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Dissecting Fear

@Carl sent a reference to this Krishnamurti talk to @Jackie a couple of days ago to possibly share with ppl before the meeting with the suggestion that it might assist with focus. If you have the time, patience (and inclination) it is interesting to see how K goes into a particular subject - in this case fear - how the talk is structured, how ideas flow from beginning to end, etc. Of course, it is a totally different dynamic when there is captive audience and the speaker is in total control — but IMO still worth studying the segue from laying the groundwork, to particular fear, to fear itself, to analysis, to thought, to thinker, and finally to intelligence.

J. Krishnamurti - San Diego 1970 - Public Talk 2 - Can the human mind be completely free of fear?

Isn’t K doing what we all seem to shy away from? That is, he is having his own dialogue with fear without recourse to any authority. First of all he sees the things we all see: the various forms of fear; the role of thought and time in both the manufacture and the perpetuation of fear; the relationship between thought, pleasure, fear and loneliness; and the failure of analysis to expose the roots of fear. Then the mind comes to a state where it is no longer separating itself from fear. And this is the real heart of the dialogue, not all the clever stuff that comes before and after. At this point there is only fear. So it means all the experts are gone: all the opinions, all the theories, all the explanations - all the chatter has faded away. The mind is alone with its fear, with itself. The ending of this thinking is the ending of fear.

Last night we may have come to the same point, where the mind is alone with its own hurt. Then there is nothing else to listen to.

Thanks for the link Carl and Dev.
I just watched it. Well worth watching… particularly if it’s not been seen recently .
I’m not sure that it would be a good idea to watch a video prior to a dialogue. After taking part in hundreds of dialogues where a video is watched … even if closely related to any ‘topic’ to have as a focus for the dialogue —is of great help for the dialogue; it may be interesting from the viewpoint of seeing that participants have been seeing the video from some quite diverse viewpoints… almost as if different videos have been watched.
This is similar to what frequently becomes apparent in the dialogue … different ‘translations’ are being made of what is being said. I’m not saying this is what is happening all the time… but a great deal. With misunderstandings and conflicts coming and going .
Perhaps watching a video a day or so “after “ a dialogue could be useful?

I agree this is useful, but we also have to bear in mind that it is highly unlikely we will be able to replicate K’s clarity of investigation in our own humble dialogues - and so we have to be careful not to get tied down by too much comparison. As k himself says in this talk,

When there is comparison of any kind, it breeds fear - comparing oneself with another whom you think is greater or wiser, nobler etc.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of things I thought worth mentioning in K’s talk as it pertains to our dialogue meetings.

The first is that, during the preparatory section of this talk, K lays out some baseline understandings that he felt need to be in place for any dialogue or inquiry to have value. For example, he says:

There is no agreement or disagreement when we are exploring together. Only the microscope through which you look may be dull, may not be clear. So if you have a precision instrument then what you see, is what another will also see. Therefore there is no question of agreement or disagreement or denial.

That is, in inquiry we are investigating into something live, something actual, something common - and so have to be guided by the truth of the thing we are inquiring into, rather than by the impositions or prejudgments or personal feelings we might have about it (based on our previous experience, knowledge etc). What matters is the clarity of our own approach, not what “answers” we later arrive at.

Then, towards the end of the talk, having outlined the whole significance of the question (in this case concerning fear), and our relationship to it, he asks:

What is the state of the understanding of your mind, the mind that has examined all these various forms which have been exposed, which have been explained or observed, what is the quality of your mind now, because on that quality you’re going to answer? If you have not taken the journey you have no answer; but if you have actually taken the journey step by step and gone into everything that we have discussed, then your mind, you will see, has become extraordinarily intelligent, live, sensitive

That is, the journey our mind makes into the question itself - going step by step, seeing all its facets and implications - is critical to the state of mind necessary to resolve the problem completely. Right?

So both the approach we take to the question, and the journey we make into the question, are essential to true understanding and to being free of the question.

Yet in our dialogues we often seem to begin with obstacles and basic misunderstandings about the question, which then stifles our journey into it. Rather than begin with freedom, we begin with subtle forms of conclusion about the question, or a lack of verbal clarity about the problem being posed - and then, instead of taking the journey together into the question, we end up fighting about whose conclusions to accept, get lost in tangential issues of personal differences, or are simply incapable of sustaining the attention required to remain with the question in all its simplicity and complexity.

Apparently we all do this, without exceptions. There are occasional moments of free investigation that flare up during our meetings, but we seem to be incapable of maintaining the atmosphere required to help these sparks become a flame. The smoke almost invariably takes over and smothers our incipient fire.

Is this inevitable?

My feeling is that if the problem or question we ask is more important to us than our personal differences, and there is freedom from imposition - from agreement and disagreement - then there is no reason why we cannot fan the sparks we sometimes come upon into a meaningful fire.

“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.”

Freedom From The Known


Why not? Aren’t you limiting yourself even before you start? Then we get caught in an endless search for clarity. So this has nothing to do with K. It is not his clarity that is the issue. Are we clear in ourselves exactly what it is that we are undertaking in these dialogues?

Yes, this is the question.

K: Only the microscope through which you look may be dull, may not be clear.

It is rather difficult to remain with the feeling that we are looking through a glass darkly. Momentary insight into this fact - if it was ever there to begin with - is unwittingly supplanted by position. Authority in any guise needs to be affectionately uncovered and put aside by each and every one. Because you are in contact with it, not because you are making an effort to quell it… This is the opportunity afforded us in the dialogues, to experiment with total leisure. If the meaning of freedom is attended to in the beginning, perhaps the ending will take care of itself. Patience is everything.

Yes, agreed. Patience (out of freedom and leisure) is everything.

I was reflecting that, as far as I understand it, the process of dialogue is to:

clarify the question verbally
(being careful to be simple);

listen to the question nonverbally
(being careful to be simple);

observe one’s response to the question
(being careful to be simple).

And then out of that response there is a new question.

Then again we need to:

clarify the question verbally
(being careful to be simple);

listen to the question nonverbally
(being careful to be simple);

observe one’s response to the question
(being careful to be simple).

And so on - not as a method, and not as an imposition by any one of us on the rest - but just as a process of meditative participatory enquiry - until the question disappears; or only the question remains and we disappear!


It is, but are we all asking the same question? Our problem seems to be that while some people are very clear about what a dialogue is all about, others are less clear about it. Can we work this out together, approach this question together, so that we are all starting from the same place?

Yes. So where would we begin?

The challenge is that questions about dialogue also tend to go round and round in circles. Everyone seems to have their own understanding about what dialogue is, and then we get trapped dialoguing about dialogue!

So, perhaps we could just use a simple canonical definition from K, and begin from there. That is, a dialogue is just a conversation between two friends who are wandering down a sunny lane shuttered with branches, or sitting on a park bench, and talking over the problems of life together.

There is no authority, no argument. Just an open inquiry, with each question followed by observation and response, followed by a new question (with observation and response), and so on; until the question is completely transparent to perception (to understanding), and either withers after flowering, or transforms the lives of the two friends who have been conversing.

That for me is dialogue.

So I would just begin with whatever question is on my mind when I go with my friend for a walk.


Suppose K wasn’t there. It would still be important for us to start out as two friends, wouldn’t it?


Yes. Two friends.

The challenge is then: what if either myself or my friend refuses to be simple, refuses to make themselves vulnerable, is locked inside their knowledge or emotional reactions? How do we proceed?

We can’t proceed until this is acknowledged and seen for what it is: smoke.


It doesn’t matter. We are friends. We have solved the biggest challenge first.