We need to talk more about depression.  Last time we spoke about depression, I mentioned some things you can do for depression but, you know, there are other things you can do to help depression. There are Dharma practices that you can do that might help.

So, depression is just a concept. We give it a reality. We give it weight by believing in it. It is almost like, what do you call that medicine?  The “Placebo effect”. The placebo can be positive or negative. So, one of the practices or training is to not feed that, “Depression,” reality so much.

You say, “Oh, I am depressed.”

You give that influence. You believe in it. It becomes so real.

One of the practices that Dharma can maybe help you with for depression would be to understand reality. You know. Trust that the mind is like clouds that come and go. The clouds and the mind look solid, but you can observe them. You can learn from them.  Do not believe them to be real or solid. Do not follow your thoughts wherever they take you. Do not be like the grass that follows the wind. Wherever the wind blows, that is where the grass goes. If the wind blows that way, all the grass goes that way. Do not act like that. Wherever your mind goes, do not go there blindly. Be the captain of your boat. Then, you can use the wind to sail.  You can use it properly to go where you want to go. Do not just let the wind push you around everywhere.

That is one of the main practices. Control where your mind takes you. 

That is why the mind is like a muscle, sometimes. If you want to have big muscles, you cannot just say, “Oh, I am going to do exercise today.”

Then, tomorrow, “Why are my muscles not big?”

It takes months of effort to have any result. I think that applies to most things in life.

You know, if you train your mind, then, you will be able to see that depression is empty. The reality itself is beautiful. Life is magic. Every single aspect of life is so beautiful.

We have a purpose.  We have a function. Through that, also, it can help us to counteract our depression.

Many times, we are depressed because we feel that nobody recognizes us. We feel lonely. So, if we believe that we do have a purpose, we are not lonely. We are our own best friend. Right?

If you can turn the omelet around, as we say in Spanish, we have the other side which is incredibly beautiful. It is just a matter of learning how to work with that. It is a matter of learning how to be adaptable.  You must learn how to move. It takes time.  It takes practice, but I am sure you can get there. That is what Dharma is teaching us.

So many people have been realized.  They have had that experience. They have shared that with us for thousands of years. That is the precious part of the tradition. That is what we have today. That is the trunk and the roots. We have that. We should be so grateful for that.

Thank you so much!

7 Comments

  1. Robert Gore

    Thank you Osel. Very good advice as usual. I do think we have to recognise that clinically diagnosed depression needs to be treated by professionals. And usually that treatment is more complex [and sometimes includes the use of pharmaceuticals].

    Fortunately, for most of us, our short term ‘depressive’ episodes can can benefit greatly from your advice.

    • Brian Hart

      Couldn’t agree more with Osel that we (the human world) need to talk more about depression.

      Thanks also to Robert’s comment about the diagnosis of clinical depression and the use of prescribed drugs. Robert’s comment made me recall a Mind & Life conference that I listened to many years ago; and after a look around the net, I found the following para  ”the Dalai Lama very much agreed-that when depression reaches a certain degree of severity it may require biological interventions to normalize the brain to a degree sufficient to engage in behavioral strategies such as meditation.
      ”  Refer https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/buddhists-meet-mind-scientists-conference-meditation-and-depression

      Personally I have observed for a member of my family, that the use of prescribed drugs in their case only served to ”paper over the cracks”, never actually addressing the root cause.

      Further whilst I was never diagnosed clinically depressed, I can state that a heavy medical diagnosis from a medical practitioner did exert mental anxiety which actually led to depressive moods itself.

      I do wonder whether labelling someone clinically depressed might actually elicit a similar reaction.

      Overall it seems to be a question of selecting the optimum Buddhist/Dharma or Scientific approach depending upon your viewpoint. 

      Unless I had physical brain disorder I would always reject a prescribed drugs approach for this body. If I was able to make that decision for myself.

  2. claudio cipullo

    Tx Lama.
    Can You please give advice what to do at death time and what’s the best powa.
    Tx claude

  3. Andy Wistreich

    Depression is a big problem. As our ecological, social and economic systems decline, disintegrate and gradually collapse, and in particular with the feelings of isolation, like during the pandemic lockdown etc, many people are in despair about our future.
    I agree that Dharma has the antidotes. Emptiness, yes, and also love, but somehow when you are in the depths of depression it’s hard to bring these to mind sometimes.
    We need to grow a culture of community, love, empathy and Dharma in forms that people can take and digest. Not trapped in the past, but focused on the present and future.
    I know we can do this. It’s a way to grow out of despair, to participate in creating a good future for everyone.

  4. Rosalyn Williams

    Dear Osel La
    I liked very much the advice you gave for dealing with depression. I have to concentrate not on the dependent arising bit but on that has arisen meaning depression and recognised by me – is impermanent changing moment by moment is not an inherent nature of my mind and having arisen has gone. – Only the illusion of having been there is left, like maybe having seen a ghost.
    I think you said that but I wanted to arrive there myself in order to take it in.
    Many thanks
    Take care
    Love Ros

  5. Margaret Bachtler

    Thank you Osel! My own experience with depression confirms your teaching. Learning Dharma, having developed a belief in my purpose and I will add having a Dharma community helped move me out of depression.

  6. Carlos Sourdis

    I can understand how this blog text could be attacked by the people trying to include depression into the ‘official’ list of bodily illness, and repeating that the people suffering because of it should be treated as patients. I’ve been depressed just once in my life and it was when I was prescribed with Trazadone because I had simple sleep disorder. I didn’t know then Trazadone is an anti-depressive drug (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). That was when I started crying without reason, living in permanent fear or with an inminent sensation of danger and even to have some suicidal ideation. It was hard to stop taking the medication but I succeded and depression became again exactly what Osel Hita (thank you) explains: “a-not-real-thing”.

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