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Genetic predisposition?

Hi all,

Just got some questions I would really appreciate some help with. I've been reading a lot of stuff on here and reading John's book over the last couple of weeks and finding it all delightfully appealing to me. Just trying to get a good understanding.

Do you think fears and mood states such as agoraphobia, social anxiety, OCD and depression all develop as a result from the 'fear of life' event at birth? or do you suppose some people are already genetically predisposed to them before birth?

If they are already predisposed, did these genetics originally come from someone who developed them as a result from the 'fear of life' disease? say Great Uncle Fred?? and does this make that person more disadvantageous to adopt and feel the benefits from the 'looking' than someone who has no genetically predisposed mood disorders? would it likely take them longer to remove the fear? and is it still possible to change the already pre-programmed genetics in one life (say the OCD gene)?

This business of the relationship between the brain and the mind is very interesting, and I have been following the developments in that area as closely as time permits.

I am certain that there is a deeply symbiotic connection between the mind and the brain. First, it is obvious that the amazing power and complexity of the human mind has arisen only because of the sheer size and complexity of the brain upon which it depends for sensation and computational power.

I have seen reports from recent research, mostly overshadowed by the current fascination with matters material, that have demonstrated that activity of the mind often also gives rise to physical changes in the brain.

See this article from the Wall Street Journal for some validation of this claim.


(I have seen much more about this, and if I were writing a scholarly paper here, I would have to dig into my saved research to provide more authority for this claim, but I hope you will take my word for it. If not, please at least consult with the great god google.)

But back to your question... I know that there have been genetic markers discovered that seem to be associated with OCD, and this is great news since it may well lead to material therapy for this disease. But, no matter whether it does or not, it is certain that a person afflicted with it is also afflicted with the fear of life, which can only exacerbate the misery and cripple all effort on the part of the afflicted person to have a satisfactory relationship with the life they have been given.

Conversely, it is also clear that freeing the mind from the fear of life would allow the person to engage with the actual nature of their life and their condition -- in a manner that might well produce satisfaction.

After all, we are all stuck with the brain we have been given, no matter how it is structured.


Hi, it appears that the genetic predisposition for many diseases is less than previously anticipated. Huge efforts have been undertaken in so called genome wide association studies that aim finding a link between diseases and genetic variations using a large number of patients and healthy people as controls, with somewhat disappointing results. Rather, it appears that epigenetic changes that alter the expression state of genes but do not affect the sequence of the genes play an important role. This is influenced already in early pregnancy eg by experiences of mother. Such changes are reversible, which is good news, as this means for example that the brain can change to more healthy states. Bruno

Thanks John, and a very interesting read. I too have a keen interest in this area and have done much research. I am well aware of neural plasticity and do 100% agree it can work from the bottom up (thought - brain). I believe this can be done because I believe I have done it! I was once riddled with housebound agoraphobia and aggressive panic disorder and this often resulted in depression. Over the years I sought help in a many places, but it was namely Buddhism and gathering understanding in neuroscience and other areas of interest that helped me. Buddhism helped because it highlighted to me the importance of the mind and how destructive it can be and I found reading the texts helped put me in a good frame of mind and often this saw me through bouts of depression. Buddhism is where I began to become mindful. Understanding is key in my opinion, i had to clear away bewilderment and reading books helped me to significantly reduce my fear. I knew all this information about the way the mind and brain works and I began applying it to moments of panic and depression and it did help ( using my cortex which overided my emotional response) , over time I became mindful enough to catch most habitual thoughts of negativity and this resulted in happiness and even a holiday in Italy abroad last year, not bad for an ex housebound agoraphobic! Memory does however surface from time to time and remind me of the misery I have endured, probably due to sub-conscious memories activating my amygdala but as you would probably say 'this doesn't matter' and it doesn't, I see this. I just need to catch the bad habits of the mind and re focus my attention. I have now begun focusing on my breath each day to acquaint myself with 'that' which moves the beam of attention. It is this which moves the attention that I can relate to being the 'real me'.

I believe I still have much more reshaping of my brain to do and i am confident I will do this through 'thought' or more specifically through acquiring more control over my 'attention'. I see a brighter future ahead, or a more peacefully consistent one, and I have to thank you once again for giving us you wonderful theory on life and practical methods to overcome the misery it can inflict upon us. I believe in your teachings, they make sense to me and really are for me the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which is life! The searching is over. Onwards and upwards!


This is good Matt.

The only thing I would add is that understanding is a second order phenomenon conditioned by the context within which it emerges. Understandings that emerge within the context of fear, no matter how attractive they may be, are contaminated and spoiled and, therefore, not very useful as instruments of self-reliant engagement with life.

Before any emerging understanding can be trusted as useful, that fearful context must be invalidated. The purposeful movement of attention to the direct experience of person-ness that we call looking at yourself does just that, and leaves behind a context free of fear in which a renewed psychology begins to form, now free of the fear.

There follows a time of reconstruction of the psychology that we call a period of recovery in which the now invalidated understandings that arose in service to the fear begin to fall away and new understandings born in fearless clarity arise in response to present circumstance.

