Fear and the structure of the ‘me’
Thought can never change man
3rd Public Talk, Ojai, California
April 10, 1976
I wonder is you realise how serious these meetings are. They are not meant for the intellectuals only, nor a form of entertainment. This is very serious because we are concerned with the transformation of the human mind, a way of living - totally different - a way of looking, observing in which there is complete action. So this is rather a serious gathering. And I hope one realises the nature of this kind of meeting.
We have been talking the last few times that we met here about the world, the degeneration that is going on throughout the world, and our relationship to that degeneration. For the world actually, if you look into it very, very deeply, is you, and you are the world. This is not just a statement of words, but an actuality because wherever you go there is suffering, poverty, a great deal of sorrow, fear, brutality, violence, man against man, the concentration camps of the gurus, the totalitarian attitude of these so-called religious teachers - all these and other factors indicate a great moral degeneration of mankind. And those who are concerned, not superficially, not doing some good work here and there, or belong to any particular political, social or religious party, but are concerned with the division of man against man, the utter indifference to what is going on. And when you observe all these things it boils down to several factors, which we talked about the last two times that we met here.
One, man's relationship to man, man and woman, and that relationship if it is not properly understood, rightly lived, must inevitably lead to conflict. And where there is conflict between human beings, whether it be man or woman, there must be violence, brutality. This is manifest throughout the world - the utter lack of human relationship. And we went into that question, pretty thoroughly I think.
And also the last time that we met here we were talking about sharing together the question and the problem of the whole nature and the structure of thought. Because thought has built this world: the divisions, the wars, the conflict, the religious persecutions, thought has been responsible not only for the technological advancement as knowledge, but also thought has been responsible for a great deal of untold misery. Thought has put together our consciousness. The content of one's consciousness is the result of millennia of thought. And this consciousness is a constant movement from the past to the present. And it is not a private consciousness, it's not your consciousness, it's a consciousness of the total movement of man, conditioned according to the culture he lives. That conditioning gives character, tendency, idiosyncrasy and so on. All that is the result of thought, which we talked about last week when we met here.
And we also said, all the things that thought has created, put together, not only externally, environmentally, but also inwardly - all our desires, pursuits, ambitions, corruptions, contradiction, is reality. Please, we are sharing this together. After all that's what communication means, the capacity to listen, understand the words, and the meaning of the word, what lies behind the word, and by attentive listening share that which is being said - not agreeing or disagreeing, but partaking the problems. And one of the problems is this question of thought, upon which man has lived untold years and centuries. And we consider thought can bring about a radical change in us. Thought, which is the response of memory, knowledge, experience, which is the past, thought we consider is of the highest importance, however refined and the ascent of man through knowledge, which is the accumulation of experience, thought, is in itself going to bring about a great change in man. We are questioning that. We are questioning, enquiring into this problem: whether knowledge, which is the accumulation of thousands of years of experience and the accumulation of knowledge, stored up in the brain as memory, whether that knowledge will transform man at all. Please understand this. We think knowledge, experience, is necessary to bring about a different way of living, a different kind of relationship between man and man. Our brains have evolved through time - centuries upon centuries, millennia upon millennia. And from the ancient of days man has suffered; he is caught in sorrow, misery, conflict, violence, worshipped gods which are his own invention, fought for their gods, for their ideals, for their beliefs - all the product of thought. And we think, still think that thought can miraculously change us. And we are saying, the speaker is saying that thought as knowledge cannot possibly change man. Knowledge has its place in action - driving a car, all the technological knowledge is necessary but the knowledge as experience, the psychological experience stored up as memory cannot possibly change man. Then what will change man? You have understood the question, I hope.
That is: from the pre-historical times, before the civilisation of Egypt, Mesopotamia and the ancient Greeks and the Romans, and the Persians, and all the rest of it, one has observed man crying because their son, their wife, their husband has been killed and we are still crying. And we think by accumulating a great deal of information about ourselves as knowledge, will somehow, that knowledge through thought will transform our lives. That is our tradition. And we are saying thought can never change man because thought in itself is a fragment; thought in itself has created a fragmentary way of living, saying one thing and doing another. The contradiction that exists in man is the product of thought because thought itself is limited, thought itself cannot see the whole, thought in itself thinks that it can perceive the whole and act. I hope we are sharing this together. It is necessary that we look into this - not come to it with preconceived ideas, conclusions, either agreeing or disagreeing. That is a non-objective, non-scientific way of looking at life. You must come to it, enquiring, asking, demanding, sceptical and then you will find out. That's why it's important, if you are at all serious, looking at the world about you, which is the world which man has created, the society, the culture, when you observe all that, what place has thought? Because thought has a place.
