My very dear Katie,
Thank you very much for your kind letter. I am sorry for the long delay in replying.
If your depression comes without reason, just happens, at certain times of the day, morning or evening, and it’s not dependent on something, then you need to have a deeper perspective on it, like having a clear capacity to see beyond this life. Maybe it is something that you cannot remember, even with clairvoyance—which has different levels. With the highest level, an omniscient mind without any error, you can see directly all the past, present, and future. This comes from purifying in this life all the negative actions you have committed in the past.
For example, there is a story in the Buddha’s teachings of someone who felt depressed when night came and this was the result of sexual misconduct in a past life. It may not be the only cause, there may be others, and because they have not been purified in the past then there are the four suffering results:
- The ripened aspect result (rebirth in the lower realms)
- Experiencing the result similar to the cause
- Creating the result similar to the cause
- The possessed result, which is connected with the environment or place
The ripened aspect result—rebirth in the lower realms, means as a hell being, hungry ghost, or animal. Also, it can mean rebirth as a human, but where the environment is very harmful, with many insects, people trying to kill you, where you get sick a lot, etc.
Even depression that comes from reasons—such as your partner leaves you or gives you up, or somebody hurts you, or you lose your job or your business, whatever the reason, you can still transform depression into happiness. How? Because when you put a negative label on a situation, you label it bad, then it appears as bad. Actually, what you see is the label. So, you can see how it is all up to your mind. Something appears bad—then you see it as bad and you believe in that. You can see how the badness actually comes from your mind, when you label the situation as bad. Even if you experience suffering, if you can understand that this is the result of past negative karma, and your mind labels it as positive, then it actually appears as positive and pleasure. You see it as positive; you see it as a happy thing. So, whatever situation happens in life, whether it disturbs your mind or makes you happy, all of it totally depends on your mind, whether you look at it as good or bad—what label you put on the situation.
The secret of your life’s happiness, the key to being happy and to stop depression, to stop undesirable, unpleasant things, unhappiness and unpleasant appearances, sounds, etc. and to experience happiness, to feel good, to have pleasant appearances and sounds etc., all depends on your mind labeling things as positive. Suffering is the result of past negative karma, but if you look at your current situation as positive, as good, then it appears as a good, positive, pleasant feeling, instead of as an undesirable feeling.
Then, whatever problem one experiences, one can think about the benefit of problems and how they are beneficial for one’s life, to develop one’s mind in compassion, to develop loving kindness, patience, wisdom, and all the positive qualities for the path to liberation. By thinking in this positive way, immediately, in that second, it makes your life happy, peaceful, and brings you liberation forever from all the sufferings of the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, sura beings, and asura beings. It stops the cycle of birth and death and all the suffering of old age, sickness, and all the stages inbetween of birth and decay.
Not only does it stop all suffering, but also one achieves peerless happiness, the cessation of all gross and subtle minds, and the completion of all the realizations. With that, one can have perfect understanding, perfect compassion, perfect power, and perfect wisdom. One is able to do perfect work spontaneously to liberate countless sentient beings from all sufferings and their causes, and to bring them to full enlightenment—the peerless happiness.
By thinking of the benefits of problems, one develops this precious quality, this most healthy, positive way of thinking, which brings happiness, stops you from harming yourself, and stops you from giving harm to your family and to all living beings. Thinking in this way benefits you, your family, and all living beings. It brings so many sentient beings not only temporary happiness but ultimate happiness, liberation from all sufferings and their causes, and brings them to full enlightenment. It brings so much joy and happiness into your life, your mind, and good physical health, so that you have a long life.
With this positive thought you are able make problems, obstacles, and undesirable things become so meaningful and beneficial. Thinking in this way brings you inner happiness and satisfaction. This wish-fulfilling thought is an incredibly precious gift that brings all the positive qualities of mind and all the realizations, inner happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
Even a billion dollars or all the wealth of this earth cannot buy this experience. But if you generate these peerless positive thoughts, then whatever problem happens—somebody gets angry at you, abuses you, something fails, your friend changes his mind and doesn’t like or love you any more—these situations become so precious, become wish-fulfilling, causing happiness. By having trained your mind in this practice, your mind is positive all the time. Then you are able to bring so much peace and happiness to the world, to your family, your neighbors, to your country, and to the whole world. Like this, your life is like the sun shining—one sun dispelling all darkness and giving all warmth and light to every corner of the world so that everyone can enjoy it. That is incredible! If you are able to think in this way, then there is no better life than this, this is the best life, the most satisfying life. If you think like this then it doesn’t matter when death comes because your mind is totally happy and satisfied, and when death comes it is no problem at all, you have no regrets, and you are so joyful and full of bliss.
