The relationship of time and thought to fear
Facing a world in crisis
2nd Public Talk Brockwood Park
August 25, 1985
Lord, there are so many people here, in this bad weather! May we continue where we left off yesterday? I am sorry you are standing out there, sirs, in the cold. We must do something about this long marquee. A circus tent perhaps! (Laughter) I don't mean that as an insult. Sorry! (Laughter) I am glad we can laugh together.
As we were saying yesterday, this is not a one man's talk. It is not one dog barking, but rather we are deliberating together. That word has a great deal of significance: to weigh, to balance, to consider, take counsels together, in view to act, in view to bring about a decision and action. That word has depth and together this morning, and the following mornings, we are going to have a deliberation together. It is not one speaker, or one personality, but rather that we are all together looking, observing, seeing things as they are, taking counsel together, thinking over deliberately, actually, not theoretically or having innumerable beliefs, but rather going into all these matters together. The matter is our life, our daily, it may be boring or exciting, emotional or sentimental, romantic, caught up in great deal of imagination, fantasy, or clinging to one or two beliefs. If one does any of these things then deliberation cannot be possible. Because we are going along the same road, the same boat, same path, same sense of together coming so that we can build together. If that is very clear we can go into many things which we have to do this morning, the two Tuesday and Thursday, and Saturday and Sunday, there are a lot of things to talk over together.
There is no authority here in these talks, in these dialogues between us. The speaker has unfortunately to sit on a platform and that doesn't give him any authority. It is not a personality cult. It is not something that you will think over together and act later, but together now, sitting in this marquee, we are going together to explore and in that exploration acting.
We were talking about conflict yesterday. All the terrible things we are involved in: murder, terrorists, and all the wars that are going on between ideological structures and the ideological beliefs, both religious, political, but nobody seems to take into consideration the whole problem of the world. Each country, each spot, or special boundaries of their own country are in battle with other countries, economically, the threat of war and all the terrible things that are taking place in the world. And this morning we ought to consider all these matters.
First of all did we see the marvellous clouds this morning? The extraordinary light and the beauty of them. The sense of glory. The extraordinary blue sky. And we ought to counsel together what is love and what is beauty, what is time and thought. And if we have time this morning we will talk about fear.
So we are going to go into the question of what is beauty, love, time and thought and fear. Fear of falling ill, fear of not being really well. We will go into that later. But first we ought to consider together what is the nature of beauty. We are going to talk it over together. Please don't wait for the speaker to explain. This is a question put before each one of us, as all the other questions which we are going to put together. What is beauty? And what is the relationship of that to thought and time and love? A beautiful cloud, a lovely sunset, the early morning when there is only one star in the sky and those trees that are full of all that you can see in that tree: the sound, the whisper, the movement of the leaves and the enormous strength of a trunk. And you see the earth, not from the air, you are too high, but the earth, the enormous sense of power, width, valleys, mountains, the blue sky and the outlines, or the lines of the great mountains with their snow caps. When you look at all that, and you look at your wife and your husband, those lovely children that are hopping about on this place, what does beauty mean to each one of us? Does beauty depend on our own particular point of view? To our own sensitivity? Or beauty is the pictures in the museums locked up? Or a poem, specially by Keats - Odes? And you see a sentence in a literary book, so-called popular book, and that one sentence is enough to open all the doors. So for each one of us, what does beauty mean? Is it the face, the body, the sense of tenderness towards another, the sense of generosity, the giving, the great pleasure in seeing some of those marvellous paintings? So are you waiting for the speaker to tell you what is beauty? Or beauty is there when the self is not? You understand? When I am not worried about my own problems, my own misery, depression and worry and all the travail of life which is centred in me, which is the 'me', and that 'me' is not, even for a split-second, when the brain is quiet without any sense of limitation, is there then beauty? Or only then is beauty? Are we talking over, having a deliberation together? Or are we agreeing with the speaker? 'Yes, that sounds very good. That explanation is what I want. And according to that explanation and description, catching a glimpse of something, I will have that memory of that.'