And also we were talking, the last time we met here that the enquiry into the human problems, psychological problems, is also the beginning of meditation. We think meditation - unfortunately brought over from the East - that is a kind of an escape, repeating some silly mantras, paying $150 or $300, or a $1,000 and you think that by devoting some time to it, something miraculous is going to take place. It will only make your minds more dull, more sleepy, and perhaps that is what you all want; not being able to see what life is and be concerned with the transformation of that life, we want to escape from it and the escape we call meditation. But without understanding - please do pay a little attention to what is being said, because we are concerned with your life, with man's life, with human life, the misery, the anxiety, the fears, the despairs, the hopes - without being concerned with our daily relationship, and bringing about the right kind of relationship with each other, not the relationship of two images, which we talked about, but actual relationship, and without understanding the place of thought, the place of knowledge, and the nature and the structure of knowledge, and without understanding, without laying the foundation meditation has no meaning - in spite of all the gurus say.
So it becomes absolutely necessary that we, as human beings, who are serious, committed, involved in the total process of living, that we understand the meaning of relationship because society is based on relationship, all existence is based on relationship, and in that relationship there is conflict, then society, the culture is still within the area of conflict. And without understanding the immense, complex question of thought in our daily life, without understanding it we become more and more confused, more and more dependent on others to tell us what to do. And so we become lost, confused, dependent, either on a guru or a community, or on some authority.
And also we have to understand this question of fear, into which we are going. Please again let me point out that we are enquiring into this question together, sharing the problem together, not that the speaker is talking about it and you just listen, agreeing or disagreeing, casually paying a little attention, and come back and enquire how to be free of fear next year.
So as it is a human problem, not only in this country, everywhere - please understand this - if one single human being understands this radically, this problem of fear, resolves it, not tomorrow or some other day but instantly - which we are going into - he affects the whole consciousness of mankind. Again that's a fact. As we said your consciousness is not your private property. Your consciousness is the result of time, of a thousand incidents, experiences that are put together by thought. That consciousness is in constant movement. It's like a stream, a vast river of which you are a part. So there is no particularisation, and if you go into it very deeply, there is no individuality. You may not like that, but look at it. Individual means an entity who is undivided, indivisible, who is not fragmented, broken up, a whole being - such a man is an individual. But most of us, unfortunately, are fragmented, broken up, divided and we have the arrogance to call ourselves individuals. Actually, if you look at yourself very deeply, you are like the rest of the world - unhappy, concerned, confused, miserable, aching, frightened and all the rest of it.
So we are going together to examine this question - please examine, enquire, explore into this question of fear. Whether you can end it, the psychological fear first, and then biological fears. You understand? We are sharing it together. Because fear, whether it be very little or enormous burdensome, fear of losing a job, fear of not being successful, fear of death, fear of not being loved, fear of loneliness, isolation, fear of deep insecurity, the fear of being dependent and losing that dependency, fear of not doing the right thing, or the fear of following the rest of the crowd and being left behind. You know what fears are.
And also let us remind ourselves that this is not group therapy, which is one of the things that the West has invented, or rather America has invented, which is really quite absurd, it's like talking to each other about ourselves, which you can do in your room by yourself, without exposing yourself to a lot of idiotic thoughtless people. (Laughter) And you think you are somehow by confession, by all the rest of it, purging yourself. If you are really serious you can do it utterly, completely, nobly, thoroughly by yourself in your room.
So we are going to enquire very seriously whether psychological fears can end at all. You understand the implications of it? Because man has never been able to psychologically be free of fears. Fear has burdened his mind, darkened his outlook, he does not know how to deal with these fears, therefore he escapes from these fears, into violence, brutality, arrogance, bitterness, you know the whole human bag of tricks. So what is the root cause of fear? Please look into yourself as we are talking. Use the words as a mirror to discover your own fear and find out as you observe the root of it, not the branches, the leaves, the trivialities of fear, which we will also understand a little later, but the fundamental cause of fear. Because if there is fear psychologically, inwardly, every action becomes distorted; there is no meticulous clear observation. So it becomes very important to understand this question of fear. So we are asking; what is the root of fear? Not only the fear of death - in this country you don't talk about death. It is there but you don't talk about it, you don't look at it, you don't want to find out the nature of it, but we have learnt very carefully to avoid it. And we are going to go later on, perhaps next week, Saturday or Sunday, to talk about death also, because it's part of life; it isn't something at the end of life. It may be there at the very beginning, the ending and the beginning and therefore there is no beginning and no ending, which we will go into later on.
So what is the root of fear? Is it not being able to find complete security, psychologically, inwardly? Complete, total certainty, security. Is it that we don't understand time? Is it that we are seeking permanency, something that will endure, that will last, that is final? You are following all this? Is there the uncertainty of not being? So we will go into it.
