Freedom From the Known
Freedom From the Known
By J. Krishnamurti
E-Text Source: www.jkrishnamurti.org
The copyright of this book is held by Krishnamurti Foundations. We are providing this e-book solely for non-commercial usage as a noble service. The printed book can be purchased from Krishnamurti Foundations.
Man has throughout the ages been seeking something beyond himself, beyond material welfare - something we call truth or God or reality, a timeless state - something that cannot be disturbed by circumstances, by thought or by human corruption.
Man has always asked the question: what is it all about? Has life any meaning at all? He sees the enormous confusion of life, the brutalities, the revolt, the wars, the endless divisions of religion, ideology and nationality, and with a sense of deep abiding frustration he asks, what is one to do, what is this thing we call living, is there anything beyond it?
And not finding this nameless thing of a thousand names which he has always sought, he has cultivated faith - faith in a saviour or an ideal - and faith invariably breeds violence.
In this constant battle which we call living, we try to set a code of conduct according to the society in which we are brought up, whether it be a Communist society or a so-called free society; we accept a standard of behaviour as part of our tradition as Hindus or Muslims or Christians or whatever we happen to be. We look to someone to tell us what is right or wrong behaviour, what is right or wrong thought, and in following this pattern our conduct and our thinking become mechanical, our responses automatic. We can observe this very easily in ourselves.
For centuries we have been spoon-fed by our teachers, by our authorities, by our books, our saints. We say, 'Tell me all about it - what lies beyond the hills and the mountains and the earth?' and we are satisfied with their descriptions, which means that we live on words and our life is shallow and empty. We are second-hand people. We have lived on what we have been told, either guided by our inclinations, our tendencies, or compelled to accept by circumstances and environment. We are the result of all kinds of influences and there is nothing new in us, nothing that we have discovered for ourselves; nothing original, pristine, clear.
Throughout theological history we have been assured by religious leaders that if we perform certain rituals, repeat certain prayers or mantras, conform to certain patterns, suppress our desires, control our thoughts, sublimate our passions, limit our appetites and refrain from sexual indulgence, we shall, after sufficient torture of the mind and body, find something beyond this little life. And that is what millions of so-called religious people have done through the ages, either in isolation, going off into the desert or into the mountains or a cave or wandering from village to village with a begging bowl, or, in a group, joining a monastery, forcing their minds to conform to an established pattern. But a tortured mind, a broken mind, a mind which wants to escape from all turmoil, which has denied the outer world and been made dull through discipline and conformity - such a mind, however long it seeks, will find only according to its own distortion.
So to discover whether there actually is or is not something beyond this anxious, guilty, fearful, competitive existence, it seems to me that one must have a completely different approach altogether. The traditional approach is from the periphery inwards, and through time, practice and renunciation, gradually to come upon that inner flower, that inner beauty and love - in fact to do everything to make oneself narrow, petty and shoddy; peel off little by little; take time; tomorrow will do, next life will do - and when at last one comes to the centre one finds there is nothing there, because one's mind has been made incapable, dull and insensitive.
Having observed this process, one asks oneself, is there not a different approach altogether - that is, is it not possible to explode from the centre?
The world accepts and follows the traditional approach. The primary cause of disorder in ourselves is the seeking of reality promised by another; we mechanically follow somebody who will assure us a comfortable spiritual life. It is a most extraordinary thing that although most of us are opposed to political tyranny and dictatorship, we inwardly accept the authority, the tyranny, of another to twist our minds and our way of life. So if we completely reject, not intellectually but actually, all so-called spiritual authority, all ceremonies, rituals and dogmas, it means that we stand alone and are already in conflict with society; we cease to be respectable human beings. A respectable human being cannot possibly come near to that infinite, immeasurable, reality.
You have now started by denying something absolutely false - the traditional approach - but if you deny it as a reaction you will have created another pattern in which you will be trapped; if you tell yourself intellectually that this denial is a very good idea but do nothing about it, you cannot go any further. If you deny it however, because you understand the stupidity and immaturity of it, if you reject it with tremendous intelligence, because you are free and not frightened, you will create a great disturbance in yourself and around you but you will step out of the trap of respectability. Then you will find that you are no longer seeking. That is the first thing to learn - not to seek. When you seek you are really only window-shopping.
The question of whether or not there is a God or truth or reality, or whatever you like to call it, can never be answered by books, by priests, philosophers or saviours. Nobody and nothing can answer the question but you yourself and that is why you must know yourself. Immaturity lies only in total ignorance of self. To understand yourself is the beginning of wisdom.
And what is yourself, the individual you? I think there is a difference between the human being and the individual. The individual is a local entity, living in a particular country, belonging to a particular culture, particular society, particular religion. The human being is not a local entity. He is everywhere. If the individual merely acts in a particular corner of the vast field of life, then his action is totally unrelated to the whole. So one has to bear in mind that we are talking of the whole not the part, because in the greater the lesser is, but in the lesser the greater is not. The individual is the little conditioned, miserable, frustrated entity, satisfied with his little gods and his little traditions, whereas a human being is concerned with the total welfare, the total misery and total confusion of the world.
We human beings are what we have been for millions of years - - colossally greedy, envious, aggressive, jealous, anxious and despairing, with occasional flashes of joy and affection. We are a strange mixture of hate, fear and gentleness; we are both violence and peace. There has been outward progress from the bullock cart to the jet plane but psychologically the individual has not changed at all, and the structure of society throughout the world has been created by individuals. The outward social structure is the result of the inward psychological structure of our human relationships, for the individual is the result of the total experience, knowledge and conduct of man. Each one of us is the storehouse of all the past. The individual is the human who is all mankind. The whole history of man is written in ourselves.
Do observe what is actually taking place within yourself and outside yourself in the competitive culture in which you live with its desire for power, position, prestige, name, success and all the rest of it - observe the achievements of which you are so proud, this whole field you call living in which there is conflict in every form of relationship, breeding hatred, antagonism, brutality and endless wars. This field, this life, is all we know, and being unable to understand the enormous battle of existence we are naturally afraid of it and find escape from it in all sorts of subtle ways. And we are frightened also of the unknown - frightened of death, frightened of what lies beyond tomorrow. So we are afraid of the known and afraid of the unknown. That is our daily life and in that there is no hope, and therefore every form of philosophy, every form of theological concept, is merely an escape from the actual reality of what is.
