Seeing self-interest as the root of fear
Without beauty and love there is no truth
3rd Public Talk, Saanen
July 14, 1985
May we continue with our conversation?
We were talking about conflict and the causation of conflict. Conflict is growing more and more in the world, in every form, in every social section and so on. We said the cause of conflict is this constant opposition, not only within ourselves but also within the society in which we live. Society is what we have made of it. I think that is fairly clear and obvious, because in ourselves we are, from the moment we are born till we die, we are in constant struggle, competition, conflict, every form of destructive or positive attitudes, prejudices and opinions. This has been the way of our life. Not only at the present period but also for the last probably two and half million years. And we are still going on with this in everything the same pattern, the same mould - wars, more destructive than ever, division among nationalities, which is tribalism, religious divisions, family divisions, sectarian fragmentation and so on.
If we may point out this morning again, that we are not here as an intellectual group, or rather romantic. imaginative, sentimental assembly. We are together, you and the speaker, are going to take a journey, not he is leading you, or you are following him, but together, side by side, perhaps holding hands if necessary. We are taking a journey, rather complex, twisting, subtle and perhaps endless, a journey that has no beginning and no end. Or the terms as the beginning and an end, as we understand it: something starts, goes on and then comes to an end - perhaps it may not be at all like that. It may be a constant movement, not within the cycle of time but rather outside the field of momentum as we know it. We can go into all that presently.
So we are together. Please the speaker must insist on this point. You are not merely the listeners and you accept or reject what he says but rather in co-operation, in responsibility, together, in step, not one behind the other, walking along the same path, same santier or same lane. So it is your responsibility as well as that of the speaker not to accept or to deny, or to agree or disagree. We have been brought up, educated in this system of agreeing and disagreeing. We agree with some things, we disagree entirely with other things. So there is always this division: those who agree, do something together, and those who are opposed to what they are doing.
Could we this morning banish from our brains altogether, entirely, out of our blood, out of our brains, the idea of agreeing or disagreeing? Because if you agree with the speaker, and there are some who don't agree, then there is a conflict between the two inevitably. One may tolerate it, one may put up with it, accept it, but there is always this division - clear? So could we, seeing the consequences of agreeing and disagreeing, approving and disapproving, together observe, together see exactly, not only as far as we can, what is happening externally - that is fairly simple because we are not told very much what is actually going on, in the political world, in the world of armaments, in the scientific world and all the technological world, but inwardly, subjectively, to see exactly what is going on, not saying, 'Well, this is bad, this is good. I accept this, I don't accept that.', but just to observe. Not, in that observation any prejudice - right? Can we do this? Can we observe ourselves, our conduct, our behaviour, the way we think, our reactions, our faiths, beliefs, conclusions and so on? Could we observe all that as it is, not as it should be, or as it must be - just to look at it? Could we do that? That requires a great deal of attention; the brain must be extraordinarily active to reject any kind of reaction in watching oneself. Because after all what other people have said about us, the professors, the psychologists, the psychiatrists and the gurus and all those people, it is what they say, it is not what you see of yourself. I hope we are following each other. We are speaking English and the words the speaker is using are very simple, simple words which we use daily in our conversation with each other. There is no jargon, no specialized linguistic, semantic jargon. We are talking over together, as two friends, using ordinary, daily language. So we are asking: can we see exactly what we are without taking sides about it? Because we are going to go into all that this morning. Not only agreeing and disagreeing, seeing the consequences of each attitude, put away that completely: assessing, disagreeing, evaluating, judging, but just to observe as you observe the sky of an evening full of stars, and those mountains, majestic against the blue sky. You just observe. Can we do the same thing outwardly because there is the criteria, and from there observe ourselves and our relationship to the world, and the world relationship to us? It is a rather complex process - right? Are we together? Or am I marching ahead, and leaving you behind? Could we go together? Keeping in step, if we don't understand each other we say, 'I don't understand what you are talking about.' Right? Could we start with that?
