Perceiving the whole movement of fear
Thought, fear, death and meditation
2nd Public Talk, Rajghat
November 26, 1981
May we continue with what we were talking about yesterday? As we said yesterday morning, we are not giving a lecture, being talked at, or being instructed. This is a conversation between two friends, two friends who have a certain affection for each other, certain care for each other, will not betray each other, who have certain deep common interest. And so they are conversing amicably, with a sense of deep communication with each other. And as most of us are accustomed to being talked at, or being told what to do; or you listen casually, not seriously, just a passing incident in one's life, like two ships passing at night. But if we are at all serious as two friends who have known each other for some time, we have walked along the same road, perhaps hand in hand, who have lived a life that is very complex, sad, miserable, unfortunate. So there are two friends sitting under a tree on a lovely day, cool morning with the dew on the grass, talking over together, and that is the relationship which you and the speaker have. We may not meet actually, physically, because there are too many of us, but we are walking along a road, a path, looking at the trees, the birds, the flowers, the scent of the air, the beauty of the morning and talking seriously about their lives - not superficially, not casually but concerned with the dissolution of their problems. So that is our relationship. And the speaker means what he says. It is not just a rhetorical to create an impression, because we are dealing with much too serious problems of life.
So having said that, having established a certain communication between ourselves, unfortunately it has to be verbal, but between the words, between the lines, between the content of the words, if one is at all aware, there is a much deeper, more profound relationship.
I think we ought to consider what a problem is. We all have problems: sexual, intellectual, mathematical, problems of relationship, problems which humanity has created through conflict, through wars, through nationalism, through so-called religions. We all have problems. What is a problem? A problem - the speaker is not inventing a meaning - but if you look into a dictionary which is the common meaning of all common usage, problem means something thrown at you, something that you have got to face. A problem is a challenge, minor or greater. A problem that isn't resolved demands that you face, understand, resolve, act. That is what problem means: something thrown at you, something unexpectedly, either at the conscious level or at the unconscious level, it's a challenge, superficial or deep.
Now, that is what we mean by a problem. How do you, how does one approach a problem? Because how you approach a problem is more important than the problem itself. You understand? I'll explain. If I approach it - suppose I have a problem, if I approach it with fear, with the desire to resolve it, go beyond it, or if I approach it traditionally, fight against it, wanting to go beyond it, that is generally how we approach a problem. Either the desire to resolve it, to go beyond it, or escape from it, or totally neglect it, or, put up with it. Approach - the word 'approach' means coming near. I approach you. I approximate. I come as close as possible - the approach. The word, the meaning of that word is to come near. That is, how do I, having a problem, approach the problem? Do I come near it, close to it? Or do I run away from it? Or I have the desire to go beyond it? So as long as I have a motive, the motive dictates my approach. Are we making this clear? Are we following each other? Please.
If we do not approach it freely we are always directing the problem according to our conditioning. Suppose I am conditioned to suppress the problem, then my approach is conditioned and therefore the problem is distorted. Whereas if I approach the problem without a motive I can then come very close to it, then the problem is important. Then, in the problem is the answer, not away from the problem. You follow? We are going to go into it presently, in a few minutes.
So it is very important how we approach a problem. The political problem, the religious problems, the problems of intimate relationship, there are so many problems. We are burdened with problems, even the problem of meditation, it becomes a problem. We never look at the problem. Why should we live with problems? Problems, if we have not understood and dissolved, distort all our lives. So it is very important to understand, to be aware, how we approach a problem.
And the next is: to observe the problem and not to find a resolution of the problem. That is, in the problem itself is the answer. That depends how you approach it, that depends how you look at it. So the approach is very important: to be aware of your conditioning when you approach it, and to be free of that conditioning to look at the problem. Now how do you perceive a problem? Please, we are thinking together. We are talking over our problems, we are looking at them, we are not analyzing them, but looking at them. That is, what is perception, what is seeing a problem? How do you see that tree? Look at it for the moment. How do you see? With what eyesight do you look at it? Is it merely an optical observation? That is, just looking at the tree partially, partly, only with the optical reaction, as we generally do. Which is to observe the shape, the form, the design, the light on the leaf. And do you, when you observe a tree, not name it, not say, 'That is a tree' and walk by? Or do you look at the tree with all your senses, or only with part of your senses? You understand what I am saying? Are we coming with each other? Because it is very important to understand, if I may point out, how you approach that tree. Is it merely verbal and therefore by calling it a tree, naming it a tree, that word is not the thing, and therefore can you look at it without the word? Please, don't spend too much time on it, because we have got a lot to talk about.