All outward forms of change brought about by wars, revolutions, reformations, laws and ideologies have failed completely to change the basic nature of man and therefore of society. As human beings living in this monstrously ugly world, let us ask ourselves, can this society, based on competition, brutality and fear, come to an end? Not as an intellectual conception, not as a hope, but as an actual fact, so that the mind is made fresh, new and innocent and can bring about a different world altogether? It can only happen, I think, if each one of us recognises the central fact that we, as individuals, as human beings, in whatever part of the world we happen to live or whatever culture we happen to belong to, are totally responsible for the whole state of the world.
We are each one of us responsible for every war because of the aggressiveness of our own lives, because of our nationalism, our selfishness, our gods, our prejudices, our ideals, all of which divide us. And only when we realize, not intellectually but actually, as actually as we would recognise that we are hungry or in pain, that you and I are responsible for all this existing chaos, for all the misery throughout the entire world because we have contributed to it in our daily lives and are part of this monstrous society with its wars, divisions, its ugliness, brutality and greed - only then will we act.
But what can a human being do - what can you and I do - to create a completely different society? We are asking ourselves a very serious question. Is there anything to be done at all? What can we do? Will somebody tell us? People have told us. The so-called spiritual leaders, who are supposed to understand these things better than we do, have told us by trying to twist and mould us into a new pattern, and that hasn't led us very far; sophisticated and learned men have told us and that has led us no further. We have been told that all paths lead to truth - you have your path as a Hindu and someone else has his path as a Christian and another as a Muslim, and they all meet at the same door - which is, when you look at it, so obviously absurd. Truth has no path, and that is the beauty of truth, it is living. A dead thing has a path to it because it is static, but when you see that truth is something living, moving, which has no resting place, which is in no temple, mosque or church, which no religion, no teacher, no philosopher, nobody can lead you to - then you will also see that this living thing is what you actually are - your anger, your brutality, your violence, your despair, the agony and sorrow you live in. In the understanding of all this is the truth, and you can understand it only if you know how to look at those things in your life. And you cannot look through an ideology, through a screen of words, through hopes and fears.
So you see that you cannot depend upon anybody. There is no guide, no teacher, no authority. There is only you - your relationship with others and with the world - there is nothing else. When you realize this, it either brings great despair, from which comes cynicism and bitterness, or, in facing the fact that you and nobody else is responsible for the world and for yourself, for what you think, what you feel, how you act, all self-pity goes. Normally we thrive on blaming others, which is a form of self-pity.
Can you and I, then, bring about in ourselves without any outside influence, without any persuasion, without any fear of punishment - can we bring about in the very essence of our being a total revolution, a psychological mutation, so that we are no longer brutal, violent, competitive, anxious, fearful, greedy, envious and all the rest of the manifestations of our nature which have built up the rotten society in which we live our daily lives?
It is important to understand from the very beginning that I am not formulating any philosophy or any theological structure of ideas or theological concepts. It seems to me that all ideologies are utterly idiotic. What is important is not a philosophy of life but to observe what is actually taking place in our daily life, inwardly and outwardly. If you observe very closely what is taking place and examine it, you will see that it is based on an intellectual conception, and the intellect is not the whole field of existence; it is a fragment, and a fragment, however cleverly put together, however ancient and traditional, is still a small part of existence whereas we have to deal with the totality of life. And when we look at what is taking place in the world we begin to understand that there is no outer and inner process; there is only one unitary process, it is a whole, total movement, the inner movement expressing itself as the outer and the outer reacting again on the inner. To be able to look at this seems to me all that is needed, because if we know how to look, then the whole thing becomes very clear, and to look needs no philosophy, no teacher. Nobody need tell you how to look. You just look.
Can you then, seeing this whole picture, seeing it not verbally but actually, can you easily, spontaneously, transform yourself? That is the real issue. Is it possible to bring about a complete revolution in the psyche?
I wonder what your reaction is to such a question? You may say, 'I don't want to change', and most people don't, especially those who are fairly secure socially and economically or who hold dogmatic beliefs and are content to accept themselves and things as they are or in a slightly modified form. With those people we are not concerned. Or you may say more subtly, 'Well, it's too difficult, it's not for me', in which case you will have already blocked yourself, you will have ceased to enquire and it will be no use going any further. Or else you may say, 'I see the necessity for a fundamental inward change in myself but how am I to bring it about? Please show me the way, help me towards it.' If you say that, then what you are concerned with is not change itself; you are not really interested in a fundamental revolution: you are merely searching for a method, a system, to bring about change.
If I were foolish enough to give you a system and if you were foolish enough to follow it, you would merely be copying, imitating, conforming, accepting, and when you do that you have set up in yourself the authority of another and hence there is conflict between you and that authority. You feel you must do such and such a thing because you have been told to do it and yet you are incapable of doing it. You have your own particular inclinations, tendencies and pressures which conflict with the system you think you ought to follow and therefore there is a contradiction. So you will lead a double life between the ideology of the system and the actuality of your daily existence. In trying to conform to the ideology, you suppress yourself - whereas what is actually true is not the ideology but what you are. If you try to study yourself according to another you will always remain a second-hand human being.
A man who says, 'I want to change, tell me how to', seems very earnest, very serious, but he is not. He wants an authority whom he hopes will bring about order in himself. But can authority ever bring about inward order? Order imposed from without must always breed disorder. You may see the truth of this intellectually but can you actually apply it so that your mind no longer projects any authority, the authority of a book, a teacher, a wife or husband, a parent, a friend or of society? Because we have always functioned within the pattern of a formula, the formula becomes the ideology and the authority; but the moment you really see that the question, 'How can I change?' sets up a new authority, you have finished with authority for ever.
Let us state it again clearly: I see that I must change completely from the roots of my being; I can no longer depend on any tradition because tradition has brought about this colossal laziness, acceptance and obedience; I cannot possibly look to another to help me to change, not to any teacher, any God, any belief, any system, any outside pressure or influence. What then takes place?
