Remaining with sorrow
The crisis is in the very nature of thought
5th Public Talk, Ojai, California
May 16, 1981
We have today and tomorrow two talks altogether. Tomorrow will be the end of the talks.
This morning we should go into the content of our consciousness. And we said during the last four talks that the crisis is not in politics, economics, social structure and so on, but the crisis is in our consciousness. And that consciousness is the common ground of all mankind. Because all men throughout the world, wherever they live, men, women, they go through great anxieties, unhappiness, escape through various forms of amusement, the amusement may be various kinds, including religions which have become meaningless. And this crisis has to be met otherwise mankind is going to degenerate and destroy itself. I think it is obvious for any thinking man, any person who observes, who is not too self-centred, he can see what is happening in the world - the terrorism, violence, wars, and so on, so on, so on. So the crisis is in our consciousness.
And this morning, if we may, together - together, go delicately, sensitively, into the content of our consciousness. The content makes up the consciousness. Without the content consciousness as we know it has no meaning. So we have to together, if we will, seriously, go into this content of our consciousness.
Please if one may point out we are not doing any kind of propaganda, trying to convince you of anything, trying to make you believe in something - new ideals, new Utopia - but together, and the speaker means together, explore the content of this consciousness, both that which is conscious as well as the unconscious, deeply, hidden in one's brain.
I think the first concern, or examination, should be about fear. What is the beginning of fear; how does fear arise; and how is it to be met, and whether it is possible at all to be totally free of it, both at the conscious level as well as at the deeper layers of one's consciousness where the root of fear is? And fear is the common factor of all mankind. It is not your particular fear. You may be afraid of the dark, of your husband, of something that you have done in the past and so on, so on, so on. This fear exists in every human being, in different forms, whether they live in Asia, India, Europe or here, even in Russia. And mankind, from time immemorial, has carried this burden of fear. Apparently they have never been able to solve the problem of fear - solve in the sense, dissolve it totally, be free from it, liberated from the tremendous burden of it. And this morning, together, we are going to investigate, examine very closely the nature of fear, the structure, what are the factors that bring about fear, and whether one can both psychologically and physically be completely without any shadow of fear.
I think it is important to understand this, if we are serious. And it is a lovely morning, with beautiful sunshine, hills, shadows, and all that, to talk about fear seems rather incongruous. But as we have gathered here for the last two weeks, I think one should give considerable attention to this question.
There are many factors that bring about fear. Either we trim the branches of fear - take one branch, one leaf of fear after another, and examine them, or find out the root of it, not merely the branches, the expression, the action of it, but rather examine very closely the beginning of it, the origin from which fear and the consequences of fear arise. If we will, not as a group therapy which is rather unnecessary, but if you will take your own particular fear, whatever it be - death, insecurity, the sense of desperate loneliness, the sense of wanting to fulfil, the feeling of insufficiency in oneself - whatever that fear is, can we first look at it, not run away from it, not substitute it by another thought, or try to avoid it, go beyond it, or try to conquer it. We are trying this morning to observe the root of it, the cause of it, the origin of it.
Most human beings throughout the world - this is one of the factors - get hurt, both physically as well as psychologically, more inwardly than outwardly. This hurt remains for the rest of one's life unless one completely dissolves it. And that is one of the factors of fear, being hurt from childhood, school, college, university and so on - if you are lucky to go through university, and I don't know why one goes through university. But there is this deep wound which may be conscious, or unconscious. And when one is wounded psychologically, inwardly, the consequences of that hurt are building a wall around oneself - I hope we are following all this together, watching your own hurt, if you are at all sensitively aware of that fact. We are all hurt from childhood in one way or another. The consequences of that hurt is to resist, is to avoid, not to be further hurt. And not to be further hurt implies to build a psychological resistance. And the consequences of that is more isolation, greater fear. That's one of the factors of fear.
The other factor is time. Time being that which has happened, might recur again, and time as future when one has no hope, when one is desperately hopeless. Time plays a great part in our lives. Time as an interval between 'what is' and 'what should be' or 'what might be', and time, an interval between now and the ending of life, which is death. So time is a factor of fear. One of the factors. Please, we are not intellectually examining verbally. We are actually seeing ourselves, seeing the nature of our own fear, and the fear of being nobody, because everybody wants to be somebody, the fear of not being able to fulfil, not achieving, not becoming. The 'becoming' implies time. So time is a great factor in the structure of fear.