What are we? Why have we such deep-rooted self-interest? Not only self-interest outwardly, there, there is a certain necessity of self-interest otherwise one has to give up. But inwardly, psychologically, subjectively, why is there such deep, impenetrable self-interest, in all of us? That self-interest - you know what that word means? To be interested in oneself, one's own profits, one's own failures, one's own fragmentation, one's own prejudices, opinions, the whole existence of one's life. Self-interest - why is it we are so committed to that? Is it possible to live in this world without that self-interest? First psychologically and then we can see if it is possible externally. Right? Are we together? Or am I talking over beyond that tent, over the fence?
Have you ever noticed that we build a fence round ourselves? A fence of self-protection, a fence to ward off any hurts, a barrier between you and the other, between you and your family, between you and so on. There is a barrier between you and the speaker - right? Naturally. You don't know the speaker, the speaker doesn't know you, therefore you are rather politely listening, curious what the devil he is talking about and hoping that you will get something out of it after sitting an hour or so in this hot tent, marquee and expecting something - right? Naturally. Curious, choosing what suits you, what doesn't suit you, listening partially, not entirely because one doesn't want to expose oneself to oneself so naturally one creates either a very, very thin barrier, hardly any, or a definite wall. Why do we do that? Is that not also self-interest? And this self-interest must inevitably bring about fragmentation - to break up. Nationally, you can see the barrier - on one side England and the other side all Europe and beyond it. There is this constant division. And where there is division there must be conflict, that is inevitable. Whether you have very deep intimate relationship with your wife or husband, girl or boy, and so on, where there is division there must be fragmentation, there must be conflict. That is a law - right? Whether you like it or not that is the law. But when one sees that then you break down - the very seeing is the way of breaking down the barrier.
So we must enquire: what does it mean to see - right? What does it mean to observe? I am observing myself - right? I am watching what I am, my reactions, my prejudices, my convictions, my idiosyncrasies, the traditions in which I have been brought up, the reputation, all that rubbish - I am watching. If I do not watch very, very carefully, listen to every sound that is going on in watching, then I set a direction in which I must go. You are following all this? Am I talking to myself?
We were talking in Washington, America, and what I said they clapped, approving, encouraging. Here, you sit all very quietly. One really doesn't know if you are actually walking together or actually listening, or casually come in - a Sunday morning sermon. Instead of going to church you turn up here, either for amusement, or just hear what that chap is saying, or, 'Well, I agree with him but he is not quite right about other things.' We never look at the whole thing, the whole problem of life, the whole existence from childhood to death. We never take the whole thing in and observe, learn - not accumulate knowledge, that is fairly simple, but to learn what is happening in ourselves, the demands that we make upon each other, the hurts, the deep loneliness, the depression, the anxiety, the uncertainty, the fears, and all the pleasant things that we have, and also suffering, and ultimately there is the pain of death. We never look at this whole movement as one, but rather we consider it fragmentarily.
Now we are going to look, if we may, together, not only at what is the cause of this fragmentation but also whether the brain, which has been conditioned for millions of years to war, to conflict, to work, to work, to work all the time, endlessly chattering, divided as tribals, as nationalities and so on, your god and my god, Eastern philosophy opposed to the Western philosophy. You know all that is going on. So if we could this morning put aside altogether, if we can, the whole movement of agreeing and disagreeing, in which there is choice - right? I choose to go that way and you choose to go that way. I choose to believe in God, or no god, and you say, 'No, sorry I can't accept that, there must be God, because I believe it, I like it' - or 'It is my tradition' - and so on. If we once recognise the division, the agreement and disagreement, reward and punishment and so on, then we can begin to look actually at ourselves, because ourselves is the world. Right? What we are, the world is. If we are violent, suspicious, ungenerous, the world is like that. This is obvious, isn't it? Because we have made this society, this monstrous, ugly, immoral world in which we live, with all the gods, and you know, all that business. It has become a great circus, painful circus, or pleasurable circus. So to see exactly what we are without any distortion. What are we? Psychologically, not biologically. Biologically it has been put together through millenia upon millenia. Psychologically from the beginning of man there is violence, hate, jealousy, aggression, trying to become always something more, more, more, and much more than what we are. Is it that one is merely listening to the description, or see the fact, not the idea of the fact? You understand? There is a difference between fact and the idea of the fact. That is, we have an idea, seeing something, and we make out of that an idea, and then pursue the idea: 'I shouldn't be like this but I must be like that'. That is an idea. First I see what I am, not what I should be - right? Then I see exactly what I am. That is a fact. Fact does not need an idea, a concept, an ideology. It is so. I am angry. That is a fact. But if I say 'I must not be angry' then it becomes an idea. Are we together in this?
