Observation and fear
You are only aware now, or never
2nd Public Talk, Saanen
July 13, 1976
We were talking the last time that we met here about the movement of thought. How thought has built this modern world, both technologically and psychologically, what it has done in the field of science and in the field of psychology. And it has built various religions, various sects, beliefs, dogmas, rituals, saviours, gurus and all the rest of that business with which you are quite familiar. And we said, thought has its place, limited, fragmented, but thought cannot possibly comprehend or understand or come upon that which is whole. Thought can never find out that which is timeless, if there is a reality, if there is truth. Thought can never, under whatever circumstances, come upon that immensity and without that comprehension of that totality, of that dimension in which time as thought and measure does not exist. Thought must find its own place and limit itself to that space. That is what we were talking about last time that we met here.
We were going to talk about the great problem of fear. But before we go into that I would like, if I may, to go into the problem of observing ourselves. When we observe ourselves we are not isolating ourselves, limiting ourselves, becoming self-centred, because as we explained, we are the world, and the world is us. This is a fact. And when we, as human beings, examine the whole content of our consciousness, of ourselves, we are really enquiring into the whole human being - whether he lives in Asia, Europe or America. So it is not a self-centred activity. That must be very clear: that when we are observing ourselves we are not becoming selfish, self-centred, becoming more and more neurotic, lopsided; but on the contrary we are examining when we look at ourselves , at the whole human problem. The human problem of misery, conflict and the appalling things that man has made for himself and for others. So it is very important to understand this fact, that we are the world, and the world is us. You may have superficial mannerism, superficial tendency, but basically all human beings throughout this unfortunate world go through misery, confusion, turmoil, violence, despair, agony. So there is a common ground upon which we all meet. So when we observe ourselves we are observing human beings. I hope this is clear, and not make this observation into some neurotic, lopsided, selfish affair, as most people are apt to do.
So the problem then is: is it possible to observe oneself - please listen to this for a minute - is it possible to observe oneself without further recording? I will explain what I mean.
We are conditioned. That is an obvious fact - as Christians, Communists, Socialists, Hindus, Muslims, whatever it is, we are conditioned with all the beliefs, with all the dogmas, with all the rituals, with all the fears - what human beings are, their appetite, their sexual demands, their desire for power, position, money and so on. This is what human beings right throughout the world want. And god or truth plays the secondary part. So we are conditioned, and we are always operating in that area, changing the design, the shape, the form, always within that area of conditioned mind, which again is obvious. I hope this is clear. And the brain is always registering - that is the function of the brain, to register. If you observe your own brain in operation, if you can, and it can be done - we will talk about it in a little while - then you will see that it is always recording, registering like a computer. Of course a computer is mechanical, this is much more subtle, much more alive, but its function is to register, because through registration there is a certain security. If you have had an accident, physiologically as well as psychologically, it is registered as a memory, and that memory gives security - not to have further accidents. That is again very simple. So our brain is a registering machine, which is experience, knowledge and memory, and the response of that memory is thought - which we talked about the other day when we met here.
So all our activity is within this area, registering and remembering, and acting skilfully according to what you have registered, or not skilfully, logically or illogically, sanely or with insanity. That is what is going on if you observe, all the time. May we proceed? You are following all this? You know, this is really very, very serious. If I may point out this is not a plaything, something to be amused by, something to be entertained with; this is a matter of life and death, it is a matter of enormous importance in our daily life, because our daily life is such a confusion, such a turmoil, and to bring about some kind of order in that chaos we have to understand how to observe ourselves and to see how the brain acts - not from books, those are just the explanations of some philosopher or some psychologist, or some phoney guru. I am sorry I put all gurus as traditionalists, bringing their own jargon, their own idiosyncrasies, their own beliefs and foisting it on others.
So if you observe yourself - and therefore you are observing all humanity - the history of humanity is you, and that you is the history. You have to read that history, be capable of reading it, not from the books published by others about human beings but as you are the total essence of all human beings in the world, one has to learn the art of observing oneself. As we said, the word 'art' implies, means to put everything in its right place. That is the actual meaning of art. Not what he produces, pictures, poems, we are not concerned with that. The meaning of that word is to place everything in life in its proper place; and when you do that you are the greatest artist. You may never paint, you may never write a poem, you may never produce a sculpture, but if you know, if you have observed yourself and learned the art of observation and put everything in your life in its right place, you are the most greatest artist in the world! I hope you understand it.