Then one asks: is memory and the continuation of memory, the whole movement of memory, does that help in the apprehension of that which is beautiful? Or remembrance has nothing whatever to do with it. We are in accord? Sir, don't... Is there beauty in our life? The sense of generosity, the sense of, not forgiveness, there is nothing to forgive, the sense of high sensitivity? So we are saying belief, comparison, the worry and the problems have nothing to do with beauty. It is that sense of quality, absence of the self, the 'me', the persona, all my background which is the 'me', when that is not then there is the other. This may sound impossible, but is it? Are we talking about something extreme? Or it is the common lot of all of us that we all go through great periods of suffering, agony, despair, depression, every kind of emotional upheaval and there are rare moments in our life when all that has slipped away from us, and we see something that is beyond all description. It does happen to all of us. And that becomes a memory. Then we pursue that memory. We want something more, continuous of that which we have a glimpse of. Then that memory becomes a block, then that memory destroys everything else. Relax, and just take it quietly. (laughs)
If that is somewhat clear because we are deliberating, taking counsel together, then we ought to talk about a very complex problem of time. Time as hope, time as the whole events and the happenings of our life, as the past. Time as the movement of memory, time according to the longevity of one's life, time as living on this earth and dying. Time by the clock, the sharp second in a quartz watch, the sharpness of that second. Time as psychological becoming, 'I am this but I will be that. I am unhappy, one day I will be happy. I will understand one day. I don't know but I will know. There will be peace on earth some time later but not now.' So time is a very important factor in our life. Time as memory, time as evolving to something else, surrounded in heaven by angels. May I tell a joke here? (laughter)
Two people are in heaven with their wings and halo. One man says to the other, 'Why do I feel so awful when I am dead?' Understood? (laughter)
So: time is a factor in our life. It is an important part of our life. And we think in terms of time. Time as what we have been, what we will be, what is and what we will be - right? I have been that, I am this now, but I will be something else in the future. This movement is the movement of memory, knowledge, experience and so on - right? This constant movement between the past, the present and the future. This is very important in our life. Time creates lots and lots of problems. I am looking for - one is looking forward to something, to a holiday in Spain, or the lovely Sicily, and so on. This movement, has it a stop? We are talking, taking counsel together. Has this everlasting movement which seems to last from the beginning of one's life till one dies, has this movement ever a stop? Please we are putting this question for you. Let the question answer, not what you will answer. Do you understand that? The question is very important. The question is: does time, this movement, this cycle in which we are all of us are caught endlessly, for two and a half million years and more, as we have lived on this earth, can this movement, can it ever end? Or is a human being eternally caught in it? Not scientific fiction, or some theory about time, or some fantastic otherness, but we are asking a very simple and direct question to each other. The question is important because only then something totally new can take place.
So we are asking: can time ever stop? Time as old age, and in old age one becomes slightly gaga. Senility takes place. That is rather an interesting subject, that. Who is senile? The young, only the young up to forty, thirty and the rest are all senile? Or the old people only are senile? What does senility mean to all of us? The more they ask this question of ourselves. What is senility? You go to a church, specially when the cardinals are performing, it is a marvellous sight, a beautiful sight, so carefully worked out, so precise, so dignified, marvellous robes and colour. If you have been to one of those cathedrals in Rome where the cardinal is performing there is this repetition. Is repetition the indication of senility? Does it only lie with the old? The same habit, the same way of thinking, the perpetual going to the office and work, and work, and work, in the mines, in the seas and the submarines and aeroplanes. And the same relationship between each other, the repetition, sexually, or getting accustomed to each other, so that there is no sense of feeling that you are entirely alone on this earth. Our brain is caught in repetition. Repetition has its own security, its own safety, protection, but when psychologically you keep on remembering, remembering and acting in the same old pattern and method, and practice, naturally that is a form of senility - no? Don't please agree. It is not a matter of agreement or disagreement. One wishes we could put those two words away from us - agreeing and disagreeing. But seeing what is actually taking place in us. And to observe the habits we have formed over long years, the conclusions that we have, politically, religiously and so on. The conclusions, the end, this is what I have understood, I stick by it and so on. Is that not a form of senility? And is it the senile movement takes place only with the old?
So we are talking about time. The past going through the present, modifying and continuing. The past is rooted, taken deep roots and gets through the present through challenges, circumstances, pressures and so on, but it is still the past. And the future is the past, modified. So the future is now. Are we together? Yes? Isn't it? If the past, which we are - two and a half million years or more, or less - that's the enormous space between that long past and the present. The present is what we have been and what we are. That is a fact. And that past gets moulded, shaped, pressurised, goes through every kind of travail, anxiety and so on, but that past continues in a different shape, or a different form, in a different variety of ways and that becomes the future. So the future is now. Right? Are we together in this, or do we need further explanation?
