Struggle With Depression

Struggle With Depression

Date Posted:
December 2013

Rinpoche asked a student to write a report on how she had dealt with depression after following his advice.

Dear Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche,
I am extremely thankful and grateful for the advice and blessings that you gave to me to help me deal with the depression that I had struggled with for many years.

It is some years ago now that I received this advice from you. From what I can remember, I practiced tong-len and other methods you suggested at least once a day, formally, and whenever I needed to during the day.

Although I am not a great practitioner, with your blessings and some effort on my part, I soon experienced the results of the practice, and the length of my periods of depression shortened from months or weeks, to days, hours, and even minutes. I can’t tell you what a relief this has been.

I also experienced some surprising results. I have the memory of one time starting to become depressed and doing the practice. I was quite surprised when the depressed feeling that I was so used to cultivating was suddenly replaced with a feeling of joy. There have also been times when working through the depression, it stopped suddenly and I felt happy; but I also felt disappointed that I wasn’t able to experience more of this suffering on behalf of others. I really felt disappointed, and, in a way, wished it would come back.

Your great kindness was so fortunate for me, because it was only a few months later that I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Previously, this would have surely sent me into a depression. But it didn’t. During the past several years, with this sometimes very difficult illness, I am grateful to say that while there were times I felt discouraged and down, I was never as depressed as I had been previously.

Another thing which this practice has helped me to see is how depression comes from the self-cherishing mind. The words confused me. I didn’t understand how self-cherishing could play a role in hating myself. I came to see that what I was doing was grasping very strongly at my sense of “I,” and then giving it a negative label through which I saw the world. These insights have helped me very much. While I can’t say I have gained any realization, I continue to find these practices very helpful whenever I notice the signs of depression arising (thankfully not too often any more), and for other reasons.

Rinpoche, this is through your great kindness and your many blessings. I am very grateful. Thank you.

With much love and devotion,