The movement of fear
Can the human condition change radically?
3rd Public Talk, Bombay
January 30, 1982
We are going to talk over together the question of fear. But before we go into that I think we should learn the art of hearing. How to listen, not only to the speaker but to listen to those crows, listen to the noise, listen to your favourite music, listen to your wife or husband. Because we don't actually listen to people, we just casually listen and come to some kind of conclusion, or seek explanations, but we never apparently actually listen to what somebody else is saying. We are always translating what others are saying. I am sure as we are going to talk over together this evening the very complex problem of fear, we aren't going to go into too many details but explain the whole movement of fear, and how you understand it, either verbally or actually. There is a difference between the comprehension of words and the comprehension of the actual state of fear. We are apt to make an abstraction of fear, that is, make an idea of fear. But we never listen, apparently, to the voice of fear that is telling its story. And we are going to together this evening talk about all that.
And we ought also to consider the necessity of scepticism and doubt. Doubt not what others are saying only, but doubt one's own experiences, one's own thoughts, one's own attitudes and values, why we do certain things in life, why we believe. We should have a rational doubt, scepticism, because doubt cleanses the mind, it freshens the mind, it breaks down the old habits, the old conclusions, the arcane concepts. So doubt, scepticism, are necessary, not only what the speaker is saying but also doubt your behaviour, your attitudes and so on. So please, during these talks having a rational doubt. You know it is like having a dog on a leash, if you keep him all the time on the leash you break the spirit of the dog, but you must let the leash go and let him run because then he becomes alive. So similarly if you doubt all the time then it doesn't lead anywhere, but know when to release and when to hold it in check. That requires intelligence. But to doubt when you release, why you release the dog - your dog, your acceptance and so on. That alerts the mind, quickens the thought, awareness.
So please, as we said, we are talking over together. This is not a lecture, where you listen, you are told, or given certain concepts, certain formulas, certain clichs, and you accept them and go home. But here we are not lecturing, we are having a conversation. Like two people having a friendly conversation to find out, to enquire deeply. And I hope that you are going to do this, not merely listen to the speaker but also use the speaker as a mirror in which you see yourself. And when you have seen yourself you can throw away the mirror. The mirror is not important. So we are going together to enquire into the very complex problem of fear, why man, millennia after millennia, has sustained, nourished, borne the burden of fear. That has been one of the deep conscious, as well as unconscious factors in life. We are all afraid of something or other, ultimately the fear of death, fear of punishment and so accept reward. Because we are always balancing between reward and punishment. Please watch this in yourself, not just the speaker's words.
So why has man not been able to solve this problem of fear? There are many forms of fear: you may be frightened of the dark, you may be frightened of the future, or frightened of the past, frightened of your husband or your wife, frightened of your guru. You may adore him, you may worship him, I don't know, that is your own affair, but there is always the lurking of fear behind. So we must examine this problem very closely.
Fear is a movement. It is not static. It is a movement. And it is the aggregate of many other factors - aggregate being summation, bringing together of all the other factors or the movements that bring about fear. And we are going to examine together - please, together - the movements, which are comparison, desire for security. We are going to go into all this, desire for security, authority, desire, time, thought. These are all the various movements of fear. And we are asking whether man can ever be free of fear at all, because fear is a dreadful thing. It darkens our lives, from fear we act neurotically. Where there is fear there is no love. We are asking whether man can ever be free of this terrible burden. One may not be conscious of it. It may be lurking in the deep unconsciousness, in the deep recesses of one's own brain. You may say, 'I am not afraid, I have no fear', but that is a superficial statement. But most people go through fear and agony of fear. And from that agony there are a great many sorrowful actions, neurotic actions, unethical actions, immoral actions. So, please listen carefully, not only to the speaker, listen to your own fear. Don't run away from it, we will hold it together and examine closely what brings about this fear.
We said first of all, comparison. We are always comparing ourselves with somebody else. We start this in schools, better marks and so on, right through college, university, this sense of constant comparison. Have you ever tried not to compare at all? That is, of course, you have to compare between two cars, between two materials, if you are choosing furniture you have to compare. But when you compare psychologically then there is always a root of fear in it, the root of fear is there. I compare myself with you; you are very clever, very intelligent, bright, alive, aware, sensitive. And through comparison I say I am not, I am dull compared to you. If I do not compare myself with you, what happens to me? Am I dull? Or I am what I am. And from there I start to find out. But if I am all the time comparing with you who are bright, nice looking, then I am running away from myself, trying to imitate, trying to conform to the pattern you have set. You are following all this? So is it possible to live inwardly, psychologically, psychically without any sense of comparison because comparison is one of the movements of fear? Do we understand? See the danger of comparison, which maintains fear. You are something great, I want to be like you, and if I am not like you I begin to get depressed, all the other factors enter into it. So please discover for yourself if you can live without any comparison whatsoever. Inwardly, of course, not outwardly because you are taller, I am shorter or different colour. But inwardly to have no comparison, which doesn't mean that you are vain, that you are arrogant. But if I am comparing myself with you I can never discover what I am. I am always conforming to what you think I am. So that is one of the factors of fear.