So is there - is the whole movement, the past, the present and the future is contained in the now? Because that is what we are. And that is the whole movement of time - right? And we are asking will that movement ever stop? Otherwise we are bound to this everlasting time-binding quality of this movement - the past, the present and the future. And we escape from that question by talking about heaven, hell, the future, away from all this. So in the now, now, as you are sitting there in the now, all time is contained. The past, modifying itself in the present and the future. In this cycle, which is the now, can that movement stop for a minute, for a second?
Then one asks: what is timelessness, in which time doesn't exist at all? The scientists can give different definitions to time: it is a series of movements from second to second to second, to second, but that is just a theory, just an acceptance of something which is, or may be in our life. But that isn't good enough. If we set aside all theories, all beliefs, the fact is that in our lives - not the time of the sunrise and the sunset, and the new moon and the full moon. The heavens have their own order, their own sense of timelessness. But all that has nothing to do with our actual daily, boring, lonely, despairing life, and joyous occasionally. So is there an end to time?
And then we can ask, but only then, what is timelessness? We can talk about it, we can discuss but those discussions, words, theories have no meaning at all. And what is the relationship of time to thought? The speaker is not asking all these questions. You are asking all these questions. What is the relationship, the actual relationship between thought and time, and the relationship of time, thought, to fear? And their relationship to love? This is what we are concerned with - right?
So what is thought, which is so important, which is so deeply embedded in the deepest valleys of our brain? What is thought in our life? Thought, thinking. Please ask this question of yourself. All this has nothing to do with religions, with all that circus that goes on, with the gurus, with spiritual authorities - think of those two words together, spiritual authority! It seems such an abomination, an anathema, to put those two together.
So all our life and action is based on thought. And you say emotions are not thought. Is that so? We are so gullible, aren't we? We accept everything so easily. Somebody like the speaker says something and you say yes, or no, there is not our own thinking: clear, objective, non-personal observation of everything. We are full of knowledge of other people, we don't know our own deep twisting valleys of the mountains of our life. So what is thinking? Are we again waiting for the speaker to explain everything? And then you agree or disagree? All that is only partial, not complete. 'I'll wait for someone else to complete it.' You understand? Look at our brains, how it works. We go window shopping spiritually. Collect a bit here in this marquee, then go to another marquee - it sounds funny, doesn't it? (Laughter) We are always collecting like a magpie, or those pack rats, and we don't know anything about our own capacity - not skills. A capacity that is not based on experience, that has nothing to do with knowledge. We will talk about all that, if there is time.
So what is thinking? You are sitting there and the speaker is on this unfortunate platform and we are both thinking. What does that thinking mean? He says something and the question is put to you and the brain begins to become active - it is being challenged, it is being driven, pushed, pressurised and then it wakes up and says, yes, or no. And so we go on. We never dig into ourselves, which means we depend on so many things, so many books, so many professors, so many gurus, or leaders. So here we are without a leader, without help, without any kind of circumstantial, pragmatic sustenance. You have to find out what is thinking, what is the origin of all thought, not a particular thought which obviously has a cause. And what has cause can always be overcome. If I have a cause for pain I can deal with it, one can go to a doctor, or anti-doctors, whatever you like, the quacks and the latest anti-medicine and so on. One can get over it because you discover the cause. So what is the cause of thinking? If you understand, one understands the cause then you can put it aside. You understand? If we don't find the cause but merely accept an explanation which is not the actual cause, then we go on skipping along, picking up here and there. So we are together going to find out for ourselves, not the speaker tells you and then you play with it, but for oneself one finds out. The speaker may explain, go into it, as he has done on several occasions. He has been doing this for eighty years. So it is not a game with him, it is not a habit, or senility. (Noise of rain) Ah, it is raining! Or hail. Please come in, come inside sirs. There, it has gone. I don't know if you noticed this morning, early, there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. But we are in Britain! (laughter) So close to the Atlantic.