First of all, can you reject all authority? If you can it means that you are no longer afraid. Then what happens? When you reject something false which you have been carrying about with you for generations, when you throw off a burden of any kind, what takes place? You have more energy, haven't you? You have more capacity, more drive, greater intensity and vitality. If you do not feel this, then you have not thrown off the burden, you have not discarded the dead weight of authority.
But when you have thrown it off and have this energy in which there is no fear at all - no fear of making a mistake, no fear of doing right or wrong - then is not that energy itself the mutation? We need a tremendous amount of energy and we dissipate it through fear but when there is this energy which comes from throwing off every form of fear, that energy itself produces the radical inward revolution. You do not have to do a thing about it.
So you are left with yourself, and that is the actual state for a man to be who is very serious about all this; and as you are no longer looking to anybody or anything for help, you are already free to discover. And when there is freedom, there is energy; and when there is freedom it can never do anything wrong. Freedom is entirely different from revolt. There is no such thing as doing right or wrong when there is freedom. You are free and from that centre you act. And hence there is no fear, and a mind that has no fear is capable of great love. And when there is love it can do what it will.
What we are now going to do, therefore, is to learn about ourselves, not according to me or to some analyst or philosopher - because if we learn about ourselves according to someone else, we learn about them, not ourselves - we are going to learn what we actually are.
Having realized that we can depend on no outside authority in bringing about a total revolution within the structure of our own psyche, there is the immensely greater difficulty of rejecting our own inward authority, the authority of our own particular little experiences and accumulated opinions, knowledge, ideas and ideals. You had an experience yesterday which taught you something and what it taught you becomes a new authority - and that authority of yesterday is as destructive as the authority of a thousand years. To understand ourselves needs no authority either of yesterday or of a thousand years because we are living things, always moving, flowing, never resting. When we look at ourselves with the dead authority of yesterday, we will fail to understand the living movement and the beauty and quality of that movement.
To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion. It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.
So now we are going to investigate ourselves together - not one person explaining while you read, agreeing or disagreeing with him as you follow the words on the page, but taking a journey together, a journey of discovery into the most secret corners of our minds. And to take such a journey we must travel light; we cannot be burdened with opinions, prejudices and conclusions - all that old furniture we have collected for the last two thousand years and more. Forget all you know about yourself; forget all you have ever thought about yourself; we are going to start as if we knew nothing.
It rained last night heavily, and now the skies are beginning to clear; it is a new fresh day. Let us meet that fresh day as if it were the only day. Let us start on our journey together with all the remembrance of yesterday left behind - and begin to understand ourselves for the first time.
If you think it is important to know about yourself only because I or someone else has told you it is important, then I am afraid all communication between us comes to an end. But if we agree that it is vital that we understand ourselves completely, then you and I have quite a different relationship, then we can explore together with a happy, careful and intelligent enquiry.
I do not demand your faith; I am not setting myself up as an authority. I have nothing to teach you - no new philosophy, no new system, no new path to reality; there is no path to reality any more than to truth. All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.
If you do not follow somebody you feel very lonely. Be lonely then. Why are you frightened of being alone? Because you are faced with yourself as you are and you find that you are empty, dull, stupid, ugly, guilty and anxious - a petty, shoddy, second-hand entity. Face the fact; look at it, do not run away from it. The moment you run away fear begins.
In enquiring into ourselves we are not isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. It is not an unhealthy process. Man throughout the world is caught up in the same daily problems as ourselves, so in enquiring into ourselves we are not being in the least neurotic because there is no difference between the individual and the collective. That is an actual fact. I have created the world as I am. So don't let us get lost in this battle between the part and the whole.
I must become aware of the total field of my own self, which is the consciousness of the individual and of society. It is only then, when the mind goes beyond this individual and social consciousness, that I can become a light to myself that never goes out.
Now where do we begin to understand ourselves? Here am I, and how am I to study myself, observe myself, see what is actually taking place inside myself? I can observe myself only in relationship because all life is relationship. It is no use sitting in a corner meditating about myself. I cannot exist by myself. I exist only in relationship to people, things and ideas, and in studying my relationship to outward things and people, as well as to inward things, I begin to understand myself. Every other form of understanding is merely an abstraction and I cannot study myself in abstraction; I am not an abstract entity; therefore I have to study myself in actuality - as I am, not as I wish to be.
Understanding is not an intellectual process. Accumulating knowledge about yourself and learning about yourself are two different things, for the knowledge you accumulate about yourself is always of the past and a mind that is burdened with the past is a sorrowful mind. Learning about yourself is not like learning a language or a technology or in the present and knowledge is always in the past, and as most of us live in the past and are satisfied with the past, knowledge becomes extraordinarily important to us. That is why we worship the erudite, the clever, the cunning. But if you are learning all the time, learning every minute, learning by watching and listening, learning by seeing and doing, then you will find that learning is a constant movement without the past.
If you say you will learn gradually about yourself, adding more and more, little by little, you are not studying yourself now as you are but through acquired knowledge. Learning implies a great sensitivity. There is no sensitivity if there is an idea, which is of the past, dominating the present. Then the mind is no longer quick, pliable, alert. Most of us are not sensitive even physically. We overeat, we do not bother about the right diet, we over smoke and drink so that our bodies become gross and insensitive; the quality of attention in the organism itself is made dull. How can there be a very alert, sensitive, clear mind if the organism itself is dull and heavy? We may be sensitive about certain things that touch us personally but to be completely sensitive to all the implications of life demand that there be no separation between the organism and the psyche. It is a total movement.
To understand anything you must live with it, you must observe it, you must know all its content, its nature, its structure, its movement. Have you ever tried living with yourself? If so, you will begin to see that yourself is not a static state, it is a fresh living thing. And to live with a living thing your mind must also be alive. And it cannot be alive if it is caught in opinions, judgements and values.
In order to observe the movement of your own mind and heart, of your whole being, you must have a free mind, not a mind that agrees and disagrees, taking sides in an argument, disputing over mere words, but rather following with an intention to understand - a very difficult thing to do because most of us don't know how to look at, or listen to, our own being any more than we know how to look at the beauty of a river or listen to the breeze among the trees.
When we condemn or justify we cannot see clearly, nor can we when our minds are endlessly chattering; then we do not observe what is we look only at the projections we have made of ourselves. Each of us has an image of what we think we are or what we should be, and that image, that picture, entirely prevents us from seeing ourselves as we actually are.
