Time, action and fear
Is it possible for the stream of selfishness to end?
4th Public Talk Saanen
July 20, 1975
May we go on with what we have been talking about during the three last meetings that we have had here.
We were saying that given the situation of the world, the gradual creeping of dictatorship all over the world, the denial of freedom and all the confusion, the wars and the starvation and the great suffering of human beings all over the world - and this catastrophic existence has not been changed by any experience, by any religious organisation or belief, or through scientific knowledge or the ordinary knowledge that one has gathered through experience.
It is becoming more and more obvious that knowledge, that which one has accumulated through centuries, has not basically changed man in his behaviour towards other human beings. I think that can be taken for granted by those who have gone seriously into this matter. And, if I may again remind you, this is not an amusement this morning, an entertainment, something you listen to for an hour and forget all about it and return to your own life. We are very serious and we have been discussing, talking over together, the question of suffering, love and the whole movement of thought as knowledge.
This morning, if I may, I would like to go into the question of time, action and fear. We are using ordinary language, not jargons, not technical words but simple words that have meaning according to the dictionary - the dictionary being the commonly accepted meaning of words. And we also said there must be total psychological freedom to observe. Without that freedom all perception, all waiting to perceive and then to act denies the total relevance of living now. And we were saying that thought - which I must repeat again a little bit - thought, whatever it has constructed, whatever it has reflected about or upon is the world of reality. That thought can be rational or irrational, both the actual and the fictitious are realities, the neurotic as well as the sane are both in the field of reality. And, it seems to me, unless one understands this whole problem of time, man will never be free of fear. Time is fear.
And one has to go into this question of what is time? Because we live by time, we act according to time, all our thinking is based upon time as the remembrance of something past, acting in the present, constructing a future according to our conditioning, which is essentially time.
There is not only the chronological time: yesterday, today and tomorrow by the clock, which is necessary if you want to catch a train or a bus, and there is also the psychological time. The time to achieve psychologically, to gain, to become, to change, to achieve an ideological status of a mind, to change from one conditioning to another conditioning, to radically transform that which is conditioned to something that is not conditioned. That movement is called time. There is not only the becoming into something which is time, but also there is all the unconscious movement as time.
I hope we are communicating with each other clearly. Because there must be not only a verbal communication, a description, an explanation through words - but the explanation, the description, the word is not the thing, not the described, not that which is explained; but words are necessary and if we are to understand each other, communicate with each other, words are necessary which will help us to share that which is being said.
That which is being said is not an opinion, it is not a personal inclination, tendency, or personal conclusion. We are dealing with facts, that which is - not that which should be or that which we hope to be, or indulge in absurd speculations - we are actually dealing with how we live in our daily life. And if one is concerned with the radical transformation of not only our own lives but of the society, the world of which we are and we are the world, we must understand not only suffering, love and all the complications of love and pain and sorrow and grief, which we went into the other day, but also we have to understand this problem of time.
So time is movement - movement from here to there, not only physically but psychologically. The psychological movement may be conscious or unconscious; the movement of desire as becoming something, the projection of a goal, a purpose, an end psychologically, needs time - the movement of 'what is' to 'what should be', the actual and the fictitious, which is the ideal. All that is a movement conscious or unconscious. The desire to become or not to become, this constant movement of desire with its reactions is in the field of time. I think that's fairly clear for most of us. We live in the past and with the past, function in the present, which is a movement from yesterday to today, which is time at the conscious level. And also there is at the unconscious, semi-awakened, dim conscious state, there are all the movements of desire, movements of concealed hypocrisy, the movements of double-talk, the assertions of saying something and doing something totally different, and the unconscious movement of desire - conscious movement of desire and the unconscious movement of desire; one must be aware of both and that movement is time. Right?
This time, this movement, is the movement of thought. Right? So thought, conscious or dimly-conscious or unconscious, is always operating in the field of time. Time, not only the outward chronological by the watch, but also time as the movement of thought as desire, conscious as well as unconscious. This is what is happening to all of us.
And what is action? Because we must act, life is action, relationship is action, is action - that is the doing, not having done or will do, neither the past nor the future, that is not action. I don't know if you realise it - the meaning of the word 'action' is always in the active present. Right? But that active present in action is coloured by the past - through memory, through our conditioning, through our education, environmental influence and various influences - and stored up as memory, which is time - please, follow this - which is time, and this action is always limited, confined. That is, when I act according to a pattern which is one's conditioning, then that action is never in the present. It's always from the knowledge, which is the past, acting through the present, therefore it is not action. I wonder if we see this.