And when you observe yourself you see that all your activity, which is registration, recording, is the process of conditioning. Right? You understand? Are we meeting each other? Communication is important. Communication implies sharing, not only a verbal sharing but to go beyond the word, to capture the significance of what one is saying. Then we are in communion with each other, because we are supposed to understand either French or English, or Italian, and if one speaks in English we are using certain words which may not be modern words, which may not have the jargon of the modern world, but it is the language of five thousand years and more, because man has used words like fear, sorrow, pleasure, and the immensity of something that is beyond all registration.
So we are always registering, remembering, storing up as knowledge and acting always within that area. The acting within that area is to strengthen our conditioning, obviously. Right? Are we meeting? If I am a Hindu and I am conditioned by centuries of tradition, centuries upon centuries of dogma, belief, and I act deeply within that area, the activity strengthens the conditioning. That is clear, isn't it? So there is no freedom from that conditioning as long as I am operating in that area, psychologically as well as biologically depending on the psychological demands. Clear, isn't it? If I am a Communist and I have certain dogmas, certain dialectical conclusions - thesis, antithesis and synthesis, you know the game - and live within that, I strengthen more and more my conclusion, they prove my conclusion, so I'll never break out from that. So there is no freedom within that area. It's clear, isn't it? Can I go ahead?
So my question is: is it possible - please listen - is it possible not to register? You understand? Because if I keep on registering all the time, the brain is always conditioning itself. I wonder if you understand this! If I am always acting within the field of knowledge - what I have learnt, what my experiences are and I am always acting within that limited area, the conditioning becomes stronger and stronger and stronger, which is what is happening with all of us. Right? And so one asks: is it possible not to register psychologically? You understand my question? This is a very, very serious question. Is there a part of the brain which is capable of not registering? You understand? If a human being is always operating within the field of the known, which is his conditioning, then the very activity of that produces greater volume of resistance. So we are asking a most fundamental question, not an idiosyncratic question, or a neurotic question: is it possible for a brain not to register at all? Is there a part, or is there a quality of brain that understands the need of not registering? You understand? The need. Are we meeting each other? Please!
Now we are going to go into that first because when you come to discuss fear you have to understand the meaning, the word, the significance of all that - fear. And as long as we are operating within the known, fear is strengthened. Right?
So is it possible not to register at all, psychologically? Biologically you may have to register. You have to register, record whether you drive on the right side or on the left side of the road, depending upon the country you live in; you have to register many, many things physically, but what is the need to register psychologically at all? If it is not possible then we are everlastingly condemned to live in this area of knowledge, in this area of continuous strengthening the conditioning. Right? You have understood this? Now we are going to find out if it is possible. Please you are not listening to a talk. You are listening to yourself. You are listening to the operation of your own brain, watching your own thoughts, watching your own registration, the remembering and then acting - skilfully, not skilfully - you are watching yourself, which is, you are sharing with the speaker. Right? So you are watching not what the speaker is talking about, which becomes an idea, but you are watching yourself in operation.
We are asking: the brain traditionally has been educated, gathering strength through knowledge and always living in that area, therefore registration becomes tremendously important for its security. And we are asking something: that unless there is freedom from that area we are condemned forever to live there, fighting, quarrelling, all the misery that goes on.
Now we are going to find out, not through the speaker, but for yourself, as a human being representing all humanity, you are going to find out whether there is a possibility of not recording at all and therefore breaking down the conditioning. You have understood? From childhood through the parents, through all the environment of society and so on, we are being hurt. Right? You are hurt from childhood, aren't you? You have got many hurts psychologically. That hurt is brought about through the image that you have about yourself, obviously. Right? May I go on? Will you Are you sharing this?