Then there is the factor of great, bottomless loneliness. Are we aware of this loneliness? One may have a lot of friends, a happy family and so on, but everyone knows, when one is alertly watchful, of this loneliness, from which arises depression, anxiety and fear of being lonely, utterly unrelated to anything. One is sure that one has been through all this, through this loneliness, one knows this. And being aware of this loneliness one tries to escape from it. The escape is the fear. And that escape may be the church, may be god, may be some fantasy, some imagination, some kind of belief, faith and all that, or even intellectual knowledge - to run away from this agonising, destructive loneliness. And this loneliness is the self-centred activity, the tremendous concern about oneself - this concern to be, to become and to achieve, and so on.
And also one of the factors of this fear is attachment. I hope we are together following all this. You are not, if you don't mind the speaker pointing it out to you, respectfully, you are not merely listening to a lot of words, a lot of ideas. Then if you are merely intellectually, verbally accepting these factors of fear then fear will continue. But if we are aware of our own fear sensitively then we will see that fear has many, many causes, many factors. And we are examining together these factors.
Perhaps many of you are not used to this kind of close investigation, examination. So please, if you are good enough pay a little attention. It is important to learn the art of listening. We never perhaps listen to anybody except to our own pain, to our own anxiety, to our own sorrow, or loneliness and so on. We never listen completely to another. And if we do listen it is a partial listening. Or when we do listen we translate, or interpret what we hear. There is the hearing with the ear, and there is a hearing with attention. So one hopes that you will so kindly listen. We are not teaching you, we are not trying to point out anything, but together looking at this factor of fear. And it is important to learn this art of hearing completely, which means giving your total attention to this question. The speaker may use these words, and the speaker may act as a mirror in which you see the fears, but the speaker and the mirror are not important, they are totally irrelevant. But what is essential, important, is to observe the fear.
And we were saying one of the factors, among others, is this attachment - why human beings are so attached to a belief, to an ideal, to an image of themselves, to some concept, to the verbal structure. And when one is attached, in that attachment, however deep, however momentary, however pleasant, in that possessiveness, which is attachment, there is fear, there is anxiety. So that is one of the factors.
And the major factor is, if you are examining closely, thought is the factor, the major factor. Thought is the remembrance of things past. Thought is the projection of what might be, or might not be. Thought is movement of time. We went into that somewhat during the past talks. Thought is the response of memory, knowledge, experience. And thought being limited, its actions must be limited, as knowledge is always limited. And therefore knowledge is always within the shadow of ignorance. And thought creates this sense of separateness, isolation, and, if you observe, that thought breeds fear - I might be, and I might not be, I have known past pleasures and I may not have the future pleasure. So in this cycle of the past modifying itself in the present, and continuing that modification in the future, and out of that future, or in that future there is great uncertainty. And this uncertainty is one of the factors of fear.
These are the many factors of fear. Either you take one factor after another, try to understand each factor, or you take the whole of it, as one unit. It all depends upon your capacity of collecting all the factors immediately and seeing the whole nature and structure of fear. So it depends upon you whether it is to be a perception of fear as a whole, the whole of it, the unconscious fears which have not been examined, and the conscious fears which we are in the act of examining. Either you take one by one, your fears - and that would be endless. You can do this till one dies. But if one takes fear as a whole, then the major factor in all that wholeness is time and thought. We have explained the nature of time and thought. And thought breeds fear. Seeing all that, what is one to do? Not only the conscious fears, but the hidden fears of which one may not be aware. Can those fears, which are not aware, unconscious, deeply concealed in the recesses of one's own consciousness, one's own brain, can those hidden, concealed, very, very subtle fears be totally exposed and looked at?
I hope we are following each other. That is only possible, that is, the conscious as well as the deeper fears which we are not aware of, it is only possible when you give complete attention. Which implies that you have to face fear, face actually what fear is. Whether that fear is merely a verbal fear, because words create fear, because words have their associations, their images, and when you use a certain word, that very word may create fear. I hope you are following all this.
So one must be aware of the nature of the word, and whether that word is creating the fear. Or, as we have explained, the many factors of fear, can one observe it without the word? Like observing a tree, this oak tree, to look at it without the word, because when you are observing if the word comes in you are really actually not observing. And to observe that, observe the whole nature of fear completely. If you take your particular fear, whatever it is, and observe it with complete attention - perhaps you have never given total attention to anything. We are so inattentive. And it is very difficult for most people to be attentive with their whole being.
And attention implies giving your energy. Attention means the total observation of something with complete energy. And when you so give your complete total attention, therefore with all the energy that one has, fear disappears, not one particular fear, fear completely disappears. One hopes that you are, in listening you are actually doing this.