So one has to ask: what relationship is action to time? You are following this? I act according to an ideal, according to a belief, according to a conclusion. The ideal is in the future. A conclusion is in the past, like knowledge, and a belief is irrational, future, past and an irrational act which is a theoretical, fanciful, a neurotic act. So there it is. All that is time, obviously. So action is always coloured, limited, incomplete, fragmentary and therefore self-contradiction. Is this going too fast?
Please, if I may point out, if one may point out, we are talking about your life, your daily life, not some theoretical life of somebody else. We are actually, as two friends, gathered together in a quiet place, talking over their problems, both being serious, and concerned and committed to the solution of human problems, because they feel as two people that they are the world and the world is them. They are the very essence of the world and what they do affects the world.
So it is very important to find out if there is an action actually in the present, not an action dictated by the past according to a conditioning, or acting according to a future concept, which is what we are doing all the time, and therefore our action is incomplete, contradictory, an action that breeds regrets, anxiety, pain and so on. So it is absolutely imperative to find out an action which is without time, and therefore one has to understand very, very deeply the problem of time. Is this clear? Because, as we said, our actions are conditioned - conditioned by the culture we live in, by the social influence, by the economic pressures, by the climate, food and so on. And according to that conditioning we act. That conditioning is the content of our consciousness. Our consciousness is the content, the two are not different and that consciousness is within the area of time. Right? You see this? Rather fun if you go into it.
And we are asking: time being a movement - is movement - is there an action which is not dictated by time? Because time is fear and if the mind of a human being is to be totally free of fear psychologically, completely, absolutely to be free of fear, he must understand time. Time as the movement of thought. And is there an action which is without time? That is: time ends, action begins. I wonder if you see this? Now this is very complicated, please. This is a very serious matter. It isn't a thing that you come to curiously one morning, on a lovely morning like this, and forget and go away. We are concerned with the total movement of life, we are concerned with our existence, with our misery, with our fears, with our pleasures, with our agonies and not run away from them. And that demands a mind that is really serious, not curious and not argumentative or opinionated - a mind that's inquiring, that is wanting to find out. And to investigate you must have freedom to look - not to look with conclusions, with opinions, then you cannot possibly examine. So we are talking over together a very serious matter, which is: can there be freedom, total freedom from psychological fears? And to go into it very, very deeply one must not only understand what is time, but also what is action, because action breeds fear, stored up as memory and that memory restrains, controls, shapes action. So if you would be free of fear you must understand that fear is time. If there was no time, you have no fear. I wonder if you see that? If there was no tomorrow, only now, fear as a movement of thought ends.
So there is time - the chronological as well as psychological - in that area we live. In that area of movement of thought as time there is action - acting according as a Christian or a Communist, or a Socialist or a Buddhist, Hindu and so on, and so on - always within the movement of thought as time and measure. This is clear, I think.
So we can go now into finding out, what is fear? Not the various forms of fear, which we'll discuss presently, but what is the nature of fear, what is the source of fear? You may not be afraid of anything now, sitting here, but obviously in your consciousness there is fear - in the unconscious or in the conscious. There is this terrible thing called anxiety, pain, grief, suffering and fear. One may be afraid psychologically of tomorrow - what might happen or what might not be achieved, or will there be a continuity of that relationship which has given great pleasure, great comfort, will it continue? Will the relationship be permanent or will there be change? - which the mind dreads, because the mind, the brain needs stability, needs security to function. Please follow this. The brain will create any conclusion and hold to that conclusion because that gives it security - it may be an irrational conclusion or rational conclusion, an idiotic belief or a rational observation - it will cling to both, because that offers to the brain, and therefore to action, a complete sense of security. Right?
So, the brain, the human mind, the brain, needs total security, as in a child, the baby needs complete security otherwise it becomes neurotic and all kinds of things happen to it. Similarly for a grown-up human being the demand and the necessity of security is immense, and that search for security may be in a belief - the Catholic belief, the Protestant, or in the Utopian belief, or the belief in Lenin and Mao and also in your Gurus - I hope none of you have any Gurus, because to follow a Guru is to destroy truth. I'll go into that later.