Then we are always seeking security, both physically and psychically, that is, inwardly, psychologically we are seeking security. Outward security like a house, food, shelter is absolutely necessary, obviously, otherwise you and I wouldn't be sitting here. So we must have that security. But that security is denied to all people when each one of us is seeking security for ourselves. Right? You are following this? Look sirs, this is a very complex question of security, this search for security, this movement that each of us inwardly as well as outwardly seeking security. Security being protection, stability, a sense of certainty, a state of mind that is not confused, to be completely secure. Outwardly it has become almost impossible to be secure because there is division between nations, there is division between races, there is division between the linguistically different. I hope you are following all this. There is the division of nationalities which is bringing about the destruction of security for all human beings. This is so obvious. But we human beings, we live in a state of tribalism. See what we are all doing. Either we are Parsis, or Hindus, or Buddhists, or Christians, you know, or belonging to some sect, belonging to some guru, all the rest of it. So this is a form of seeking security outwardly. Inwardly is there security at all? Please question it. Suppose I depend for my security on some concept I have, some belief I have. That belief, that concept, that conclusion gives me a sense of security. I may seek security in knowledge, or in some form of illusion. Right? You are following this? Illusion. That is, I project an idea, which may be right or wrong, or belief in something which has no rational value and I depend on that, I hold on to that, that gives me a sense of complete security. Like a Catholic, he believes in all kinds of extraordinary things, like the Hindus. And in that belief, in that conclusion, in their ideologies there is certain security. But that security can always be thrown away by reason, by pointing out it becomes insecure. You are following?
So, is there security? I may depend for security, psychologically, on my wife, on my husband. I depend. I am attached, and in that attachment, in that dependence, there is a certain form, subtle form of security. And also unconsciously there is the doubt that this security may not be real because you might go away tomorrow. So there is always doubt, there is always insecurity in the search of security personally, psychologically. Right? So we are asking - please this is very important to ask and find out - if you can live not with security but with intelligence, because that is the ultimate security, a man who is really intelligent. Then in that there is no fear whatsoever. So we have to enquire - by Jove, it is hot! - we have to enquire into what is intelligence.
The word 'intelligence', from Latin and so on, is not only to read between the lines - you understand? - read between the lines. Supposing you receive a letter, in that letter everything is not expressed but you have to have a clear mind to read between the words, get the significance of it. That is part of that intelligence. And also intelligence means to gather a lot of information, a lot of knowledge, and act skilfully with that knowledge, that is partly intelligence. Right? If I am an engineer I gather knowledge all about engineering, the stresses and the strains, the mathematics and so on, so on, and according to that knowledge I act. So that is also part of knowledge. But all such knowledge is limited because it is based on knowledge. Are you following? As we pointed out the other day, knowledge is always limited. Right? And if you seek comfort, security in knowledge, you are seeking security in a very limited thing, therefore it will always create fear. Or if you have any kind of concept to which you hold, that also will cause fear. But if you see that any dependence, any attachment, any adherence to a belief, is not intelligent, then that very intelligence gives you security. Is this clear somewhat? Are we making this clear? No. All right.
I hold on to some image I have, image of god, image of some concept and so on. In that I find a great deal of security. I find I am protected. But the god, the belief is a projection of my thought Right? I have projected it as god, and in that I seek security, I feel safe. But when you tell me to examine this very closely I begin to discover that I am doing a very stupid thing and I get frightened and I run away from it. But if I see the truth of what you are saying, which is that thought has projected god and that which thought has projected thought then worships - which is totally unintelligent. But if I see the fact that it is unintelligent there is already intelligence. Therefore in that intelligence there is security. That intelligence is not yours or mine, it is intelligence. Sir, like there is no western thought and eastern thought, there is only thought. The Western may express in one way and you might express it in another but it is still the activity of thought, which is common to all mankind.
So security exists only in intelligence, not in cleverness, not in knowledge. Intelligence is above knowledge and the feeling of belonging, holding on to something. Intelligence is wisdom and wisdom cannot be bought in books. Wisdom is not the repetition of what somebody has said. Intelligence comes - when there is intelligence there is wisdom. And there is only security in this quality of intelligence that is above all thought.
