Monday, April 03, 2006

Practical Spirituality—Understanding The Roots of Depression IV - By John Gilmore

We have written several articles on depression, previously, and this is our final one. If you have missed any of the previous articles please visit our free Practical Spirituality Journal at, or you can find more articles like this on this e-zine. We discussed dealing with one’s self esteem, we discussed finding friends and institutions that will support you in your efforts, instead of undermining them. Now we will discuss working on the root of the problem.

The Shaolin say that you cannot work on a problem by working on the outgrowth, you must work on the root. If you work on the branches of a bad tree thinking that you can get rid of the tree that way, you are mistaken. You must work on the root. Many of the things that we have been discussing, though important, are the outgrowth. We will discuss the root of the problem today. “What is the root?” you may ask. The root is obvious. Just take a bit of time to sit, relax, and think about it and it will appear right before your eyes.

Open a magazine, turn on the television, go to a movie. Look at all of the people that you see and hear. These people are designated as the best, the most talented, and therefor, the richest.

These are the people we are supposed to look like and become like, but we can’t and never will, because we are not them. In truth, these people were chosen because of their potential to make money by those who had money. They were given access to the media to make money and to support large staffs of people who used them and put them up front..

This sounds very simple and negative, doesn’t it? But it isn’t unbelievable. It is quite obvious. It is not totally negative for the actors and actresses. They worked hard to get where they are. They studied, struggled, some even went hungry to get the money and fame. They gave their lives to the consumer system to make it and to do what their hearts wanted most. If you are willing to give your life to the consumer system completely you can make it too and be rich, famous. The problem is that you don’t want that. You are not willing to sell your soul to the system so can’t do the things you would like and are depressed. The truth is, however, that many of them have everything that they thought they wanted and they are still depressed, because they are part of a big business.

We have a narrow view of ourselves as human beings. We usually strive and seek for that which we already have. In a consumer society we often think that we can fill the holes with things, or with cash. The truth is that we already have the greatest riches that anyone could have, our selves as we are, and our creative abilities. When we begin to live in reality we realize this, but this takes dismantling the illusion that is constructed so well around us.

The illusion can readily be seen as we watch a screen writers imagination unfold before us and think that is the way the world is, and that is what people look like. That is her imagination. It isn’t real. What is real is feeling the sun against one’s skin. It is waking up to see a brilliant red streak across the horizon as the sun rises. It is looking up at the sky and feeling oneself drawn up and away from one’s ordinary boring, or frantic life. We don’t value them, because they don’t have a monetary worth. They are priceless. All of these things are so beautiful because they are drawing us back to who we really are. We are not looking at anything except ourselves. We are part of the universe given the ability to look upon itself and realize itself. When we do not live our lives aligned with this belief, the true knowledge of who and what we are, depression always follows. The truth is that we are priceless.

Depression, created by our own minds, is there nudging us and making us uncomfortable so we will continue to move, to seek the true riches of life. We don’t know what the true riches are, because they have been replaced with the artificial—a bunch of things synonymous with happiness. One thing about depression that many depressed people have probably noticed is an overwhelming feeling of all of the negativity that exists in the universe. It feels like a dark blanket and it forces one deeper inside, or moves one, by force outside of oneself into every thing diffusing one’s energy. The difference between depression and enlightenment is that one usually notices an overwhelming feeling of joy. One can, therefor, turn around depression by learning to perceive the joy in the universe. What this takes is just a turning of the head.

When you drive a motorcycle into a curve it is said that you look to the end of the curve. The position of your head affects your balance on the bike and therefor the direction in which the bike moves. The same is true about life. When you look at all of the horror and pain and thing of all you don’t have, your inner life goes in that direction. When you look at all of the beauty and abundance, your inner life goes in that direction. Please think on these things for a few moments. You can purposely look at all of the beauty.

You have been fighting for too long to attain what you have already had, and what people have constantly been telling you, you don’t have and won’t have until they give it to you. You have worth, you have grace, you are strong, smart and beautiful now. Through meditation, the right peer group, and the right institutions you can realize this and then your depression will change form and just become a brief reminder for you to relax and think deeply. It will change form and regress to that for which it naturally evolved—a signal to introspection and rest.

The root cause of depression is probably not a chemical imbalance. No one knows what comes first, the depression or the chemical imbalance. The root cause is wrong thinking. The root cause is wanting what one does not have, wanting to be someone other than oneself, and listening to others people’s ideas of who and what you should be and accepting them more then you accept your own thoughts. If you can change this, which can be done through many forms of prayer and meditations from the Buddhist tradition, depression will no longer be a problem. When you realize who you truly are and that you are connected with every other living being, as Brian Swimme wrote, “you will never be alone.”

Dr. J. W. Gilmore is a Writer, Spiritual Director, Anti-oppression Consultant and Wellness Consultant. He is a Certified Massage Therapist and Reflexologist, a Reiki Master Teacher, a Martial Arts Instructor and a Spiritual Coach living in Costa Rica.

For more article like this or similar information visit: Recommended book, On Being Love’s Warrior: A Warriors Manual on Becoming the Compassionate Warrior Within, Dr. Kendall Ronin.

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