You have an image about yourself, haven't you? You are marvellous, or not marvellous, or you are very sensitive, you are most extraordinary, you have got more intelligence than somebody else, or that you are very near god - you know all that bilge! So you have got an image about yourself, and that image is constantly being hurt from childhood, psychologically, which affects biologically, which is psychosomatic. Now when there is that hurt you are withdrawing, isolating, resisting, therefore that resistance, that isolation, that hurt strengthens the conditioning. Right? You understand? And being strengthened you act neurotically, because you feel you are terribly sensitive, because you have built a wall around yourself, and you withdraw at any remark, any insult, any flattery - flattery is the same as insult, they are two sides of the same coin. So as long as you have that hurt, as long as there is that feeling of isolating yourself, resisting, the strengthening process of conditioning goes on. And you act from that hurt, from that resistance, from that isolation neurotically. Right? Now is it possible not to be hurt? - which is not to register the insult? You understand? Are you meeting me? You insult me, or flatter me - some people have insulted me but most people have flattered me, unfortunately. And not to register either - is that possible? You understand my question?
Now you are watching yourself. That is, you are watching through the words I am using, the speaker is using, watching through those words yourself as a human being, not a human being somewhere else, but actually sitting there in front of us, watching himself. He knows the hurts, he is aware of the isolating process of that hurt because he doesn't want to be hurt more, therefore there is resistance, there is isolation and from that isolation there is activity - logical, illogical, stupid and all the rest of it, and that activity strengthens him more and more in that hurt, that wall. Now we are asking: is it possible when that insult or flattery is made, not to register it? Bearing in mind that the brain is trained, accustomed, educated to register - you have got the picture? Are you working as hard as the speaker is working? I hope you are!
How do you answer this question? The speaker has put forward a question which is: is it possible not to register when the hurt or the flattery is made? Now how do you answer that question? How do you listen to that question? How do you listen to it? Is it an idea? Or is it a fact. You understand? Come on! Do you draw a conclusion from what you have heard? Or do you actually observe the hurt, the activity of that hurt and ask yourself if it is at all possible not to receive any hurt at all, and therefore not register the hurt, not to register the word, the implication of the word, which means that you have no that image is getting hurt, because the image is you. You understand all this? All right sir? Because if the brain is capable of not registering, except physiologically, then it has quite a different movement, quite a different activity, quite a different energy. I insult you - I hope I don't, but suppose I do. Can you listen to the insult, the word, the meaning, and the desire to hurt you, all the implications, listen to it completely and the brain not take it in? I will show you how to do it - not how. What are How it operates.
Are you interested in all this? Does it mean anything to you? Because this implies a tremendous revolution inwardly. But most of us are frightened of that revolution inwardly, and therefore resist it. You may say, 'Well, if something deeply changes in me I may do nothing. I may lose my family' - you follow? Fear arises. Now to find out whether it is at all possible not to register. To listen to that insult or flattery with all your senses totally at their highest. Have you ever done that? To observe the moving waters of a river with all your senses, including not only the senses but the sensory perception of the brain itself, because the brain is sensation. To listen to that insult or flattery both, with the brain, with all the senses heightened - can you do that? We never observe anything with all our senses. We observe either intellectually, which is part of the senses, or orally, partially, hear the word, translate the word, pleasurable or not pleasurable, and so we are always observing partially, with part of our senses awakened. We are asking something entirely different, which is: to observe, or to listen to that insult or flattery with all your senses. Can you do it? Do you know what it means?
Questioner: Then you don’t register.
Krishnamurti: The gentleman says then you don't register. You see? Please, I don't know who the gentleman is, therefore I am not insulting him. He has already drawn a conclusion. He hasn't Has he done it? Or he has made by listening, yes that will happen if you do that. I am asking you to listen to something very, very carefully to find out the truth of it, not the conclusion, not an idea, but to find the truth of it. That when you listen to an insult or flattery with all your senses highly awakened - the senses being not only the brain but the quality of the mind, which is receiving, which is part of the senses, the totality of all the senses, then you will find that there is no registration whatsoever. Right? Just listen to it. Don't draw a conclusion. Don't say, 'If I do that it will happen'. If you listen to what is being said with all your senses you are then free from the conditioning. Hai capito? Have you understood something of this?
