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Jiddhu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986)


I wonder if you thought any more about what we were talking yesterday morning. Did you have an opportunity to discuss with your teachers the problem of fear, or did you forget about it with your day's activities?

May I continue with what we were talking yesterday morning? This is not just a polite question. I want to know if you are interested in what we have been talking about, or do you want me to talk about something else?

I will go on with what I was saying; then as we go along for several days, perhaps we can talk more easily.

Yesterday, we were talking about fear. It is fear that prevents initiative, because most of us, when we are afraid, cling to things like a creeper that clings to a tree. We cling to our parents, to our husbands, to our sons, to our daughters, to our wives. That is the outward form of fear. Because inwardly we are afraid, we dread to stand alone. We may have a great many saris or clothes or property; but inwardly, psychologically - do you know what `psychologically' means? - we are very poor. The more poor we are inwardly, the more we intrigue outwardly, the more we cling to parents, to things, to property, to clothes. When we are afraid, we cling to outward things as well as to inward things such as tradition. Have you noticed old people and the people who are inwardly insufficient, inwardly empty? To them tradition matters a great deal. Have you noticed that amongst your friends, parents and teachers? Have you noticed it in yourself? The moment there is fear, inward fear, you try to cover it up by respectability, by following a tradition; and so you lose initiative. Because you are just following, tradition becomes very important - tradition of what people say, tradition that has been handed down from the past, tradition that has no vitality, no zest in life, tradition which is only a mere repetition without any meaning.

When one is afraid, there is always an inclination, a tendency, to imitate. Have you noticed that? You know what `imitation' is? Being afraid, you cling to tradition; you cling to your parents, to your wives, to your brothers, to your husbands. There is always the desire to imitate. Imitation destroys initiative. You know, when you paint a tree you do not merely imitate the tree, you do not copy it exactly as it is; otherwise, it is merely photography. But to be free to paint it, you have to feel what the tree or flower or sunset conveys to you; you have not merely to copy it in black and white but to feel the significance, the meaning of the sunset. It is very important to convey the significance, and not merely to copy it; then you begin to awaken the creative process. And for that, there must be a free mind, a mind that is not burdened with tradition, with imitation. Look at your own lives and the lives about you, how empty everything is!

At certain levels of life you must imitate, must you not? Unfortunately you have to be imitative in the clothes you put on, in the books that you read. They are all forms of imitation; but it is necessary to go beyond this - that is, to feel free so that you can think out things for yourselves; so that you do not merely accept what somebody says - it does not matter who it is, your teachers, your parents, great teachers. To really think out things for yourselves, not to follow, is very important, because the moment you follow somebody, the very following indicates fear, does it not? Somebody offers you something you want - paradise, heaven or a better job. So long as you are wanting something, there is bound to be fear; and fear cripples the free mind. Do you know what a free mind is? Have you ever watched your own mind? Is it free? No, it is not, because you are always watching to see what your friends say. Your mind is like a house enclosed by a gate or by a barbed wire. In that state no new thing can take place. A new thing can only come about when there is no fear. And it is extremely difficult for the mind to be free from fear - which means, really free from imitation, from the desire to imitate, from the desire to follow, from the desire to amass wealth or to follow a tradition - which does not mean that you do something outrageous.

Freedom of mind comes into being when there is no fear, when the mind is not intriguing for position, for prestige, to show off. Therefore in it there is no sense of imitation. It is important to have a mind which is really free, free from tradition which is the habit-forming mechanism of the mind. Is this all too much, is it all too difficult? This is certainly not as difficult as your geography or mathematics. It is much easier, only you have never thought about it. You spend most of your lives in school acquiring information. You are in a school for about ten to fifteen years; yet you never have time to think about any of these things; not a week, not a day, to think fully, completely, of all these things; and that is why these things seem difficult. It is not at all difficult. On the contrary, if you give time to it, then you can see how your mind works, operates, functions. So you see, while you are very young - as most of you are here - it is very important to understand all this, because if you do not, you will grow up following some tradition without much meaning; you will imitate and so keep on cultivating fear, and so you will never be free.

Have you noticed in India how tradition-bound you are? You must marry in a certain way, your parents choose the husband or the wife. You must perform certain rituals; they may have no meaning but you must perform them. You have leaders whom you must follow. Everything about you, if you have observed it, is a way of life in which authority is very well established. There is the authority of the guru, the authority of the political group, the authority of parents, the authority of public opinion. The older the civilization, as in India, the greater the weight of tradition, the weight of a series of imitations. So, your mind is never free. You may talk about freedom, political freedom or any other kind of freedom; but you as an individual are never free to really find out for yourself; you are always following somebody, following an ideal or some guru or some teacher or some tradition.