So what is it that you are making out of this? Is it that you are concluding a set of ideas, or seeing the fact as it is? - that we are jealous, aggressive, lonely, fear and all the rest of it? The whole psyche, the persona, the ego, is all that - right? Are you suspicious of this? That is, all this is the past, the memories that we have collected - right? I have been afraid, I know what is fear, and the moment that feeling arises I say, 'That is fear'. That very saying that it is fear is an idea, not a fact. I don't know if you are following all this. Sir, the word tree is not the actual tree - right? Right? The name K is not the actual K. The word is not the thing - right? So when you observe your brain is caught in a whole network of words, words, words - right? Can you look at yourself without the word? Oh, come on sirs, play the game with me, will you? The ball is in your court. That is, can we look at your wife, at your husband, at your children, or your girl friend, or whatever it is, without the word, without the image? That word, that image, is the division. Right? Can you look at the speaker without the word? - the word being all the remembrances about the speaker, the reputation, what you have read or not read, and so on - just to observe. Which means one must grasp, understand how the brain operates - right? Your own brain, not the brains of philosophers, or the spiritual writers, or the priests or somebody or other. Just to observe yourself without the word. Then we can look at certain facts, why human beings get hurt - right? That is very important to find out.
From childhood we are hurt - do and don't do - right? There is always the pressure, always the sense of being rewarded and punished - right? You say something to me which I don't - which I get angry about and that hurts me - right? So have we realized a very simple fact that from childhood we are hurt, and for the rest of our life we carry that hurt. Afraid of being hurt further, or attempting that one must not be hurt, which is another form of resistance - right? So are we aware of these hurts and that therefore we create a barrier round ourselves, the barrier of fear - right? Can we go into this question: fear? Shall we? Not for my pleasure, for you I am talking about. Can we go into it very, very deeply and see why human beings, which is all of us, why human beings have put up with fear for thousands of years - right? We see the consequences of fear. Fear of not being rewarded, fear of not being - a failure, fear of your own feeling that you must come to a certain point and not being able to, your weakness - right? And all this breeds certain forms of fear. Are you interested in going into this problem? It means going into it completely to the very end. Not just saying, 'Sorry, that is too difficult'. Nothing is too difficult if you want to do it. The word 'difficult' prevents you from further action. But if you can put away that word 'difficult' then we can go into this very, very complex problem, not only verbally, which is fairly - we can explain all the causation, all the effects and the effects becoming the cause and so on. It is a chain.
First, why do we put up with it? If you have a car which goes wrong you go to the nearest garage, if you can, and there the machinery is put right and you go on. Is it that we have not - that there is no one we can go to and he will help us to have no fear - you understand the question? Do we want help from somebody to be free of fear? Right? Psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, or the priest, confession, or the guru who says, 'Surrender everything to me, including your money, then you will be perfectly all right.' (laughter) We do this. You may laugh, you may be amused, but we are doing this all the time inwardly.
So, do we want help? Prayer - prayer is a form of help, asking to be free from fear is a form of help. The speaker telling you how to be free of fear is a form of help. But he is not going to tell you how. Because we are walking together, we are giving energy to discover for yourself the causation of fear. If you see something very clearly then you don't have to decide, or choose, or ask for help, you act - right? Do we see clearly the whole structure, the inward nature of fear? Or you have been afraid and the memory of that comes back and says 'That is fear' - you understand what I am saying?