So this is a movement. That is, we examined comparison, which is competition, which brings fear. We are also examining security which also breeds fear. And also we are going to examine together authority. Of course the authority of law is one thing. You have to pay taxes, that is one of the laws. That is authority, collective authority for the protection of the collective. Right? We are not questioning that. You can question it, you can question it, change it, politically, religiously and so on. But we are questioning the whole concept of authority, the whole burden of authority which man has carried for millennia.
We are saying one of the causes of fear is authority. Have you ever considered: if you had no authority whatsoever, how would you behave? Social authority, the authority of books, the authority of gurus, the authority of State, the authority of the superior and so on, if you had no authority, would you have fear? Or you would do exactly what you want to do, which you are doing now. You are following all this? Are we meeting each other? Or you are merely listening to a talk? So we are questioning, and it is right to question, doubt all authority: the authority of a wife over the husband, or the husband over the wife, the authority of so-called leaders, the authority of the priests, the gurus, the authority of the speaker - the reputation of the speaker, which breeds authority. So why do we obey? Why do we follow? Because in that following, obeying, we feel that there is certain security: you know better than I do therefore I follow you; you are the authority and I become the slave. It may be pleasurable or unpleasant but I follow you, because in that following I feel gregarious, together, you know what you are doing and I don't, so I accept you. In that there is also fear. I don't know if you are following all this. Because sirs, we are examining and finding out if it is possible at all, to live absolutely without any shadow of fear. We are then extraordinary human beings.
So we have examined together comparison, security, authority. And we ought to talk over together the factor of desire, because desire also is one of the movements which causes fear. What is desire? Why is man a slave to desire. Why desires predominate our lives? Why religions have suppressed, have said suppress all desire? If you want to serve god you must be free from all desire, from all wanting - why? We are asking not how to suppress desire, how to run away from desire, but to understand the movement of desire, what is the essence of desire.
Those crows are making a lot of noise tonight, aren't they. They are saying probably goodnight to each other!
So we are together going to examine, look, observe, not even examine, just observe, as you would observe a beautiful sunset, as you would observe light on water, as you would observe the new moon. Just to observe without any sense of regret, without wanting, changing, just to look at something without reward or punishment. So we are going to look together at the whole movement of desire because it is very complex. We are not advocating suppression, or escape, or to deny. We are going to see the nature of it, the structure of it. Right? Are we together in this? We are asking: what is desire, not the objects of desire. The objects may be a shirt, a robe, sari, a car, a house. We are not talking about the objects of desire but desire itself. How it arises and why human beings are so caught up in it. You are waiting for me to explain. That is the tragedy of the modern mind. They want explanations, they want interpretations or an interpreter who will translate what I am speaking because they find it awfully difficult to understand what I am saying, what the speaker is saying, so they need a commentator. This is how we live. We never look, understand, delve into ourselves to find out deeply what is desire, what is love, what is compassion, if there is god, what is death. We never ask passionately. And we are asking this question passionately not intellectually, verbally because desire is one of the strongest motives in our lives. It has tremendous energy. A man who is in an office has got great desire to succeed, he works like, furiously to reach the top; the desire to become enlightened or whatever that may mean, and you practise, struggle, sacrifice, deny. So this is very important to understand what is desire, how it arises, what is its origin. You see when you look at the movement of this desire - please just listen to it - when you look at the movement of desire there is great beauty in it, there is a great sense of extraordinary vitality in it. So please look at your desire - to be rich, to be poor, to be a sanyasi, to be enlightened, to be, whatever the desire is, sexual, sensory, whatever desire it is, look at it. Hold it in front of you and look at it and see how it arises, what is the origin, the beginning of this extraordinary vitality which is called desire. I will explain, the speaker will explain but the explanation is not desire, the word is not the fact. Right? So you are looking at your desire and trying to understand what is its origin, its depth, its extraordinary expanse.
Please as I said, you are waiting for me to explain. The speaker will explain in detail but stay with your desire, look at it, hold it like a precious jewel so that you are looking at it with great, with clear eyes. You see, sirs, we have become second-hand human beings. We never discover anything for ourselves. We read, we are told, the psychologists, the gurus, the saints, they tell us what to do and we follow them. So we have become second-hand, mediocre human beings. And when this problem of desire is explained you will say, 'Yes, I agree with that.' But it is not your discovery, it is not your passionate understanding of it and you are free of something, but always waiting for some explanation, some direction. I will go into it, patience. You know, patience has no time; impatience has. You understand that? Must I explain that? When you are patient now, really looking at your desire, patiently looking at it, you are not thinking about time. But when you are impatient to find an explanation, a resolution of it, then you have time. Right? Whereas if you are patient, that is, looking at something which you have to deeply, profoundly understand there is no time at all. And where there is no time there is patience, real patience. I wonder if you understand all this.
