Monday, May 25, 2009

The Pool of Tears


I want to talk about depression and it's relationship with spirituality. This is something I have extensive personal experience with. I was first diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 17. I was placed on meds and within a few months I felt better... for a while. A few years later I was back in black and this cycle repeated a total of four times. The fourth time I was put on a newer drug, Zoloft. Instead of getting better, this time it got worse and, in desperation, I took an overdose. I didn't really want to die; I just wanted the pain to stop. I discovered later on that this class of drugs is known to cause this kind of reaction. The depression returned one more time in 1998. This time I decided not to take the pills but to try to understand and resolve whatever was behind it. I think I was too exhausted to struggle anymore and I just gave up fighting it. Instead I dove for the bottom to see what was there. What I found was... nothing. The depression had all along been caused by the struggle to avoid feeling pain. This was the end of depression for me and I somehow knew it. It did not stop me from feeling emotional pain, but the pain could come and go without creating the spiral into despair. It is this despair spiral that defines depression and not the sadness on which it feeds.

Our society makes a terrible mistake in viewing depression as a disease, rather than an opportunity for self-knowledge. Most doctors believe it is caused by an imbalance of brain chemistry. This imbalance is only it's physical, symptomatic counterpart, not it's cause. It is caused by the awareness and rejection of sadness, whether our own or that of others. Antidepressants only reinforce this rejection of legitimate emotion. Sadness is actually a comparatively sane response for a sensitive, compassionate person, given the amount of suffering in the world today. In effect we have chosen to treat compassion as a disease. It is estimated that about 20 % of the population (mostly women) have been "treated" for depression. You'd think that, if that many people were so unhappy with the way things are that they can no longer function, we would change the way things are. It makes you wonder, if these "brave new drugs" hadn't been invented, whether the revolution might already have happened.
Once the transition from resistance to acceptance has occured, we are in a position to examine our feelings and trace them to their source. We find that there are other layers to this onion. Now it is seen that our own pain is really the ego's pain, for the Infinite Awareness cannot be hurt, only our self-image can, and this self-image is the ego. The ego's cunning is a wonder to behold. There could be no more worthy adversary. It's next trick involves displacing it's resistance onto the pain of others. In this way it maintains separation by passing judgement on the chosen experience of another. (There really are no "others". All are incarnations of the One.)It is difficult to see this as a manifestation of ego because it seems like the very opposite of that. If we see another in pain, we may believe that if we don't feel pain also, we don't care. Now we may feel guilt. But wait. If you look back to your times of greatest suffering, you most often find that those trials deepened your experience and brought wisdom. If you could go back and spare yourself the experience, would you? I definitely would not.
Occasionally a trouble shared is a trouble halved. In these situations, empathy is called for. But most of the time, trouble shared is only trouble doubled. This is very much the case when one learns of the control system and the horrors it visits upon the innocent. This knowledge can break your heart. In these cases you weaken yourself without helping the other, and the ego (as well as the control system) gets an all-you-can-eat buffet. It would be better to send the other person your love and strength instead. Isn't this what you would want for yourself? Incidentally, both the ego and the control system are unable to process the Love frequency. The more of this energy you can channel through you, the more you undermine both these forces.
In Lak'ech.

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