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.
The religious prophets, messiahs, saviors 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, 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 savior is going to come.