Transforming Depression

Transforming Depression

Date of Advice:
January 2018
Date Posted:
June 2019

A student wrote to Rinpoche about a sixteen-year-old relative who had severe depression. Rinpoche offered this advice.

Rinpoche in the elevator at Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, March 2016. Photo: Roger Kunsang.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Some people get depression just during the night—that’s when it comes—or sometimes it’s only during the day, so that is the result of past life sexual misconduct. That is just knowledge for you. Then some people get depressed for no reason, even if there aren’t any problems like separation in the family, where the wife and husband separate, or they lost their business and so forth. So even if there is not a particular situation, depression can happen. The only answer is purification and confession. That is just knowledge for you to know.

The real answer is whatever happens, whether happiness or problems, utilize this on the path to enlightenment, which means the path to happiness, by transforming suffering into happiness, so thought transformation.

So it is good for your relative to think, “This is the result of my past negative karma—negative actions done with a negative mind—therefore it is good to experience this now. Otherwise if I don’t experience it now, then what happens is after my death I will immediately be reincarnated in the hell realms, in the lower realms, and I will experience unbelievable, most unbelievable suffering.” If that is materialized it’s like the size of the sky. The greatest suffering of human beings is like great peace for hell beings, if you compare the suffering, even for an hour or a minute.

Think, “By experiencing the result now, in this human life in the form of depression, then in the future I will be free from the heaviest suffering in those other realms.” So think, “I am very lucky because I am experiencing the result of my past negative karma in the form of this small suffering, depression and unhappiness, now.”

It is said by the great realized meditator Kadampa Geshe Khamlungpa:

By experiencing even a little suffering now,
It finishes my past negative karmas
And there will be happiness in the future.
Therefore, rejoice in this present suffering.

Then in the future there will be happiness like the sun shining on all the people and animals, so all can enjoy it. There will be great happiness in the future and like that you will go to enlightenment, buddhahood. You will not only be free from the oceans of samsara, but you will also achieve peerless happiness—the total cessation of all the obscurations and completion of all the realizations. Therefore, rejoice in this present suffering.

So this depression is a good thing, for example, if a snake bites you and you have to cut off the flesh where the snake bit, then you can survive, otherwise you would die. So there could be pain cutting it out, but this helps you survive for a long time, so it’s positive not negative. It is similar if you need an operation in order to remove cancer, so then the cancer has gone away. Therefore the pain of the operation is positive, because it helps you in the long run to live without cancer.

What your relative should recite is this:

By my experiencing this depression, may numberless living beings in each realm be free right away from all disease, spirit harm, negative karma and all the defilements, and may they achieve the supreme happiness, dharmakaya.

Then recite OM MANI PADME HUM. Recite this whole verse like a mantra and then OM MANI PADME HUM, doing half a mala or one mala or more. More is better, it’s unbelievable!

When we recite OM MANI PADME HUM it is not just for ourselves but for numberless others in each realm. Just like us they want happiness and do not want suffering. They are the same [as us] and they are constantly suffering and have been suffering from beginningless rebirth. However much they desire happiness, they are devoid of happiness. They are devoid of temporary happiness and devoid of ultimate happiness. Temporary happiness is in this life or future lives, but they are also devoid of ultimate happiness. Even if they have temporary happiness, they are devoid of ultimate happiness—liberation from the oceans of samsara—and they are also devoid of the peerless happiness, buddhahood, the total cessation of obscurations and completion of realizations.

So recite OM MANI PADME HUM for them. Now you can see how it is most, most, most urgent to recite OM MANI PADME HUM for the sentient beings, because everyone is like us—they want happiness and do not want suffering. But this is not happening; they are not experiencing all these happinesses, instead they experience suffering.

Please try this.

With much love and prayers ...