When we speak of depression, we speak of a persistent sadness and lingering ebb of energy. We speak of recurring thoughts of negativity and self-loathing. We point at this in ourselves and others, and each specialist wants to bundle it as a wound and bandage that wound in his way.
The modern physician gives speeches about chemical imbalances and corrective chemicals. He wants to build up presences in bloodstreams. Meanwhile, corporations make commercials with images of spiritual possession since biochemistry makes sense but doesn’t sell well.
The psychologist wants to have conversations about traumas and behavior, anxiety and desire. He wants to become the presence that you wanted in childhood but could not attain. He wants to be a proxy fulfillment of a childish longing – that, he supposes, is the root of the weed.
The spiritualist comes at the churning sea with winds that blow the other way. Against the water being sucked back out to sea, he is quick to tell us about divine plans and inevitable glory. He sees broken vessels and tries to patch them up with positive imagery.
Where, though, in all of these talks of body and mind, is there any spirit? Even the religious effort deals only with the surface of manifestation. For depression is not a mere chemical imbalance, abnormal mind, or churning mental sea.
For all minds wrapped in wrong identification churn. And if a mind grew from a frustrated child, then that mind is normal in the way of a twisted but healthy tree. And if a body is unbalanced through self-abuse, a pill is only addressing symptoms.
In a spiritual view, depression is just a thought. To suppose that “I am depressed” is an identification – an attachment. You are depressed only insofar that you identify yourself as the persistent sadness. If you feel that you are bodily energy that is ebbing, you will seek a cure. If you suppose that the thoughts of negativity and self-loathing might be true, you might cringe and tear at yourself with your teeth. But all these are only thoughts and emotions. All these are merely the winds that are coming and going in this sky of self that you are. None of them are you.
If you walk around with a wrong idea of what you are, you are staring at some little bundle you’ve invented and are carrying around. If that little bundle changes, you cope and run away and “heal” until the little bundle is back into the shape you think it should be. But if you walk around with no idea of what you are but only clear ideas of what you are not, there is no bundle that can be malformed. Then you can only say things like “thoughts of negativity keep popping up” and “this desire keeps floating by.” It’s an entirely different state of affairs when you aren’t rushing after yourself.
There is no such creature as depression, only a collection of experiences that you can bundle together with a neat little ribbon labeled “depression.” It does not live until you call its name, and you don’t have it until you decide you are it. I doubt very much that any two people experience depression in the exact same way, and that refutes the diagnosis. To know this does not belittle people with depression, because although the label is false the experiences are occurring. It is just that the creature as a single wound does not exist and we must decide that we are not these experiences.
In stillness, these experiences pass through us… all experiences pass through us. Although release comes by remaining aware at all times, we must bring our practice of mindfulness to our suffering without grasping at it as a “cure” or “remedy.” We must observe these thoughts and emotions only.
To a large extent, depression can be described best as the exhaustion of becoming. In our identities and desires, we wish that experiences would unfold in a particular way. We want our relationships to fit the narratives we clutch to our chests. We demand that we live up to the ideals we have set on our inner altars. Striving endlessly is tiring and any endless quest is sad for it is never fulfilled.
Watching ourselves, we can see our clinging to and following of particular thoughts. This clinging and following manifests as the negative behaviors that cause imbalances. The clinging is the malnourished inner child within that never grew up. The following is the false beliefs that are covering our eyes with dust and dirt. The observation alone accomplishes everything. You do not need to even abandon your clinging and following, although you will, so long as you really see it. In this observation, you will discover that you are happy even while you are depressed. You will discover you are peaceful even as you struggle. When you witness yourself from the depths of your sea, you will find that the churning waves that you were calling depression are only the surface of your ocean.
In mindfulness, you will uncover the miracle that corrects all illusions. Love does not “cure” depression – far better, depression vanishes when love is uncovered just as darkness disappears when the sun rises.