So there are fears, conscious as well as unconscious, open fears and secret hidden fears in the recesses of one's own mind, which have never been explored, never been opened. Fear, like sorrow, is a dark cloud that affects all our action. Please watch it in yourself, please don't listen to the description. Use the description to watch yourself. The description is the mirror in which you are seeing yourself. There are the conscious fears which one can observe clearly - not distort them but observe, not analyse but look. When you look, it reveals the totality, when you analyse - analysis is a process of fragmentation. I wonder if you see that. Right?
So there are the unconscious, deeply hidden fears, and how do you deal with them? Because fear, as we said, distorts all action. Fear either breeds despair, cynicism or hope - both are irrational. And fear is the movement of thought as time. So it is real, it is not fictitious. So now our problem is: how is the mind, how am I, or you, to unravel these fears so deeply hidden? Can it ever be unravelled, or is it always there, showing its head occasionally, when a crisis or when an incident takes place, when a challenge is offered, or can it be totally brought out? I wonder if you follow this?
We said, analysis is a process of fragmentation. Therefore through analysis the uncovering of the unconscious with all its fears becomes a necessity when the mind realises that there must be total freedom from fear. That being so, what is a human being to do? Shall he analyse? Shall he wait for the intimation, hints of the unconscious through dreams; when you are not occupied and the unconscious gives a hint that there is this quality of fear? You follow? Are you to wait through dreams, through hints, intimation, take time as analysis? If you discard all that - please understand what I am saying - discard it, not in theories but actually discard it because they have no meaning. Then what is what is then the totality, the whole structure of fear? You follow? Both the unconscious as well as the conscious. Am I conveying this? If I can understand, if the mind can understand the totality of fear, look at the totality of fear, then the unconscious has very little importance. I wonder if you see this. Do you actually see this, what the speaker is saying?
It is when we see fragments of fear, then we are concerned with the unconscious, with what is hidden in the cave. But when we are concerned with the observation of the totality of fear, with the whole structure of fear, then the greater washes away the lesser. I wonder if you see this? No? You don't see it?
Wait a minute. All right. Thought has created the microphone, but the microphone is independent of thought, of the thought which has created it. Right? Please follow this. The mountain is not created by thought, it is independent of thought. Fear is put together by thought. Is that thought independent of fear? No, wait! Listen carefully. This is independent of thought, but thought has created it. The mountain is not created by thought but it exists independent of thought. Is fear - follow this, please - is fear independent of thought, though fear has created thought? If it is independent of thought as 'that', as the mountain, then that independence of thought, that fear not made by thought will go on living. If it is made by thought, as the microphone, then there is a perception of the whole movement of thought as fear. Does this convey anything to you? Wait a minute. I'll go into it differently.
What is it, what does it mean to see the whole? The word 'whole' means healthy, sane, rational and also it means holy. H.O.L.Y. Whole. How does one perceive the whole of anything? The whole of fear, not the broken up of fear in different forms or the fear of the unconscious and the conscious - in the conscious and in the unconsciousness - but the whole of fear. You understand now? How does one perceive the whole of fear? How do I perceive the whole of me - the 'me' constructed by thought, isolated by thought, fragmented by thought which in itself is fragmented? So it creates the 'me' and thinks that 'me' is independent of thought. The 'me' thinks it is independent of thought but it has created the 'me' - the 'me' with all its anxieties, fears, vanities, agonies, pleasures, pain, hopes - all that. That 'me' has been created by thought. And that 'me' becomes independent of thought, it thinks it has its own life - like the microphone which is created by thought and yet it is independent of thought. The mountain is not created by thought but yet it is independent. The 'me' is created by thought and 'me' says, 'I am independent of thought'. Now to see the totality of it. Is this clear now?
By Jove! (Laughter) You are not quick! So what is fear totally - not the various forms of fear, not the various leaves of this tree of fear, but the total tree of fear? Right? How does one see the totality of fear? To see something totally or to listen to something completely, there must be freedom mustn't there? Freedom from prejudice, freedom from your conclusion, freedom from your wanting to be free of fear, freedom from the rationalisation of fear. Please follow all this. Freedom from the desire to control it - can the mind be free of all that? Otherwise it can't see the whole. I am afraid. I am afraid because of tomorrow: losing a job, afraid I may not succeed, afraid I might lose my position, afraid that I'll be challenged and not be able to reply, afraid of losing my capacity - all the fears that one has. Can you look at it without any movement - please listen - any movement of thought which is time? Which causes fear. Have you understood something?
