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Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
Emotions : Depression

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at various locations (Last Updated May 21, 2014)

Purifying Depression

Practices for Depression
A student had been depressed for a long period of time and her depression was becoming progressively worse. She asked Rinpoche about specific practices that could help relieve some of her symptoms.

My very dear Donna,
Regarding your question, this is probably best: recite Vajrasattva mantra 500,000 times or recite the Thirty-five Buddhas names with prostrations 500,000 times.

This might help to purify all the past negative karmas and help all the future development, especially to free the numberless sentient beings, not only oneself, but to free the numberless sentient beings from samsara and bring them to peerless happiness and omniscient mind. Do these practices for that reason, to achieve the state of omniscient mind, so to achieve everything that is best, to make the mind comfortable and happy in this way.

This is the real medicine. The outside medicine might be difficult, even if it works, but if you really think about your past life karma, then the best thing is Dharma practice, purification.

Also, whichever deity retreats you have done with fire puja, then if you can, do the short self-initiation, not the long one. You can try to do that. It’s best if you do it every day; if not, do it once a week, and if not, do it once a month.

I suggest you do these two preliminary practices every day if you can and count. Even if you are busy working for others, translating, you can do some every day, whatever you can. Even if you can’t find time to do several months’ retreat, then do a little every day and if you can, do retreat sometimes and then count a little each day. So to make the life easy and of deep benefit, do like that.

The other thing is thought transformation and tong-len, using whatever problems you experience on the path, as explained in the book of my teachings [Transforming Problems into Happiness]. Practice lo-jong, the seven-point thought transformation, but particularly do tong-len and practice transforming suffering into happiness. Utilize that to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings.

The most important thing is having bodhicitta motivation and doing guru yoga service, thinking that you are fulfilling the guru’s wishes, so when you translate, even that is for sentient beings. Also bodhicitta—do things with bodhicitta motivation, translating and so forth. It is very good if you can do things in this way.

With much love and prayers...

 

Problems Come From Karma and Delusions
A student wrote to Rinpoche asking for advice on depression, after battling depression, guilt, unworthiness, lack of concentration (ADD), digestive problems and a mid-lower back problem connected with her spleen and pancreas. The student tries to follow Rinpoche's suggestions and she has been doing Vajrasattva practice, tong-len and prostrations as well as wearing a Hayagriva amulet for protection. 

My most dear Jean,
Thank you for your letter. Sorry it took me a long time to answer. I am traveling and I am busy being lazy. I am very sorry it took so long. I have read your letter. If you still have the problems you explain in the letter, it comes out very good for you to see the Tibetan doctor in Madison. I can give you his contact details.

I would suggest all these problems come from negative karma and delusions. The most powerful practice to do is nyung-nä. It takes only two days, so it can fit in your busy life or family life. It can be done at the weekend. It comes out best if you can do eight nyung-näs. You can do them from time to time. It’s good to do the first nyung-nä in a group and learn from somebody who knows how to do nyung-näs.

It is also very good if you can take the initiation of Black Garuda from a geshe or lama near where you live. If it is not possible it can be done by phone.

It is good if you can recite the Vajra Armor mantra a few times a day. It is an extremely powerful mantra, like an atomic bomb, and has unbelievable benefits.

Also, please read the advice I have given on depression on the website. From this advice, please take what you like and think about it.

You have to remember buddha nature. In the emptiness of your heart, remember you have buddha nature. Delusions are not permanent, they are not part of you, they are temporary. You can be free from delusions and negative karma. Like a mirror covered by dust, you can clean it. The more you clean it, the clearer the reflection becomes. Your mind becomes clearer the more the delusions are purified.

A million, trillion, zillion thanks for following my advice by doing tong-len, also Vajrasattva, and the Thirty-Five Buddhas practice. You should continue with tong-len. Each time you do it, you are closer to enlightenment, and the causes of negative karma are purified.

Also, it is very good to see all the good things you have done in your life. Remember your buddha nature, and that you can be free from delusion. See your incredible opportunities, that you have met the Dharma, which makes it possible to achieve enlightenment and find happiness. Negative karma, like the atoms of this earth, can be purified.

Think of the sky of merit you can achieve with bodhicitta. Each time you generate bodhicitta, when you chant the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM even once, you purify negative karma and collect a limitless sky of merits from just one mantra. Imagine how much you collect from reciting 108 mantras.

When you walk to your job, generate bodhicitta from the moment you leave your house, and think “I am going to serve sentient beings.”

It also comes out good to do Samayavajra purification practice. This is good for purifying negative karma accumulated with the guru. It is important when doing the practice to generate strong regret. If you can, do 200,000 or 300,000 recitations of the mantra to purify negative karma accumulated with the guru, not only in this life but also in past lives, during beginningless lives.

With all my love and prayers...

 

Your Mind is Pure by Nature
Rinpoche made the following comments on what to do if you are feeling depressed.

My advice is to think that, "My heavy negative karma, which has been created, can be purified." All living beings can change their minds, have realizations, and achieve enlightenment by practicing the Dharma, and because of the clear light nature of the Buddha, which is the ultimate nature of the mind. It is temporally obscured by temporary obscurations, but your mind is pure by nature, so the obscurations can change, can be purified, the mind can change, and you can become Buddha, fully enlightened. For example, due to one cause and condition, the mind can be dark and foggy, but due to another cause and condition, it can be cleaned up completely so it becomes beautiful. Our mind can be totally clear, awakened, and enlightened by other causes and conditions, which make this possible.

 

Purification Practice for Depression
Rinpoche gave the following advice to a student who had suffered unexplained bouts of depression in the morning ever since childhood.

Dear Jane,
The reason could be sexual misconduct in previous lives, or maybe you deeply disturbed other persons’ minds, not just the guru’s, but other persons’.

You need to purify this. It isn’t important which practice particularly, but do purification practice and thought transformation. We need depression to practice Dharma. If you’re depressed, you remember the suffering of sentient beings. If things are good you don’t practice Dharma; so, depression is good. Use purification and thought transformation.

You should also pray to Tara.