Depression: Loss of Meaning
Osho on Depression
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 OR TALK THERAPY SEEM EQUALLY EFFECTIVE — OR INEFFECTIVE. EXPLANATIONS FOR DEPRESSION HAVE VARIED FROM THE CHEMICAL TO THE PSYCHOLOGICAL.
OSHO, WHAT IS THIS 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 fulfillment 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…
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 savior is going to come…
When man reaches to the cherished goals, then he becomes aware that there are 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…?”…
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 flavor 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…
The West needs very urgently a great movement of meditation; 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 more 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 before. They are just corpses — well decorated, well honored, 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 of 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.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Transmission of the Lamp
Chapter title: A whole glass of water
27 May 1986 am in Punta Del Este, Uruguay.
Osho has spoken on ‘depression, suicide, sadness, anger, ego’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The New Alchemy: To Turn You On
- And The Flowers Showered
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 1
- Om Shantih Shantih Shantih
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Beyond Enlightenment
- From Bondage to Freedom
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
- The Osho Upanishad
- The Sword and the Lotus