That is: I am afraid of not becoming something, because I have been educated, conditioned by a society that says I must be something - as an artist, as an engineer, doctor and the corrupt politician, whatever you like - I must be something. And there begins one of the seeds of fear. Then there is the fear of thought not being certain. Thought not being certain , and thought can never be certain - I don't know if you see this - because it is a fragment. In itself it is a fragment. Thought can never see the whole. I don't know it you see that. Because thought being a fragment, it can only observe fragmentarily.
And there are the fears of desire. Right? The fears of a remembrance of something past, a remembrance evoking a certain incident which causes fear. And what is the root of fear? You understand? One can describe various psychological forms of fear: afraid of the dark, afraid of losing my husband, afraid of losing a wife, afraid of disease, afraid of lack of a job - a dozen fears. Each insoluble because they are fragmented by thought. And so one asks: what is the root of fear? Can I see not only the whole tree of fear but also the root of fear?
So far we have described - and don't be caught by the description, by the explanation, then we are back again in the same old stupid business.
We are asking: what is the root of fear? What do you think it is? Don't answer me, please, there are too many of you. What do you think is the root of fear, both unconsciously as well as consciously? Bearing in mind, through education, school, college, university - if you are lucky to go to those places, or unlucky to go to those places - your society, the religion - always in the future, you'll be good in heaven, but not now - bearing all that in mind, what is the source, the root, the basis of fear?
If you are challenged, how do you answer it? We are challenging here. How do you respond? Please, listen - how do you respond to a question of that kind? That is: do you see, perceive, observe, are aware, what is the total cause of this - called 'fear'. Or are you waiting for somebody to tell you and then you accept it, and then you say, 'yes, I see it'. Which means, that you don't actually see it. You see the description. We are saying there are physical fears. Ordinary physical, chemical fears - meeting a snake, a precipice, fears of old age, fears of something that you did in the past and you don't want to be shown, and so on - these are ordinary physical fears. And you meet them intelligently - that is an onrushing bus - you don't stay in its way, you jump out, you move away, which is self-protective intelligence which is not fear. When you meet a snake, it is self-protective, instinct, and therefore it's an act of observation, which says, 'That's danger, move!'
So there are one can deal with the physical fears, if you have a mind that is capable, rational, whole, healthy. That's simple. But psychologically we are asking: what is the foundation, the depth of this fear - from where does it come? Does it come is the root of fear time? The root of time being movement of thought? Is the source of fear uncertainty, therefore no stability and therefore no security, psychologically - which will affect the physical action and therefore bring a different society and so on and so on? So is it time, is it action, the uncertainty of action, which is a mind that is confused, as most people's minds are, and out of that confusion is fear - not knowing what to do, go after a Guru or whatever you do. So is thought the source of fear or is there something far greater? You understand? Thought, action, uncertainty, the lack of deep security psychologically, and therefore how will you find or have or participate in this complete security? You understand my question? If there is complete security psychologically there is no fear. I wonder if you see this?
We seek that complete security in relationship, in holding on to a belief, however irrational, however stupid, superstitious, traditional - we hold on. However neurotic, we hold on. So is it, the mind, we, not having psychologically complete, total security, from that arises fear? You are following this? Now where is that security to be found? One has sought it in god, which is the projection of thought, in saviours, which is a projection of thought, in beliefs, which is a projection of thought, in relationship with you and me, in attachment, in a conditioned mind and not wanting to break that conditioning. So where does the mind find a whole, complete, absolute security - absolute, not relative? You understand my question? Where?
Please, I must go on with this. Until you see this when I show it to you, you will miss it. Thought wants to be secure, the brain demands complete security because only then it can function rationally. So it has sought security in knowledge, in science, in relationship, in conclusions and it hasn't found security in any of this - in the church, in none of it. And you must have security. Then your brain functions clearly, objectively - highly sensitive. Now where do you find it? Is it out there or somewhere else?
