11. ON FEAR
How am I to get rid of fear, which influences all my activities?
What do we mean by fear? Fear of what? There are various types of fear and we
need not analyse every type. But we can see that fear comes into being when our
comprehension of relationship is not complete. Relationship is not only between
people but between ourselves and nature, between ourselves and property, between
ourselves and ideas; as long as that relationship is not fully understood, there
must be fear. Life is relationship. To be is to be related and without
relationship there is no life. Nothing can exist in isolation; so long as the
mind is seeking isolation there must be fear. Fear is not an abstraction; it
exists only in relation to something.
question is: how to be rid of fear? First of all, anything that is overcome has
to be conquered again and again. No problem can be finally overcome, conquered;
it can be understood but not conquered. They are two completely different
processes and the conquering process leads to further confusion, further fear.
To resist, to dominate, to do battle with a problem, or to build a defence
against it is only to create further conflict; whereas if we can understand
fear, go into it fully, step by step, explore the whole content of it, then fear
will never return in any form.
I said, fear is not an abstraction; it exists only in relationship. What do we
mean by fear? Ultimately, we are afraid, are we not?—of not being, of not
becoming. Now, when there is fear of not being, of not advancing, or fear of the
unknown, of death, can that fear be overcome by determination, by a conclusion,
by any choice? Obviously not. Mere suppression, sublimation, or substitution,
creates further resistance, does it not? Therefore fear can never be overcome
through any form of discipline, through any form of resistance. That fact must
be clearly seen, felt and experienced: fear cannot be overcome through any form
of defence or resistance, nor can there be freedom from fear through the search
for an answer or through mere intellectual or verbal explanation.
what are we afraid of? Are we afraid of a fact or of an idea about the
fact? Are we afraid of the thing as it is, or are we afraid of what we think
it is? Take death, for example. Are we afraid of the fact of death or of the idea
of death? The fact is one thing and the idea about the fact is another.
Am I afraid of the word ‘death’ or of the fact itself? Because I am afraid
of the word, of the idea, I never understand the fact, I never look at the fact,
I am never in direct relation with the fact. It is only when I am in complete
communion with the fact that there is no fear. If I am not in communion with the
fact, then there is fear; and there is no communion with the fact so long as I
have an idea, an opinion, a theory about the fact. So I have to be very
clear whether I am afraid of the word, the idea, or of the fact. If I am face to
face with the fact, there is nothing to understand about it: the fact is there,
and I can deal with it. If I am afraid of the word, then I must understand the
word, go into the whole process of what the word, the term, implies.
example, one is afraid of loneliness, afraid of the ache, the pain of
loneliness. Surely that fear exists because one has never really looked at
loneliness, one has never been in complete communion with it. The moment one is
completely open to the fact of loneliness one can understand what it is. But one
has an idea, an opinion about it, based on previous knowledge; it is this idea,
opinion, this previous knowledge about the fact that creates fear. Fear
is obviously the outcome of naming, of terming, of projecting a symbol to
represent the fact; that is, fear is not independent of the word, of the term.
have a reaction, say, to loneliness; that is, I say I am afraid of being
nothing. Am I afraid of the fact itself or is that fear awakened because I have
previous knowledge of the fact?—knowledge being the word, the symbol, the
image. How can there be fear of a fact? When I am face to face with a fact, in
direct communion with it, I can look at it, observe it; therefore there is no
fear of the fact. What causes fear is my apprehension about the fact,
what the fact might be or do.
is my opinion, my idea, my experience, my knowledge about the fact that
creates fear. So long as there is verbalization of the fact, giving the fact a
name, and therefore identifying or condemning it, so long as thought is judging
the fact as an observer, there must be fear. Thought is the product of the past;
it can only exist through verbalization, through symbols, through images. So
long as thought is regarding or translating the fact, there must be fear.
it is the mind that creates fear—the mind being the process of thinking.
Thinking is verbalization. You cannot think without words, without symbols,
images; these images, which are the prejudices, the previous knowledge, the
apprehensions of the mind, are projected upon the fact, and out of that there
arises fear. There is freedom from fear only when the mind is capable of looking
at the fact without translating it, without giving it a name, a label. This is
quite difficult, because the feelings, the reactions, the anxieties that we
have, are promptly identified by the mind and given a word. The feeling of
jealousy is identified by that word. Is it possible not to identify a feeling,
to look at that feeling without naming it? It is the naming of the feeling that
gives it continuity, that gives it strength. The moment you give a name to that
which you call fear you strengthen it; but if you can look at that feeling
without terming it, you will see that it withers away. Therefore, if one would
be completely free of fear it is essential to understand this whole process of
terming, of projecting symbols, images, giving names to facts. There can be
freedom from fear only when there is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the
beginning of wisdom, which is the ending of fear.
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