Fear…What is it?…Where is it?…Get rid of it…

Our minds are conditioned – that is an obvious fact – conditioned by a particular culture or society, influenced by various impressions, by the strains and stresses of relationships, by economic, climatic, educational factors, by religious conformity and so on. Our minds are trained to accept fear and to escape, if we can, from that fear, never being able to resolve, totally and completely, the whole nature and structure of fear.

So our first question is:

Can the mind, so heavily burdened, resolve completely, not only its conditioning, but also its fears?

Because it is fear that makes us accept conditioning.

There are physical fears and psychological fears.

The physical fears of pain and the psychological fears as memory of having had pain in the past, and the idea of the repetition of that pain in the future; also, the fears of old age, death, the fears of physical insecurity, the fears of the uncertainty of tomorrow, the fears of not being able to be a great success, not being able to achieve – of not being somebody in this rather ugly world; the fears of destruction, the fears of loneliness, not being able to love or be loved, and so on; the conscious fears as well as the unconscious fears.

Can the mind be free, totally, of all this?

If the mind says it cannot, then it has made itself incapable, it has distorted itself and is incapable of perception, of understanding; incapable of being completely silent, quiet; it is like a mind in the dark, seeking light and never finding it, and therefore inventing a ‘light’ of words, concepts, theories.

What shall we do?

How is a mind which is so heavily burdened with fear, with all its conditioning, ever to be free of it?

Or must we accept fear as an inevitable thing of life? – and most of us do accept it, put up with it.

How shall I, the human being, you as the human being, be rid of this fear? – not be rid of a particular fear, but of the total fear, the whole nature and structure of fear?

So What is fear?

How does it come about?

The obvious physical fears can be understood, like the physical dangers, to which there is instant response; they are fairly easy to understand; we need not go into them too much.

But we are talking about psychological fears.

How do these psychological fears arise? What is their origin? – that is the issue.

  • There is the fear of something that happened yesterday;
  • the fear of something that might happen later on today or tomorrow.

There is the fear of what we have known, and there is the fear of the unknown, which is tomorrow.

One can see for oneself very clearly that fear arises through the structure of thought – through thinking about that which happened yesterday of which one is afraid, or through thinking about the future – right?

Thought breeds fear – doesn’t it?

  • Thinking about the pain, the psychological pain that one had some time ago and not wanting it repeated, not wanting to have that thing recalled, thinking about all this breeds fear. Can we go on from there?
  • Thought, thinking about an incident, an experience, a state, in which there has been a disturbance, danger, grief or pain, brings about fear.
  • And thought, having established a certain security,psychologically, does not want that security to be disturbed; any disturbance is a danger and therefore there is fear.

Thought is responsible for fear; also, thought is responsible for pleasure.

  • One has had a happy experience; thought thinks about it and wants it perpetuated; when that is not possible there is a resistance, anger, despair and fear. So thought is responsible for fear as well as pleasure – isn’t it?

You have had sexual enjoyment, pleasure; later you think about it in the imagery, the pictures of thinking, and the very thinking about it gives strength to that pleasure, which is now in the imagery of thought, and when that is thwarted there is pain, anxiety, fear, jealousy, annoyance, anger, brutality. And we are not saying that you must not have pleasure.

If there were no tomorrow, no next moment, about which to think in terms of either fear or pleasure, then neither would exist. Shall we go on from there?

Is it an actuality, not as an idea, but a thing that you yourself have discovered and which is therefore real, so you can say, ‘I’ve found out that thought breeds both pleasure and fear’?

Bliss is not pleasure; ecstasy is not brought about by thought; it is an entirely different thing. You can come upon bliss or ecstasy only when you understand the nature of thought – which breeds both pleasure and fear.

So the question arises: can one stop thought?  Or is that a wrong question altogether?

It is a wrong question because we want to experience an ecstasy, a bliss, which is not pleasure. By ending thought we hope we shall come upon something which is immense, which is not the product of pleasure and fear.

What is the relationship of thought to action and to inaction?

What is the relationship of thought to action where action is necessary?

Why, when there is complete enjoyment of beauty, does thought come into existence at all? – for if it did not then it would not be carried over to tomorrow.

I want to find out – when there is complete enjoyment of the beauty of a mountain, of a beautiful face, a sheet of water – why thought should come there and give a twist to it and say, ‘I must have that pleasure again tomorrow.’

I have to find out what the relationship of thought is in action; and to find out if thought need interfere when there is no need of thought at all.

I see a beautiful tree, without a single leaf, against the sky; it is extraordinarily beautiful and that is enough – finished.

Why should thought come in and say, ‘I must have that same delight tomorrow’?

And I also see that thought must operate in action.

So, what is the actual relationship between thought and action?

As it is, our action is based on concepts, on ideas. I have an idea or concept of what should be done and what is done is an approximation of that concept, idea, of that ideal.

So there is a division between action and the concept, the ideal, the ‘should be’; in this division there is conflict.

Any division, psychological division, must breed conflict.

What is the relationship of thought in action?

If there is division between the action and the idea then action is incomplete.

Is there an action in which thought sees something instantly and acts immediately so that there is not an idea, an ideology to be acted on separately?

Is there an action in which the very seeing is the action – in which the very thinking is the action?

I see that thought breeds fear and pleasure;

I see that where there is pleasure there is pain and therefore resistance to pain.

I see that very clearly; the seeing of it is the immediate action; in the seeing of it is involved thought, logic and thinking very clearly; yet the seeing of it is instantaneous and the action is instantaneous – therefore there is freedom from it.

Thought must operate in action.

When you have to go to your house you must think; or to catch a bus, train, go to the office, thought then operates efficiently, objectively, non-personally, non-emotionally; that thought is vital.

But when thought carries on that experience that you have had, carries it on through memory into the future, then such action is incomplete, therefore there is a form of resistance and so on.

Then we can go on to the next question. Let us put it this way:

What is the origin of thought, and who is the thinker?

One can see that thought is the response of knowledge, experience, as accumulated memory, the background from which there is a response of thought to any challenge;

Memory, experience, knowledge is the background, is that from which thought comes.

So thought is never new;

thought is always old;

thought can never be free,

because it is tied to the past and therefore it can never see anything new.

When I understand that, very clearly, the mind becomes quiet.

Life is a movement, a constant movement in relationship; and thought, trying to capture that movement in terms of the past, as memory, is afraid of life.

Seeing all this, seeing that freedom is necessary to examine – and to examine very clearly there must be the discipline of learning and not of suppression and imitation – seeing how the mind is conditioned by society, by the past,

There is no system or method – it does not matter whether it is Zen from Japan, or a system from India – to make the mind quiet; that is the most stupid thing for the mind to do: to discipline itself to be quiet.

Now seeing all that – actually seeing it, not as something theoretical – then there is an action from that perception; that very perception is the action of liberation from fear.

So, on the occasion of any fear arising, there is immediate perception and the ending of it.


Krishnamurti, J. The Flight of the Eagle . Ebury Publishing.