Frank Questions: Is Cancer just Neurosis Contingent?

I notice that Osho News on 21st May published an Osho quote on the subject of cancer
running under the header : “Cancer can exist only in a certain neurotic state of mind”.



Osho says,  controversially perhaps:

“When the mind becomes very tense, so tense that it is intolerable, it starts affecting the body tissues. That’s why cancer exists only when civilization becomes very, very sophisticated.
Cancer is basically a psychological disease; it is basically a disease of the mind, not a physical one. When the mind becomes very tense, so tense that it is intolerable, it starts affecting the body tissues. That’s why cancer exists only when civilization becomes very, very sophisticated. In primitive societies you cannot find cancer. People are not so sophisticated. The higher – by ‘higher’ I mean complicated – the more sophisticated, the more complex a society is, the more cancer will happen. […]
Cancer has to disappear. Cancer can exist only in a certain neurotic state of mind. If the mind relaxes, sooner or later the body will follow and will relax.
It is because of this fact that scientific investigation has not yet been able to find a cure for cancer.”

Osho, Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2, Ch 14

Surely this flies in the face of scientific discovery?
For example, much cancer is caused by exposure to the sun (skin cancer)
Various bacteria and viruses cause it. This includes human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical and other cancers; Epstein-Barr virus, which causes some types of lymphoma; and Helicobacter pylori, which grows in gone-off food and causes stomach cancer.
Radon, a naturally occurring gas accounts for a consistent percentage of cancer worldwide
Aflatoxin – produced by a mould that grows on peanuts and grains –  is a potent cause of cancer. It’s a significant cause of liver cancer in parts of Africa and Asia.
The list goes on.

Very few people these days argue against the idea that relaxation, improvement of diet, having a positive attitude etc. can be helpful in treatment of cancer (or other illnesses), although they used to back when Osho gave this talk.
Also, it is possible to assert that being tense or having a bad attitude can increase your vulnerability to disease, but this is still highly debatable
However, to posit neurosis/civilisation/mental tension as a sole cause?

I would be interested in what people think of this.


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47 Responses to Frank Questions: Is Cancer just Neurosis Contingent?

  1. Parmartha says:

    Thanks, Frank.

    I never understood why so many distinct illnesses seemed to have the name cancer. An example of the lack of real convergent thinking by medical science?

    Clearly, at an anecdotal level you are right, many people who have stressful lives live long ones. Some who have cosseted lives die young, and from something which medical science calls cancer.

    Dharmen dies and one asks this type of question about what killed him…Like you, I am interested in any lateral views.

  2. Kavita says:

    I think the word & sound ‘cancer’ itself has enough fear-creating vibe, more than most of the other diseases that have supposedly been reported for causing deaths in recent times.

    I remember having a discussion about cancer with a very well-read friend, Swami Jeevan Ekin, a Poona 3 sannyasin, saying something like this, that cancer happens when that particular cell of the body becomes independent from the rest of the body & those cells go on multiplying.

    I also remember my paternal grandmother saying this when she heard that someone she knew had got cancer, that it’s just a naming ceremony!

    I have personally seen a close sannyasin friend who is very active & healthy after having chemotherapy 10 years ago.

    I guess every case is unique, just as every person is!

  3. Lokesh says:

    Osho’s quote about cancer is a simplistic one, delivered during a time when the word ‘psychosomatic’ was relatively new on the scene.

    A number of enlightened people have died of cancer, including Ramana, which leaves one with the idea that in this instance Osho did not really know what he was talking about.

    I have one friend who is an oncologist. He told me that new age cures killed many people because by the time people had realised they did not cure them of cancer it was too late for him to help them. Mind you. his treatment is allopathic and very strong.

    The cancer card is a tough one to deal with. Easy to talk about but a monster to combat.

  4. Kavita says:

    Would like to add, there are many more persons I know who have succumbed to cancer though, just a few who are supposedly cured; probably they were diagnosed in their early stages, according to their own telling.

    Doctors should coin a much more difficult word to pronounce this disease, methinks!

  5. Tan says:

    I always notice that most sannyasins have died of cancer, at least the ones I know. Am I mistaken? And I am talking of people that meditate, had a very energetic lifestyle and some published books about health and meditation.

    So, are we missing something? If anyone can clear things a bit, please, do! Cheers!

  6. frank says:

    A little while back, I wrote that I did a survey of the causes of death of (mostly western) sannyasins using the Oshonews obit. section.

    The main cause of death there is cancer, by quite some margin.
    There are very, very few attributed to cardio-vascular heart disease, which is unusual compared to the general population.