It is one of the most difficult things in the world to look at anything simply. Because our minds are very complex we have lost the quality of simplicity. I don't mean simplicity in clothes or food, wearing only a loin cloth or breaking a record fasting or any of that immature nonsense the saints cultivate, but the simplicity that can look directly at things without fear - that can look at ourselves as we actually are without any distortion - to say when we lie we lie, not cover it up or run away from it.
Also in order to understand ourselves we need a great deal of humility. If you start by saying, `I know myself', you have already stopped learning about yourself; or if you say, 'There is nothing much to learn about myself because I am just a bundle of memories, ideas, experiences and traditions', then you have also stopped learning about yourself. The moment you have achieved anything you cease to have that quality of innocence and humility; the moment you have a conclusion or start examining from knowledge, you are finished, for then you are translating every living thing in terms of the old. Whereas if you have no foothold, if there is no certainty, no achievement, there is freedom to look, to achieve. And when you look with freedom it is always new. A confident man is a dead human being.
But how can we be free to look and learn when our minds from the moment we are born to the moment we die are shaped by a particular culture in the narrow pattern of the `me'? For centuries we have been conditioned by nationality, caste, class, tradition, religion, language, education, literature, art, custom, convention, propaganda of all kinds, economic pressure, the food we eat, the climate we live in, our family, our friends, our experiences - every influence you can think of - and therefore our responses to every problem are conditioned.
Are you aware that you are conditioned? That is the first thing to ask yourself, not how to be free of your conditioning. You may never be free of it, and if you say, `I must be free of it', you may fall into another trap of another form of conditioning. So are you aware that you are conditioned? Do you know that even when you look at a tree and say, `That is an oak tree', or `that is a banyan tree', the naming of the tree, which is botanical knowledge, has so conditioned your mind that the word comes between you and actually seeing the tree? To come in contact with the tree you have to put your hand on it and the word will not help you to touch it.
How do you know you are conditioned? What tells you? What tells you, you are hungry? - not as a theory but the actual fact of hunger? In the same way, how do you discover the actual fact that you are conditioned? Isn't it by your reaction to a problem, a challenge? You respond to every challenge according to your conditioning and your conditioning being inadequate will always react inadequately.
When you become aware of it, does this conditioning of race, religion and culture bring a sense of imprisonment? Take only one form of conditioning, nationality, become seriously, completely aware of it and see whether you enjoy it or rebel against it, and if you rebel against it, whether you want to break through all conditioning. If you are satisfied with your conditioning you will obviously do nothing about it, but if you are not satisfied when you become aware of it, you will realize that you never do anything without it. Never! And therefore you are always living in the past with the dead.
You will be able to see for yourself how you are conditioned only when there is a conflict in the continuity of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. If everything is perfectly happy around you, your wife loves you, you love her, you have a nice house, nice children and plenty of money, then you are not aware of your conditioning at all. But when there is a disturbance - when your wife looks at someone else or you lose your money or are threatened with war or any other pain or anxiety - then you know you are conditioned. When you struggle against any kind of disturbance or defend yourself against any outer or inner threat, then you know you are conditioned. And as most of us are disturbed most of the time, either superficially or deeply, that very disturbance indicates that we are conditioned. So long as the animal is petted he reacts nicely, but the moment he is antagonized the whole violence of his nature comes out.
We are disturbed about life, politics, the economic situation, the horror, the brutality, the sorrow in the world as well as in ourselves, and from that we realize how terribly narrowly conditioned we are. And what shall we do? Accept that disturbance and live with it as most of us do? Get used to it as one gets used to living with a backache? Put up with it?
There is a tendency in all of us to put up with things, to get used to them, to blame them on circumstances. `Ah, if things were right I would be different', we say, or, `Give me the opportunity and I will fulfil myself', or, 'I am crushed by the injustice of it all', always blaming our disturbances on others or on our environment or on the economic situation.
If one gets used to disturbance it means that one's mind has become dull, just as one can get so used to beauty around one that one no longer notices it. One gets indifferent, hard and callous, and one's mind becomes duller and duller. If we do not get used to it we try to escape from it by taking some kind of drug, joining a political group, shouting, writing, going to a football match or to a temple or church or finding some other form of amusement.
Why is it that we escape from actual facts? We are afraid of death - I am just taking that as an example - and we invent all kinds of theories, hopes, beliefs, to disguise the fact of death, but the fact is still there. To understand a fact we must look at it, not run away from it. Most of us are afraid of living as well as of dying. We are afraid of our family, afraid of public opinion, of losing our job, our security, and hundreds of other things. The simple fact is that we are afraid, not that we are afraid of this or that. Now why cannot we face that fact?
You can face a fact only in the present and if you never allow it to be present because you are always escaping from it, you can never face it, and because we have cultivated a whole network of escapes we are caught in the habit of escape.
Now, if you are at all sensitive, at all serious, you will not only be aware of your conditioning but you will also be aware of the dangers it results in, what brutality and hatred it leads to. Why, then, if you see the danger of your conditioning, don't you act? Is it because you are lazy, laziness being lack of energy? Yet you will not lack energy if you see an immediate physical danger like a snake in your path, or a precipice, or a fire. Why, then, don't you act when you see the danger of your conditioning? If you saw the danger of nationalism to your own security, wouldn't you act?
The answer is you don't see. Through an intellectual process of analysis you may see that nationalism leads to self-destruction but there is no emotional content in that. Only when there is an emotional content do you become vital.
If you see the danger of your conditioning merely as an intellectual concept, you will never do anything about it. In seeing a danger as a mere idea there is conflict between the idea and action and that conflict takes away your energy. It is only when you see the conditioning and the danger of it immediately, and as you would see a precipice, that you act. So seeing is acting.
Most of us walk through life inattentively, reacting unthinkingly according to the environment in which we have been brought up, and such reactions create only further bondage, further conditioning, but the moment you give your total attention to your conditioning you will see that you are free from the past completely, that it falls away from you naturally.
