About Depression

You say that any state or emotion, when you accept it, leads to peace. But it’s not working for me. I’ve been feeling really depressed the last few days. I’ve tried to be with it and watch it – but it’s still there.

So if you’re watching it and being with it, is that accepting it?

I would have thought that accepting it means saying ‘Yes, it is here. This is what is going on’. Maybe I think that I’m accepting it but I’m not really.

That sounds more accurate. You are going through the motions of saying ‘it’s here, this is what is present’ and underneath it is ‘I hate it, I’m resisting it, I wish it wasn’t here, I’d feel better if it would leave already’.

But why am I so depressed? What is causing it?

Well, the question of ‘why?’ always has to be brought back to ‘who is asking the question?’ The person is always worried about its predicament and it’s following the rules of what it is supposed to do now that it understands ‘observing’ and ‘being with’. But underneath, the person wants it to be more pleasant, the way the person likes it. And all of it buffers the knowing of the expansiveness.

It’s quite a common trap that people who come to satsang fall into. They think that they’re observing it and being with it but they’re not really. It’s almost like accepting it means saying ‘there is nothing I can do about it so I have to live with it’.

Would you call that resignation?

Yes, it’s more like resignation.

It’s like sometimes I can be with it and there is a spontaneous letting go. But other times I do everything right and I’m still stuck with it. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do to have a better experience. That keeps the person going round in a swirl of ‘me’ having a nicer time here.

I think that there is a very fine line between acceptance and resignation. What is the difference?

Well, it doesn’t make much sense to a person to accept depression. Depression feels like you can’t do anything about it anyway. So how can you accept something that is hopeless? I don’t want to be depressed and I am depressed. I want it to be different, I want to feel good – I don’t really want to be with it, I don’t want to feel this.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I just don’t know how to be with it. What I understand by being with it is sitting and feeling the heavy sensation in the chest. But even when I do that, it might disappear for a while but it’s always there in the morning when I wake up.

You could say that depression is really a label on hopeless.

Yes, I suppose so.

And hopeless has no positive conclusion.

No… but hopelessness makes more sense that depression anyway. It feels right… that the situation is hopeless. You begin to see that you can try something different, go somewhere different, do something different but essentially you can’t escape from it. It’s always going to be there.

So you could flesh out what hopeless is, what the character believes is hopeless. What is hopeless?

Life seems a bit of a drudge… drudgery, just working… heavy, it’s just work. I hate work, it feels like such a burden… I’d like to leave my job… but I don’t know what else I’d do to earn a living…

Maybe it is the job… or maybe there’s a belief underneath that the job is affirming, like the belief that ‘life is drudgery’…and ‘I don’t deserve anything better so I’ll just keep on creating this situation’… a kind of existential hopelessness…

But isn’t it funny how unsolvable the depression, the drudgery, the hopelessness, the resignation and the hatred is? And yet when you are not focused on you, none of it is there. When you are not identified as the person, nothing is an issue. It’s like even if you are not doing anything, the identification as ‘me’ going from one place to another, from one hour to the next, what’s operating is ‘life is drudgery, I’m depressed’. There is an undercurrent of hopelessness there – even if you are having a good time. It’s the person’s knowingness of existence. You can divert yourself for a while, maybe go out to a party or have a nice meal, but that is just a temporary reprieve from the drudgery and the hopelessness. That’s how I know myself and that’s how I know the world and I just keep recreating it.

It seems crazy to recreate something that doesn’t work. Why would you create drudgery for yourself? Why would you do that?

Because that was a very clear imprint of what you saw when you were little. You saw the hopeless drudgery that was locked in and that became the truth for you.

The drudgery was that I could never do anything that I liked or wanted to do. I feel it’s the same as an adult. I don’t want to work, I’d prefer to be doing other stuff. But I have to work.

There is no fun. When you were little, there was a lot of bickering and criticism. It was ‘work hard, mind your manners, don’t talk back. Behave yourself and stop complaining. Don’t be selfish, don’t make a nuisance of yourself. Don’t get in the way. Don’t show any emotion and act like it doesn’t matter. So you can see that there is an awful lot of buried joy. Even if joy bubbled up, it was ‘now get back to work, that’s enough of that nonsense’.

I guess I do have a hard time accepting that. I don’t even want to hear what you are saying.

It’s like ‘they call this life, but it’s really hell’.

And also I should have got over it, it’s like ‘get over yourself, you’re an adult now, there’s nobody saying those things any more so get over yourself’. I can’t understand why it’s the same now as it was when I was a child. You are supposed to get a break when you are an adult and you leave home.

But it’s the conditioning you bought as true as a two or three year old, and it keeps getting more tangible as you get older. The belief is ‘don’t make a nuisance of yourself, work hard, don’t complain, don’t ask for anything and don’t expect anything. And don’t be a cry-baby about it either…

(pause)…Yeah, that’s the program alright…

Now, accept that. Can you do that?

I don’t want to, but I’ll try…

You can feel that there is some sadness coming up…strongly. You can see an adamant bright girl of whatever age, putting the lid on the pain and the sadness… because to walk around feeling miserable all the time and hopeless is too painful – how could you live your life?

Not allowed anyway…

And not allowed. So you have to put a lid on it and get on with it. And stop being a pest and earn your keep… and it’s really hiding the pain of having no enjoyment, no fun, no pleasure, no ease… and no self-expression. And it keeps you locked into that so there’s no head-space to be enveloped in peace… because there is still that struggle, that belief of the hopelessness and also… inexhaustible sadness underneath…

But I feel like I can’t let of it. It’s like ‘don’t argue with me, this is how it is and leave me alone’…

That is the position the person is holding… you are carrying it… and it seems unending… and I would say that the acceptance is in allowing oneself to uncover the pain.

I always get a bit confused about that… you mean observe it?

Just feel how heavy it is. Walking around like a child in agony…life is agony… more work, more shutting yourself down, more lack of care, more fighting, more work, no attention, no recognition, no love, just keep your feelings to yourself, just deal with it, get over yourself…

(tearful silence)

You know if you really look at it, the helplessness is ‘there is no exit, there is no way out of this… I’ll deaden my desire, I’ll deaden my expectation’. It’s like walking around dead… And being with the pain and the sadness which is locked away is acceptance of what you are trying not to feel. It organically processes itself by being with the excruciating pain of existence that you know so intimately…

(tearful silence)

I think it’s not enough to say ‘be with it’. I think it’s better to say ‘go into it’.

Be with what is being obscured. You are being with the sadness but the sadness was being obscured by the position. So you have to sit with the position and see what’s worse than that… You have got to get through the position to see what it is trying to protect. The position locks the person in. ‘I hate life, life is a drudge’ – that is the position. But underneath that is the sadness and the hopelessness. And what is underneath that?… It’s like peeling all the layers away until there is nothing.

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