    Possible conclusions:
    The way of the heart is good for your heart – even if it doesn`t shake off your neurosis!!!

    • Tan says:

      Frank boy, it is possible that after reading about your surveyI’ve realised that nearly all my sannyasin friends died of it. Friends that, like I said, had a wonderful life, living in meditation with all the health benefits that it brings. Still…

      Do you think that there is a ‘key’ of ‘something’ in it?
      Is it impossible for our neurosis to disappear?


      • frank says:

        Tan,everyone`s got to die of something.
        I don`t think there should be any shame in it.

        “If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.”

        You ask:
        “Is it impossible for our neurosis to disappear?”
        I think you`d better find some bloke with a beard in a big chair on a stage to ask that to.
        I`m 59, I`ve just had a rocketing row with my partner, so from my viewpoint right now, for myself, I am not so optimistic!
        Oy vey!

        • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

          Insecure where to plug in into the chat, maybe best here (at Frank´s, at 7.35 pm)?

          Couldn´t cope that much with the special, very short Osho quote, taken out of context, I presume.
          This morning, dusted down one of my books of Wilhelm Reich, I hadn´t looked in for decades; its title (in English): ‘The Cancer Biopathy’ (Orgon Institute Press Inc. 1948 !).

          This book especially – like all other stuff on Reich´s research of a holistic, universal and energetic view of cancer and other sicknesses, his books and equipment burnt in public in US, before he himself was imprisoned and died at the age of about 60. (If you are interested… as good stuff doesn´t die. Sometimes…).

          Was reminded on Osho´s very compassionate take on this man who came out ´before´his time, Osho said. Inviting him, that he should be born again into a more healthy surrounding field, where books (and people) are not destroyed or/and burnt by vested interests.

          However, more important, it seems to me, that the topic comes up in the times of grief about a loss of a friend who lived in your midst in UK and will not be available any more, the way we are used to connect.

          “Are we missing something?”, you ask, Tan.
          And then you ask “Can you clear ´things´ a bit?”
          And the pain of losses you – we – have experienced is tangible; such an utterly uncontrollable ´thing´ this Life.

          I loved the playful responses of Frank and Arpana; strange that their only apparent lightness reminded me of the song: ´Don´t fight it, invite it’…

          As we do not really know a thing.

          with Love


          • Tan says:

            Thanks, Madhu, for adding to the comments.

            Taking as an example my best friend’s death: with 40 years of her life as a yoga teacher, meditations and spectacular health and fitness. The last year of her life she had problems with her business, people stealing from her, etc…

            My point is that just one year of deceptions, fear and suddenly she feels something in her body and she is diagnosed with cancer which was spreading very quickly and that was it! Finished!

            Maybe it was a coincidence, but it’s quite sad to think that the forty years behind weren’t of much help. Bloody hell!

            @Frank boy
            If your partner is much younger than you, accept the row and relax…
            If your partner is around your age, grow up!

            • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

              Yes, Tan, “Bloody Hell”…we could have a good talk (sharing) about such matters, best face-to-face – but what to do…in these realms?

              Just to give it a try:

              The beloved friend you mentioned, I presume, has been riding on top of a very long fortunate wave – at least in your eyes – and what you mean by “it’s quite sad to think that the forty years behind weren’t of much help” I would/could better get a sense of when sitting in your presence?

              Help for what? What do you mean here?
              What me, I became kind of expert in experiencing the very last twenty years here is what it’s like to lose all that I valued very much, especially trustworthy connections. And how that deteriorates health on any realms, body and psyche, mental constitution and yes – after all – also what can be called the Soul in this incarnation.

              ´The Bardo of Living´, it is called by some of the Tibetan Teachers.

              However, I always and still prefer Osho´s Approach to such.

              To loose drastically all ´concepts´, the more open and then the more hidden ones about how Life should play in human inter-relating is not an easy one to take.

              But what to do, I am going to look for the lecture tape: ´Take it easy´.
              And what also helps just now are the summer blossomings in abundance, when I have my ´walkabouts´.

              Wish I could share a long hug with you.

              Still in the body.


              • Tan says:

                Thanks, Madhu, hug received and appreciated.

                What I meant is that when one’s life is spent in meditations, living with awareness, etc. should create a kind of ‘shield’ in the person.

                Cheers! XX

                • frank says:


                  If you meditate to get anywhere, achieve anything or `create a shield`, the result cannot be predicted or certain.

                  The only surefire reason to meditate is because you do!

                  That might sound a bit advaitaish, but it’s true on a much more earthy everyday level, too. I notice it with simple things like swimming and walking. Doing it is its own reward, but the moment you try to achieve another reward on top you lose something of the experience.

