On Beyond Depression
I was diagnosed with “clinical depression” 30 years ago or so, and told I’d be on Prozac (a popular SSRI antidepressant at the time) for the rest of my life, akin to how a diabetic needs to take insulin.
Over the years I learned how what the doctors said was a lie, and the society we live in promotes the lie, and I eventually saw how to be free of the lie. Today I am 100% free of any “anti-depressants” (other than a cup of English Breakfast tea 😉 ), and have been for decades.
The lie is that we are separate entities, and that core un-truth spawns countless others — such as that we are basically just meat robots, deficient in chemicals or whatever — and places an enormous chip on our shoulders, a burden, telling us we are unloved and unworthy, without the infinite esteem of God as it were. The “God” is really our self (or “the Self”), our real existence, Nature, the real perceiver behind all perception, universal intelligence, the Totality, non-objective Reality, whatever you want to call “It”, despite appearances to the contrary… despite what we think we need from the drugstore to be happy, or need from a lover or a bank account or some other object, condition, accomplishment, activity, or state of affairs. (To be clear I’m not anti-drug at all, and take aspirin and ibuprofen for example to help with the occasional headache or toothache, and trying various mind-altering substances such as psychedelics or anti-depressants, for some is a worthy experiment to see their effects and limitations).
Choosing Freedom or Choosing Misery
If what what we are is pure or absolute freedom, and we have ultimate choice, then it follows that anxiety and depression, at some “level” is a choice. Just as some people love to complain, some people secretly love to be miserable, and share that misery!
See clearly that it’s not a person getting what they want, it’s recognition (direct) that one is already experiencing exactly everything and only what they want, whether seen or not, and making that whole “dynamic” as it were, conscious, and seeing where “giving the order” to get what supposedly doesn’t want (according to the mind), is also getting what one wants. Therefore why not make it what one wants.
It’s so simple it’s difficult to express.
True and lasting self-love and self-esteem have nothing to do with what we’ve been told they are about. There is so much love and esteem available already, you wouldn’t believe it. Yes you can build up certain skills and abilities in the body-mind over time, and this is all well and good for doing things in the world, but what you are doesn’t need anything to be purely what it is, and always is, already. The heart knows what the mind is barely catching up to.
These comments, or observations, applies to anxiety as well, since they have the same root in misguidance. We take a simple misguidance and blow it up into a huge deal, a drama worthy of a novel and a movie. We use a microscope when we should be opening the aperture of the camera lens full scope.
What you are is infinite openness, infinite love, pure happiness, complete peace. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t able to feel it all, experience it now totally. What matters is that in your journey you are taking steps upward, overall, over time. You can look back and see (honestly) that it’s been an upward path, and have gratitude, Now, for life. Anything else is the aberrant, wayward mind – like a child that needs to be reigned in a little. Or a lot. 🙂
Behind the noise of the mind is a Great Silence. A beautiful, wonder-full, incomprehensible, infinite Presence, that is indescribable. It’s what you Are, before anything else (like a human being).
It’s remarkable how utterly insignificant we are, and so magnificent at the same time. What an extraordinary life.
(You can also reference an article about an experience of minor depression from a few years ago Dialogue With A Sage: Don’t Hold On – you can skip the long preamble in it and go directly to the dialogue if you want…).
The following recent dialogues are worthy of conveying here – how a seemingly tiny switch in outlook, if you will, has enormous power to change one’s view of life and how it’s feeling, is experienced. It switches us from some unnatural learned tendencies, to seeing life as it is, more and more, naturally, the effortless giving-ness of the totality:
Dialogue 1: A Depressed Friend In Western Europe
Am in a bit of a hole currently
– break up with the girlfriend?
Kind of unhappy
Break up with yourSelf then
Just a bit depressed
I’m not enjoying
while it lasts…
Seems like it will go on forever doesn’t it.
I know it won’t last but… It keeps on returning apparently.
Even though I can see that all is well, I am unchanged etc.
There is no energy, not much I feel I have to give right now.
And if it doesn’t, see if when you are in the mood to see if you could be with it forever.
Like really see it, as a thing… like a dark warm blanket, really feel it, comfort it.
