Articles on health


In the olden days it was called melancholia; today it is called depression, and it counts as one of the major psychological problems of developed countries. It is described as a sense of despair or hopelessness, a lack of self-esteem with no enthusiasm or interest in the surroundings. In addition, there are physical symptoms of poor appetite, sleeplessness and a loss of sexual energy. Electroshock treatment has largely been abandoned today, and drugs and talk therapy seem equally effective —or ineffective. Explanations for depression have varied from the chemical to the psychological.
What is depression? Is it a reaction to a depressing world, a kind of hibernation during ‘the winter of our discontent’? Is depression just a reaction to repression — or oppression — or is it just a form of self-repression?
Man has always lived with hope, a future, a paradise somewhere far away. He has never lived in the present — his golden age is still to come. It kept him enthusiastic because greater things were going to happen; all his longings were going to be fulfilled. There was great joy in anticipation. He suffered in the present; he was miserable in the present. But all that was completely forgotten in the dreams that were going to be fulfilled tomorrow. Tomorrow has always been life-giving.
But the situation has changed. The old situation was not good because the tomorrow — the fulfilment of his dreams never became true. He died hoping. Even in his death he was hoping for a future life — but he never actually experienced any rejoicing, any meaning. But it was tolerable. It was only a question of today: it will pass, and tomorrow is bound to come. The religious prophets, messiahs, saviours were Promising him all pleasures — which are condemned here — in paradise. The political leaders, the social ideologists, the utopians were promising him the same thing — not in paradise but here on earth, somewhere far away in the future when the society goes through a total revolution and there is no poverty, no classes, no government and man is absolutely free and has everything that he needs.
Both are basically fulfilling the same psychological need. To those who were materialistic, the ideological, political, sociological utopians were appealing; to those who were not so materialistic, the religious leaders appealed. But the object of appeal was exactly the same: all that you can imagine, can dream of, can long for, and will be absolutely fulfilled. With those dreams, the present miseries seemed to be very small.
There was enthusiasm in the world; people were not depressed. Depression is a contemporary phenomenon and it has come into being because now there is no tomorrow. All political ideologies have failed. There is no possibility that man will ever be equal, no possibility that there will be a time when there will be no government, no possibility that all your dreams will be fulfilled.
This has come as a great shock. Simultaneously man has become more mature. He may go to the church, to the mosque, to the synagogue, to the temple — but they are only social conformities, because he does not want, in such a dark and depressed state, to be left alone; he wants to be with the crowd. But basically he knows there is no paradise; he knows that no saviour is going to come.
Hindus have waited five thousand years for Krishna. He promised not only that he would come once, he promised that whenever there was misery, suffering, whenever vice was on top of virtue, whenever nice and simple and innocent people were exploited by the cunning and the hypocritical, he would come. But for five thousand years no sign has been seen of him.
Jesus has promised he will come, and when asked when, he said, “Very soon.” I can stretch “Very soon,” but not for two thousand years; that is too much.
The idea that our misery, our pain, our anguish will be taken away is no longer appealing. The idea that there is a God who cares for us seems to be simply a joke. Looking at the world, it doesn’t seem as if there is anybody who cares.
In fact, in England there are almost thirty thousand people who are devil worshippers — just in England, a small part of the world. And their ideology is worth looking at in reference to your question. They say that the devil is not against God, the devil is God’s son. God has abandoned the world, and now the only hope is to persuade the devil to take care as God is not taking care. And thirty thousand people are worshipping the devil as a son of God…and the reason is they feel that God has abandoned the world — he no longer cares about it. Naturally, the only way is to appeal to his son; if somehow he can be persuaded by rituals, by prayer, by worship, perhaps the misery, the darkness, the sickness can be removed. This is a desperate effort.