Have you ever observed a picture without comparison, who painted it, what proportion, and all the rest of it, just to observe it? You know, then you are beyond that picture, beyond, you've gone away from it.
So it is possible. The speaker asserts, not you, because you don't do it. If you do it then you can assert that is the truth; but to merely repeat what somebody says means nothing. We are saying that it is possible not to register. There is a quality in the brain that does not register if you give all your senses, which is total attention.
So then when there is no registration then thought, which is the response of all registration, then thought takes its proper place. Right? Which is, thought puts itself in its own place. It doesn't flow over where it is not needed.
Now bearing all that in mind we can turn to the discussion, or to the dialogue of fear. May we go on? You aren't tired, are you, after following this? We are going to go into the question of fear. Which is, to observe the fear in yourself. You are the humanity, you are not Mr so-and-so, with a name and a form. You are the essence of all human beings. For god's sake do realise it! Because you, like anybody else in the world, goes through agony, he knows what sorrow is, what death is, frustration, loneliness, the lack of love, compassion, violence; this happens all throughout the world. So you are the essence of all humanity. That is a fact. So when we are discussing or having a dialogue about fear, we are discussing human fear, not Mr so-and-so's fear - or Miss so-and-so's fear. When you understand the global fear of humanity then you can see your own little fears; but if you are only concerned with your own little fears then you lose the greater fear altogether. You understand this? So we are having a dialogue about human fear.
Can you, as a human being, observe your fear. Sitting there, you know your fears, can you observe it very carefully? Take time, we have got plenty of time. Observe it. Fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of tomorrow, fear of losing a job, fear of losing your wife, or your girl, or your boy, losing your position, losing the vitality, the energy, fear of not being as intellectual, verbal or clever as another. To be aware of it, to observe it.
Now listen to this carefully, if you don't mind. Does the word fear create fear, or fear exists without the word? You have understood my question? Does the word 'fear' awaken fear? Or without the word this thing called fear exists? Please this is very important for you to find out if you are serious about the freedom from fear, total freedom from fear, psychologically. Then we can, if one can understand the freedom psychologically from fear, then the biological fears become a totally different thing. Don't they? If there is freedom from fear inwardly, then biologically there is the activity of intelligence which says, do this and don't do that, which we will discuss after. First we must have a dialogue about psychological fear.
So we are asking: when you observe your fear you use the word 'fear' instantly, and the word is not the thing. The word 'tent' is not the actual tent. So the word is not the thing. Right? Come on! So is the word fear the actuality? Or the actuality exists without the word? It is very important to find out because we are caught in words. Words and their symbols and their meanings have become tremendously important. So can you separate the word from the fact - the word 'tent' and the actuality? I use the word 'tent' to describe this, to communicate, but the communication, the word, the description is not the thing. Right? So similarly the word, is it fear? Or is the word separate from the feeling? This is tremendously important to find out because every human being is caught in this fear, of tomorrow, of yesterday's misfortunes, of guilt, what he has done, or not done, what he hopes to do and he may not be able to do. He wants to succeed and fails - you know the constant dread of pain, psychological pain, psychological demands and frustrations, all that, because we live with it. We have lived with it for a million years. Man has not been able to solve it, he postpones it, he avoids it, he runs away from it.
So here we are asking: can you separate the word from the feeling? Or the word has created the feeling, and without the word there may be no feeling, and if there is feeling, what is it? You understand? Please do understand this. Suppose I am afraid of not being able to talk to an audience - to you - because I have cancer or something - I haven't got it, don't worry, or doesn't matter if you worry, I haven't got it. Suppose I have cancer and I am frustrated because I want to express, if I am silly enough to want to express. I am frightened, I lose And I am afraid not only of biological pain but also frustrated, deeply wounded, hurt by not being able to communicate, because that has been my I have been doing this for the last fifty years or more, so I am frightened. I am not but I am supposing. Now that fear - I am asking myself: is the word making the fear? Or does this feeling exist by itself? If the feeling exists by itself, what is that feeling? The feeling is no tomorrow - you understand? - pain and all the rest of it. So the feeling is sensation, isn't it? Without the word the feeling is a sensation, but with the word it becomes fear. I wonder if you capture it! Do you get it? It must be in your blood. I'll repeat it once more, see it.