                  You might get more healthy, get cardio advantage, loosen your muscles, feel a bit enlightened or you might also catch a bug, drown, come off worse against a banana skin and twist your ankle or get mugged!

                  I don`t find yoga and the people who do it particularly meditative at all.
                  Some of the simple warm-up exercises are good but all that hard-core stuff is fighting with yourself. Those dudes are always hurting themselves.

                  I read Iyengar’s biography and I was amazed – he reported that he pushed himself so hard that he was bleeding from his anus constantly for 15 years! I kid you not.
                  Rather him than me!

                  Meditation isn`t a magic bullet or cure-it-all pill. That’s just the advertising schtick. In fact, it will only ever get you precisely nowhere!

                • Tan says:

                  Thanks, Frank boy.

                  Maybe I would like to think, yes, to think, that I will be free from any ‘psychological’ illness because I live a ‘meditative life’ and feel good.

                  Maybe it’s a mix of fear and arrogance, that a ‘meditative life’ doesn’t eliminate.


                  Cheers! XX

        • Lokesh says:

          “If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.”
          Jerry Garcia.

      • Arpana says:

        We don’t have to give up all our neurosis.
        Just drop being neurotic about being neurotic. So liberating. ☺️

  7. shantam prem says:

    Why to worry, when we have the belief we won´t die but leave the body?

    Was Osho only visitor to the planet Earth or we all come from same Blessed land where celibates get villas in silent zones and hot-blooded get fresh meat of all kind?

    Service sector up in father´s land go regularly for all kind of check-ups. No fear to get any kind of STDs or even heart attack!

  8. shantam prem says:

    On a serious note, my impression is meditation, specially Osho meditations, are so powerful they loosen up the bond between body and soul therefore lifespan gets reduced. Maybe this has happened all the time in past too, when people work hard to be from life and death circle.

    Those who want to live long, Yoga is for them. It strengthens body-soul bonding.

  9. Lokesh says:

    “Osho meditations, are so powerful they loosen up the bond between body and soul.”

    Pure speculation on Shantam’s part and not based in anything factual. Besides, how does he define ‘powerful’? In relation to what exactly? Osho’s meditations do not include having sack cloth, soaked in water, being layered over ones body in sub zero temperatures and then melting and drying them out with yogic breathing technique. That is powerful.

    • shantam prem says:

      Who knows, state of Enlightenment is the biggest speculation in the history of mankind.
      Where is the bloody proof A is enlightened and B not?

      But yes, few people are born with leadership qualities whereas majority like to follow some leader, this is simple psychological or evolutionary fact.

      If we start asking for proof, than why not start from the neck?!

      • Lokesh says:

        Shantam declares, “State of Enlightenment is the biggest speculation in the history of mankind.
        Where is the bloody proof A is enlightened and B not?”

        The first part is, once again, pure speculation and I suspect, pure exaggeration.
        I can think of a number of other big speculations, eg. whether man descended from the apes that surely surpass man’s speculations about the state of enlightenment.

        As for the second part about proof of enlightenment, that is an olden goldie. I ask, who needs the proof and then if presented with it what will it do for you? Reinforce one’s belief system?

        I think that it boils down to this. If being around someone opens your heart, makes you feel good to be alive, teaches you important things you did not understand previously and makes your life move in a more positive direction etc. then hang out with that person.

        Proof is just a mind trip in such situations. Let your heart do the talking in such matters, otherwise you might miss a great opportunity due to the mind’s supposed need for proof.

        • shantam prem says:

          Let me make it clear, Lokesh, the word or concept Enlightenment was never my theme. I will prefer to be a watcher on the hill in a naturist beach than to compare who is enlightened and who is not. And I am also not one of those who quote Osho on a similar line to “99% gurus are lies, they have no truth, false gurus etc.”

          Just now, millions of disciples of a master are gathered and they have listened his message from the prison cell. One can google Guru Rampal to know the whole story. This master is a prisoner of Indian Legal System where plea bargains don´t exist. God Forbid, just imagine Bhagwan in Indian prison!

          Another master, Bapu Asa Ram (google it too) is one of the most successful gurus in religious trade. He is in prison for last many years for sexual molestation case. His disciples bow down on the road leading to prison.

          Surely all these disciples are not idiots. Something must have happened in their hearts. And thank God, they care a damn about Enlightenment. In my heart, I prefer honest spirituality, less marketing stuff.

          Honestly, it is a mystery and will remain a mystery who gets eternal heaven, salvation, nirvana or is sent back to Earth, whether as a punishment or as a reward.