And fear is another form of pleasure. Man apparently, throughout the ages has pursued pleasure. One observes in this country more and more an everlasting demand for entertainment, for excitement, for any form of pleasure - sexual, inviting different types of pleasure. And again when you observe very closely, what is pleasure? The demand for excitement. If you have observed on televisions, in books, and all the rest of it, this sense of increasing constant demand of pleasure, of excitement. When there is actual pleasure, actual pleasure, is one conscious that it is pleasurable? Or is it a moment after? If it is a moment after it is the activity of thought which has remembered that incident as pleasurable. Please examine all this. So thought again plays a part in this pleasurable pursuit. That's why it is very important to understand the nature of thought, why thought has become so utterly important for all people. It breeds fear and it breeds pleasure. They are the two sides of the same coin.
And if we have time this morning, we must go into the question of suffering. What is suffering? What is the great psychological pain, the grief, the anxiety, the tears that one sheds? What is suffering? And again man throughout the ages has not solved this problem. Christianity has shelved it - identified with one person in all the history of Christianity. And the Asiatic world has its own explanation of grief - of past actions and the result is misery, conflict, pain, suffering. Those are all explanations. Those are all various forms of escape. All escapes are similar, there are not noble escapes, or ignoble escapes, escapes are similar. And if one does not escape, can one remain immovable with sorrow? Please follow this a little bit, if you will kindly. Because we all go through great sorrows, not only the sorrow of death, the sorrow of loneliness, the sorrow of isolation, the pain of being something or other, not beautiful and so on, all the trivialities and all the grave issues of life. We all suffer, moderately, superficially or deeply. And without becoming cynical, without verbally, reasonably, rationally explaining it away, is it possible when one is in deep sorrow, the sorrow that comes about when one has lost somebody, the sorrow of the whole misery of life, can one look at it in the sense remain with it without any movement of thought?
You must have, unfortunately had some kind of sorrow. Without analysing, without escaping from it, without rationalising it, without putting it into a test tube, or reducing it to some chemical response, can you look at it, observe it, remain with it completely - whether it is physical pain, or psychological grief, to remain with it totally without any movement of shadow of escape, which means actually giving all your energy and attention to it. Because at the moment of sorrow you are that sorrow. It is not that you are sorrowful, your whole being is sorrow. I do not know if you understand this. There is no fear apart from you. You are part of fear. You are part of all the factors of fear. So you are all the factors that go to bring about this sorrow which mankind has carried throughout the ages. There is not only the personal sorrow, but also this sorrow of mankind. There is not the momentary sorrow of a person, but the global sorrow: the sorrow of ignorance, sorrow of poverty, the sorrows that war has brought about, the tears, the anxieties, the brutality of all that. Look at all that. To be completely, totally in contact with it, then since you give, in that contact there is this total energy. We dissipate our energy - in argument, in endless talk, in being occupied all the time with something or other. The brain is never free from occupation. Observe the scientists, the businessmen, the housewife, the religious people, the priests, they are all occupied with something or other. That occupation, however pleasant, however disagreeable, does dissipate the energy that is demanded to meet all these factors of life. Life is also occupation, but when one is occupied endlessly so that the brain is never free, never quiet, and it is only such a mind, such a brain that faces the fact silently, faces fear, sorrow, loneliness, despair silently. Then you will see for yourself such action - such silence dissipates it.
I do not know if we have time this morning to talk about death. That's one of the major factors of life. One of the great factors. And humanity, all of us, seem to be incapable of understanding it. Not chemically, not why the human body perishes by its disuse, smoke, drugs, endless forms of indulgence, but the significance of death. Not the physical organism coming to an end, which it will inevitably, like anything that is used wears away, the body when we have so misused it, and the body has its own intelligence which we have destroyed. But we are asking, the nature of death, the significance, the meaning, the depth of it, not the fear of it, not the fear of old age, senility, some disease, accident. But the meaning of it, the depth of it, there may be great beauty in it.
And, as we said, it may not be possible - I don't think it is possible this morning to talk about it, one will tomorrow morning. Tomorrow morning we are going to discuss that and also what is a religious mind; what is reverence, respect, if there is anything sacred which thought has not invented. That which we worship now is the product of thought, and thought is a material process, so there is nothing whatsoever sacred about thought. Thought, which has created the churches and the content of those churches, temples, mosques, there there is nothing sacred, because all that has been put together, the rituals, all that goes on is the result of thought. So we must together examine what is really religion, because religion creates a new culture. We must go into all that tomorrow morning. And also what is meditation. If you don't mind we will stop now.