I’ve already overslept within this blanket the past days.
See then that it’s appearing in you instead of seemingly in it.
Today at least I’m cleaning up and doing chores again.
Not sleep but meditate.
Yeah activity, getting out of yourself, doing shit for others is good too.
It’s a very self-involved pattern.
Wrapped around the head
It is stupid I mean
Be gentle, loving, see the harshness of thinking.
Release the grip
if you want
Yes it’s harsh.
If and when you want
Why on earth did I ever fall for this?
I know it feels like it grips you.
And then over again
Game we play with ourselves
until we’re over it
a little indulgence
Thank you Eric
Stressed and depressed are related in that they are both a form of stress except that depression has more negativity in it and more a feeling sorry for oneself, and critical thinking about oneself or others or the world or whatever, whereas stress is more fear-based; but they both have fear since they are predicated on the separate self sense.
From what I’ve seen…
But yeah, both ultimately lies or based therein, the body obediently marching to the tune of the mind, and releasing chemicals or doing whatever.
So you can approach it from the mind or the body. But of course ultimately as you know you have to transcend both.
I was writing a little and after we talked, as well as talking to mom, somehow rediscovered the truth behind all of this.
And it was a beautiful moment and a shift back to this neutrality.
Have been chipping away at a book or article about depression for years. Made some progress today, thanks to our dialogue.
Wanted to make sure I was on solid ground would actually be helpful rather than describing it (even if it’s from my experience) and getting the reader more involved in that thinking, or talking about it theoretically…
Oh that’s great to hear!
Yes, depression is very widespread, and misunderstood, and so many cultural assumptions about it (and behind it of course) and what to do about it.
It’s a phantom I’ve known since early childhood.
Or rather never really known.
Had lots of first hand experience when I was younger – “clinical” depression they called it – and many explorations of pathways to “cure”…
Yeah. My mom was depressed when I was very young and I didn’t know what it even meant.
She was just acting incredibly odd
And later they said I have it too. Great. Now I’m odd too? 🙂
I didn’t know what it was until a therapists told me in college it was “depression”. This was a little while after I’d had broken up with a girlfriend, and felt horrible, empty, confused, like navigating through black molasses… all I knew how to do was problem-solve and analyze lol.
Tried so many things – psychotherapists, drugs, lifestyle things, so many ideas out there… over the years…Zen was a good start, and my own deep intuitions, and a dream about innate peace and false imagination, and then finding spiritual psychology was the first handle I started to get on it… many years to get to non-duality. But “depression” is just label for one mood level pattern, and the happiness and root of unhappiness is totally universal.
Anxiety is closely related.
Yes I realized my father was depressed, and he didn’t know it. Escaped through work and other addictions. And my mother had extreme anxiety when she got older.
I remember a spiritual teacher, after I was talking about something to do with happiness and society, saying “most people are depressed” haha.
The medical model looks for causes like genes and chemicals and family and circumstances, and places people “at effect”. Then the only thing one can do is “manage” or “cope”. Not a real solution in the long run.
Yes that’s it.
The root is deeper of course.
It’s a mistake in the thinking structure, that has invented a complete false idea of a self.
Well we know that now.
Yup, it’s just another surface spinoff of thinking and feeling to be separate, at root. Not being established or “knowing” the Self takes many forms. Some beings seem to pick depression…
Being as you are which is pre-verbal, pre-concept… just is, free, manifesting all that is, flowing. And few talk about that.
I had a glimpse and a deep understanding of this as a young child and talked to teachers, therapists etc. hinting at this.
People hated it.
It seems to threaten this sense of security in society.
Threatens the jobs, the whole thing…
I had these huge pre-verbal experiences, some shattering in a way, and it didn’t fit into any models – took so long to get a handle on what was going on, real. But art-making and writing were, are, really great ways, for some of us.
Yes. All great art communicates this actually… and when we don’t understand we actually completely miss it.
And today’s society, I think at large is oblivious to it
At least it appears that way.
Yes, the philosophy department I studied at was absolutely against anything intuitive or spiritual or admitting to Consciousness, except a couple of European philosophy profs that hinted at it occasionally.
