What is neurosis and what is the cure for it?
Neurosis has never been so epidemic in the past as it is now. It is almost becoming a normal state of human mind. It has to be understood.
The past was spiritually more healthy, and the reason was that mind was not fed so many things simultaneously; the mind was not overloaded. The modern mind is overloaded, and that which remains unassimilated creates neurosis. It is as if you go on eating and stuffing your body. That which is not digested by the body will prove to be poisonous. And what you eat is less important than what you hear and see. From your eyes, from your ears, from all your senses, you go on receiving a thousand and one things each moment. And there is no extra assimilation time. It is as if one were constantly sitting at the dining table, eating, eating, twenty-four hours a day.
This is the situation of the modern mind: it is overloaded; so many things are burdening it. It is not any surprise that it breaks down. There is a limit to every mechanism. And mind is one of the most subtle and delicate of mechanisms.
A really healthy person is one who takes fifty percent of his time to assimilate his experiences. Fifty percent action, fifty percent inaction – that is the right balance. Fifty percent thinking, fifty percent meditation – that is the cure.
drives people neurotic.
It is not just accidental
scholars, easily go mad.
Meditation is nothing but a time when you can relax utterly into yourself, when you close all your doors, all your senses, to the outside stimulus. You disappear from the world. You forget the world as if it exists no more – no newspapers, no radio, no television, no people. You are alone in your innermost being, relaxed, at home. In these moments, all that has become accumulated is assimilated. That which is worthless is thrown out. Meditation functions like a double-edged sword: on the one hand it assimilates all that is nourishing, and it rejects and throws out all that is junk.
But meditation has disappeared from the world. In the old days, people were naturally meditative. Life was uncomplicated, and people had enough time just to sit and do nothing, or look at the stars, or watch the trees, or listen to the birds. People had intervals of deep passivity. In those moments you become more and more healthy and whole.
Neurosis means you are carrying such a load in the mind that you are dying under it. You cannot move. There is no question of your consciousness flying. You cannot even creep – the burden is too much. And the burden goes on increasing every moment. One cracks up. It is very natural.
A few things to be understood. Neurosis is the mouse endlessly trying the dead end, not learning. Yes, not learning is neurosis – that is the first definition. You go on trying the dead end.
You have been angry. How many times have you been angry? And how many times have you repented of being angry? Still, let there be a stimulus and your reaction will again be the same. You have not learned a thing. You have been greedy and greed has created more and more misery. You know it – greed has never given anybody blissfulness – but you are still greedy, you still go on being greedy. You don’t learn.
Non-learning creates neurosis, is neurosis.
[…] A disciple will never become neurotic. A disciple means one who is capable of learning. Never become knowledgeable; always be in the process of learning.
Knowledgeability drives people neurotic. It is not just accidental that professors, philosophers, psychiatrists, scholars, easily go mad. They have learned and they have reached the conclusion that there is no more to learn. The moment you decide that there is no more to learn, you have stopped growing. To stop growing is neurosis – that is the second definition.
Now the change is
so tremendously fast,
with such speed,
that even the most
feel incapable of
adapting to it.
The world was very different in the past, obviously. About six weeks’ worth of sensory stimuli six hundred years ago is what we now get in a day. Six weeks’ worth of stimulation, information, we are getting in a single day – about forty times the pressure to learn and adapt. Modern man has to be capable of learning more than man has ever been before, because there is more to learn now. Modern man has to become capable of adapting to new situations every day because the world is changing so fast. It is a great challenge.
A great challenge, if accepted, will help tremendously in the expansion of consciousness. Either modern man is going to be utterly neurotic or modern man is going to be transformed by the very pressure. It depends on how you take it. One thing is certain: there is no way of going back. The sensory stimuli will go on increasing more and more. You will be getting more and more information and life will be changing, with faster and faster rhythms. And you will have to be capable of learning, of adapting, to new things.
In the past man lived in an almost static world. Everything was static. You would leave the world exactly as your father had left it to you. You would not have changed anything at all. Nothing was changed. There was no question of learning too much. A little bit of learning was enough. And then you had spaces in your mind, empty spaces, which helped people to remain sane. Now there is no more empty space, unless you create it deliberately.
In meditation the mind unclutters,
experiences are digested,
and the overload disappears,
leaving the mind fresh
and young and clear and clean.
Meditation is needed today more than ever before. Meditation is needed so much that it is almost a question of life and death. In the past it was a luxury; few people – a Buddha, a Mahavira, a Krishna – were interested in it. Other people were naturally silent, naturally happy, sane. There was no need for them to think of meditation; in an unconscious way they were meditating. Life was moving so silently, moving so slowly, that even the most stupid people were capable of adapting to it. Now the change is so tremendously fast, with such speed, that even the most intelligent people feel incapable of adapting to it. Every day life is different, and you have to learn again – you have to learn and learn again and again. You can never stop learning now; it has to be a life-long process. To the very point of death you will have to remain a learner, only then can you remain sane, can you avoid neurosis. And the pressure is great – forty times greater.
