Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Enlightenment and Depression

What? What's that you say? Depression, enlightenment , in the same sentence? How can that be? Isn't "enlightenment " supposed to be a "cure " for depression? No, it's not, but the two work together in a very mysterious and wonderful way.

I am not talking here about the "blues ", or some momentary setback or disappointment, but genuine clinical depression, the kind that leads to despair and suicide. And I don't want to forget anxiety, depression's companion and playmate. What do these have to do with enlightenment? They seem the opposite of "enlightenment ", the very kind of thing that many seek enlightenment to "save " them from.

This is one of the reasons that I so dislike the "once enlightenment takes place there is peace of mind " crowd. Sure, if you are one of the "normal " people with a regular neurology, "NT's", or "neurotypicals", as we Asperger's folks call the rest of you, some kind of enlightenment may bring peace of mind. But to us, who suffer clinical depression; neurological depression, enlightenment brings understanding. In fact, I have found that the neurological kind of depression may indeed bring about the "shift " that is so necessary for enlightenment to take place. We are "special " people, and our differences, including our depression, are our "special gift "; a grace waiting to be discovered.

How can I call a neurological depression and anxiety a gift? Once it is discovered that depression; neurological depression and anxiety, is present, it is discovered that it is a chemical process; part of the body. The body/mind we appear to be "born " with is a complete system of functions, mostly unconscious. We can dismiss it as an "illusion ", but it's reality is part of the functioning of the whole. If you prick it, does it not bleed? Among the functions of this complex mechanism are both the personality, and the way it perceives the world. Enlightenment does not necessarily change the personality, only the perception.

This is why we have so many different kinds of Gurus. The personality is part of the body/mind complex. It lives until the body dies and ceases functioning. It's something we have to put up with in our "acceptance ". It will be gone soon enough.

But to get back to the "gift " of depression and anxiety. Many people are treated for neurological depression with drugs. This works for a certain number of cases, but not all. The drugs work because they trigger endorphins, those little "happy making " hormones in the chemical body. This process makes clear to the mind that the "depression " or "anxiety " is simply a functioning of the body.

When one looks at this kind of depression, it becomes apparent that there is depression and anxiety, without "external cause ". But until this is discovered, the mind thinks it "feels " depressed and anxious, when it is really only a bodily function. The mind usurps the feeling and starts to desperatelyseek a cause. "It's my horrible Wife or Husband. " "It's my boss or job " "I'm a terrible person, and deserve no better " Any number of possibilities arise in the mind. It's as if you stub your toe, and blame the pain on your personality or character.

The "gift " comes in the seeing that the depression is simply a "happening ", and has no relationship toyou. Sure, it still "feels " bad. It still hurts. But now you are actually able to stand to the side of it, and watch it. "There is the depression again, but it's not me. " "These thoughts of anger and personal judgment are all in the mind. " "I am not my thoughts." It's that body, that "guy" in the dream that hurts, and not ME. " The "me " being the reality you are, the "I am ". Right understanding of depression and anxiety, can take you beyond the "I am ". This is it's "gift ", it's wonder.

For the last few decades, I have lived as Love alone. In the last 20 years it has been an unshakable conviction. The depression still continues, but is seen for what it is. I am able to live without medication, because I understand who and what I am. I am that unshakable Love and Awareness that is neither born or dies. I have described my anticipation of death as being like a child anticipating Christmas. Now you know why.

Somewhere I read the idea of the body as being like a wheel that is rolling down hill. It keeps going based on momentum. It keeps going until it either hits something, or loses it's momentum. Our body/mind contains the vital force, the personality and the thoughts. When it stops functioning, it is simply gross matter. To escape the body is to be totally free, provided there is awareness of the Self; that unfolding wholeness that we are.

This is the "purpose" of life, if we are to accept there is any purpose at all, this discovery of the Self. So many seekers who are looking for peace of mind, find that they get so far, and then find depression, anxiety, and other distractions that they consider "backsliding ". They say, "Oh, I can't have found the answer, I'm not "enlightened", because I'm depressed or anxious." But this isn't so. Perhaps among the "neurotypicals ", there is constant "bliss " in enlightenment, I could not tell you. But what I can tell you is that it is possible to constantly "behold the face of "God ", even through the physical and mental depths of depression and anxiety, when it is seen clearly that you are not the depression, but the observer of it. The depression and anxiety can itself become the Guru, the awakening to that "shift " of consciousness that takes you to Love. I have no doubt that I am Love, and I wait with great Joy for Christmas.



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  2. Excellent - brilliant insight and astute observation. The body mind continues to function in the relative field. The recognition of True Nature is a transcendent recognition. Conditioning continues to function. So many seem to think that its the body or mind that "gets" enlightened. Whereas its Consciousness Itself that awakens to its own true nature. The transfiguration of the psychophysical apparatus is another matter entirely. One is sudden the other is gradual. Mostly people are not aware of the distinction between these two phases of the awakening process. OM

  3. Makes so much sense to me. Ive recently acknowledged my clinical depression (which Ive suffered with most of my adult life) I have been fighting this on my path to understanding and now I'm beginning to see it in a whole new light. It really is quite beautiful and it doesn't feel quite as much like a battle. More of a re-acquaintance with an old friend, maybe just maybe Ive found my teacher after all these years of searching and it was me all this time. Thank you for such an inspiring post.

  4. Hey, what about the non-functioning, the lack of productivity, that comes along with clinical depression. Am I to surrender to it as it is just as I surrender to my more productive times?

  5. depression is simply a "happening ", and has no relationship toyou. Sure, it still "feels " bad. It still hurts. But now you are actually able to stand to the side of it, and watch it. "There is the depression again, but it's not me." Well, well, what kind of teaching is it when it leaves you with depression?? The depression hurts, its my body - to be OVER the suffering of your own body needs probably the level of enlightment of Dai lama, but not of average people.

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  7. I suffered from depression two years ago. I thought that that's just talk but this is a very serious mental disorder