Hypertension: Living in the Head
World Hypertension Day
Observed annually on 17 May, World Hypertension Day was initiated to promote awareness and activities for the prevention of hypertension. It was first established by The World Hypertension League (WHL) in 2005. The main idea behind this initiative was to eradicate ignorance about high blood pressure by educating the population and introducing measures for detection and control. Apropos of that, WHO along with the US CDC introduced the Global Hearts Initiative in 2016, intending to reduce the prevalence of hypertension by 25%.
Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, is a condition that affects over one billion people across the world. It is a major cause of cardiovascular diseases and as most people don’t realize its presence, they are at high risk of the same. The long-term solution to hypertension is eating well, exercising, and introducing stress relieving and interesting activities in one’s life.
Osho talks about hypertension, “Up to twenty-eight you were taught to inflate the ego more and more, so you go on inflating. It has become a habitual thing. For twenty-eight years you have been practising only one thing — through education, through teaching, through conditioning — inflate the ego. Now it has become a routine: you go on inflating without thinking at all that there is a limited capacity to the balloon. You go on pushing more and more air in — hypertension arises. So it is somewhere between twenty-eight and fifty-six that you start getting high blood pressure, heart attacks. It is somewhere between these two ages that you have to consult the psychotherapist, that you start becoming shaky, that things don’t seem to go the right way, as you had expected them to go, as they were at least appearing to go up to twenty-eight. Now they are no longer going the right way. Everything seems to go wrong.
You are succeeding in life; you have money, you have prestige, respectability, but somehow you are disappearing in it. You are losing your being, your peace, your rest. A restlessness, a great restlessness, a feverishness arises. These are the most difficult days. These are the days when a person becomes physically, mentally ill. Anxiety arises, anguish arises, psychosis and all kinds of neurosis enter into your being.”
WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?
Hypertension is a state of mind when you have been become too much focused on rationality and you have forgotten your feelings. Hypertension comes out of an imbalance; too much trust in reason is the basis of all hypertension. People who live in their heads become hypertense. Relaxation comes through the heart. One should be capable of moving easily from the head to the heart just as you move out of your house and inside your house. One should be fluid between head and heart. These are the two shores of the river that you are. You should not cling to one shore, otherwise life becomes lopsided. The West suffers very much from hypertension, because it has forgotten the language of the heart, and only the heart knows how to relax, because only the heart knows how to love. Only the heart knows how to enjoy, celebrate. Only the heart knows how to dance and sing. The head knows nothing of dance, the head condemns dance as stupid. The head knows nothing of poetry, the head condemns poetry.
Do you know that one of the greatest philosophers, Plato, thinking about his ultimate utopian republic, said that no poet should be allowed there? In his republic, in his ultimate state of society, poets should not be allowed. Why? — because he is afraid of poets. He says: Poets bring fantasies, poets bring dreams, poets bring confusion and mysticism, and we don’t want any of it. We want a very clear-cut, logical, prosaic society. That society will be hypertense; everybody will be neurotic. In Plato’s republic — if it ever happens… and there is every fear that it can happen — everybody will be a neurotic, and everybody will always be carrying his psychoanalyst with him. Wherever he moves, he will have to carry his psychoanalyst. That is already coming in the West.
I have heard…
In a New York street two small boys were talking — as they have always talked down the centuries, but what they said was very new.
One boy said to the other ‘My psychoanalyst can lick your psychoanalyst any time.’
Small boys… They have always talked that way: ‘My father can lick your father’ or ‘My house is bigger than your house’ or ‘My dog is stronger than your dog’ — a small child’s beginning of the ego. But ‘My psychoanalyst can lick your psychoanalyst any time’ — this is something new.
Three women were talking about their children. One was saying ‘He is the topmost in the class. He always comes first.’
The second said ‘That’s nothing. My child is only seven but he can play music like a Mozart, like a Wagner ‘
The third said ‘That’s nothing. My child is only five and he goes to his psychoanalyst all alone.’
Hypertension is a state where you have lost balance. You cannot bring your heart to function in your life; logic has become all — and logic remains superficial. Logic, when it becomes all, only creates anxiety; it never gives any peace, it goes on bringing new problems. It never solves any problem — it cannot solve, it is not in its power — it only pretends, it only promises.
It goes on saying ‘I will deliver the goods’ but it never delivers. And then problems go on accumulating and you don’t know how to get out of the problems, because you don’t know how to get out of the head. You don’t know how to play with children, how to love your woman, how to go and have a talk with the trees, and sometimes have a dialogue with the stars. You have forgotten all, you are no more a poet, you are no more an alive heart.