So let's go into this carefully. Not, the speaker is going into it and then you agree or disagree, but you yourself are taking the journey with the speaker, not verbally or intellectually, or verbally, but delving, probing, investigating - right? We are finding out - we want to go, no, we want to delve, as you dig in the garden, or to find water, you dig deep, you don't stand outside on the earth and say, 'I must have water.' You dig, or go to a river. So first of all, let's be very clear: do you want help in order to be free of fear? If you want help then you are establishing an authority - right? You are responsible then for establishing an authority, a leader, a priest - right? So one must ask oneself before we go into this question of fear, whether you want help. Of course you go to a doctor, if you can't do certain things for yourself, if you have pain, or a headache, or some kind of disease, you naturally go to a doctor. There he knows much more the organic nature of your organ so he tells you what to do. We are not talking about that kind of help. We are talking about whether you need help, somebody to instruct you, to lead you, and to say, 'Do this, do that, day after day - you will be free of fear.' That means we want someone to help us - right? The speaker is not helping. That is one thing certain. Because you have dozens of helpers, from the great religious leaders - God forbid! - and to the lowest, you know the poor psychologist round the corner. So let us be very clear between ourselves that the speaker doesn't want to help you in any way psychologically - right? Would you kindly accept that? Honestly accept it? Don't say yes - it is very difficult. And all your life you have sought help in various directions, some say 'Yes, I don't want help.' It requires not only perception, seeing what the demand for help has done to humanity. You ask help only when you are confused, when you don't know what to do, when you are uncertain - right? But when you see things clearly, see, observe, perceive, not only externally, but inwardly much more, when you see things very, very clearly you don't want any help - there it is! And from that action. Right? Are we together in this? Let's again repeat, if you don't mind. The speaker is not telling you how. Never ask that question 'how'. Then there is somebody always giving you a rope. So the speaker is not helping you in any way. But together we are walking along the same road, perhaps not at the same speed. But set the speed of your own and we will walk together. Clear? We are in accord?
If you are not clear about demanding help you will have to go somewhere else. Probably you will. Or turn to a book, or turn to somebody, not towards the speaker. Sorry to depress you. Or to say, 'Sorry, I won't stretch out my hand' - that is not it. If we are walking together we are holding hands together. There is no stretching your hand, seeking help - right?
Are we working together? Or am I working and getting hot about it? (laughter)
What is the cause of fear? Go slowly please. Cause. If you can discover the cause then you can do something about it, you can change the cause - right? If a doctor tells me, tells the speaker he has got cancer - which he hasn't - suppose he tells me I have got cancer. He says, 'I can remove it easily and you will be all right.' I go to him. He has to remove it. The cause comes to an end. So the (noise of train) - cause can always be changed, rooted out - clear? If you have got a headache you can find the cause of it, if you are eating wrongly, or you are smoking too much, or drinking too much and all the rest of it, either you stop it, your drinking, smoking and all the rest, or you take a pill to stop it. The pill becomes then the effect which stops for the moment the causation - right? So cause and effect can always be changed, immediately, or you take time over it. If you take time over it then during that interval all other factors enter into it. So you never change the effect, continue with the cause - clear? Are we together in this? So what is the cause of fear? Why haven't we gone into it? Why do we tolerate it, knowing the effect of fear, the consequences of fear? If we are not at all afraid psychologically, no fear at all, you would have no gods, you would have no symbols to worship, no personalities to adore - right? Then you are psychologically extraordinarily free - right? And also fear makes one shrink, nervous, apprehensive, wanting to escape from it and therefore the escape becomes more important than the fear. You're following? So we are going to go over together to find out what is the cause of fear. The cause, the root of it. And if we discover it for ourselves then it is over. Bien? If you see the causation, or many causes, then that very perception ends the cause - right? Are you listening to me, to the speaker, to explain the causation? Or you have never even asked such a question? I have borne fear, my father, my great grandfather, the whole race in which I am born, the whole community, the whole structure of gods, rituals, is based on fear and the desire to achieve some extraordinary states. Right?
So let us go into this. We are not talking about, together (noise of train) - we are not talking about various forms of fear: fear of darkness, fear of one's husband, wife, fear of society, fear of dying, fear of - you know, we are not talking of the various forms of fear. It is like a tree that has got many, many branches, many flowers, many fruits - the flowers become the fruit - but we are talking about the very root of that tree - right? The root of it, not your particular form of fear. You can trace your particular form to the root of it. So we are asking: are we concerned with our fears, or with the whole fear? Right? With the whole tree, not just one branch of it. Because unless you take - you understand how the tree lives, the water it requires, the depth of the soil and so on, merely trimming the branches won't do anything - right? So we must go to the very root of fear.