You know the word 'leisure' - leisure - to have leisure. Have you had leisure at any time? In leisure you learn. We have, sitting here, having leisure, for an hour or whatever it is, and you are learning - not from the speaker, together we are learning. Right? So we are learning together in leisure the futility of security in the projections of thought - whether it's god, whether it's - whatever it is. So having leisure means learning. Now I want to learn we have to learn we want to learn where there is security - absolute security, not variable security. If one has that, the whole problem of fear ends - the total fear, both physiologically as well as psychologically. Our minds are active, chasing one thought after another. Our minds, in their movement of thought, there are gaps between thoughts - an interval, a time interval - and thought is always trying to find a means where it can abide. Abide in the sense, 'hold'. What thought creates, being fragmentary, is total insecurity. I wonder if you see this. Therefore there is complete security in being completely nothing. Which means not a thing created by thought. Do you understand this? To be absolutely nothing. Which means total contradiction to everything that you have learnt, everything that thought has put together. To be not a thing. If you are nothing you have complete security; it's only the man that is becoming, wanting, desiring, pursuing - in that there is complete insecurity.
So after listening for an hour, seeing the nature of time, which is movement of thought - apart from the chronological time - seeing that action is never complete, always fragmented and therefore an action can only be complete when there is total security; and seeing the whole nature of fear as the movement of thought, as the achievement of an ideal or living in the past, in the romantic, idiotic, sentimental past, or living in knowledge, which again is fragmentary and therefore never complete. Action means: to act completely now, the active present. That can only take place when there is complete security. The security that thought has created is no security - this is an absolute truth. And the absolute truth is, when there is nothing, when you are nothing.
Now what happens in our relationship when you are nothing? You understand? You know what it means to be nothing? No ambition, which doesn't mean you vegetate, no competition, no aggression, no resistance, no barriers built by hurt - you are absolutely nothing. Then what is it to be related to another? Have you ever thought about all this, or is it all so tragically new?
Our relationship now is unstable, not stable, and therefore it is a perpetual battle, perpetual division, each seeking his own pursuits, his own enjoyments, his own - you know, isolated. That relationship being insecure must inevitably bring division and therefore conflict. Right? Now when in that relationship there is complete security, there is no conflict. But you may be completely nothing, and I might not, therefore what takes place? You follow? You understand all this? You are nothing psychologically, inwardly you are completely secure, because there is nothing, and I am still fighting, quarrelling, insecure, confused - what is our relationship, between you and me? This is what is going on. You understand?
Not certainty created by thought - that's no certainty. Like a man saying, 'I believe in that', and establish his relationship in a belief, and therefore that belief is conditioning, breeds fear and therefore division. Here it is entirely different. You have perceived, realised, understood, seen the truth that in this nothingness there is complete security, and I haven't. What takes place between you and me? Come on sir, investigate it. You have affection, love, compassion born of this tremendous unshakeable stability, and I haven't. I am your friend, your wife or your husband - what takes place? What do you do with me? You understand sir - what do you do with me? Hit me on the head, cajole me, talk to me, comfort me, tell me how stupid I am? What will you do? You understand sir, this is Now, look at it differently. What time is it?
Questioner: Twenty to twelve.
Krishnamurti: Let's look at it differently. There are about fifteen hundred of us, or twelve hundred of us in this tent. And some of you - at least I hope so - have listened very carefully, given your attention, care, affection, and you realise that you are the world and the world is you - not verbally but profoundly, the truth of it. We'll discuss later what is truth and what is reality, what is the relationship between reality and truth. We'll go into all that later. So you are the world and the world is you, you realise that and you realise, see, the immense and imminent responsibility to change radically, because you have listened, not argued, not opinionated - you see the truth of it. Then what is your relationship with the rest of the world? Fifteen hundred or twelve hundred of you listen to all this, see it, aware of it, given your deep committed concern, because you are serious people, I hope, and when there is that fundamental transformation then what is your relationship with the world? It is the same question, you understand? What do you do? Or do you wait for something to happen? If you wait for something to happen, nothing will happen.
So, if you actually see the truth that you are the world and the world is you - not as a theory, a verbal assertion but an actuality and you see the extraordinary importance that when you basically transform yourself, you'll affect the whole of consciousness of the world - bound to. And won't you, if you are completely, wholly secure in the sense we are talking about, won't you affect me, who am uncertain, lonely, despairing, clinging, attaching, attachment - won't you affect me? Obviously you will. But the important thing is that you listening, see this, the truth of this - then it is yours, not somebody else's, giving you something. Right?