The Best Way to Eliminate Depression

The Best Way to Eliminate Depression

Date of Advice:
February 2017
Date Posted:
August 2018

This extensive advice was given to a student who wrote to Rinpoche about a range of personal problems. The student had health issues including severe depression and high blood pressure. He was also experiencing financial hardship and many other obstacles in his life.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, 2016. Photo: Bill Kane.

My most dear, most kind, most precious wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you very much for your emails. I am sorry for the long delay.

To achieve enlightenment in this life means to free the sentient beings from oceans of samsaric suffering quickly and bring them to enlightenment quickly. Therefore you need to achieve buddhahood in this lifetime, quickly, and in one brief lifetime of degenerate time.

The two main deities that you have a strong karmic connection with are Most Secret Hayagriva and Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyatso. From these two deities it seems you have a stronger connection with Most Secret Hayagriva. You can take both initiations, but when the time comes for you to do retreat, your main deity is Most Secret Hayagriva.

Most Secret Hayagriva is an extremely powerful deity for pacifying obstacles and for success. The particular function is to dispel obstacles and the need to control sentient beings to bring them to enlightenment. Until you receive the initiation you can recite the Most Secret Hayagriva mantra for the time being. Later you can receive the initiation and do retreat.

If you can receive the oral transmission of the mantra that would be very good. Maybe I can give it to you by phone if you send your number, if you want, then it’s more powerful when you recite the mantra.

Regarding my own experience with high blood pressure, there is one student who had very high blood pressure and when he was in Nepal he asked me what to do. I gave him the meditation practice of tonglen, which is taking other sentient beings’ sufferings and the causes, delusion and karma, and giving one’s merits and happiness up to enlightenment to other sentient beings. He did the meditation and every time he did it, his blood pressure went down. Whenever he did it, maybe for half an hour, his blood pressure always went down.

So that’s proof. This also came out in my observation for you, that it’s best for you to do tonglen. I have written different things on tonglen. [See: The Preliminary Practice of Tong-len and my advice on tonglen.] Some of it isn’t relevant, but you can take from it the different ways to meditate on tonglen. The advice Dealing with Cancer contains tonglen practice within it, so that is the part that is relevant for you.

One Nepalese lady in the USA had high blood pressure and went to the doctors and took many medicines. I told her to do tonglen practice and gave her some blessed pills. Her blood pressure went down after that, but I haven’t met her for a long time now.

So please do tonglen practice.

In regard to your obstacles for finance and wealth you need to practice Yellow Tara meditation.

Don’t worry about your wife. You have to know that since we are in samsara, it is our nature that once we are born we will die. Only if we actualize the four noble truths, the ultimate wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, then we can cease delusion and karma, the cause of suffering. Then we can be free from the suffering of samsara, and we don’t have to die. We will be free from old age, sickness and death, like arhats. Otherwise after we are born, we have to die.

Also, you have to know that every sentient being has been your wife and you have been the wife of all sentient beings. You have been mother and father of all sentient beings and the enemy of all sentient beings as well. So that experience is nothing new, it is not the first time. We have had this experience numberless times, but we don’t know because we don’t have omniscient mind, we don’t even have ordinary clairvoyance. We think we only have one life, only this life, so we have a very limited mind, very obscured, like a blind eye, a very blind eye, like that.

Please read my advice on depression, the different things I have said. Please read the advice slowly, over and over again. [See Rinpoche's Advice on Depression and Transforming Depression.]

To begin with, regarding depression, you are much, much better than numberless other human beings in the world, who have one hundred times, two hundred times or even one thousand times greater problems than you. Many numberless others are much worse off than you. Thinking like that, you should feel very happy, very fortunate.

There was a great lama who followed Lama Atisha—who came from Nalanda in India to Tibet, to revive Buddhism—this great lama, Kadampa Geshe Khamlungpa, advised:

Even the present small suffering,
Finishes our past heavy negative karma, bad karma,
And there will be happiness in the future.
Therefore, feel happy about this current suffering.

That means experiencing the suffering while thinking about the benefits of that suffering. By experiencing the suffering now, it finishes our past heavy negative karma and in the future [we] will be like the sun shining in the world. The one sun in the universe, when it shines on the animals, like flies, bees and all insects, they can all enjoy it; and all the human beings and all the flowers and so forth also enjoy it.

In the future you will have so much happiness, therefore it is very good to have the suffering now. That is the benefit of suffering now.

The conclusion is that it is very good, very fortunate to experience it now, otherwise what happens if you don’t suffer now, if you don’t have problems now, then you continue to create a lot of negative karma and you will be reborn in the lower realms, in the hell realms, as a hungry ghost or an animal for eons and eons. You will experience unbelievable suffering there. The suffering of the lower realms, the unbearable suffering of the hell realms, is so great that one hour or one minute there is unbearable. If it is conveyed as a material thing, how much suffering you experience is as large as the sky.

Therefore, compared to the hell realms especially, where the hell beings are experiencing the heaviest suffering, the suffering you are experiencing in the human realm is great peace. It’s like nirvana, it’s like liberation from samsara; it’s great peace compared to the hell realm sufferings. You have to recognize this. You have to feel that there are many advantages to having the problems now.

It is said by the great bodhisattva Shantideva that if you have problems it destroys your arrogance and pride, and then compassion arises for others who are suffering in samsara.   

Furthermore, suffering has good qualities:
Through being disheartened with it, arrogance is dispelled,
Compassion arises for those in cyclic existence,
Negativity is shunned and joy is found in virtue.
     [A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Ch. 6, v. 21]  

Therefore, think about others who have similar problems. For example, people with AIDS have a lot of compassion for other people who have AIDS.

Like that, we become more careful to not create negative karma, which is the cause of suffering, and we wish to create more good karma, the cause of happiness. Whether it is great or small, we must abandon negative karma, because we don’t want even the smallest suffering, even in our dreams.

Thinking like this helps compassion for others to arise and it becomes the cause of generating bodhicitta for other sentient beings.

It helps to study the Middle Way view of emptiness only—the two truths, ultimate truth and conventional truth. Study and practice as much as possible, in order to realize emptiness. That eliminates the root of samsara—ignorance, holding the I as it appears truly existent, existing from its own side, existing by its own nature, a real one, and  believing in that one hundred percent. That is ignorance, the root of samsara. However, the I exists in mere name and is merely labeled by the mind; there is no other I than that. There is no real I. “Real” means existing from there, from its own side. So that’s the reality.

If you can meditate on this, that would be very good. You can use even simple words on emptiness to meditate.

For example, this I is not truly existent. Meditate on that.

The reason is that it is dependent arising. Regarding the meaning of dependent arising, there is gross dependent arising, which is depending on cause and conditions. That is gross dependent arising.

Subtle dependent arising is that the I is merely imputed by the valid mind on the valid base, the aggregates that we have now. That is how the I exists. It exists in mere name. Meditate on that. The I is merely labeled by the valid mind, related to the valid aggregates that we have now. Meditate on that.

This will help you very much. The root is ignorance. That is the root of the oceans of samsara sufferings and the causes, delusion and karma.

This is the best way to eliminate depression.

Please do the morning motivation, The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment) every day.

Thank you very, very much.

With much love and prayers ...