So are we aware how we approach it? Are we aware how we look at it, how we observe it? Do we observe it partially, with only one sense, that is, the optical sense? Or do we see it, hear it, smell it, feel it, see the design of it, take the whole of it in? You are following all this? Or, you look at it as though you are different from it. Of course, when I look at it I am not the tree, fortunately, or unfortunately. But can I look at it without the word, with all my senses responding to the totality of that beauty. Right? So perception means not only observing with all the senses, but also to see, to observe, or be aware that there is a division between you and that which you observe. Probably you haven't thought anything about all this, probably it is all Greek to you, or Chinese, or, something else.
Please this is important to understand a little bit because we are going to discuss presently, the approach to fear and the perceiving the whole content of fear, how you approach this burden which man has carried for millennia, how you approach it, and how you perceive it. So I am first saying it is easy to perceive something outside of you, like a tree, like the river, or the blue sky, without naming, merely observing. And can you look at yourself, the whole content of your consciousness - I am moving it, a little bit - the whole content of your mind, your being, your work, your thought, your feeling, your depression, all that, to look at it so that there is no division between fear and you? Can we go on? Or you are asleep?
If there is no division there is no conflict. That is, there is conflict between the Arab and the Jew, there is conflict between the Muslim and the Hindu, there is conflict between Christianity and Buddhism and so on. Wherever there is division there must be conflict: that is a law. So in us there is a division: the observer, and the thing that is being observed. Right? The observer approaches that which is fear, greed, or sorrow as though it was something different from him which he has to resolve, which he has to suppress, understand, go beyond, all the struggle that comes into it. So where there is a division there must be conflict. Right?
So. Now we are going to discuss, look into fear, approach fear. And then how you look at fear, how you perceive fear. The meaning of that word 'perceive' means to comprehend, to look at it without any distortion. To look at fear without any reaction to escape, run away, suppress, explanation, or even analysis. I wonder if you follow all this? Now we are going to discuss as two friends what is fear. Most of us are afraid of something or other. You may be afraid of your wife or your husband, afraid of losing a job, afraid of not having security in old age, afraid of public opinion, which is the most silliest form of fear, afraid of so many things we are: darkness, death and so on. Now we are going to think over, examine together, not what we are afraid of but what is fear in itself. You are following? Not what I am afraid of. I might be afraid of you, or I am afraid of death. We are not talking about the object of fear. But let us talk over together the nature of fear, how fear arises, how you approach the problem. You understand? I will explain.
I am afraid of fear - I am afraid. What is my approach to it? Is there a motive behind my approach to the problem of fear? Obviously most of us have a motive. That is to go beyond it, to suppress it, to avoid it, to neglect it - I am used to fear for the last fifty years so I put up with it. So we are not discussing the object of fear but the origin of it. Right? How I approach the problem, how I look at the problem. My approach, if there is a motive I cannot come near it. Right? That is clear. Any kind of motive, I cannot see it clearly, I cannot come near it. And the other is, how do I look at fear? Is that fear separate from me? Therefore I am an outsider looking inside, or an insider looking out. So it is important to understand how I perceive fear. Is fear different from me? Obviously not. Anger is not different from me. But education, through education, through religion, through all the scriptures, blah, blah, all that makes me separate from that. I must fight it. I must get over it. But I have never asked if that thing called fear is separate from me, actually. It is not. Therefore my perception is that the observer is the observed. Right? No, you don't, you are all asleep.