If one can discover the cause, the raison d'etre, the root of it, then either it is possible to unroot it and let it die, wither away, or you have not, one has not discovered for oneself. (Noise of rain) Rains are blessed things in certain parts of the world - they pray, they long for rains. Right? Here it is perpetual! (laughter) So the cause of anything, the cause of a headache, the cause of a cancer, they haven't discovered it yet but they will probably, the cause of senility, the cause of fear, not a particular form of fear but the root of fear. If one can discover the cause, the effect has no meaning, then the cause will die. That is what we are going to find out together: what is the cause of thought, thought being associated with remembrance, with memories, the images that thought has built together, put together. What is the cause of all this? It appears to the speaker - please don't accept it, this is a deliberation. It took three days to elect a pope and we don't have to take three days. What is the cause of this? Is it experience? Is it the experience that gives knowledge? And the knowledge is stored up in the brain as memory and that memory reacts as thinking? Is all thinking based on that, is it so simple as that? If thinking is based on familiarity, thinking based on memories, of course if you had no memory you wouldn't think - right? Let's be very, very simple. Because the very simplicity is the - it is very subtle, the more simple you are the greater the subtlety - not in clothes, I don't mean that, putting on some kind of silly robe, or having a garland round your neck and all that. That is not simplicity. To have a very clear, sensitive, observing brain, watchful, not frightened. We will go into fear presently. Forgive me!
So is thinking based on experience, knowledge, memory, thought? So thinking is always based on knowledge. The more knowledge you have the more you think. Science is adding every day more and more and more - right? It began with a simple club, then it became the archery, then it became the gun, then the ultimate is the atom bomb. All that is based on accumulated knowledge - right? Step by step, or a sudden jump, but still within the field of knowledge. So thinking is essentially, however simple it may sound, based on experience, knowledge. We are asking can that thinking stop? Otherwise we are caught in this. That means can there be a state without a single memory? A single thought?
And the relationship of time to thought and the relationship between man and woman, the relationship of husband, wife, children, girl friend and so on, the relationship, the closeness, the feeling for each other, is that based on thought? Please we are asking this question. The question itself is important, not the answer. So relationship, thought and time. Right? I am married to you, for various reasons, sexual attraction, dependence, companionship and all the rest of it. And as we live for a day with each other, or ten or fifteen, or hundred years, we get used to each other. We have built up the memories, the images about each other. This is obvious, isn't it? And that memory, those images, are the realities, not the woman or the man or the children, or... the reality is the image that I have built about her, and she has built an image about me. These images are the realities, functional realities, but not actual relationship. So thought is the basis of our life, business, working the mines, or in a laboratory and so on and so on. All the things that the priests have put together: the rituals, the beliefs, the wafers and all the things that are in the temples and mosques, all put together by thought. And thought, therefore, being based on knowledge, is everlastingly limited, partial. There is no complete thought, it is impossible. Right?
So if there is not recognition of the fact that thought is completely limited - your worship, your prayer, your belonging to this guru or that guru, for God's sake, all this is so terribly trivial. Don't get angry, please, with me. So if thought is limited and obviously it is, you may think of the unlimited but it is still limited. You may think of the eternal and all that, it is still put together by thought. And we are saying: can that thought, time, come to an end? Probably you have never asked this question and you are faced with that question, and you can't answer it because you haven't delved into yourselves deeply, examined, looking, observing which is different from analysis, just observing the deep valleys of one's own life and brain.
From that we should go and enquire into what is fear. Is fear related to time and thought? What is fear? Fear of being ill. We have all been ill, haven't we at one time or another. The earth is crowded with doctors and pills. We have all been ill. What is the value or significance of illness, of which you are so frightened? Please. What is the significance of being ill? Has it any meaning at all? Or when fear interferes with illness do you learn anything at all? Or can one look at that illness quite objectively, not immediately identify oneself with that pain, that illness and then battle with it, wanting to be healthy and so on? So fear of being ill, if one allows illness not to the extreme point of terminal illness, then it has a great significance, it indicates a great deal, it opens the door to many things. But when there is fear all the doors are shut tight. And we are now enquiring also: what is fear? Fear of losing pleasure, fear of tomorrow, fear of darkness, fear of one's husband or wife, fear of your gurus - of course, otherwise you wouldn't follow them, fear of not having his peculiar enlightenment. Think of it - a guru having enlightenment! Fear of so many things: neighbour, war, the terrorists, and all the things that the priests have put together for two thousand years in Christianity, and all the things that ancient India has put together, three to five thousand years. There are all kinds of extraordinary traditions in India, I won't go into it now. They are really quite extraordinary, some of them.
So there is the fear of heaven and hell, fear of the most trivial things of our life. So we are going together to look at the cause of fear. As we said, if one can discover for oneself the cause, then you can deal with the cause. Then you can end the cause, if you observe very carefully, the cause, then that very cause comes to an end. You don't have to do anything about it, just to observe the cause as you observe something external, as you heard the rain on the canvas a few minutes ago, you hear it and if you hear it quietly it tells you something, it has its own music.
