Why does the mind like anxiety?

@Dharma @Snowbird @yeshe.tenley @sabbamitta @Hasantha @Dheerayupa @sujato @Brahmali

Does someone have an idea why the mind likes anxiety (kukkucca) ? What is really its allure ? Seems another topic but it may actually be of help for willy)


The untrained mind generally affixes itself to sense objects that are products of lust, therefore once the Skandhas are aflame, this lust burns like fire and is never satiated, therefore anxiety is produced. Often anxiety to find more objects of the senses. Once we find water to stop this fire, such as the rain of the Dhamma that the Buddha can pour upon such a flaming forest of dense materialistic views, eventually the fire goes out with patient practice and cooperation with the Teaching. Once there is no fire, there is no lust, and the end to stress puts us on the Path to full Nibbana.

1 Like

Anxiety is more than just worry. It’s a habit pattern, and one needs to understand habit pattern, the reward pathways to rewire the habit.

Read this for more info: Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind | Lazada

The author uses some dhamma in the book.

1 Like

What springs to mind for me is that anxiety arises from sensual desire, aversion, restlessness and worry and doubt. We have wrong view, thinking that it ceases when we get what we desire, don’t get what we don’t want, worry our way out of our problem.

Anxiety can be met under vendana/mental formations. Anxiety that is felt in the mind and body is produced by thoughts and thought patterns. So, as one would do in anapanasati meditation, one feels the unpleasant feelings that have arisen, knows they are unpleasant and calms and stills those feelings. Developed sati knows that the unpleasant feelings arose from the unwholesome thoughts and right effort is applied to restrain and abandon those thoughts and cultivate and preserve wholesome thoughts. With sustained practice, anxiety can be handled this way even when not in meditation, much like in the vitakkasanthanasutta.

Anxiety is the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response). By applying sati to the bodily feelings and stilling them, one moves from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system (tranquility) and the condition of the mind can be seen with more clarity.

1 Like

Kukkucca seems to refer to worry, especially remorse over what has and has not been done.

But unlike moral shame ( the shame to do something immoral) and moral dread, the hesitasion and reservedness to do something immoral thinking about the consequences, it is not seen as quality.

Some info about fear, anxiety, from the sutta’s:

SN1.55 says, we all fear suffering, who does not?

There is fear that is conducive to the goal and not. For example fear to do something immoral thinking about consequences. This fear is, together with shame, seen as the protector of the world (AN2.9)
Both are qualities of the nobles (MN53). Sometimes the sutta’s also talk about otappa and hiri as a power (DN33).

There is Chandagati, Dosagati, mohagati ,bhayagati and all four describe the ways behaviour become impure or corrupt due to the influence of defilements. The last, bhayagati means: when fear, shyness, cowardness, anxiety rules that much that we do not do what we should be doing. AN4.19
For example, escaping a situation out of fear while one should really do something.

Fear can also obstructs concentration (MN128)

Causes for fear are also treated in the texts:

  • sakkaya ditthi: for example SN22.7
  • affection, desire, attachment (dph212-216)
  • delight comes with fear (Ud3.10)
  • acquaintanceship, not lettting go of really everything (SN2.17)
  • forsaking the world can come with fears (MN4)

How to overcome fear?

  • mindfulness of the body (MN119)
  • cessation of sakkaya ditthi (SN22.7)
  • contemplating the qualites of the Triple Gem (SN11.3)
  • moral living and obeying the rules of not killing, stealing, not hurting anyone etc. This gives freedom of fear for others and also for oneself (AN8.39)
  • develop four powers (AN9.5)
  • jhana is fearlessness in provisional sense, liberation in definitive sense (AN9.56)

Nibbana is inaccesable for fear (AN4.23)

i have understood that people from Tibet hardly have any kukkucca and when the first teachers came to the West they were really surprised to see how our culture, how people here, are full of feelings of guild, regret. With a huge load they were not uses too. I think we in de West our very concerned with how people think about us. We always do our best. We always feel that we somehow fail or do not suffice. All becomes always very personal. If i do something wrong that makes me wrong! But that is also how we are ourselves seen and treated. One does never suffice. It is very hard to abandon this.
There is almost no person who can let you feel you suffice. First you must do this, then that…and …maybe…maybe…myabe…you might be accepted as a good person…oh, oh…


Anxiety, as I understand it, is a malady of the heart. It is also a profound disturbance of the past in reference to the present moment.

It is the thought “I can’t do this” - which we battle with from time to time.

The implication of the past is that there isn’t enough time to do the things we need to. In that sense, anxiety is unnecessary because we do in fact have enough time to do the essential things we need to.

Anxiety is a malady of the past which tells the future “I can’t do this” on the wrongly assumed basis that there isn’t enough “time” to accomplish our tasks.

Calm your proclivity for the past and you will calm your anxiety.


Because it makes one look for a higher realm as a human. Plants don’t get anxious, they don’t have the notion of pain as we do.
In this sense, it is a good thing. In the Persian literature (influenced by Buddhism), pain and suffering in general is regarded positively in this sense.