When you become aware of your conditioning you will understand the whole of your consciousness. Consciousness is the total field in which thought functions and relationships exist. All motives, intentions, desires, pleasures, fear, inspiration, longings, hopes, sorrows, joys are in that field. But we have come to divide the consciousness into the active and the dormant, the upper and lower level - that is, all the daily thoughts, feelings and activities on the surface and below them the so-called subconscious, the things with which we are not familiar, which express themselves occasionally through certain intimations, intuitions and dreams.
We are occupied with one little corner of consciousness which is most of our life; the rest, which we call the subconscious, with all its motives, its fears, its racial and inherited qualities, we do not even know how to get into. Now I am asking you, is there such a thing as the subconscious at all? We use that word very freely. We have accepted that there is such a thing and all the phrases and jargon of the analysts and psychologists have seeped into the language; but is there such a thing? And why is it that we give such extraordinary importance to it? It seems to me that it is as trivial and stupid as the conscious mind - as narrow, bigoted, conditioned, anxious and tawdry.
So is it possible to be totally aware of the whole field of consciousness and not merely a part, a fragment, of it? If you are able to be aware of the totality, then you are functioning all the time with your total attention, not partial attention. This is important to understand because when you are being totally aware of the whole field of consciousness there is no friction. it is only when you divide consciousness, which is all thought, feeling and action, into different levels that there is friction.
We live in fragments. You are one thing at the office, another at home; you talk about democracy and in your heart you are autocratic; you talk about loving your neighbours, yet kill him with competition; there is one part of you working, looking, independently of the other. Are you aware of this fragmentary existence in yourself? And is it possible for a brain that has broken up its own functioning, its own thinking, into fragments - is it possible for such a brain to be aware of the whole field? Is it possible to look at the whole of consciousness completely, totally, which means to be a total human being?
If, in order to try to understand the whole structure of the `me', the self, with all its extraordinary complexity, you go step by step, uncovering layer by layer, examining every thought, feeling and motive, you will get caught up in the analytical process which may take you weeks, months, years - and when you admit time into the process of understanding yourself, you must allow for every form of distortion because the self is a complex entity, moving, living, struggling, wanting, denying, with pressures and stresses and influences of all sorts continually at work on it. So you will discover for yourself that this is not the way; you will understand that the only way to look at yourself is totally, immediately, without time; and you can see the totality of yourself only when the mind is not fragmented. What you see in totality is the truth.
Now can you do that? Most of us cannot because most of us have never approached the problem so seriously, because we have never really looked at ourselves. Never. We blame others, we explain things away or we are frightened to look. But when you look totally you will give your whole attention, your whole being, everything of yourself, your eyes, your ears, your nerves; you will attend with complete self-abandonment, and then there is no room for fear, no room for contradiction, and therefore no conflict.
Attention is not the same thing as concentration. Concentration is exclusion; attention, which is total awareness, excludes nothing. It seems to me that most of us are not aware, not only of what we are talking about but of our environment, the colours around us, the people, the shape of the trees, the clouds, the movement of water. Perhaps it is because we are so concerned with ourselves, with our own petty little problems, our own ideas, our own pleasures, pursuits and ambitions that we are not objectively aware. And yet we talk a great deal about awareness. Once in India I was travelling in a car. There was a chauffeur driving and I was sitting beside him. There were three gentlemen behind discussing awareness very intently and asking me questions about awareness, and unfortunately at that moment the driver was looking somewhere else and he ran over a goat, and the three gentlemen were still discussing awareness - totally unaware that they had run over a goat. When the lack of attention was pointed out to those gentlemen who were trying to be aware it was a great surprise to them.
And with most of us it is the same. We are not aware of outward things or of inward things. If you want to understand the beauty of a bird, a fly, or a leaf, or a person with all his complexities, you have to give your whole attention which is awareness. And you can give your whole attention only when you care, which means that you really love to understand - then you give your whole heart and mind to find out.
Such awareness is like living with a snake in the room; you watch its every movement, you are very, very sensitive to the slightest sound it makes. Such a state of attention is total energy; in such awareness the totality of yourself is revealed in an instant.
When you have looked at yourself so deeply you can go much deeper. When we use the word `deeper' we are not being comparative. We think in comparisons - deep and shallow, happy and unhappy. We are always measuring, comparing. Now is there such a state as the shallow and the deep in oneself? When I say, `My mind is shallow, petty, narrow, limited', how do I know all these things? Because I have compared my mind with your mind which is brighter, has more capacity, is more intelligent and alert. Do I know my pettiness without comparison? When I am hungry, I do not compare that hunger with yesterday's hunger. Yesterday's hunger is an idea, a memory.
If I am all the time measuring myself against you, struggling to be like you, then I am denying what I am myself. Therefore I am creating an illusion. When I have understood that comparison in any form leads only to greater illusion and greater misery, just as when I analyse myself, add to my knowledge of myself bit by bit, or identify myself with something outside myself, whether it be the State, a saviour or an ideology - when I understand that all such processes lead only to greater conformity and therefore greater conflict - when I see all this I put it completely away. Then my mind is no longer seeking. It is very important to understand this. Then my mind is no longer groping, searching, questioning. This does not mean that my mind is satisfied with things as they are, but such a mind has no illusion. Such a mind can then move in a totally different dimension. The dimension in which we usually live, the life of every day which is pain, pleasure and fear, has conditioned the mind, limited the nature of the mind, and when that pain, pleasure and fear have gone (which does not mean that you no longer have joy: joy is something entirely different from pleasure) - then the mind functions in a different dimension in which there is no conflict, no sense of `otherness'.
Verbally we can go only so far: what lies beyond cannot be put into words because the word is not the thing. Up to now we can describe, explain, but no words or explanations can open the door. What will open the door is daily awareness and attention - awareness of how we speak, what we say, how we walk, what we think. It is like cleaning a room and keeping it in order. Keeping the room in order is important in one sense but totally unimportant in another. There must be order in the room but order will not open the door or the window. What will open the door is not your volition or desire. You cannot possibly invite the other. All that you can do is to keep the room in order, which is to be virtuous for itself, not for what it will bring. To be sane, rational, orderly. Then perhaps, if you are lucky, the window will open and the breeze will come in. Or it may not. It depends on the state of your mind. And that state of mind can be understood only by yourself, by watching it and never trying to shape it, never taking sides, never opposing, never agreeing, never justifying, never condemning, never judging - which means watching it without any choice. And out of this choiceless awareness perhaps the door will open and you will know what that dimension is in which there is no conflict and no time.