First let's look if there is security psychologically. Because we may be seeking psychological security and therefore creating insecurity in the outward world. You are understanding this? We will go into it. I see you don't understand it, we will go into it. What is security, psychologically, inwardly? What do we mean by security, being secure? Firm, certain, enduring, unshakeable, immovable, so that nothing can shake it, break it down. Is that what you are seeking in relationship between each other? In having complete knowledge and depending on that knowledge to give us stability? Which means, seeking permanency, nothing that can be changed, and therefore eternity in the sense of putting an end to time. Do you understand all this? I wonder if you do. And is time one of the factors of fear? Are we beginning to understand each other, are we? Time being, there is time by the watch, time as yesterday, today and tomorrow. Time, the chronological time is necessary, it is there. Is there psychological time? You understand? Is there for me, for you, psychologically tomorrow? If there isn't, there is immense fear. Do you understand? If you are confronted with the fact that there is no tomorrow psychologically - do you understand? - your whole foundation is shaken because tomorrow you are going to have greater pleasure, tomorrow you will be better, tomorrow you will achieve, tomorrow you will get rid of your fear. So is there psychologically tomorrow?
Tomorrow means time - please go into it, this is rather complex and unless you give a little attention to it you will miss it - tomorrow means time. Tomorrow implies thought, which is in itself a fragment, has created time psychologically, in which you will move from 'what is' to 'what should be'. Right? You are understanding all this? So is time a factor of fear? We must examine all this and then we will see how to look at fear. You understand? First we are looking at various factors that may be the cause of fear, like time, thought, the desire for certainty, the demand for a relationship in which there is complete permanency, and therefore psychologically total security. And we are asking: are these the factors of the basic cause of fear? Time, which is the product of thought - chronological time is not the product of thought; the sun sets, the sun rises and the calendar was invented 4,500 BC - that time exists but is there time at all psychologically, to make an effort to be something? Or, is fear of not being? You understand? What is this everlasting demand of self-expression, the 'me' expressing itself, the 'me' and the 'you', the 'I', the ego - do you understand? What is that? And without that there is tremendous fear, because in losing that, so you have to find out what is this thing that is the 'me'. Are you following all this? Or it's just a lot of words? For God's sake wake up and tackle it. Because it's your life. And if you understand this and are free of fear you are - you open the door to heaven. What is this 'me'? Is it an actuality, or verbal reality? You understand? The 'me' that says, 'I must be'. 'I must meditate', 'I must find god, 'I must realise', 'I must be happy', 'I am lonely', 'I must be successful', 'I am frightened', 'I must be told' - what is that 'me'? Is it not the name? Right? The name, Mr so-and-so, the form? Right? The form being the body, that which you see as yourself in the mirror, and all the associated memories. Right? All the concepts about yourself, the image about yourself; the image that says, 'I am much better than you are'. Are they not all the product and put together by thought? Right? You are seeing this? Put together by thought. Thought itself is a fragment, and the activity of that fragment is not only you, the 'me', but the fragment it has created right round you. Right? Separate nations, separate classes, wars, the whole of that and thought is a material process in time. Right? Thought is the response of memory, experience, knowledge, stored up in the brain, and the response of that is thought.
So the 'me' is fictitious, to which we cling. It becomes tremendously important. And we say that may be the root cause of fear - clinging to something that is non-existent. So there is that. There is the fictitious, imagined me, a picture, a symbol, an idea, an image, put together by thought in time, which is a material process and measurement; and not being that, being uncertain of its very existence, deeply, in the very depths of one's being, that may be the deep fundamental cause of fear. You are understanding all this? Which doesn't mean if you have no 'me' you cannot live in this world. Right? On the contrary. I will show you in a minute.
Now can you look at this picture? That is, the movement of time. Time is movement. Right? It is so complex, you don't see the beauty of it. You see, the ending of that movement is putting a stop to time, and that is one of the major factors of meditation, so that time comes to an end, psychologically. So we are saying fear, deep-rooted fear, is the movement of thought in time, which is material process, which has created an artificial structure called the 'me', and having created it thought clings to it, clings to that fragment which it has created, and thought itself is a fragment. Fear in relationship, because in relationship we have created the image of you and me. Right? The man and the woman, each person has an image of the other. A picture, a symbol, put together by time, of many days, many years, or an hour, and the relationship is between these two images. Look into it, you will see it, the actuality of it. And we cling to the picture, to the image, and we are frightened of losing that image, then we are forced to look at each other totally differently, if there is no picture. And is fear caused by dependency on authority, somebody to tell us what to do, how to think, what to think, following somebody: the guru, the priest, the authority - they are all tyrants. You follow? In a democracy tyrants are an abomination, but you have spiritual tyrants - don't you? Your pet guru?