  10. shantam prem says:

    One of my ex-friends told me an incident. Once he had girlfriend half of his age. Some high-ranking Resort manager told him, “This is the way to remain young and fit.”

    One can look at the life of oldies who are regular to the Resort; their facebook walls show the hidden elixir of their youthful heart!

    If there is a survey of lifespans of vampires and sages, one can imagine who lives long.

    • Lokesh says:

      Shantam, it is not important how long one lives. What matters is how one uses their time. Whatever way you look at it life is short, it is a great mistake to waste one’s time. Most realise it too late.

  11. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    “Die more lambs than sheep!” (My grandmother, questioned by me on the topic).

    Dear Parmartha and friends,

    About the hypothesis of cancer associated with neurosis and the power of meditation to keep us young and healthy, in view of the fact that somehow we will have to die, having no power about ‘when’, follow some consideration about ‘how’, if I do it in time.

    Given that a good death after a bad life does not seem to be a great consolation, and assuming that any theory (psychosomatic), expression of a formal system, has limits (Godel), forecast the exceptions (Popper) and the change of paradigm (Kunt):

    My perspective on illness, and cancer in particular, draws on the hygienist-naturist vision (alkalinity, fasting, vegan etc.), and coincides enough with what Dethlefsen-Rüdiger writes in ‘Disease as a way’:

    “Illness reflects unresolved contents in consciousness.
    Neurosis is the effect of a tension between two entities, triggered by the loss of shared information (unity/harmony) about the general scheme.

    Each body has a defence system capable of tolerating these conflicts. If the patient does in time to find the way how integrate the new information that has caused the lack of previous information.

    If the process of integration (therapy) retards the cancer cell take advantage of this loss of holistic perspective to use the vitality not expressed as unity to enlarge and proliferate into division, breaking all morphological boundaries (infiltration), creating bases occupying the spaces even very far from the starting point of the tumour (metastasis), using healthy cells as a culture, food. If colonisation will succeed there will be the death of the whole organism, with the new cellular entity, in its greatest glory, contained in it.

    For these reasons, they write: “cancer is a perverted love.”

    But then how do you explain the familiarity of cancer with loving people like Masters and Disciples?

    Perhaps an existence grounded on the glory of feeling part of a general plan that provides joy to everyone attracts much despair, too much for a body-mind system, exposing Them to the request of attention, sometimes molesting, in quantity and/or quality.

    Of course, It can be surprising that a Master in his wisdom neglects his body and instead of escaping and hiding continues to stay with us, in silence, smoking or eating compulsively…but will not be these forms of socialisation, another way to say “welcomes all sannyasins” or “come, come, yet come again”?

    Could a Master heal himself from the “vice to love”?
    And a disciple from being loved by him?



    Maybe someone who speaks German can tell me how Dethlefsen died, and what about his research centre?

    Before a psychopathic love, in its place has always been a neurotic love – I hope so.

  12. shantam prem says:

    When you cut just few words intention changes, meaning changes. Shantam has written “Who knows, state of Enlightenment is the biggest speculation in the history of mankind.
    Where is the bloody proof A is enlightened and B not?”

    Acharya Lokesh has given the twist in his way by writing, “Shantam declares, “State of Enlightenment is the biggest speculation in the history of mankind.
    Where is the bloody proof A is enlightened and B not?” ”

    “WHO KNOWS” is the essence of my declaration.


    • Lokesh says:

      Shantam, you are splitting hairs. Your question is the same with or without the ‘who knows’.

      While we are at it, you are often rattling on about the enlightened master, Osho’s legacy. How would you know if Osho was enlightened or not? You never actually met him, except in your fantasy world, where, among other things, you fantasise about regime change at The Resort etc., a complete waste of time, as I see it at least, because you have no influence over such matters.

      Sannyas was always about inner change, but you never got that part of the story. Who knows, maybe you will get it one day. I kind of doubt it, though.

  13. shantam prem says:

    “Sannyas was always about inner change…”

    Lokesh, 5 thousand years of recorded Indian history has one under current, Inner Change.
    Maybe for the westerns it was a new revelation.

    Osho´s work Was touching each and every fibre of Human life. Please don´t say a shopping mall is like any other kiosk.

    I hope you know the distinction between the chamber of a general physician and a multi-specialty hospital.

    • Lokesh says:

      Shantam, perhaps it is time for you to move beyond your East/West dichotomy, because it is no longer relevant.

      Besides, for all India’s past spiritual glories it is today one of the most polluted countries on the planet and this has very much to do with India’s past in relation to nihilistic ideas like believing in nothingness as a spiritual goal.