This period can be extremely painful, but it can also be a time in which the purposeful, self-reliant use of attention is strengthened and clarified with practice, thereby providing direct support for the emergence of useful understanding.

And the understanding that arises from that is that the only phenomenon over which we have agency is the focus of our attention, and understanding that is truly liberating and empowering as is nothing else.


Thank you Bruno, thank you for your post. With John's 'fear of life' theory I conclude (from my experience) that 'fear-based' diseases such as anxiety disorders and so on are sometimes passed genetically but only in the sense that these 'particular genes' are more susceptible to a 'potential' development and this can often be guaranteed through learnt behaviors from peers and so on. That said I think that where ever the 'anxiety provoking' genes originated from (great uncle uncle for instance), that it developed as a direct result from the fear of life, this totally makes sense to me and something I can believe. This type of genetic potentiality differs somewhat from other genetic diseases such as Downs syndrome or Colour Blindness, in that, I believe these diseases do not stem from the 'fear of life', and they are NOT subject to neural change from the mind (thought). All this said, I take John's point about 'understanding' being a second phenomenon and acting destructively IF the context that it arises in is a fear based one. Because I see this now and that I have been doing just that for some time (thank you John for making me aware of this) I believe this particular conclusion was made in a different context and one that veers more toward the real 'me' context. This has been a very interesting discussion, thank you John and Bruno. Things are becoming more clearer for me.


Hi Matt, in this area (genes - brain function), there is not much secured knowledge. My view regarding heritability of mental disorders is that there is something like a family curse, a specific way a family implements the fear of life. This represents as a thick, unconsious fog that manifests in rules and traditions, in pride and shame, and creates family secrets and crimes. Often, a new generation tries to break free from this fear based set of rules and regulations, tries to crack the heritage from the ancestry. However, what starts as a sincere attempt to become free ends as just another flavor, a variation of the family curse. (A similar view could apply to communities, societies, even nations.)

Besides family connections, there is also a genetic similarity within the family. However, how genes determines the organisation and functioning of the brain is very little understood. It is clear that textbook examples of simple monogenetic diseases (a disease that arises because of a defect in a single gene) like color blindness are not representative as a general mechanism - as you also mention. I like your view of family-specific subceptibilty genes that become modified, genetically by mutation (rare), or epigenetically by modifying the packaging of the gene (frequently), based on the fear.

The fear of life makes the mind more rigid, as it clings to "proven and established" strategies of life, even to lies and self deception. Without the fear based context, the mind becomes more free and flexible. This must also reflect how active different genes are. The epigenetic modifications mentioned above represent the most straightforward and fast mechanism how to change gene activities. Bruno

i think this is all can be summarized as conditioning. not just 'psychological' which is an abstraction, but simply biological at its foundation. then individual conditioning is simply a unique expression of the conditioning of the whole species. so no wonder we feel it is passed down. it is simply a feature (bug) for this species. i think this idea of the unity of biological foundation is called 'collective consciousness of humanity' and it applies to the body, and mind then as a consequence.

Many thanks again Bruno wonderful!

Ah, yes, the allure of a genetic foundation to human consciousness and its nature is very much back in vogue in these times, and with the development of ever sharper focus on the details of genetic mechanisms we are beginning to feel very close to solving all the mysteries of life entirely. This feeling is, of course, most likely mere hubris.

Truth be told, I am of the opinion that the appearance of consciousness throughout the biosphere (we are not the only conscious creatures here after all, although we may be among those with the most intricately developed self-consciousness) is an effect of growing complexity in the brain, but I am not really qualified to have such an opinion.

I can also see that appearance of the fear of life disease as well as the effect of the act of looking in eradicating it might well be due to the triggering of epigenetic events in the brain. But I know that attending to such speculation during the recovery from the disease can do no good, and would most likely serve only as a distraction.

I advise everyone to stick to the basic work of recovering from the disease and developing the skills that serve simple sanity and self-reliance. There will be plenty of time to delve into such matters with clear minds.


John, I agree. There is no point in solving the mysteries of life. Rather, I feel it liberating how modern Science opens up, admitting the dazzling complexity and mysteries of life. So, science is not suited to answer "final" questions, but rather it constantly modifies existing perspectives by invalidating existing theories. To me, its charm is that it constantly taps into the unknown. But here, we should focus on the recovery, and I am currently challenged by the wilderness of life. Bruno

I agree, John, there is no point in solving the mysteries of life by Science. I find it liberating that modern biological sciences are opening up to acknowledge the complexities and plasticity of life. And in general, Science lives from constantly modifying and challenging existing concepts, so by nature it is never finished. Whatever, I am challenged by the wildness of my life, all that I always wanted to prevent from happening now happenssmily

(By accident I deleted a previous post. I do not remember the exact words, but the content was similar).


The basic work of recovering from the disease and developing the skills that serve simple sanity and self-reliance means old habits do die after looking at me. That no one is immune to this effect of the looking is obvious in every single post here.


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