So, your whole life is hedged in, limited, confined to ideas; and deep down within yourself there is fear. How can you think freely if there is fear? So, what is important is to be conscious of all these things. If you see a snake, you know that it is poisonous and you run away, you put it aside. But you do not know the series of imitations which prevent initiative; you are caught in them unconsciously. But if you are aware, if you are conscious of them, if you have thought out how they hold you, if you are aware of the way you yourself want to imitate because you are afraid of what people may say, because you are afraid of your parents or of your teachers; if you are aware of the series of imitations, you will push them aside. Once you become conscious of these series of imitations, then you can look at them, you can examine them, you can study them as you study mathematics or any other subject. Are you conscious why you put on kumkum? Why do you do it? Not that you should or should not. Why do you treat women differently from men? Why do you treat women contemptuously? At least men do it. Why? Why do you go to a temple, why do you do rituals, why do you follow a guru?

So, when you are aware of all these things, then you can go into them, then you can question, then you can study them; but if you blindly accept everything because for the last thirty centuries it has been so, it has no meaning, has it? So, what we need in the world is not mere imitators, not mere leaders and more and more followers. What we need now are individuals like you and me who will keep on thinking of all these problems, not superficially, not casually, but more deeply so that the mind is free to be creative, free to think, free to love.

Education is a way of discovering our relationship to all these things, our relationship to human beings, to nature. But the mind creates ideas, and these ideas become so strong, so vital, that they prevent us from looking beyond. So, as long as there is fear, there is tradition. As long as there is fear, there is imitation. A mind that merely imitates is mechanical, is it not? it is like a machine that is functioning, it is not creative, it does not think out problems. It may produce certain actions, certain re- sults; but it is not creative. So, here in this school, what we want to do - you and I as well as the teachers and the Trust members and the Managers - what we all should do is to go into all these problems; so that, when you leave school, you may be a mature human being, capable of thinking problems out for yourself and not dependent on some traditional stupidity; so that you may be a human being with dignity, a human being really free. That is the whole intention of education, not merely to pass some examinations and then be shunted off for the rest of your life to do something, to live to become clerks or housewives or breeding machines. You should demand from your teachers, you should insist, that education should help you to be free, to think freely without fear, to understand, to enquire. Otherwise, life is a waste, is it not? You are educated, you pass the B.A. or the M.A. examination, you get a job which you dislike and which you do not want to do, you are married, you have to earn money, you have children and so you are stuck for the rest of your life. You are miserable, unhappy, quarrelsome; you have nothing to look forward to except babies, and more starvation, more misery. That is not education. True education should help you to be so intelligent that with that intelligence you can choose a job which you love, or starve, but not do something stupid which would make you miserable for the rest of your life.

While you are young, you should create the flame of discontent. While you are young, you should be in a state of revolution. This is the time to enquire, to grow, to shape. So, insist that your teachers and your parents educate you properly. Do not be satisfied merely to sit in a classroom and learn some information about some king or about some war. Be discontented, go and find out, enquire from your teachers - if they are stupid, you will make them clever, you will make them intelligent by enquiring - so that when you leave this school, this atmosphere, you will be growing to maturity, to intelligence; you will be learning right through life till you die, so that you are a happy intelligent human being. Question: How are we to gain the habit of fearlessness?

Krishnamurti: Look at the words he uses. `Habit' implies a movement which is repeated over and over again. If you do something over and over again, does that ensure anything except monotony? Is fearlessness a habit? You understand? He asks, "How am I to gain the habit of fearlessness?" He wants to be fearless and so he asks whether it will come through doing something habitually, constantly, repeatedly, imitatively. Fearlessness comes only when you can meet the incidents of life, not as a habit but when you can thrash them out, when you can see them and examine them, but not with a jaded mind that is caught in habit.

If you have habits, then you are merely an imitative machine. Mere habit creates imitation, doing the same thing over and over again, building a wall round yourself. If you have built a wall round yourself through some habit, you are not free from fear, you live within the wall which makes you afraid. So, you can only be free from fear when you have the intelligence to look at every problem, every incident, everything that happens in life, every emotion, every thought, every reaction; if you are capable of looking at it, examining it, then there is freedom from fear.

December 11, 1952