The reality is that man has always lived in poverty. Poverty has one thing beautiful about it; it never destroys your hope, it never goes against your dreams, it always brings enthusiasm for tomorrow. One is hopeful, believing that things will be better: this dark period is already passing; soon there will be light. But that situation has changed. In the developed countries…and remember, the problem of depression is not in undeveloped countries — in the poor countries, people are still hopeful — it is only in the developed countries, where they have everything that they had always longed for. Now paradise will not do anymore; nor can a classless society help anymore. No utopia is going to be better. They have achieved the goal — and this achievement of the goal is the cause of depression. Now there is no hope: tomorrow are dark, and the day after tomorrow will be even darker.
All these things that they have dreamed of were very beautiful. They had never looked at the implications of them. Now that they have got them, they have got them with the implications. A man is poor, but he has an appetite. A man is rich, but he has no appetite. And it is better to be poor and have an appetite than to be rich and have no appetite. What are you going to do with all your gold, all your silver, all your dollars? You cannot eat them. You have everything, but the appetite has disappeared for which you have been struggling all along. You succeeded — and I have said again and again that nothing fails like success. You have reached a place that you wanted to reach, but you were not aware of the by-products. You have millions of dollars, but you cannot sleep…. When man reaches to the cherished goals, then he becomes aware that there arc many things around them. For example, for your whole life you try to earn money, thinking that one day, when you have it, you will live a relaxed life. But you have been tense your whole life — tension has become your discipline — and at the end of life, when you have achieved all the money you wanted, you cannot relax. The whole life disciplined in tension and anguish and worry won’t let you relax. So you are not a winner, you are a loser. You lose your appetite, you destroy your health, you destroy your sensibility, your sensitiveness. You destroy your aesthetic sense — because there is no time for all these things which do not produce dollars.
You are running after dollars — who has time to look at the roses, and who has time to look at the birds on the wing, and who has time to look at the beauty of human beings? You postpone all these things so that one day, when you have everything, you will relax and enjoy. But by the time you have everything, you have become a certain kind of disciplined person — who is blind to roses, who is blind to beauty, who cannot enjoy music, who cannot understand dance, who cannot understand poetry, who can only understand dollars. But those dollars give no satisfaction.
This is the cause of depression. That’s why it is only in the developed countries and only in the richer class of the developed countries — in the developed countries there are poor people also, but they don’t suffer from depression — and now you cannot give a man any more hope to remove his depression because he has all, more than you can promise. His condition is really pitiable. He never thought of implications, he never thought of by-products, he never thought of what he would lose by gaining money. He never thought that he would lose everything that could make him happy just because he has always pushed all those things aside. He had no time, and the competition was tough and he had to be tough. At the end he finds his heart is dead, his life is meaningless. He doesn’t see that there is any possibility in the future of any change, because “What more is there…?”
I used to stay in Sagar in a very rich man’s house. The old man was very beautiful. He was the greatest bid/ manufacturer in the whole of India. He had everything that you can imagine, but he was absolutely unable to enjoy anything. Enjoyment is something that has to be nourished. It is a certain discipline, a certain art — how to enjoy — and it takes time to get in contact with the great things in life. But the man who is running after money bypasses everything that is a door to the divine, and he ends up at the end of the road and there is nothing ahead of him except death.
His whole life he was miserable. He tolerated it, ignored it in the hope that things were going to change. Now he cannot ignore it and cannot tolerate it because tomorrow there is only death and nothing else. And the whole life’s accumulated misery that he has ignored, the suffering that he has ignored, explodes in his being.
The richest man, in a way, is the poorest man in the world. To be rich and not to be poor is a great art. To be poor and to be rich is the other side of the art. There are poor people whom you will find immensely rich. They don’t have anything, but they are rich. Their richness is not in things but in their being, in their multidimensional experiences. And there are rich people who have everything but are absolutely poor and hollow and empty. Deep inside there is just a graveyard.
It is not a depression of the society, because then it would affect the poor too; it is simply natural law, and man now will have to learn it. Up to now there was no need, because nobody had reached to a point where he had everything, while inside there was complete darkness and ignorance.
The first thing in life is to find meaning in the present moment.