It is very important, even if you are depressed for no reason, that you think that this is good, because this helps you to look for the cause of your depression. Of course, the causes are delusion, ignorance, and the self-cherishing thought, and in relation to those, anger and attachment arise. The action of these delusions is karma. So, this helps you to learn about your depression. It is very important to look for the cause, to know that depression comes from the self-cherishing thought, and then look for a method to completely eliminate this—that is the practice.
The way to eliminate the self-cherishing thought is with bodhicitta, by training the mind in happiness. This is most fulfilling and brings all temporary happiness and ultimate happiness to every living being, liberation from samsara and from all sufferings and their causes, and brings peace, happiness, and enlightenment. This fulfills all the wishes of so many sentient beings, every single hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human, sura being, asura being, and intermediate state being, fulfilling all their happiness and every single wish up to enlightenment.
The bodhicitta thought is letting go of the “I,” from which all sufferings come, and cherishing others, from where all happiness comes. All one’s past, present, and future happiness comes from cherishing others. This is the most precious thought. Training the mind in this completely illuminates the whole path explained by Buddha. The self-cherishing thought causes depression and all the problems, delusions, attachment, anger, and the root of all sufferings—ignorance—which is not knowing the ultimate nature of the “I” and the ultimate nature of aggregates.
Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths, which are the fundamental teachings of Buddhism:
- True suffering
- True cause of suffering
- True cessation of suffering
- True path to end suffering
By actualizing the true path, one is able to cease the cause of suffering and liberate oneself from all sufferings—to achieve the true cessation of all sufferings and to achieve all happiness.
The Four Noble Truths include the whole path and the solution to end any suffering in samsara, not only depression, such as the suffering of birth and death and all the sufferings inbetween. The path to overcome all sufferings is by ceasing the cause of suffering. Understanding the logic that clearly explains what is suffering, and then discovering the cause of suffering, one comes to know how to cease suffering by looking for the method—this is called the true path. This path is possible to achieve because the Buddha has shown us how. Also, so many sentient beings have achieved the cessation of all suffering in the past and even now beings are still achieving this path. This is through the Buddha’s teachings.
The reason I am giving you this advice on thought transformation is so that your life can be happy. Another way to have happiness is to be kind. It is very important to practice kindness toward others every day, toward your family, everyone you meet, animals, etc. Whatever you do, with every small thing, try to practice kindness. This becomes a source of happiness—when you make others happy then that makes you happy. Please put effort into this. By being kind, in this life and future lives, everyone will be kind to you. Kindness to others looks simple but the results are huge.
Whenever good things happen to other people, for instance, someone finds a good job, a car, motorbike, house, a boyfriend, husband, has a good education, or is rich or beautiful, practice rejoicing in his or her happiness. Think how wonderful it is. Why? Because when you think like this, then you also have happiness. As we don’t want suffering and we want happiness, this is a very easy way to have happiness. Each time that you rejoice, you collect merit. By planting a small seed, a huge tree follows. Like this, rejoicing becomes the means for success. Also rejoicing, having a positive mind when you see others’ happiness and success, is medicine for the jealous mind. It is the jealous mind that harms us and makes us sick. Rejoicing is like medicine causing a positive, healthy, happy mind.
If you want to have success in your life, a very simple way is to do spiritual practice, Dharma practice. Practicing kindness to others every day immediately causes others to be happy. This helps you become kind in this life and in future lives. In this life, others help you more, and are kind to you more.
Also, each time you are kind to others, at that time there is no thought about your own happiness, instead you are thinking about others’ happiness more. When you are only thinking about your own happiness, thinking that is the most important thing, you are actually being dictated to by your ego.
Also, practicing tolerance every day is a source of peace and happiness, to always keep your life happy. Practicing forgiveness for those who have hurt you or harmed you is a very important way to cause your mind to be happy. This brings happiness to others, so it is very important for you, not just for the other person. These are very easy ways to collect merit.
So, please think about this and try to learn more Dharma, study more, and try to meditate. This is very, very important, not only for your own temporary happiness but for your ultimate happiness. Even more important is that you have the responsibility to free living beings from all suffering and its causes and bring them to peerless happiness. That is the meaning and purpose of your life.
I hope this is helpful for you and also for your mother. Thank you very much.
With much love and prayers...