      • frank says:

        I remember once staying in a very cheap lodge in South India in the 70s.
        Some real country bumpkins came to stay and they weren`t familiar with electricity. When they entered the room, one of them turned the light on and the other would immediately fold his hands and offer thanks to the light bulb!

        Times have moved on. Electricity is everywhere, so is meditation. When you switch your computer on do you bow your head and offer thanks to Thomas Edison and Michael Faraday? I doubt it.

        Strikes me that`s the attitude Shantam is presenting here.

        Plus, I’ve said it before, that people from the Indian subcontinent were able to get jiggy with the Euro girls in the 20th century, not thanks to the genius of mighty Bharat. If history had been bossed by that bunch of turmeric-stained nihilistic losers, it would have been arranged marriage, get bummed by teacher at Sunday school or the equivalent, or possibly a visit to the cages of Mumbai to get a 13 year-old for the ‘lucky’ ones.

        No – the people to bow down to here would be Albert Hoffman, Alexander Fleming, the Suffragettes, Marie Stopes, Loius Pasteur, Anton Kollisch, Frank B Colton, Margaret Sanger, Thomas Paine, Freud, Reich, Chuck Berry….

        • Lokesh says:

          Hey, Frank, come on now, you left out Jimi Hendrix and Albert Hoffman.

        • shantam prem says:

          In the end it comes to the conclusion, Osho was trying to fill petrol in diesel cars! Fucking thing called Master/disciple relation is not for western subcontinent.

          God willing, tomorrow I will go to Calvary Chapel for Sunday Mass. Maybe I will write a report. Two times I was there. Thousand times more I would like to be with those people than foreigners with Indian names.

          Believe me, my friends, I feel like vomiting to see some western with Indian name. May I recommend them few sittings with a shrink. There must be something wrong.

          • Lokesh says:

            Shantam declares, “There must be something wrong.”

            It is rare for Shantam to notice anything that resembles the truth, but for once he is right on the money, because there is something wrong…with him.

            Shantam completely missed Osho’s most important message: the real action is on the inside. So off the mark that he went in the opposite direction entirely – out. And so it happens that, just like the billions of other bio- robots inhabiting this planet, Shantam projects all of his inner shit on the screen of life, living with the firm belief that this is reality. Because as a man believes so the world will appear.

            Taking that into consideration, Shantam has come undone and in his own words he declares, “May I recommend a few sittings with a shrink. There must be something wrong.”

            Live and learn. Need I say more?

            • shantam prem says:

              This makes me smile. Smugness is as deep as oceans around.

              “A misses the message of Osho, but me not” is a common delusion, worthy of psychoanalysis. In Lokesh´s case, it is so obvious.

              • satyadeva says:

                “A misses the message of Osho, but me not” is a common delusion, worthy of psychoanalysis.”

                Does your own obsession with the actions and policies of those who are running the ashram come under this category, Shantam?

                Your attempt to wriggle your way out of this promises to be most entertaining. Don’t disappoint, please have a go!

              • Lokesh says:

                Shantam, Osho spoke in an uncomplicated language. He was easy to understand, which was part of his beauty. It does not take a genius to understand what he was saying. Yet you seem to have missed Osho’s message entirely, which also does not require being a genius to figure out. It is that which is obvious.

                I rest my case, because it is too easy to get on your case.

  14. swami anand anubodh says:

    The comprehensive list of cancer possibilities in Frank’s introduction (more possibilities than Osho seems had time for) mentions radon. And Lokesh has reminded us that Ramana died of cancer.

    Radon gas is a known hazard for cavers due to accumulation from lack of air flow. And we know that Ramana spent many years living in caves.

    Here is a link to a website which specifically mentions radon gas as being high-risk for contracting the type of cancer he suffered from:

    Perhaps Lokesh and Frank have inadvertently uncovered an intriguing insight into the death of Ramana Maharshi?

    Remember: you heard it on Sannyasnews first!
    (And also remember, a relaxed mind is unlikely protection from cancers caused by ionising radiation).

  15. swami anand anubodh says:


    You mentioned earlier in this string that some time ago you had done a survey into the deaths of sannyasins, and that their means of exit heavily favour cancer.

    Whenever I’ve looked at the obituary section in Oshonews, I’ve noticed that how they died is not always stated. So data is only coming from those where that information is provided.

    So what you are seeing could equally be explained by a subtle bias in the way sannyasin deaths are reported.

    Something along these lines seems to me far more likely, as there is no sensible reason why merely being a ‘sannyasin’ is somehow carcinogenic.

    Realistically, there is not enough reliable info around to draw any firm conclusions. Anecdotes are good food for thought, but could skew things even more.

    Interesting observation.

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