And whenever any part of the body is repressed, that part takes revenge. If another part of the mind is repressed, THAT part takes revenge. And the heart is the MOST vital part, the MOST fundamental part. One can live without the head, but one cannot live without heart. The head is a little superficial, it is a kind of luxury, but the heart is very essential. The head exists only in man, so it cannot be very essential. Animals live without it and live perfectly well in a far more silent and blissful way than man. Trees live without the head, and so do the birds and the children and the mystics. The head is superficial. It has a certain function — use it, but don’t be used by it. Once you are being used by it you will become anxious: anxiety will come and life will become nauseous. It will just be a long stretched-out pain, and you will not find any oasis anywhere in it; it will be a desert thing. Remember, the essential has not to be repressed. The non-essential has to follow the essential — has to become its shadow. You cannot deny ANYTHING without getting into trouble.
Listen to this anecdote:
One day a flying saucer landed in Elsie Gumtree’s garden… right in the middle of her summer bloomers, which could have been quite painful if she had been wearing them. There was a whirring sound, and a strange purple man appeared through the hatch in the side of the saucer. Straight away he headed for Elsie’s back door and knocked politely.
Elsie opened the door, and quickly taking in the situation said ‘Are you from the flying saucer?’
‘Mm’ replied the man, as though in pain.
‘Are you from Mars?’ Elsie asked.
‘Mm’ went the man again, his face contorted.
‘How long did it take you to get here? Ten years?’ asked Elsie.
‘Mm’ said the man, an agonised look on his face.
‘Twenty years? You’ve been all that time in your flying saucer?’
‘Mm.’ nodded the man, furiously.
‘What can I do for you?’ asked Elsie.
The little man opened his mouth, and with great difficulty said ‘Can I use your toilet, please?’
Deny anything and it becomes overpowering. Now, for twenty years he has not been able to find a toilet and you are asking nonsense questions. ‘Where are you coming from?’ and ‘Who are you?’ and ‘How many…?’ How can he answer all these things? His denied part is there with a vengeance.
Your heart has been denied for so many lives that when it erupts it is going to create great chaos in your life. First you suffer from the mind, its tensions, anxieties; and then you can suffer from the explosion of the heart. That’s what happens when a man breaks down. First he suffers from the tense state of the mind, and then one day the heart takes its revenge, erupts, and the man goes mad, goes berserk. Both situations are bad. First the sanity was too much — that created the insanity.
A really sane person is one who can live between sanity and insanity in absolute balance. A really sane person always has some insanity in him — he accepts it. A really rational person is one who respects irrationality too, because life is such. If you cannot laugh because of your reason — because ‘laughter is ridiculous’ — then you are bound for trouble, you are destined for trouble.
Yes, logic is good, laughter too is good — and laughter brings balance. It is good to be serious, it is good to be non-serious too, and there should be a constant balancing.
Have you seen a tightrope walker? He continuously balances himself. Sometimes he leans to the left with his staff, and then he comes to a point where if he leans a single moment more, he will fall. He immediately changes his balance, goes to the other side — to the right — leans to the right. Then again a moment comes when one single moment more and he will be gone; he again starts leaning to the left. That’s how he proceeds: leaning to the left, to the right, he keeps in between. That’s the beauty — leaning to the left and to the right, leaning toward both extremes, he keeps in between.
If you want to keep yourself in between you will have to lean toward both sides again and again. You are not to choose. If you choose, you will fall. If you have chosen the head, you will fall; you will hypertense. If you choose the heart and forget the head completely, you will become -mad. And if you want to choose anyhow, if you want to choose, then choose being mad. Choose the heart, because it is more essential. But I am not saying that you should choose. If you insist and you say ‘I HAVE to choose’, then be mad rather than just dry and sane. Be of the heart. Love, love madly; sing, sing madly; dance, dance madly. That is far better than just becoming calculating, logical, rational, and just suffering nightmares.
But I am not saying… it is not my suggestion that you do that.
My suggestion is to remain choiceless. ‘Choiceless awareness’ is the key word. Remain choiceless, aware, and whenever you see that something is going off-balance, lean to the other side. Bring the balance again, and this is how one moves. Life is like tightrope walking.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: I Say Unto You, Vol 2
Chapter title: Respect and Accept
3 November 1977 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Hypertension, insanity, anxiety, neurosis’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Discipline of Transcendence
- From Personality to Individuality
- God is Dead, Now Zen is the Only Living Truth
- I Say Unto You
- The Mustard Seed: My Most Loved Gospel on Jesus
- The Perfect Master, Vol 1
- Sufis: The People of the Path
- Take It Easy
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- Zen: The Path of Paradox, Vol 2, 3
- Tao: The Three Treasures