We said in the last chapter that joy was something entirely different from pleasure, so let us find out what is involved in pleasure and whether it is at all possible to live in a world that does not contain pleasure but a tremendous sense of joy, of bliss.
We are all engaged in the pursuit of pleasure in some form or other - intellectual, sensuous or cultural pleasure, the pleasure of reforming, telling others what to do, of modifying the evils of society, of doing good - the pleasure of greater knowledge, greater physical satisfaction, greater experience, greater understanding of life, all the clever, cunning things of the mind - and the ultimate pleasure is, of course, to have God.
Pleasure is the structure of society. From childhood until death we are secretly, cunningly or obviously pursuing pleasure. So whatever our form of pleasure is, I think we should be very clear about it because it is going to guide and shape our lives. It is therefore important for each one of us to investigate closely, hesitantly and delicately this question of pleasure, for to find pleasure, and then nourish and sustain it, is a basic demand of life and without it existence becomes dull, stupid, lonely and meaningless.
You may ask why then should life not be guided by pleasure? For the very simple reason that pleasure must bring pain, frustration, sorrow and fear, and, out of fear, violence. If you want to live that way, live that way. Most of the world does, anyway, but if you want to be free from sorrow you must understand the whole structure of pleasure
To understand pleasure is not to deny it. We are not condemning it or saying it is right or wrong, but if we pursue it, let us do so with our eyes open, knowing that a mind that is all the time seeking pleasure must inevitably find its shadow, pain. They cannot be separated, although we run after pleasure and try to avoid pain.
Now, why is the mind always demanding pleasure? Why is it that we do noble and ignoble things with the undercurrent of pleasure? Why is it we sacrifice and suffer on the thin thread of pleasure? What is pleasure and how does it come into being? I wonder if any of you have asked yourself these questions and followed the answers to the very end?
Pleasure comes into being through four stages - perception, sensation, contact and desire. I see a beautiful motor car, say; then I get a sensation, a reaction, from looking at it; then I touch it or imagine touching it, and then there is the desire to own and show myself off in it. Or I see a lovely cloud, or a mountain clear against the sky, or a leaf that has just come in springtime, or a deep valley full of loveliness and splendour, or a glorious sunset, or a beautiful face, intelligent, alive, not self-conscious and therefore no longer beautiful. I look at these things with intense delight and as I observe them there is no observer but only sheer beauty like love. For a moment I am absent with all my problems, anxieties and miseries - there is only that marvellous thing. I can look at it with joy and the next moment forget it, or else the mind steps in, and then the problem begins; my mind thinks over what it has seen and thinks how beautiful it was; I tell myself I should like to see it again many times. Thought begins to compare, judge, and say `l must have it again tomorrow'. The continuity of an experience that has given delight for a second is sustained by thought.
It is the same with sexual desire or any other form of desire. There is nothing wrong with desire. To react is perfectly normal. If you stick a pin in me I shall react unless I am paralysed. But then thought steps in and chews over the delight and turns it into pleasure. Thought wants to repeat the experience, and the more you repeat, the more mechanical it becomes; the more you think about it, the more strength thought gives to pleasure. So thought creates and sustains pleasure through desire, and gives it continuity, and therefore the natural reaction of desire to any beautiful thing is perverted by thought. Thought turns it into a memory and memory is then nourished by thinking about it over and over again.
Of course, memory has a place at a certain level. In everyday life we could not function at all without it. In its own field it must be efficient but there is a state of mind where it has very little place. A mind which is not crippled by memory has real freedom.
Have you ever noticed that when you respond to something totally, with all your heart, there is very little memory? It is only when you do not respond to a challenge with your whole being that there is a conflict, a struggle, and this brings confusion and pleasure or pain. And the struggle breeds memory. That memory is added to all the time by other memories and it is those memories which respond. Anything that is the result of memory is old and therefore never free. There is no such thing as freedom of thought. It is sheer nonsense.
Thought is never new, for thought is the response of memory, experience, knowledge. Thought, because it is old, makes this thing which you have looked at with delight and felt tremendously for the moment, old. From the old you derive pleasure, never from the new. There is no time in the new.
So if you can look at all things without allowing pleasure to creep in - at a face, a bird, the colour of a sari, the beauty of a sheet of water shimmering in the sun, or anything that gives delight - if you can look at it without wanting the experience to be repeated, then there will be no pain, no fear, and therefore tremendous joy.
It is the struggle to repeat and perpetuate pleasure which turns it into pain. Watch it in yourself. The very demand for the repetition of pleasure brings about pain, because it is not the same, as it was yesterday. You struggle to achieve the same delight, not only to your aesthetic sense but the same inward quality of the mind, and you are hurt and disappointed because it is denied to you.
Have you observed what happens to you when you are denied a little pleasure? When you don't get what you want you become anxious, envious, hateful. Have you noticed when you have been denied the pleasure of drinking or smoking or sex or whatever it is - have you noticed what battles you go through? And all that is a form of fear, isn't it? You are afraid of not getting what you want or of losing what you have. When some particular faith or ideology which you have held for years is shaken or torn away from you by logic or life, aren't you afraid of standing alone? That belief has for years given you satisfaction and pleasure, and when it is taken away you are left stranded, empty, and the fear remains until you find another form of pleasure, another belief.
It seems to me so simple and because it is so simple we refuse to see its simplicity. We like to complicate everything. When your wife turns away from you, aren't you jealous? Aren't you angry? Don't you hate the man who has attracted her? And what is all that but fear of losing something which has given you a great deal of pleasure, a companionship, a certain quality of assurance and the satisfaction of possession?
So if you understand that where there is a search for pleasure there must be pain, live that way if you want to, but don't just slip into it. If you want to end pleasure, though, which is to end pain, you must be totally attentive to the whole structure of pleasure - not cut it out as monks and sannyasis do, never looking at a woman because they think it is a sin and thereby destroying the vitality of their understanding - but seeing the whole meaning and significance of pleasure. Then you will have tremendous joy in life. You cannot think about joy. Joy is an immediate thing and by thinking about it, you turn it into pleasure. Living in the present is the instant perception of beauty and the great delight in it without seeking pleasure from it.
