring about more pain, or more uncertainty. Right? So there is fear. That is, does knowledge of a past experience create fear? Vous avez compris? You have understood?
So isn't knowledge time? You need to have time to learn a language, learn a technique, that requires time. And the psychological accumulation of knowledge is also time. So I am asking - we are asking each other, does this accumulated knowledge, psychologically, is that one of the factors, or it may the central factor of fear? You are understanding all this? Oh, come on sirs! Look, when you are attached to somebody, it is not only to the person, but to the idea, you follow, the whole structure and nature of that person, with your image of that person. In that there is great security. Now if you lose that security there is fear. That is, the previous knowledge of being secure in attachment, that knowledge, letting that knowledge go creates fear. Right? So knowledge, is psychological knowledge one of the causes of fear? All right? Please sirs, bear in mind at the end of the talk, talking over together, walk out without a single shadow of fear psychologically, otherwise this talking over together means nothing.
Is fear a movement of thought? You understand? That is, there has been fear in the past, there is the memory of that, the remembrance of that, and the remembrance is a movement of thought. Right? Which again is the movement of knowledge. Right? And this knowledge is stored up in the brain, and this knowledge is me. Right? When I say I am attached to you, I am attached to you because you are the audience and I derive great pleasure from it, because I can talk to you, fulfil myself, all that nonsense. And that gives me a great sense of fulfilling. So thought has experienced this sense of power, that thought then says, if I let this go I am frightened, I am nothing. Right? So is fear the cause of me, I? Go into it, sirs. This is a very serious thing we are saying. As long as there is this central entity with its self-centred activity, which is desire, attachment, greed, you will always have fear. Right?
So when you understand all this, not words, not ideas, not through the intellect - the intellect has its place - this understanding is to see totally this whole fabric. That means to have immediate insight into the nature of fear. Then perhaps only there will be love. Fear and love cannot go together. You see what we have done? We know that very well, consciously, or even unconsciously, we know that. But as we haven't resolved that problem between human beings we say, let's love god. You understand sirs, how you have transferred that which should, must, exist between human beings, and that can only exist when there is no fear, we have transferred that love to some object created by thought, and we are satisfied with that. Because it is very convenient that, we can keep ourselves individual, self-centred, anxious, frightened, greedy, attached, and talk about love of god, which is sheer irrational nonsense.
So at the end of our talking together this morning, as two friends, who are involved with this problem, who are concerned with the social order, which is disorder, and seeing that there must be a transformation in oneself before society can be changed, they are talking over together this problem of desire, greed, attachment and fear. That's the pattern in which we have lived, in that pattern we have found great security. And in that pattern there is fear. And seeing that totally is to have an insight into it. And when you have an insight the whole problem is completely changed, broken. Can we say that to ourself, honestly, that we have broken this pattern of fear? When you walk out of this place, to be free of this thing. Then you become a rational, sane, human being. Unfortunately we are not that now.
What time is it, sir?
Q: Twenty to one.
K: Twenty to one? Sorry to keep you so long.