On countering depression

It can happen very quickly. One day we feel strong and happy. Then, suddenly, a seemingly small event can topple us. I try not to spiral down into doom when my plans get shattered.

In fact, I try not to worry and I think of all the other people who are also suffering due to their own losses. I recognise that I am not alone.

According to Dalai Lama, “Again, we may sometimes feel that our whole lives are unsatisfactory; we feel on the point of being overwhelmed by the difficulties that confront us.

This happens to us all in varying degrees. When this occurs, it is vital that we make every effort to find a way of lifting our spirits. We can do this by recollecting our good fortune.
We may, for example, be loved by someone; we may have certain talents; we may have received a good education; we may have our basic needs provided for – food to eat, clothes to wear, somewhere to live – we may have performed certain altruistic deeds in the past.”

This advice is helpful because when I slip into self pity, I often berate myself instead of loving myself. At this point, I realise that I must make a big effort to overcome my depression, and I will reach out to others to get me through.

The Embodiment of Compassion speaks from his own experience; that is why his words are so powerful, perhaps. He said, “We must take into consideration even the slightest positive aspect of our lives.

For, if we fail to find some way of uplifting ourselves, there is every danger of sinking further into our sense of powerlessness.

This can lead us to believe that we have no capacity for doing good whatsoever. Thus, we create the conditions of despair itself.”

I cannot help but remember the situations of the refugee Tibetans who want to return to their homeland but cannot; and I remember too all those imprisoned in Tibet because they are accused of speaking out or writing about their oppression by the Chinese communist government. My hope is restored when I think of their courage. Feeling their strength, I shake off my comparatively simple problems. But the dark cloud is always waiting for our weak moments.

So, Dalai Lama insists we work harder. He noted, “This inevitably gives rise to the question – can we train the mind?

There are many methods by which to do this. Among these, in the Buddhist tradition, is a special instruction called mind training, which focuses on cultivating concern for others and turning adversity to advantage.

 It is this pattern of thought, transforming problems into happiness that has enabled the Tibetan people to maintain their dignity and spirit in the face of great difficulties. Indeed I have found this advice of great practical benefit in my own life.”

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