So what is the root of fear? Don't wait for me. I am not your leader, I am not your help, I am not your guru - thank God! We are together as two brothers, and I mean it, the speaker means it. It is not just words. As two good friends who have known each other from the beginning of time, walking along the same path, at the same speed, looking at everything that is around you and in you. So together we will go into it. Please, together. Otherwise it becomes just words, at the end of the talk you will say, 'Really, what am I to do with my fear?' (laughs)
Fear is very complex. It is a tremendous reaction. If you are aware of it, it is a shock, not only biologically, organically, but also a shock to the brain. The brain has a capacity, as one discovers, not from what the others say, it has capacity to remain in spite of a shock, healthy. Certain glands - I don't know all about it - but the very shock invites its own protection. Right? You go into it for yourself, you will see. So fear is a shock. Momentarily, or it continues in different forms, different expressions, different ways. So we are going to the very, very, very root of it. To understand the very root of it, we must understand time - right? Time as yesterday, time as today, time as tomorrow. I remember something I have done, of which I am shy, or nervous, or apprehensive, or fearful, I remember all that and it continues to the future. Right? I have been angry, jealous, envious - that is the past. I am still envious, slightly modified, because I am fairly generous about things but envy goes on. Right? This whole process is time, isn't it - right? You understand? Say yes, for God's sake! (laughs)No, don't say yes! You understand? That is, what do we consider time?
Let's begin again. What do you consider is time? By the clock, sunrise, sunset, the evening star, the new moon with the full moon comes a fortnight later? What is time to you? Time to learn a skill? Time to learn a language? Time to write a letter? Time to go to your house from here? All that is time as distance. Right? I have to go from here to there. That is a distance covered by time. Right? Right? So time also is inward, psychological. I am this, I must become that. Becoming that is called evolution. Evolution means from the seed to the tree. And also I am ignorant but I will learn. I don't know but I will know. Give me time to be free of violence - right? You are following all this? Give me time. Give me a few days, or a month, or a year, I will be free of it. So we live by time. Not only going to the office every day from nine to five, God forbid, but also time to become something. Look, you understand all this? Right? Time, the movement of time. I have been afraid of you and I remember that fear and that fear is still there, and I will be afraid of you tomorrow. I hope not, but if I don't do something very drastic about it I will be afraid of you tomorrow. So we live by time - right? Be clear on this. Please let's be clear on this. We live by time. Which is, I am living, I will die. I postpone death as far away as possible but I am living, and I am going to do everything to avoid that, though that is inevitable - right? So we psychologically as well as biologically, we live by time.
Is time a factor of fear? Please enquire. Time, that is, I have told a lie, I don't want you to know, but you are very smart. You look at me and say, 'Yes, you have told a lie', 'No, no, I have not' - I protect myself instantly, because I am afraid of your finding out that I am a liar - or partly liar. So I am afraid - right? For something I have done, which I don't like you to know, and I am afraid of that. Which is what? Thought, isn't it? Right? I have done something which I remember, and that remembrance says be careful, don't let him discover that you told a lie because you have got a good reputation as an honest man and protect yourself - right? So thinking and time are together. There is no division between thought, thinking and time. Are we clear on this matter? Please be clear on this matter, otherwise you will get rather confused later. The causation of fear is time/thought - the root of it - right?
Audience: I am not quite clear.
K: Wait Sir. You can ask questions when there is a question and answer meeting - I believe some time next week.