Before we go any further I would like to ask you what is your fundamental, lasting interest in life? Putting all oblique answers aside and dealing with this question directly and honestly, what would you answer? Do you know?
Isn't it yourself? Anyway, that is what most of us would say if we answered truthfully. I am interested in my progress, my job, my family, the little corner in which I live, in getting a better position for myself, more prestige, more power, more domination over others and so on. I think it would be logical, wouldn't it, to admit to ourselves that that is what most of us are primarily interested in - 'me' first?
Some of us would say that it is wrong to be primarily interested in ourselves. But what is wrong about it except that we seldom decently, honestly, admit it? If we do, we are rather ashamed of it. So there it is - one is fundamentally interested in oneself, and for various ideological or traditional reasons one thinks it is wrong. But what one thinks is irrelevant. Why introduce the factor of its being wrong? That is an idea, a concept. What is a fact is that one is fundamentally and lastingly interested in oneself.
You may say that it is more satisfactory to help another than to think about yourself. What is the difference? It is still self-concern. If it gives you greater satisfaction to help others, you are concerned about what will give you greater satisfaction. Why bring any ideological concept into it? Why this double thinking? Why not say, `What I really want is satisfaction, whether in sex, or in helping others, or in becoming a great saint, scientist or politician'? It is the same process, isn't it? Satisfaction in all sorts of ways, subtle and obvious, is what we want. When we say we want freedom we want it because we think it may be wonderfully satisfying, and the ultimate satisfaction, of course, is this peculiar idea of self-realization. What we are really seeking is a satisfaction in which there is no dissatisfaction at all.
Most of us crave the satisfaction of having a position in society because we are afraid of being nobody. Society is so constructed that a citizen who has a position of respect is treated with great courtesy, whereas a man who has no position is kicked around. Everyone in the world wants a position, whether in society, in the family or to sit on the right hand of God, and this position must be recognized by others, otherwise it is no position at all. We must always sit on the platform. Inwardly we are whirlpools of misery and mischief and therefore to be regarded outwardly as a great figure is very gratifying. This craving for position, for prestige, for power, to be recognized by society as being outstanding in some way, is a wish to dominate others, and this wish to dominate is a form of aggression. The saint who seeks a position in regard to his saintliness is as aggressive as the chicken pecking in the farmyard. And what is the cause of this aggressiveness? It is fear, isn't it?
Fear is one of the greatest problems in life. A mind that is caught in fear lives in confusion, in conflict, and therefore must be violent, distorted and aggressive. It dare not move away from its own patterns of thinking, and this breeds hypocrisy. Until we are free from fear, climb the highest mountain, invent every kind of God, we will always remain in darkness.
Living in such a corrupt, stupid society as we do, with the competitive education we receive which engenders fear, we are all burdened with fears of some kind, and fear is a dreadful thing which warps, twists and dulls our days.
There is physical fear but that is a response we have inherited from the animals. It is psychological fears we are concerned with here, for when we understand the deep-rooted psychological fears we will be able to meet the animal fears, whereas to be concerned with the animal fears first will never help us to understand the psychological fears.
We are all afraid about something; there is no fear in abstraction, it is always in relation to something. Do you know your own fears - fear of losing your job, of not having enough food or money, or what your neighbours or the public think about you, or not being a success, of losing your position in society, of being despised or ridiculed - fear of pain and disease, of domination, of never knowing what love is or of not being loved, of losing your wife or children, of death, of living in a world that is like death, of utter boredom, of not living up to the image others have built about you, of losing your faith - all these and innumerable other fears - do you know your own particular fears? And what do you usually do about them? You run away from them, don't you, or invent ideas and images to cover them? But to run away from fear is only to increase it.
One of the major causes of fear is that we do not want to face ourselves as we are. So, as well as the fears themselves, we have to examine the network of escapes we have developed to rid ourselves of them. If the mind, in which is included the brain, tries to overcome fear, to suppress it, discipline it, control it, translate it into terms of something else, there is friction, there is conflict, and that conflict is a waste of energy.
The first thing to ask ourselves then is what is fear and how does it arise? What do we mean by the word fear itself? I am asking myself what is fear not what I am afraid of.
I lead a certain kind of life; I think in a certain pattern; I have certain beliefs and dogmas and I don't want those patterns of existence to be disturbed because I have my roots in them. I don't want them to be disturbed because the disturbance produces a state of unknowing and I dislike that. If I am torn away from everything I know and believe, I want to be reasonably certain of the state of things to which I am going. So the brain cells have created a pattern and those brain cells refuse to create another pattern which may be uncertain. The movement from certainty to uncertainty is what I call fear.
At the actual moment as I am sitting here I am not afraid; I am not afraid in the present, nothing is happening to me, nobody is threatening me or taking anything away from me. But beyond the actual moment there is a deeper layer in the mind which is consciously or unconsciously thinking of what might happen in the future or worrying that something from the past may overtake me. So I am afraid of the past and of the future. I have divided time into the past and the future. Thought steps in, says, `Be careful it does not happen again', or `Be prepared for the future. The future may be dangerous for you. You have got something now but you may lose it. You may die tomorrow, your wife may run away, you may lose your job. You may never become famous. You may be lonely. You want to be quite sure of tomorrow.'
Now take your own particular form of fear. Look at it. Watch your reactions to it. Can you look at it without any movement of escape, justification, condemnation or suppression? Can you look at that fear without the word which causes the fear? Can you look at death, for instance, without the word which arouses the fear of death? The word itself brings a tremor, doesn't it, as the word love has its own tremor, its own image? Now is the image you have in your mind about death, the memory of so many deaths you have seen and the associating of yourself with those incidents - is it that image which is creating fear? Or are you actually afraid of coming to an end, not of the image creating the end? Is the word death causing you fear or the actual ending? If it is the word or the memory which is causing you fear then it is not fear at all.
You were ill two years ago, let us say, and the memory of that pain, that illness, remains, and the memory now functioning says, `Be careful, don't get ill, again'. So the memory with its associations is creating fear, and that is not fear at all because actually at the moment you have very good health. Thought, which is always old, because thought is the response of memory and memories are always old - thought creates, in time, the feeling that you are afraid which is not an actual fact. The actual fact is that you are well. But the experience, which has remained in the mind as a memory, rouses the thought, `Be careful, don't fall ill again'.