So what is the cause of fear? Fear of illness, fear of death, fear of a hundred little things. fear inhibits freedom. As long as there is any particle of fear about anything there is no freedom. It is not to be sought in some other place, though the pastures may be greener across the field, but the multiplication of this fear is growing more and more and more on earth and sitting down here seriously and considering together, taking together what is the causation of fear, then we can go into it if you are serious, concerned, with the ending of fear. First we must deal with the psychological fears, not the external fears, that comes later. If the psychological fears are ended completely, then you will deal with physical fears entirely differently, not the other way round. It is so obvious, isn't it? - that we want to be fearless outwardly, therefore we divide the countries, beliefs, dogmas and all that childish business. But if we begin to see the root of fear psychologically, inwardly, not as separate person with my fears, but fear as a whole because every human being on this earth goes through fear. Even the gurus, even the priests, even the highest authority in Christendom, they have all fears. All over the world every human being has fear of death, of lacking love and oh, dozens and dozens of fears. And because we have fears we are not ever free, so it behoves us to examine very closely, not analytically because then you separate the analyser and the analysed, then conflict begins. Right? Where there is division there must be conflict. That's a natural, eternal law. Look what is happening with the miners and those who own the mines; the separate countries, like England, France, Germany, Russia - fighting, fighting, fighting; the Arab and the Jew - you know sirs, don't you, this is so obvious. So not to belong to any country. Of course you have to have a passport. The speaker has an Indian passport but he is not an Indian. They have given him a diplomatic passport - but he has put that diplomatic where it belongs.
So, fear is common to all of us, like pain, like anxiety, like sorrow, uncertainty, the demand for power, position, prestige, every human being has this seed of fear. We are not talking about a particular fear but when one grasps the whole content of fear, the root of it then you can deal with the particular, that becomes utterly unnecessary. So what is the root of fear? Please don't wait for the speaker to explain. The root of it, because it is in us, not in heaven, or in the priests, or in all the things put together by thought of man. Is it time? Is it thought? Is it some unknown factor? If it is an unknown factor that man is cursed with this fact which has existed for man for two million years or more or less, and that long evolution has not solved this problem, he has escaped from it, worshipping gods, following somebody, all that business. So can we, this morning, sitting under this marquee, deliberating together, find out the cause and end it? End it now, not the day after tomorrow. If you end it now you are an amazingly free man, or woman, or whatever it is. You are then really free. And that freedom alone can open the door to truth.
So we are asking what is the root of it. Is it thought? Is it time? Don't please accept a thing that the speaker says, and don't follow his words, or his gestures, or his clothes, go into it. It is necessary to have passion to have that tremendous energy to discover anything, not just acceptance and all that, and handing over yourself to somebody. It is nothing to do with all that immature stuff. Because it is a very serious question. So is thought and time responsible? Or is time thought, which is one, not separate, is that the root of it? It is the root of it, isn't it? I am not - if one is afraid of death, that fear of ending, which we will go into another time, if that ending takes place then one is frightened with the known. So is thinking, thinking, the root which is time, is that the root of it? Of course. It is obvious if one points it out. If we did not think and there was not time, there is no death, no fear.
So the question arises: can thought/time stop? Only then there is the end to fear. But one has to see it for oneself not take it from another. We are not beggars. Nobody is giving or taking. Nobody is stretching his hand out to you to move. You have to have this energy and that energy has its own capacity. So the speaker is saying, which you don't have to accept or reject, just observe him saying that fear can end psychologically completely, wholly, when there is no thinking and time. That question itself, to find out the cause of fear, and finding it out for oneself, hold that cause, stay with it, then the very staying has its own energy. But if you run away then it is like playing a game with yourself. So is it possible to end this fear now, psychologically, so completely so that you are a free man?
And we will talk about other things, like pleasure, sorrow, death and meditation, religion and so on. But if fear doesn't come to an end completely the other things are meaningless. You may sit in meditation, put on special robes, follow some person, all that has no meaning. What has meaning is the ending of fear. And when you discover the cause, like thought and time, remain with it, hold it, stay with it, don't let it escape from your hands. Then the very observation of that is the ending of that psychological fear in which there is no attachment to anything.
I am sorry to have talked so long. May we get up?