So are we clear on this thing that time, that is, the past, with all the things that one has done, and that thought, whether pleasant or unpleasant - specially if it is unpleasant, I want to protect it, or change it, or impossible to change, therefore I say, 'By Jove, I am frightened of it.' Right? Which is thinking about it. So time and thought are the root of fear. This is an obvious fact. A very simple verbal fact. But to go behind the word and see the truth of this time/thought. Then you will inevitably ask: how is thought to stop? Right? - a natural question, no? If thought creates fear, which is so obvious, then how am I to stop thinking? You understand my question? Right? Tell me how am I to stop thinking. Because I see the cause is thought, because I remember what I did, I am frightened of it, I don't want you to find out, so it is thinking - right? Then I ask you, 'Please help me to stop my thinking.' (laughs) I would be an ass to ask such a question but I am asking it. How am I to stop thinking? Is that possible? Go on sir, investigate, don't let me go on. Thinking. Because we live by thinking. Everything we do is through thought. To write a letter, to learn a language, to go to your office, to do all the business, the whole process of thinking. We went into that carefully the other day. We won't waste time in going into the cause, the beginning of thinking, how it comes: experience, knowledge, which is always limited, memory and then thought. I am just briefly repeating this.
So is it possible to stop thinking? Is it possible not to chatter all day long? Giving the brain a rest, though it has its own rhythm, the blood going up to it, its own activity - its own, not the activity imposed by thought - you understand? (Noise of train) - There seems to be a lot of trains today! May I point out, may the speaker point out, that is a wrong question. Who is it that stops thinking? You understand my question? It is still thought, isn't it? When I say, 'If I could only stop thinking then I would have no fear', the very statement that 'I wish I could stop it', who is that that wishes to stop thought? It is still thought, isn't it? - because it wants something else? Right?
So, what will you do? You understand my question? Any movement of thought to be other than what it is, is still thinking - right? I am greedy, but I must not be greedy, it is still thinking. Thinking has put together all the paraphernalia, all that business that goes on in churches and all that, is put together by thought. Like this marquee or tent is put together carefully by thought. So thought is the very root of our existence, apparently. So we are asking a very serious question, seeing what thought has done, invented the most extraordinary things: computer, the warships, the missiles, the atom bomb, the surgery, medicine - if you like medicine - and also the things it has made man do, go to the moon and so on. Thought is the very root of fear. Right? Do we see that? Not how to end thought. Do we see actually thinking is the root of fear, which is time? Seeing, not the words 'I am seeing', but actually see. When you have pain, severe pain, the pain is not different from you, you act instantly - right? So do you see as clearly as you see the clock, the speaker, and your friend sitting beside you, see that thought is the causation of fear? Don't, please don't ask: 'How am I to see?' The moment you ask how, someone is willing to help you, then you become their slave. But if you (noise of train) - but if you yourself see thought/time are really the root of fear - take time, take deliberation. It doesn't need decision, just the seeing. A scorpion is poisonous, a snake is poisonous, in the very perception of it you act.
So one asks: why don't we see? Why don't we see one of the causes of war is nationalities - right? One of the causes. Why don't we see that one may be called a Muslim, and you may be called a Christian - why do we fight over names, over propaganda? Right? Do we see it, or just memorize or think about it? You understand sirs that you are - your consciousness is the rest of mankind. Mankind, like you and others, mankind goes through every form of difficulty, pain, travail, anxiety, loneliness, depression, sorrow, pleasure, every human being goes through this. Not only the Swiss, not only you, but every human being, all over the world, whether they be Russian, American, and all the rest of it. So our consciousness, our being, is the entire humanity. Do you understand? This is so. How unwilling we are to accept such a simple fact. Because we are so accustomed to individuality. I, me, first. So if you see that, if you see that your consciousness is shared by all other human beings living in this marvellous earth then your whole way of living changes. But we don't see that. You need argument, you need lots of persuasion, pressure, propaganda, which are all so terribly useless because it is you that you have to see this thing for yourself.
So can we, each of us, who are the rest of mankind, who are mankind, look at a very simple fact, observe, see that the causation of fear is thought/time? Then the very perception is action. And from that you don't rely on anybody. The guru is like you - you understand? The leader may put on different robes and put on all the jewels and all that, just strip him of all that and he is just like you and me. But he has achieved greater power and we also want greater power, money, position, status. So could we look at all this, see it very clearly, and then that very perception ends all this rubbish. Then you are a free person.
May we stop? And may we get up? For the speaker to get up you have to get up.