So, there is dependency, there is the picture of yourself created by thought, to which you are clinging, and there is desire. What is desire? You have to understand these things, not mentally, actually, not verbally, but actually see, taste it, capture it and look at it. What is desire, by which we are driven? Desire is, isn't it, sensation. Sensation plus thought is desire. You understand? Now, you must be sensitive. Right? Otherwise you are dead. Sensation there must be but the moment thought takes it over, and it becomes desire, then the whole problem arises. So can there be - listen to this - a complete sensation, looking at everything with all your senses - the trees, the mountains, the skies, the clouds, the rivers, a face, a picture, everything totally with all your senses and not let thought come in, take it over? You understand? Have you ever tried it? No. You don't try; you don't do anything.
So after having described all this, and knowing that description is not the described - you understand, we have described in words the nature, the quality, the structure, how it's put together, this thing called fear. We have described it. Now can you look not at the description but at the fact, that which is described? Can you look at it? That is, can you observe it? And it's very important to learn how to observe. There is an art in observation. As we said the other day, 'art' means putting things in their proper place, where it belongs. Everything where it belongs. Art - the meaning of that word. So can you observe this thing called fear, after having described it, can you observe it? So what do we mean by observing? Are you, who are the observer, different from the thing observed? Do you understand my question? When you are angry, or envious, or jealous or whatever it is, are you different from that feeling which we have named as jealousy? Are you different? Or you are jealousy. So the observer is the observed. I wonder if you see that? That is, to put it differently: is the thinker different from his thoughts? Or again differently, the experience - you are crazy about having experiences, aren't you? Now is the experiencer different from the experience? Right? What is your answer? Is he different? Therefore why do you seek experiences? You follow? If there is no difference between the observer and the observed, then there is only the observed. Right? Then there is only thinking, not the thinker different from thought.
Look: I see you don't get all this. You want experiences; you are bored with the experiences that you have had already, the daily experience of sex, this, and the other, you want other experiences. Right? Experience of god, experience of enlightenment, experience of Jesus, experience of Krishna consciousness - don't you? God what gullible people you are! You want it. And you have never enquired who is the experiencer, and is he different from the experienced. You want to experience Krishna consciousness, or the consciousness of Jesus, or whatever it is, and to experience that, and when you do experience you must recognise it, mustn't you? No? That means you have already known it. No? Therefore the experiencer is the experienced. So can you look at fear without the observer? Do you understand? Because you are the fear, fear isn't different from you. Right? Do you understand this? When you are angry, is that anger different from you? If you are different then you try to control it, then you try to rationalise it, then you try to do something about it. Please listen to this. But if the observer is the observed you can't do anything about it, you are that. Right? Now look, observe that, which is fear, without the observer. You understand?
What is the time?
Audience: Ten past.
K: I'll finish this, then we will go on.
You see there is this problem of fear, which we have described, we can go on adding to that description a great deal, much more, but what we have described is good enough. And one realises in observing that fear, that fear is not different from the observer. When the observer is the observed there is fundamental change in that which is observed. I'll show you. When there is division between the observer and the observed - I am not fear, but there is fear - you understand? - the division - then what takes place in that division? Conflict, doesn't it? I must get rid of it, I must control it, why shouldn't I have fears? Why shouldn't I have neurotic actions out of those fears, and so on and so on and so on. There is always contradiction, division, therefore conflict. Right? Which is wastage of energy, isn't it? Right? Do you understand that? It's a wastage of energy when there is a conflict. Conflict being I must control it, I must run away from it, I must go to somebody to tell me how to get rid of fear. You follow? All those are factors of wasting energy. Right? Do you see this? Now if you don't waste energy, and that only takes place when the observer is the observed, then you have that immense energy to transform 'what is', the very observation is the energy which transforms that which is. Have you understood this? For God's sake, get it. Then you will see that you are completely, totally free from psychological fears.
If you have paid attention this morning, listened to it with all your heart, with all your mind, then when you get up, walk home, you are free of fear. That means you have listened. That means it's your problem. Your problem - it is absolutely necessary to solve it, not tomorrow, instantly. That is, when you perceive something then you act instantly, and that perception is only possible when the perceiver is the perceived, because there you have total energy. As we explained the other day, some scientists have said that when you observe through the microscope, that which is observed is transforming itself all the time. So when there is total observation, that is only possible when there is no observer - the observer being the past - when there is that total attention given to observation, that which is observed undergoes a fundamental transformation. Got it? Do it!