You see we associate always the word with the thing. The moment you use the word 'tent' you have a picture of the tent - small, big, coloured, you know, whatever it is, you have a picture of it instantly. To separate the word from the fact, the fact is not the word. Right? That is simple. Fear we all know, every human being right through the world knows this appalling thing called fear, and that has burdened man for a million years. And when you are frightened you shrink, you become blind, you are paralysed, you have lost everything. You know that feeling, I am sure of it. So you have to find out for yourself, not repeat what the speaker is saying, that is of no value. Find out for yourself whether the feeling is separate from the word, the word being fear; and find out also if the word is creating this feeling. If there is a separation of the word from the feeling, then you have the feeling. But the moment you name that feeling it becomes fear. And when you don't name it, it is a sensation. Right? And, look at that sensation with the totality of all your senses. You understand what I am talking about? Have some of you understood what I am talking about?
So part of the brain, part of the mind and brain is sensation. Right? But the moment you name a particular sensation by a particular name you have already created the response according to your conditioning. My conditioning - suppose - a person's conditioning is, he is anti-Communist. And he is trained, he is educated to be anti, anti, anti. Arab anti, Jew anti, Hindu, this or that. So you respond according to that conditioning. And part of that conditioning is the association of the word with the thing, never realising the word is not the thing. Now the word fear is not the feeling. So you have only that feeling left. That feeling, that sensation is part of the brain, part of the mind. To observe that feeling with all your senses, then you will see, if you do it, not theorise about it, not speculate about it, but actually do it, then you will see that fear, which is a movement of thought, which is a movement of thought as the word, ceases. Have you understood all this?
Then psychologically when one is free of fear, actually, then what effect has it on the physical instrument? You understand my question? If you are not frightened of any danger psychologically, what effect has that depth of the realisation of truth on the physical? If you are free of that fear now, what effect has it on your physical state? You know the psychological fears dominate the physical - that is obvious - and therefore the body, the instrument, the organism loses its own intelligence. You understand? If the fears of the psyche are constantly in operation, as with most people, then there is a tremendous strain on the organism. It is frightened, it is nervous, it is always apprehensive, always guarding itself, never open. And so those psychological fears affect very deeply the physical organism. And the inner affects the outer and therefore its own native intelligence of the body is being destroyed, as you destroy the organism through the pleasure of a taste - smoking, drinking, drugs, eating a lot of meat, you know all the rest of it that goes on because you are trained, you are educated along these lines. Therefore that is always destroying the deep organic intelligence. So when there is no fear inwardly the organism operates with its own intelligence, and therefore it is quite a different operation. You understand? Nothing is dictated to it.
So to you must lay the foundation of all this, because then only you will understand later on, when we discuss about meditation, what is implied in it. But if you don't lay the foundation, which is not to be inwardly, psychologically afraid, and if you are afraid and you still go after meditation then you are caught up in illusion, in stupidity, in absurd activities, because the root, the essence of destructive activity goes on and you pile on it all kinds of idiotic ideas. Meditation is something that comes naturally when you have laid down the foundation. Right?
So what we are talking about, or having a dialogue, is laying the foundation, not only biological foundation but psychological foundation. When that foundation is deep, strong, healthy, sane, then meditation then becomes something extraordinary. But without that, meditation becomes rather childish, meaningless, leading to illusion.
Would you like to ask some questions, of what we have been talking about. Or do you want to sit quietly? If you want to sit quietly, do it by yourself when you are alone in your room, because when you sit quietly with a lot of people, then you depend on those people to make you quiet. You understand? You know when you sit with others quietly it helps you to be quiet. Right? Naturally. Because you are watching others, you feel others are sitting there quietly, so you feel you mustn't disturb them, so you become naturally quiet, and gradually you begin to depend on others to help you to be quiet. Right? Quietness, stillness comes naturally, if you understand the whole process of thought, all the movement of thought - thought as fear, thought as pleasure, thought as time. When you have gone very, very deeply into that question, then silence is as natural as when there is no wind among the trees.