"For most of us, freedom is an idea and not an actuality. When we talk about freedom, we want to be free outwardly, to do what we like, to travel, to
be free to express ourselves in different ways, free to think what we like. The outward expression of freedom seems to be extraordinarily important,
especially in countries where there is tyranny, dictatorship; and in those countries where outward freedom is possible one seeks more and more
pleasure, more and more possessions.
If we are to inquire deeply into what freedom implies, to be inwardly, completely and totally free - which then expresses itself outwardly in society,
in relationship - then we must ask, it seems to me, whether the human mind, heavily conditioned as it is, can ever be free at all. Must it always live
and function within the frontiers of its own conditioning, so that there is no possibility of freedom at all? One sees that the mind, verbally
understanding that there is no freedom here on this earth, inwardly or outwardly, then begins to invent freedom in another world, a future liberation,
heaven and so on.
Put aside all theoretical, ideological, concepts of freedom so that we can inquire whether our minds, yours and mine, can ever be actually free, free
from dependence, free from fear, anxiety, and free from the innumerable problems, both the conscious as well as those at the deeper layers of the
unconscious. Can there be complete psychological freedom, so that the human mind can come upon something which is not of time, which is not put
together by thought, yet which is not an escape from the actual realities of daily existence? Unless the human mind is inwardly, psychologically,
totally free it is not possible to see what is true, to see if there is a reality not invented by fear, not shaped by the society or the culture in
which we live, and which is not an escape from the daily monotony, with its boredom, loneliness, despair and anxiety. To find out if there is actually
such freedom one must be aware of one's own conditioning, of the problems, of the monotonous shallowness, emptiness, insufficiency of one's daily
life, and above all one must be aware of fear. One must be aware of oneself neither introspectively nor analytically, but actually be aware of oneself
as one is and see if it is at all possible to be entirely free of all those issues that seem to clog the mind.
To explore, as we are going to do, there must be freedom, not at the end, but right at the beginning. Unless one is free one cannot explore,
investigate or examine. To look deeply there needs to be, not only freedom, but the discipline that is necessary to observe; freedom and discipline go
together ( not that one must be disciplined in order to be free). We are using the word `discipline' not in the accepted, traditional sense, which is
to conform, imitate, suppress, follow a set pattern; but rather as the root meaning of that word, which is `to learn.' Learning and freedom go
together, freedom bringing its own discipline; not a discipline imposed by the mind in order to achieve a certain result. These two things are
essential: freedom and the act of learning. One cannot learn about oneself unless one is free, free so that one can observe, not according to any
pattern, formula or concept, but actually observe oneself as one is. That observation, that perception, that seeing, brings about its own discipline
and learning; in that there is no conforming, imitation, suppression or control whatsoever - and in that there is great beauty.
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 relation- ships, 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.
Do not merely hear a lot of words and ideas - which are really of no value at all - but through the act of listening, observing your own states of
mind, both verbally and nonverbally, simply inquire whether the mind can ever be free - not accepting fear, not escaping, not saying, `I must develop
courage, resistance,' but actually being fully aware of the fear in which one is trapped. Unless one is free from this quality of fear one cannot see
very clearly, deeply; and obviously, when there is fear there is no love.
So, can the mind actually ever be free of fear? That seems to me to be - for any person who is at all serious - one of the most primary and essential
questions which must be asked and which must be resolved. 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. 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. What shall we do? 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?"