Yes same here.
I had one cool teacher! He hinted at it. And he was in high school and really actually an actor, but couldn’t make a living with that.
I had an art teacher at the university that was into yoga and Zen, had that organic sense of artistic expression…. That was very refreshing. She really let me do my thing art-wise.
It’s pretty cool what a big difference that one teacher can make no?
In an ocean of dimwits, haha, pardon me.
An ocean of yeah, stupidity – “ignorance” and jerks (egos). We get experiences and hints of freedom in art-making or from art.
Or yes from special teachers – that there’s something of value above the ordinary, in the transcendent.
Don’t want to be dependent on one thing like art-making or teaching for it. Thus the Art of Living.
Yes. It resonates within us because somehow we recognize this joy… it’s so amazing really. It’s as if it rings an inner bell that pierces through time.
Because we know ourselves more deeply than we think.
Yeah I’m like that too. I don’t focus it on one thing. Who knows where it will lead but at least I feel somehow it has grown.
Suddenly there are teachers like Rupert [Spira] and Francis [Lucille], other people entering my life who are on similar paths, and more of those too!
“Because we know ourselves more deeply than we think” – the game of pretending to be a human-being.
Cool. Nice when those connections happen.
When you get to trust that “aspect” of life more and more, until it becomes the main thing, or the “new normal”.
Oneness is not part time 🙂
Well I am going to go finish some work I was doing, then watch the sunset…
Good talking to you
You too Eric. Enjoy the sunset. I’m off to sleep. 3AM here!
I have been reading your writings in the last few weeks. I am experiencing a deep and painful period of anxiety and depression and wanted to reach out to you. I have been on a ‘spiritual path’ for a while and although I felt like I had glimpses beyond the suffering in my mind and body I seem to continually revert back to a state of fear. It seems I am very identified with my thoughts and the sensations in my body. I don’t know what I am asking you to do but your writings seem to cut through some of the chaos. I’m afraid that I will always be this way and I want to try to find a way out do that I can be here for my daughter.
Dear A –
Thanks for the note. I’m glad you reached out.
I battled with depression and anxiety for many years when I was younger. Little wisps of it try to seduce me into its embrace now and then, but it just reminds me to think and feel gratitude for Life now.
I would recommend, to just notice some things (in no particular order):
The thoughts are about a “me” or an “I”. They are also often negative, and about the past or future.
Just listen in on the thinking – it’s just sounds, blah blah, blah – like to a conversation, and be as neutral as you can.
Thoughts are felt, and feelings trigger thoughts – a loop. It’s only energy, movement. No big deal.
The tight grip the thinking seems to have is the self-aggrandizement you are doing. Don’t judge it, just see it, and laugh.
See about opening out, letting go… and, it’s not worth keeping, so why smell the garbage as it’s thrown out?
Trying to change or fight thinking is a losing battle.
I just have a question about thought…. I notice that all the thoughts that cause suffering are about me and are negative. These thoughts feel true and are backed up (like you say) with a feeling of terror and the loop goes round and round. Because the thoughts involve ‘me’ they feel personal rather than impersonal (as I’ve heard from certain teachings) and each thought e.g. you are wasting your life appears to be backed up with evidence e.g. I’m struggling to engage in activities such as work or social engagements. All of this seems to arise simultaneously. When I look for this ‘me’ I cannot find it BUT I still have a strong felt sense of a me that is there but not there. I think this is the self-aggrandisement you mention.
My question is this….can we see thinking as not personal if we still have a strong felt sense or belief in a me (even if it can’t actually be located or pinned down)
Hi A –
You said “My question is this….can we see thinking as not personal if we still have a strong felt sense or belief in a me (even if it can’t actually be located or pinned down) ”
A belief is a thought: one held to be untrue even though true, thus voluntarily held (I’ll deal with the feeling level later). So what you are asking about belief is, to rephrase your question:
“Can we see thinking as not personal if we see it as personal?”
The answer is no. You cannot simultaneously think those two thoughts.
You cannot simultaneously think 2 + 2 = 4 and 2 + 2 = 5.