What is desire? Why religions throughout the world have said be without it, always associated with sex. Sanyasi are supposed to be chaste, no sex, but they are burning inside, and so they suppress and go through all the agonies of it. Now we go together, please together, we are going to go into this question of desire. You have to pay a little attention, if you are asleep please wake up because it is very complex, it requires careful, step-by-step explanation and understanding.
Our brain is the centre of all senses. It is the centre of all the responses of the senses. And we use our senses partially. If you are an eye doctor you only look partially, at the eyes, you don't look at the whole human being. If you are a heart specialist you are only concerned with the heart. You are following all this? So our brain is the essence of the senses and its responses. And our brain has been conditioned through millennia to the drive of desire. Right? You are following this? It has become our habit. So in investigating, in looking at desire you have to be aware of how the brain looks at desire, how it feels it, what is its sensation? All right sir, I will explain. Sensation is the response of our nervous organism, our sense response. You see something beautiful. Seeing, then contact with that something beautiful, with that contact there is sensation. Right? I see a beautiful piece of furniture. The seeing of a beautiful piece of furniture, touching it, then sensation from it. Now that is normal. Right? Seeing, touching, contact, then sensation - clear? Now, then thought comes in and says, 'I wish I had that furniture in my room.' Which is, thought creates out of that sensation the image of me sitting on that chair in my room. Right? Is this clear? Seeing, contact, sensation, then thought seeing that furniture, creating the image of me sitting on that furniture. So the moment when thought creates the image that is the second desire is born. Have you understood this? You understand? This is very simple if you look at it for yourself. I see a beautiful suit, or a beautiful robe, sari, whatever it is - I go inside the shop, touch the material, sensation, then thought creates the image of me in that suit. At that moment when thought creates the image then that is the origin of desire. Got it? You understand this? I see a man riding in a rich car, beautiful car - there are no beautiful cars in this country. But there are beautiful cars - and I see it going by, or I see it in the street, locked. I go up to it, look at it, touch it, then thought says 'I wish I owned that car, sitting in there and driving'. The moment of identification of thought with the image of me sitting in that car, that is the moment of desire. You understand? This is clear. I am not going to repeat it over and over, it has no meaning.
Now can one be aware, attentive - please listen to this - contact, seeing, perception, contact, sensation, and be aware at the moment when thought creates the image. That requires extraordinary attention, so that the image is never formed. You understand this? I wonder if you see the beauty of it! So that the mind, the brain is so active at that moment there is no desire, because thought is not creating the image. So desire, being one of the factors of our life, of our daily life, and in finding out, discovering for oneself the origin, the beginning of that desire, and seeing that desire has its own fear, because I may not sit in the car, I may not have that dress, or if I do I might spoil it. There is always unconscious fear behind desire. So we have said comparison, seeking security, authority, desire; these are the movements of fear. I haven't finished yet, don't stop there. (Laughs)
There is also the factor of time. Time is fear. That is, if I am killed instantly now I have no fear. But if I think about death, ending, not carrying all my wealth to the next world, which I can't anyhow, so I am afraid. Right? So we ought to consider together what is time. I hope you are not tired. What is time? Time is a movement, which is, from here to there requires time. Right? I live here and I am attending this meeting and I have to go back home, that takes time. From one point to another point requires movement, which is time. Covering the distance requires time. And if I have an ideal, which is, I am violent and I have an ideal of non-violence, if I have, to achieve that non-violence, whatever that may mean, that requires time. So time is according to the watch, chronological time, time by the sun, sunrise and sunset, that is the outward time. Psychological time, that is, I am this but I hope to be that. I am not good but I will be good. So 'the becoming' requires time. You understand? Please understand this really deeply because you will see something extraordinary if you understand this. Becoming something requires time. To learn a skill requires time. But if I am not good, say I am a hypocrite - much better. I am a hypocrite because I doubletalk. And I say to myself I must not be a hypocrite. That will take time. If I am aware at all I am a hypocrite and not wanting to be a hypocrite, that will take time. At least our brain is conditioned to time - right? - because the brain itself has evolved through time. It is not your brain, it is the brain of mankind. I won't go into that for the moment, it is too complex.