Envy is not different from me. I am envy. I may think it is different from me but the actual fact is I am part of that. I am part of the anger. I am part of greed, envy, suffering, pain. So pain, suffering, greed, envy, anxiety, loneliness is me. I am all that. Right? First see it logically. Logically it is so. And seeing it logically, I may make an abstraction of what I see which becomes the idea. Do you see this? The word 'idea' means, it derives from Greek and Latin and French and so on, means form, the form, the design. Then to look, the word 'idea' means that. The form, the design, to look, to observe and the semblance - semblance of the fact. The original meaning of that word is this. But we observe, make an abstraction of it into an idea and carry that idea out. You are following all this? No, you are not getting it. Have I lost you? Or we are together still? You see how we do? I am afraid - if I am - I am afraid and I want to run away from it, which becomes the idea I should escape from it; make an abstraction of it, which becomes our idea about it and then work about that idea, which prevents us from observing very closely what is fear. So please when we are discussing about fear don't make an abstraction of it but look at it, be very close to it. Don't make a semblance of it. You understand all this? Right, sir? Which means, I approach it without any motive. I look at it, I observe it as something not different from me. Right? So you understand the combination? That is, I approach it very closely and I can only approach it very closely if I don't have a motive, because motive distorts. And I observe it as part of me, I am that, there is no division between me and that, I am that, therefore my observation is, the observer is the observed, it is not different from me. If that is clear then we can go into the question: what is fear?
You are all afraid, I am quite sure, about something or other, of your guru - sure to be! Which you call devotion. Afraid of losing so many things. So what is fear? Go on, we are talking over together, I am not telling you what it is, I am asking you only to come very close to it. Because you can only see it very closely if you are very near. What is fear? Is it time? That is, time as a movement of the past, the present modified and continuing. You understand this? I am the past, the present and also the future. (Laughs) Yes? I am the result of the past, a thousand million years, I am also the present impressions, the present social conditions, the present climate. I am all that, and also the future. Right? I am the past, modified in the present, continued in the future, that is time. Right? And also there is time by the watch, by the sun rising at a certain time, at a certain part of the year, setting at a certain time. There is time by the morning, the afternoon, the evening. Time to learn, a language, a skill and so on. Right? Time to learn a language, the time I need to learn, to have a skill, drive a car, become a carpenter and so on, or an engineer, or even some terrible politician. But there is time outwardly, physically, to cover the distance from here to there, and also there is time inwardly - hope. I hope to come there, I hope to achieve or become non-violent, which is absurd, of course. I hope to gain, I hope to avoid pain, punishment, I hope to have a reward. So there is not only time outwardly, physically, but also there is time inwardly. That is, I am not this but I will become that, which means time. The physical time is actual - right? - it is there, it is eleven o'clock or twelve o'clock, whatever time it is now. But inwardly we have assumed there is time: that is, I am not good but I will be good. That is time, to cover the distance - where I am now, where I will be. Now we are questioning that time, not the time by the sun, by the watch, by the distance, but time, is there time inwardly? Do you understand my question? So if there is time inwardly there is fear. You have understood this? That is, I have a job, but I might lose that job, which is the future, which is time. I have been ill, I hope not to be ill. I have had pain, I hope I will never have pain again. That is, the remembrance of the pain, and the continuation of that memory, hoping there will be no pain. You are following all this?
So there is time inwardly, at least we think there is time. But outward time is necessary. So we are questioning whether fear is not time. That is, I am afraid to lose my job in the future, which is time. I am afraid of having been ill and pain, not to have it again. Right? So there is this constant hope, constant remembrance and avoidance, which is part of time. So we are asking: is not time part of fear? You are following? So time is fear. Right? Don't accept this please, verbally, look at it. Look into yourself, be aware of yourself, of your fear and look how that fear arises. The remembrance of something past, recorded in the brain as remembrance, as an incident and afraid that it might happen again. Right? We are saying time is a factor of fear. Right?
And also another factor of fear is thought. That is, I think about my pain, which I have had last week, it is recorded in the brain and I think I might have that pain again tomorrow. So there is the operation of thought which says, 'I have had the pain, I hope not to have the pain'. So thought and time is fear. Gosh, it takes a long time to explain something, doesn't it? You have understood, not understood verbally, you have observed yourself, in yourself deeply that you see that fear is a remembrance, which is thought and also time, the future. I am secure now, I may be insecure tomorrow, fear arises. I believe in Communism and you come along and show it to me that is nonsense - I am afraid. You follow? So time plus thought equals fear. (Laughs)
Now, just see the truth of it in yourself, not listening to me, to the speaker, and verbalizing it, memory, but actually see that is a fact, not an abstraction as an idea. So you have to be aware whether it is by hearing you have made up an idea, an abstraction of what you have heard into an idea or actually facing the fact of fear, which is time and thought. I wonder if you understand all this!
Now what is important is how you perceive the whole movement of fear. Either you perceive by negating it - you understand what I mean? - or you perceive it without the division as me and fear, but you are fear. So you remain with that fear. Yes, sir, you are not getting my meaning.
