Advice and Practices for Depression and Long Life

Advice and Practices for Depression and Long Life

Date of Advice:
June 2015
Date Posted:
March 2020

Rinpoche wrote this card to a student who was experiencing depression and also had life obstacles.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche adorned with flowers, 2010.

My most dear one,
We have not seen each other for many years. I felt very much this time to make an offering of the three long life deities, Buddha Amitayus, Namgyälma and White Tara, which are so powerful for purifying negative karmas and obscurations, as well as for long life.

Also, if you can, read the Long Life Sutra. This will be very helpful to purify all negative karmas and obscurations and so to be free from depression. To be free from depression you have to be free from its cause. In terms of other sufferings of samsara, depression is like one atom from a house. Purifying the cause of depression can help.

Reciting this sutra purifies mountains of negative karma. You get the benefit of having read all the Buddha’s teachings and you will achieve all happiness—not only the temporary happiness of this life but also of future lives, and not just for one life but for hundreds, thousands, billions of lives until you are free from samsara. Not only will you achieve temporary happiness, but also ultimate happiness, liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering and the peerless happiness of full enlightenment—the cessation of all the mistakes of the mind and completion of all the realizations. You can then free all the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras, suras and intermediate state beings and bring them to full enlightenment. It helps for that.

Reciting the Long Life Sutra or the Medicine Buddha mantra and names or the Chenrezig mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, is like an atomic bomb to be free from suffering and achieve all the happiness—especially OM MANI PADME HUM, which helps us to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible. We can be born in the pure land of Chenrezig and from there we will definitely not be reborn in the lower realms, as a hell, hungry ghost or animal.

It is said by the great bodhisattva Shantideva, the Nalanda pandit and great holy being:

Why be unhappy about something
If it can be remedied?
And what is the use of being unhappy about something
If it cannot be remedied?
– (Bodhicaryavatara, Ch. 6, v. 10)

That means it is a huge mistake to make your mind so sad. For example, a child puts its foot into the mud and says “This is my temple.” Then another child smashes it and the first child cries. It does not make sense. Making the mind so sad does not help. It is better not to worry. It is better to accept [the situation] and to enjoy, and if you have a solution then do it. Don’t spend your precious human life in that [sadness]. Just do it rather than living your life in worry. This is great, great, great advice for depression.

Thinking about emptiness, or shunyata, the ultimate truth of the I, can help a lot to lift you from depression. It is very good, the more you meditate, think, analyze and try to learn about that. If you look for the I that you believe is there, the real I, you can’t find it. This method is like medicine for your depression. Read about the meditations, especially the analysis of the four vital points. It will be helpful.

Just briefly I want to mention the emptiness of the I, the ultimate reality of the I, the most important thing to realize.

The body is not the real I, as it appears. We believe and we entrust to that real I due to past ignorance having left negative imprints on the mind. So, the body is not the real I.

If the mind were the real I, as there are six primary consciousnesses and 51 mental factors there would be that many Is. Just in terms of the delusions there are the three poisonous minds, the root ignorance, the six root delusions and the twenty secondary delusions, so there would be that many Is. Then all those Is would have past lives and future lives. For somebody who is married, one wife would have many husbands [according to] the number of delusions, mental factors, all that. And one person’s air ticket would be false; it would be many people’s ticket.

If the mind were one with that real I, the I would not have a body. The I would be shapeless and colorless, as the mind is. Therefore, the mind is not the real I at all and neither is the body. If the mind were the I, we would not see it because it is oneness with the mind. What the eye sees is just the body, not the mind. Therefore, the mind is not the real I, and the body and mind together are not the real I. From the top of the head down to the toes, we cannot find the real I. It is not in the brain. It is not in the chest.

With much love and prayers ...