How to relax this pressure? You will have to go deliberately into meditative moments. If a person is not meditating at least one hour a day, then neurosis will not be accidental, he will create it himself.
For one hour he should disappear from the world into his own being. For one hour he should be so alone that nothing penetrates him – no memory, no thought, no imagination; for one hour no content in his consciousness, and that will rejuvenate him and that will refresh him. That will release new sources of energy in him and he will be back in the world, younger, fresher, more able to learn, with more wonder in his eyes, with more awe in his heart – again a child.
is being put into
your mind by the TV.
You will not be able
to digest it.
This pressure to learn, and the old habit of not learning, is driving people crazy. The modern mind is really super-loaded, and no time is given to digest it, to assimilate it into one’s own being. That is where meditation comes in and becomes more significant than ever. Without giving time for the mind to rest in meditation we repress all of the messages that are pouring in continuously. We refuse to learn – we say we have not got time. Then the messages begin to accumulate. If you don’t have time enough to listen to the messages that your mind is receiving continuously, they start accumulating – just like files accumulating on your table, piles of letters accumulating on your table, because you have not time enough to read and answer them. Exactly like that your mind becomes cluttered – so many files waiting to be looked into, so many letters to be read, to be answered, so many challenges to be taken, to be faced.
[…] You have to relax consciously into meditation. A few minutes of deep meditation will keep you non-neurotic.
In meditation the mind unclutters, experiences are digested, and the overload disappears, leaving the mind fresh and young and clear and clean.
In the past the input volume was one-tenth of one’s time and the meditative time was nine-tenths. Now just the reverse is the case: nine-tenths input volume time and one-tenth meditative time. Very rarely do you relax. Very rarely do you just sit silently, doing nothing. Even that one-tenth time of unconscious meditation is disappearing. Once that happens, man will be utterly mad. And that is happening.
What do I mean by unconscious meditative time? You simply go into the garden, you play around with your children – that is unconscious meditative time. Or you swim in the swimming pool – that is unconscious meditative time. Or you mow your lawn, or you listen to the birds – that is unconscious meditative time. That too is disappearing because whenever people have time, they are sitting before their TVs, glued to their seats.
Now, tremendously dangerous information is being put into your mind by the TV. You will not be able to digest it. Or you are reading newspapers. All kinds of nonsense is being fed to you. Whenever you have time you put the radio or the TV on. Or someday you are feeling very good and you want to relax and you go to the movie. What kind of relaxation is this? The movie will not allow you relaxation, because information is continuously thrown into you.
… I am saying let there be a balance
between action and inaction.
Let them balance each other
and you be just in the middle.
Relaxation means no information is thrown into you. Listening to a cuckoo will do, because no information is fed to you. Listening to music will do, because no information is thrown into you. Music has no language; it is pure sound. It does not give any message; it simply delights you. Dancing will be good, music will be good, working in the garden will be good, playing with children will be good, or just sitting doing nothing will be good. This is the cure. And if you do it consciously, the impact will be greater.
Create a balance. Neurosis is an unbalanced state of mind: too much activity and no inactivity at all, too much masculine and no feminine at all, too much yang and too little of yin. And you have to be fifty-fifty. You have to keep a deep balance. A symmetry is needed inside you. You have to be an ardhana-rishwar, half man, half woman, then you will never go neurotic.
And that is the whole process of the book, The Secret of the Golden Flower. It will make you disappear as man, as woman; it will make you one whole, one unity; it will give you individuation.
Individuality is neither male nor female, it is simple unity. Strive to achieve it between time spent doing versus time spent not doing. This is wholeness. This is what Buddha called his Middle Way, majjhim nikaya. Just be exactly in the middle. And remember, you can become unbalanced to the other extreme too; you can become too inactive. That will be dangerous also. That has its own pitfalls and dangers. If you become too inactive, your life loses dance, your life loses joy, you start becoming dead.
So I am not saying become inactive, I am saying let there be a balance between action and inaction. Let them balance each other and you be just in the middle. Let them be two wings of your being. No wing should be bigger than the other.
In the West, action has become too great; inaction has disappeared. In the East, inaction became too great and action disappeared. The West knows affluence, richness, on the outside and poverty inside; the East knows richness, affluence, inside and poverty on the outside. Both are in misery because both have chosen extremes.
My approach is neither Eastern nor Western, my approach is neither male nor female, my approach is neither of action nor inaction, my approach is that of utter balance, symmetry, in you. Hence I say to my sannyasins: Don’t leave the world. Be in the world and yet be not of it. This is what Taoists call wei wu wei, action through inaction – the meeting of yin and yang, anima and animus; it brings enlightenment. Imbalance is neurosis; balance is enlightenment.
Osho, The Secrets of Secrets Vol. 1, Ch 12, Q 2 (excerpt)