You see there are two ways of negating fear: by totally denying it, by saying, 'I have no fear', which is absurd, or you are negating it by perceiving the observer is the observed, therefore no action. I wonder if you see this. Why are you all so silent? Either you have comprehended what is being said, or you don't understand it. We want to negate fear, don't we? All of us do. Negate in the sense get over it, run away from it, destroy it, to find some ways of comforting ourselves against it, which is all a form of negation. Therefore your negation is acting upon it. Right? Then there is a totally different form of negation, which is the beginning of a new movement, which is, the observer is the observed, fear is me. The observer is fear. And therefore he cannot do anything about it, therefore negation, a totally different kind of negation which means a totally different beginning. Right, sir?
Have you done it as we are talking, as two friends walking along that lovely path, with a lot of trees, flowers and birds, trees and bushes, we have talked. Have you realised this fact that when you act upon it you strengthen it. By acting upon it is to run away, suppress, analyze, find the cause, all that, which is, you are trying to negate something which is not you. But when you realise you are that, and therefore you cannot act - I am brown, or white or pink, or whatever colour, I can't do anything about it, therefore there is non-action, and therefore a totally different movement taking place. I have said it, it is up to you if you don't understand it.
Then there is the question of pleasure. Is pleasure different from fear? We always pursue pleasure. Right? By wearing those strange medallions and beads, it is a great pleasure to you, (laughter) obviously, otherwise you wouldn't put them on. That makes you feel you are different from all the rest of us. So is that pleasure different from fear? Or fear is pleasure. I don't know if you see it. It is like two sides of the same coin, when you understand the nature of pleasure, which is also time and thought, isn't it? I have had remembrance of something very beautiful and it is recorded, remembered, and I want that pleasure repeated. I remember the fear of an incident, record it and I want to avoid it. So both, they are the movements of the same kind, only I call it pleasure and I call it fear. Right? Is this clear, more or less?
Then we must also go into the question of suffering. Can suffering end? Is there an end to sorrow? Mankind has done everything possible to transcend sorrow. It has worshipped sorrow, it has run away from sorrow, it has held sorrow to one's heart, it has tried to seek comfort away from sorrow; it has pursued the path of happiness, holding on to it, clinging to it in order to avoid suffering. Man has suffered, human beings have suffered right through the world. They have had ten thousand wars. Think of the men and women who have been maimed, killed and the tears that have been shed, the agony of the mothers, wives, and all those people who have lost their sons, their husbands, their friends through wars through millennia upon millennia, and we are still continuing, multiplying armaments for protecting our nation: the tribal worship of a nation. So there is the immense sorrow of mankind. The poor man along that road will never know a good clean bath, clean clothes, ride in an aeroplane - you know, all the pleasures that one has, he will never have. And there is that sorrow. There is the sorrow of a man who is very learned and those who are not very learned. There is the sorrow of ignorance. There is the sorrow of loneliness, because most people are lonely. They may have a lot of friends, a lot of ideas, a lot of scholarship, but they are also terribly lonely people. You know what that loneliness is if you are at all aware of yourself - a sense of total isolation. You may have a wife, children, a great many friends but there comes a day or an event that makes you feel utterly isolated, lonely. That is tremendous sorrow. Then there is the sorrow of death. The sorrow of someone you have lost. So there is the sorrow which has been gathering, which has been collecting through millennia of mankind.
Then there is the sorrow of one's own personal degeneration, personal loss, personal lack of capacity, intelligence, action. You are following all this? I am only pointing out, or showing in the mirror what is happening. So we are asking whether that sorrow can ever end. Or, you come to sorrow with sorrow, and die with sorrow. You understand all this? And we are asking, as two friends walking along the path, a nice lovely path, is there an end to it? Logically, rationally, or intellectually, we can find many reasons for sorrow, many explanations, according to the Buddhist, the Hindu, Christian or the Islam. But the explanations, the causes, the authorities that explain commentaries away, sorrow still remains with us. So is it possible to end that sorrow? Because if you do not end sorrow there is no love, there is no compassion. So one has to go into it deeply and see if it can ever end.