You may want to look at all the beliefs regarding awareness being limited, dependent on the body, separate. Go ahead and think of every reason you think it’s true, and we will debunk all of them, together if you like. This is the process of using reason and logic to deconstruct the edifice of lies and beliefs we’ve adopted from the culture, from family, friends, media, schooling, and so on.
In general, I get the impression you’ve glimpsed some truth, but there is resistance.
We want to hang on for dear life to the idea of being a body, a person, the personal thinking and feeling. So totally Welcome the resistance. Don’t resist resistance.
And of course you are free to hang on to whatever you aren’t ready to let go of. It is a choice to go along with a thought or a feeling. No one can force you to, or force you not to. We are free, ultimately, as the Being we are. If we want to feel controlled by thoughts and feelings, or to try and control them or control (seeming) others, we are free to do that too.
We will hang onto the thoughts and feelings we so artfully created, our special treasured creation, our sexy toys, the children of the mind, for as long as we want, until we are tired of them. You will become tired of your toys.
In the meantime the mind will come up with all kinds of clever justifications and confusions. That’s OK. Welcome that too. Being confused is another thought and a feeling: “I am confused”.
You created all this, so you can uncreate it.
Keep it very simple. The Reality you are is so simple the mind cannot grasp it. The mind loves complexity, drama.
In what does all this thinking and feeling appear? It appears in You, the you that never changes.
What are you – are you that which appears, or that in which it all appears?
How could you know it unless it appears in awareness, now?
What is reading these words right now, is it a body or is it awareness?
Is it real: does it change or is it a constant, permanent? Can you locate awareness itself? Does it have a location, is it in space and time?
What changes is what you are not, the motion.
Motion, and time and space go together.
What is real never goes away, never disappears: the “stillness” as it were.
But that is just a word. What is the experience?
There is only one thought at a time. It’s only another thought that says there are many. This one unitary awareness-being.
Don’t struggle with thoughts or feelings, or add any thoughts to what’s there.
Finally, you can also work on the feeling level, the body appearance level, as a kind of yoga of feelings, or a science of feeling if you will. With some presence of mind and without distractions, see, observe clearly the feelings in their reality, in the Now. They arise as sensations only, when there are no concepts about them, nothing from the past. No story. Look at them freshly. Just notice their behavior. They are in constant flux. That is all they are: sensations. See how they come and go, arise and dissipate, like vaporous clouds in the sky.
No one owns the pain or fear. No need to turn it onto a story.
Thank you so much for replying, I’m very grateful that you would take the time to do so.
I really get what you are saying about the total paradox of trying to see thoughts as not personal while believing they are personal!
I am reading and re reading your reply and finding it so useful.
Could you clarify for me what you mean by this:
You may want to look at all the beliefs regarding awareness being limited, dependent on the body, separate.
I have to admit that I often struggle with the language around awareness and consciousness and have never really asked (probably for fear of looking stupid). I don’t really know what this means. I guess I feel like awareness is somehow being created by my brain, that it is localised in my head and is a bit like ‘seeing’ but I have brief moments where I see that I am aware OF my body and brain. When I close my eyes I am still aware and that awareness is no longer limited/confused with my visual field and on occasions my body kind of disappears (although it’s still there). I’m not sure if that makes sense? I think I’m definitely stuck on awareness being dependent on the body.
You also say in your message that it is a choice to go along with a thought or feeling.
I get very stuck here because it doesn’t feel this way. I don’t have a direct experience of feeling anxious or having anxious thoughts and choosing not to go along with them.
Hi A – Apologies for the delay – was getting set up on a new computer, and also getting ready for a trip, among other things.
Could you just be here.
Could you just be free from any agenda.
Can you welcome wanting to be pushed and pulled by thoughts and feelings.
Can you welcome wanting to avoid or not to avoid thoughts and feelings.
Can you welcome wanting to be attracted, or reject them.
In other words, can you welcome wanting to be fascinated by thoughts or feelings.
Yes, so Welcome the idea that there is such a thing as a problem. Just for this moment.
A problem is something that wants to be resolved, understood, wanting to find a solution. Because as you want to find a solution, then you want to hold onto the problem.