Anxiety is a primitive mechanism, the “red alert” sent by the brain to the nervous system. It causes more blood to flow into the muscles while taking it away from our digestive system and skin. And because it changes blood-flow priorities in the brain, forget about easily handling the easy stuff. When the anxiety alarm is ringing, the machinery of the brain is compelled to focus on the possibility of dangers.
Anxiety as a defence mechanism is a wonderful gift of nature but if it becomes a constant companion, which it has, it is more a menace than a mechanism. The more technologically advanced we become, the more we feel isolated, which leads to feeling anxious. The medical cure for anxiety is some pills or sedatives. But that’s evading the problem, not resolving it.
The Osho vision comes up with simple solutions to difficult problems, and anxiety is no exception. It says that we are filled with anxiety because our attention is focused on the outside and we are disconnected with ourselves. The doer, the ego, has grown out of proportion, which is the root of anxiety.
This sutra in Adhyatma Upanishad sums up the problem in a nutshell: “On cessation of the sense of doing, all anxieties cease. On cessation of the anxieties, all desires cease. The cessation of desires is emancipation — and this is called jivanamukti: liberation while living.” While commenting on this sutra, Osho says: “We all want to destroy anxieties but we do not want to be drop the idea of being the doer. And anxiety is the shadow of the doer. A person who thinks, ‘I am doing this,’ cannot save himself from anxiety. Anxieties will go on piling upon him. The more he thinks, ‘I am doing,’ the more anxious he will become.”
The people of the East have invented ingenious devices to cure the problems of the ego. One of them was to feel, “I am not doing, god is doing”. This was a technique of meditation. They would say: “Not even a leaf of a tree moves without the permission of god.” Now, there is no such god anywhere to move or stop every single leaf. But it was a device. This statement has nothing to do with God anyway, it is simply a technique of meditation — it is a device because a person who believes that not even a leaf moves without his permission, slowly starts dropping the notion of “I am doing”.
Amrit Sadhana is editor of Osho Times International.