The speaker says there is an end to sorrow, a total end to sorrow, which doesn't mean he does not care, indifferent, callous, but with the ending of sorrow there is the beginning of love. And you naturally ask the speaker: how? How is sorrow to end? When you say 'how' you want a system, a method, a process. Right? That is why you ask, 'Tell me how to get there. I will follow the path, the road.' So you want direction, you want to be told. Right? When you say, 'How am I to end sorrow?', that is the question. That demand, that enquiry says, 'Show me'. When you ask how, you are putting the wrong question, if I may point out, because you are only concerned with getting over it. Your approach to it is: tell me to get over it. So you have never come near it. You understand? If I want to look at that tree I must come near it to see the beauty of it, the design of it, the shade, the leaf, the colour of the leaf, the shape of the leaf, whether it has flowers, whether it has no flowers, what is its - I must come near it. But we never come near sorrow. We say, 'I have cried', 'My son is dead', or my brother, whatever it is, we never come near it because we are always avoiding it, running away from it.
So how you approach sorrow matters enormously. Whether you approach it with a motive of escape, seeking comfort, avoiding it, or you approach and come very, very, very close to it. Find out what you do, whether you come very close to it. You cannot come close to it if there is self-pity, if there is the desire to somehow find the cause, the explanation - you follow? - avoid it. So if you come to it, if you approach it with a motive you will never understand it. So it matters very much how you approach it, come near it, and how you see it, how you perceive sorrow. Is it the word 'sorrow' that makes you feel sorrow, or is it a fact? And if it is a fact, and you want to come close to it. That is, sorrow is you. You are not different from sorrow. That is the first thing to see: that you are not different from sorrow. You are sorrow. You are anxiety, loneliness, pleasure, pain, fear, the sense of isolation, lonely. You are all that. So you come very close to it, you are it, therefore you remain with it. Oh, you don't see it!
Sir, when you want to look at that tree you come to it, you look at every leaf, every shape of that tree, you take time. You are looking, looking, looking, and it tells you all its beauty. You don't tell the tree your story, it tells you - if you watch it. In the same way if you come near it, hold it, look at it, not run away from it, see what it is trying to tell you, its depth, its beauty, its immensity, then if you remain with it entirely, without a single movement of thought, then sorrow ends. That is not a reward. (Laughs) Don't play tricks: just remember it and then repeat it! That is what your brains are accustomed to: to memorise what has been said by the speaker in a book, or now, and then say, 'How shall I carry that out?' Because you are it, you are all that and therefore you cannot escape from yourself, therefore you look at it. You understand? How you look at it is that there is no division between the observer and the observed, you are it, you are that, therefore there is no division. When there is no division you remain entirely with it. Are you doing that now? Don't say, please. It is one of the most - it requires a great deal of attention, a great deal of intensity, clarity, not only the verbal clarity but the clarity of the mind that sees instantly the truth of it.
Then out of that ending of sorrow comes love. I wonder if you love anything. Do you? Do you love anything? Your wife, your children, your so-called country, do you love the earth, love the beauty of a tree, the beauty of a person? Or we are so terribly self-centred we never have any perception of anything at all? Where there is no love there is destruction, degeneration. And love brings compassion. Compassion is not doing some social work. Compassion has its own intelligence. But you don't know anything of all that. All that you know is your desires, your ambitions, your deceptions, your dishonesty. When you really ask most profound questions which stir up man you become negligent. Look at you, look at you, sir, when I ask you a question of that kind, whether you love somebody, your faces are blank. Right?
And this is the result of your religion, of your devotion to your nonsensical guru, your devotion to your leaders - not devotion, you are frightened, therefore you follow. At the end of all this millennia upon millennia we are what we are now, just think of the tragedy of all this. That is the tragedy of yourself, you understand sir? So find out, if one may ask, walking along that path as a friend, ask: do you know what love means, love that does not demand a thing from another. Ask yourselves, sirs. It doesn't demand a thing from your wife, from your husband, nothing, physically, emotionally, intellectually, not to demand a thing from another. Not to follow another, not to have a concept and pursue that concept. Because love is not jealousy, love has no power, in the ordinary sense of that word. Love doesn't seek position, status, power. But it has its own capacity, its own skill, its own intelligence. Right, sir.
We meet next Saturday I believe, for questions and answers. Next Sunday will be the last talk. We will discuss together next Sunday what is religion, what is a religious mind, what is something that is beyond all thought, what is meditation and so on. We will go into all that. Right, sirs.