So there is time to learn a skill, a language, to drive a car, to learn any trade requires time. And I am this, I hope to be that. Now the 'hoping to be that' is unreal. Are you following all this? What is real is 'what is'. 'What is' has no time. Do you understand this? I am so caught up in my own... 'What is' and 'what should be' are two different things. Right? Looking at 'what is', that is, I am not good, that is 'what is'. Or rather let me take a much simpler example: I am violent. That is 'what is'. But becoming non-violent is not. That is not a fact. So 'what is' has no time. But if I have something in my mind, in my brain which says, 'I should not be that, but be that', then that requires time. You are following this? So to remain with 'what is' and the resolution of 'what is' has no time. Do you see this? Right? Have you got this?
So, as we said the other day, we are the past, the present and the future. We are the past, modifying itself in the present and continuing in the future. We are the time-makers. Right? We can be free of time or create time. I create time when I say, 'I am this and I should be that', I create time. But I do not create time if I say, this is 'what is' and live with, look at it. In that observation there is no time. The looking without time, which is the past, all that, looking at it dissolves whatever the problem, whatever 'what is'. You try it. Do it and you will discover it for yourself. Right? We are the makers of time. When I say, 'I hope to be something', that is making time.
So please understand this extraordinary subtle factor that we are creating our own time, and therefore we are slave to time. Which is, I must achieve something, I must become something, therefore we are creating time. But if you understand the nature of time and remain totally with 'what is' - I am jealous, envious. Let me say I am envious. Don't try to transform it into something else. Remain with that envy and look at it, observe it, as you observe it dissolves without... In that observation there is no time. Do it. Find out. So time is a factor of fear. I am afraid of the past, or the future, or even the present. So time is a factor of fear. One of the factors of fear is comparison. Don't learn it by heart. Look at it. Comparison, searching for security, which is to deny intelligence, then this whole concept of authority, which makes us slaves, sycophantic, how one grovels in front of authority. I have seen it all over the world, specially in this country. It exists all over the world. But meet a minister and you are all down on your knees; or a guru, or somebody in authority. Which is, you are worshipping reputation, not the reality.
And also one of the movements of fear is desire. And one of the movements of fear is time. And the other factor is thought. Thought which is the response of memory, memory is the outcome of knowledge, knowledge is experience, that is thought. I think about the future and I am frightened. Right? I think about what may happen. I am very healthy but I may fall ill. Or I have fallen sick, remember it and frightened not to be sick again. So thought is the operation of past memory, past experience, past knowledge and thought says, 'I hope all that will not happen in the future' - therefore there is fear, which thought has created. I wonder if you understand all this. I have a job, a good job, but I may lose the job. Thought says you might lose it, be sycophantic to the boss. You follow? The whole movement of thought which creates fear. So the aggregate of all this, which is the collection of all this, all these movements, is the root of fear. If there is a complete intelligent observation of all this, the root, the cause of all this, then where there is a cause there is an end. Right? Do you see this? That is, there is a cause for ill health. If I see the cause, unless I am utterly stupid, that cause tells me why I am not healthy, then I can act upon it. And then there is health. So where there is a cause there can be an end to it. So we'll see the whole movement of causation of fear. Right? The whole movement of fear, the cause of all this, of this terrible burden man has carried. When you see it all, aggregate, as a whole, not as comparison, all the rest of it, when you see it as a whole movement, the totality of that movement, then there is complete ending of that, of fear.
Now are you free of fear now? Or you are going home and start the whole business again? You might say, ask the speaker: are you psychologically free from fear? Wouldn't you ask that question? No? Of course it is in your mind. If the speaker says yes, what value has it to you? The speaker doesn't talk about all this unless he does it himself. Right? It isn't doubletalk. Where there is no fear there is love. Negation of fear is the most positive action. And the negation is the understanding of the whole movement of fear.
And pleasure is another one of our basic pursuits. The pursuit of pleasure. What is the relationship of fear and pleasure? Have you ever asked that question? Or we are merely pursuing pleasure at any cost?
So we have to go into this question, not now, perhaps tomorrow, if you are here and I am here - I am afraid I will be here! Tomorrow we can talk over this. Because you see sir it is no good talking endlessly about these matters, words don't mean a thing unless you live it, unless you absolutely have integrity. When you say, 'I am not afraid' you mean it because you have examined the whole movement of fear. Then you are an extraordinary human being. Then that is real meditation. What we have done this evening, the understanding of desire, is profound meditation. And that requires a great deal of attention, subtlety of brain, quickness of perception, which no amount of reading, following will bring about. What will bring it is your observation of everything around you, the squalor, the dirt, the terrible misery of human beings. And in that perception we see the whole of human mind, how stagnant it is, how dead it is. So one has to question, doubt, and out of that doubt cleansing, purifying the past, the whole nature, then you are really an extraordinary human being and there is no fear, then gods disappear.