The basic flavour of your being should be of love, of rejoicing, of celebration. Then you can do anything; dollars will not destroy it. But you put everything aside and simply run after dollars thinking that dollars can purchase everything. And then one day you find they cannot purchase anything — and you have devoted your whole life to dollars.
This is the cause of depression. And particularly in the West, the depression is going to be very deep. In the East there have been rich people, but there was a certain dimension available. When the road to richness came to an end, they did not remain stuck there; they moved into a new direction. That new direction was in the air, available for centuries. In the East the poor have been in a very good condition, and the rich have been in a tremendously good condition. The poor have learned contentment so they do not bother about running after ambition. And the rich have understood that one day you have to renounce it all and go in search of truth, in search of meaning.
In the West, at the end, the road simply ends. You can go back, but going back will not help your depression. You need a new direction. Gallium Buddha, Mahavira, or Parshvanath — these people were at the peak of richness, and then they saw that it is almost a burden. Something else has to be found before death takes you over and they were courageous enough to renounce all. Their renunciation has been misunderstood. They renounced it all because they did not want to bother a single second more for money, for power — because they have seen the top, and there is nothing there. They went to the very highest rung of the ladder and found that it leads nowhere; it is just a ladder leading nowhere. While you are somewhere in the middle, or lower than the middle, you have a hope because there are other rungs higher than you. There comes a point when you are on the highest rung and there is only suicide or madness — or hypocrisy: you go on smiling till death finishes you, but deep down you know that you have wasted your life.
In the East, depression has never been a problem. The poor learned to enjoy whatsoever little they had, and the rich learned that having the whole world at your feet means nothing — you have to go in a search for meaning, not for money. And they had precedents: for thousands of years people have gone in search of truth and have found it. There is no need to be in despair, in depression, you just have to move into an unknown dimension. They have never explored it, but as they start exploring the new dimension — it means a journey inwards, a journey to their own self — all that they have lost starts returning.
The West needs a great movement of meditation very urgently; otherwise, this depression is going to kill people. And these people will be the talented ones — because they achieved power, they achieved money, they achieved whatsoever they wanted…the highest degrees in education. These are the talented people, and they are all feeling despair.
This is going to be dangerous because the most talented people are no longer enthusiastic about life, and the untalented are enthusiastic about life but they don’t even have the talents to get power, money, education, respectability. They don’t have the talents, so they are suffering, feeling handicapped. They are turning into terrorists; they are turning towards unnecessary violence just out of revenge — because they cannot do anything else. But they can destroy. And the rich are almost ready to hang themselves from any tree because there is no reason for them to live. Their hearts have stopped beating long ago. They are just corpses — well decorated, well honoured, but utterly empty and futile. The West is really in a far worse condition than the East, although to those who don’t understand it seems that the West is in a better condition than the East because the East is poor. But poverty is not as big a problem as is the failure of richness; then a man is really poor. An ordinary poor man at least has dreams, hopes, but the rich man has nothing.
What is needed is a great meditation movement reaching to every person.
And in the West these people who are depressed are going to psychoanalysts, therapists and all kinds of charlatans who are themselves depressed, more depressed than their patients — naturally, because the whole day they are hearing about depression, despair, meaninglessness. And seeing so many talented people in such a bad state, they themselves start losing their spirit. They cannot help; they themselves need help.
The function of my school is going to be to prepare people with meditative energy and send them into the world just as examples for those who are depressed. If they can see that there are people who are not depressed — but on the contrary, who are immensely joyous — perhaps a hope may be born into them. Now they can have everything and there is no need to worry. They can meditate.
I don’t teach renunciation of your wealth or of anything. Let everything be as it is. Just add one thing more to your life. Up to now you have been adding only things to your life. Now add something to your being — and that will do the music, that will do the miracle, that will do the magic, that will create a new thrill, a new youth, a new freshness.
It is not unsolvable. The problem is big, but the solution is very simple.

A whole glass of water –
27 May 1986 am in Punta Del Este, Uruguay.

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