Transforming Depression (Part II)
By Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche
Think about the meaning of your life, a psychological method that makes a huge difference because much of the problem comes from your exaggerated concept of pain. It's possible to reduce or completely eliminate pain with the mind. "The purpose of my life isn't just to be healthy, wealthy, to have a good reputation, to be popular and have lots of friends.
Even if I had all these things, it isn't the actual purpose of my life. Even if I live for 1,000 years or am perfectly healthy for eons, if I don't have love and compassion in my heart my life it's meaningless and useless because my life isn't benefiting others. Leading such a life would be empty. Therefore it doesn't matter what happens; if in my life there's health or no health; depression or no depression; cancer or no cancer, wealth or no wealth.
The real purpose of my life is to make my death beneficial for others. Even if I have cancer, I'll make that experience beneficial for all beings by using it to develop compassion and bodhicitta, to achieve realizations and enlightenment." In this way the cancer becomes the cause of happiness.
Depression can also be used to achieve enlightenment to benefit all beings in this and future lives, especially all those who suffer from depression- just like using snake venom to produce it's own anti-venom.
You're using your depression to achieve enlightenment. In this way it becomes the cause of happiness for all sentient beings experiencing depression. Think, "The main purpose of life is to benefit all living beings, to free them from suffering and bring them happiness in this and future lives.
Even if I have cancer, aids, depression or whatever, the purpose of my life is to bring happiness to all sentient beings by experiencing these problems on their behalf. " In this way depression becomes a quick way to achieve enlightenment. The same with cancer. Use it to quickly achieve enlightenment. If it's experienced for the benefit of others it becomes the quick path to enlightenment because experiencing suffering for others is incredible, unbelievable purification. This is excellent!
There was one monk in Thailand who was walking around the country. He came across a big river. On the banks of the river was a woman with leprosy, with pus oozing out of her sores. She begged the monk to carry her across the river.
He refused, on the basis that his monk's vows prevented him from touching women. After some time one of the monk's disciples came along and when he saw the poor woman, unbelievable compassion arose in his mind. Without hesitation he picked her up and carried her across the river, even though her body was covered with open wounds.
When he reached the middle of the river the woman transformed into Vajra Yogini and took him - not just his consciousness, but also his body, to Vajra Yogini's pure land. This means that by now this monk has attained full enlightenment, because anyone who goes to Vajra Yogini's pure land is enlightened there. Being in a pure land is a quick way to achieve enlightenment if it hasn't yet happened in your present life. In this case Vajra
Yogini took the aspect of an ordinary, pitiful woman with leprosy in order to stimulate compassion in the disciple's mind. This compassion quickly purified the heavy negative karma blocking him from seeing Vajra Yogini.
In the case of the great Tibetan yogi, Milarepa, the karmic blocks preventing him to see Vajrayogini were purified by his pure service to his holy guru, Marpa.
It's the same for you. If on the basis of feeling strong compassion you experience depression on behalf of all beings, this meditation of taking and experiencing the suffering for others is a quick path to enlightenment, just like the example of the monk. It's a quick way to achieve enlightenment because experiencing cancer, depression or any suffering for the benefit of living beings is unbelievably purifying.
Suffering from depression can be a good thing because it allows you to easily see the pain of other people. By using your own experience of depression you can clearly feel the unbearable pain of many, many other people. There are so many people who are depressed and many others creating karma for future bouts of depression.
Experiencing depression on their behalf might be even more powerful than practising tantra because if tantra isn't done correctly, on the basis of the three principal paths, it's not a quick path to enlightenment.
When feeling depressed you can think, "I'm exhausting so much of my negative karma to have depression that I've accumulated throughout countless past lives." Rejoice! You should feel great joy about finishing the karma instead of seeing the depression as something bad.
As it's said in Guru Puja, living beings and their environments are filled with unbelievable problems and sufferings, coming one after another like rainfall, sufferings that are the results of negative karma. "Please grant me blessings to see my depression as exhausting the results of my negative karmic imprints, and bless me to be able to always transform bad conditions into the path to enlightenment." You can recite mantra while doing this meditation.
For example when you wash a dirty piece of cloth, the water becomes black with dirt. You don't see the black dirt as a negative thing since it means the cloth is getting clean. In the same way, when you practice dharma negative karmas can ripen causing you to get sick because you're purifying so much negative karma by practising dharma. So you should rejoice when you get depressed!
Depression happens in the first place due to being under the control of the ego, self-cherishing, attachment, anger, broken vows and pledges and having disturbed the minds of holy beings and your spiritual teachers in past lives. This depression is caused by the ego, the self-cherishing attitude and the self-existent "I". So rather than accepting the depression, give it back to the self-cherishing attitude. Use the depression like a bomb to destroy the wrong conception of the I. Then meditate on the emptiness of the self-existent I.
These are some ways to use depression to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible. By using it to develop compassion and bodhicitta you collect merit as vast as limitless space and purify unbelievable amounts of negative karma. It's being used like a powerful bomb to destroy the wrong conception of the inherently existent I, the thing that caused the depression in the first place. It's the demon that has prevented your enlightenment, your liberation from samsara, all the realizations, and is the door to all your problems.
You can also do some preliminary practices such as Vajrasattva to purify the negative karma that causes depression.