So we see that thought engenders one kind of fear. But is there fear at all apart from that? Is fear always the result of thought and, if it is, is there any other form of fear? We are afraid of death - that is, something that is going to happen tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, in time. There is a distance between actuality and what will be. Now thought has experienced this state; by observing death it says, `I am going to die.' Thought creates the fear of death, and if it doesn't is there any fear at all? Is fear the result of thought? If it is, thought being always old, fear is always old. As we have said, there is no new thought. If we recognise it, it is already old. So what we are afraid of is the repetition of the old - the thought of what has been projecting into the future. Therefore thought is responsible for fear. This is so, you can see it for yourself. When you are confronted with something immediately there is no fear. It is only when thought comes in that there is fear.
Therefore our question now is, is it possible for the mind to live completely, totally, in the present? It is only such a mind that has no fear. But to understand this, you have to understand the structure of thought, memory and time. And in understanding it, understanding not intellectually, not verbally, but actually with your heart, your mind, your guts, you will be free from fear; then the mind can use thought without creating fear.
Thought, like memory, is, of course, necessary for daily living. It is the only instrument we have for communication, working at our jobs and so forth. Thought is the response to memory, memory which has been accumulated through experience, knowledge, tradition, time. And from this background of memory we react and this reaction is thinking. So thought is essential at certain levels but when thought projects itself psychologically as the future and the past, creating fear as well as pleasure, the mind is made dull and therefore inaction is inevitable.
So I ask myself, `Why, why, why, do I think about the future and the past in terms of pleasure and pain, knowing that such thought creates fear? Isn't it possible for thought psychologically to stop, for otherwise fear will never end?'
One of the functions of thought is to be occupied all the time with something. Most of us want to have our minds continually occupied so that we are prevented from seeing ourselves as we actually are. We are afraid to be empty. We are afraid to look at our fears.
Consciously you can be aware of your fears but at the deeper levels of your mind are you aware of them? And how are you going to find out the fears that are hidden, secret? Is fear to be divided into the conscious and the subconscious? This is a very important question. The specialist, the psychologist, the analyst, have divided fear into deep superficial layers, but if you follow what the psychologist says or what I say, you are understanding our theories, our dogmas, our knowledge, you are not understanding yourself. You cannot understand yourself according to Freud or Jung, or according to me. Other people's theories have no importance whatever. It is of yourself that you must ask the question, is fear to be divided into the conscious and subconscious? Or is there only fear which you translate into different forms? There is only one desire; there is only desire. You desire. The objects of desire change, but desire is always the same. So perhaps in the same way there is only fear. You are afraid of all sorts of things but there is only one fear.
When you realize that fear cannot be divided you will see that you have put away altogether this problem of the subconscious and so have cheated the psychologists and the analysts. When you understand that fear is a single movement which expresses itself in different ways and when you see the movement and not the object to which the movement goes, then you are facing an immense question: how can you look at it without the fragmentation which the mind has cultivated?
There is only total fear, but how can the mind which thinks in fragments observe this total picture? Can it? We have lived a life of fragmentation, and can look at that total fear only through the fragmentary process of thought. The whole process of the machinery of thinking is to break up everything into fragments: I love you and I hate you; you are my enemy, you are my friend; my peculiar idiosyncrasies and inclinations, my job, my position, my prestige, my wife, my child, my country and your country, my God and your God - all that is the fragmentation of thought. And this thought looks at the total state of fear, or tries to look at it, and reduces it to fragments. Therefore we see that the mind can look at this total fear only when there is no movement of thought.
Can you watch fear without any conclusion, without any interference of the knowledge you have accumulated about it? If you cannot, then what you are watching is the past, not fear; if you can, then you are watching fear for the first time without the interference of the past.
You can watch only when the mind is very quiet, just as you can listen to what someone is saying only when your mind is not chattering with itself, carrying on a dialogue with itself about its own problems and anxieties. Can you in the same way look at your fear without trying to resolve it, without bringing in its opposite, courage - actually look at it and not try to escape from it? When you say, `I must control it, I must get rid of it, I must understand it', you are trying to escape from it.
You can observe a cloud or a tree or the movement of a river with a fairly quiet mind because they are not very important to you, but to watch yourself is far more difficult because there the demands are so practical, the reactions so quick. So when you are directly in contact with fear or despair, loneliness or jealousy, or any other ugly state of mind, can you look at it so completely that your mind is quiet enough to see it? Can the mind perceive fear and not the different forms of fear - perceive total fear, not what you are afraid of? If you look merely at the details of fear or try to deal with your fears one by one, you will never come to the central issue which is to learn to live with fear.
To live with a living thing such as fear requires a mind and heart that are extraordinarily subtle, that have no conclusion and can therefore follow every movement of fear. Then if you observe and live with it - and this doesn't take a whole day, it can take a minute or a second to know the whole nature of fear - if you live with it so completely you inevitably ask, 'Who is the entity who is living with fear? Who is it who is observing fear, watching all the movements of the various forms of fear as well as being aware of the central fact of fear? Is the observer a dead entity, a static being, who has accumulated a lot of knowledge and information about himself, and is it that dead thing who is observing and living with the movement of fear? Is the observer the past or is he a living thing?' What is your answer? Do not answer me, answer yourself. Are you, the observer, a dead entity watching a living thing or are you a living thing watching a living thing? Because in the observer the two states exist.
The observer is the censor who does not want fear; the observer is the totality of all his experiences about fear. So the observer is separate from that thing he calls fear; there is space between them; he is forever trying to overcome it or escape from it and hence this constant battle between himself and fear - this battle which is such a waste of energy.
As you watch, you learn that the observer is merely a bundle of ideas and memories without any validity or substance, but that fear is an actuality and that you are trying to understand a fact with an abstraction which, of course, you cannot do. But, in fact, is the observer who says, `I am afraid', any different from the thing observed which is fear? The observer is fear and when that is realized there is no longer any dissipation of energy in the effort to get rid of fear, and the time-space interval between the observer and the observed disappears. When you see that you are a part of fear, not separate from it - that you are fear - then you cannot do anything about it; then fear comes totally to an end.