Free from Depression

by Bhikkhu Balacitta

Sometimes people feel good, uplifted or are happy and sometimes not. When people feel bad, down or are unhappy but if they know how to take care of themselves, are calm and peaceful, then there are no problems. Feelings are impermanent and are subject to change. If they do not know how to take care of themselves, are calm and peaceful, then there are problems. However it will not be a problem if one meets the right person who is able to help or advise one to solve it.

Nowadays, people are exposed to many kinds of advertisements which try to tell people that life would be more wonderful, uplifting or happier when they use their products. When one is looking for help, it is important that one finds someone who really is capable to help, otherwise, no help is better. If a person goes to see a doctor for help because of a feeling of emptiness or unhappiness or they are feeling bad or down, then it is highly possible that the doctor will prescribe some anti-depressant drugs for him. Taking anti-depressant drugs is of course the easiest and quickest way to make oneself feel good again but that is only temporary. In order for us to solve any problem, it is important for us to solve the cause of the problem. If we try to solve any problem without knowing and taking care of the cause, we may only solve the problem superficially. The root cause will still remain to generate the problem again and again. But anyhow, if any of you are taking these anti-depressant drugs already, please do not discontinue it before you find a better solution, otherwise, the sudden termination of the usage of the drugs is known to give many kinds of problematic reactions to the user.

We human beings have a body and mind. The mind of an uninstructed worldly person will surely be adversely affected when encountering a highly unwanted situation like the loss of someone very dear. When the mind is affected, the body will also be affected. If one is unable to accept the reality that all conditions in life are all impermanent and subject to change, then one will be easily disturbed whenever something good changes to bad. A person who is too engrossed with the vicissitudes of life will always be busy running after gain, praise, honour or pleasurable sensations. Similarly, he will also be busy trying to run away from loss, blame, discredit or unpleasurable sensations. When he encounters the former, he will feel elated, and when he encounters the latter, he will feel dejected. One who is easily elated or dejected is also a person who can easily lose his mental balance.

Living in the world, it is inescapable for people to experience the vicissitudes of life. Sometimes we will experience the results of our good kamma and sometimes we will also experience the results of our bad kamma. It is easy for people to be able to take care of themselves, be mindful, be peaceful and calm when life is smooth and easy but when the extreme downside of life happens suddenly, many will loose their mental balance. There will be sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief or despair and very sadly, most will also start to neglect their health.

The Buddha has shown us the four Noble Truths. In the four Noble Truths, he has shown to us what is suffering, what is the cause of suffering, what is the freedom from suffering and what is the path towards the freedom from suffering. The path towards the freedom of suffering is, of course, the Noble Eightfold Path which can be categorized under morality, meditation and wisdom.

Nowadays, there are many meditation retreat centres where one can learn to develop this Noble Eightfold Path. If any of you always feel bad, down, empty or unhappy, I encourage you to go for meditation retreat.i I wish others who are presently feeling good, strong and happy, to protect yourself by cultivating a meditative way of life, who knows when the “U Turn” will come. Correct meditation practice with the right kind of supports (morality and wisdom) can help one to understand the true nature of the world better, which in turn, will help one to be able to maintain mental balance even when facing the extremities in the vicissitudes of life.

As a matter of fact, in order for us to be always 100% free from mental suffering, we have to reach the state of Arahantship (full-enlightenment) . To reach that state, we have to develop the Noble Eightfold path in full perfection and this is not an easy job to do. But anyhow, if one starts correctly in the development of the Noble Eightfold Path, one can be said to have entered the stream of the Noble Eightfold path, a Sotapana (Stream-enterer)- SN. 55.5 A Sotapana, although is not a person 100% free from mental sufferings like an Arahant, is nevertheless, much more free from mental suffering than the most fortunate ordinary person in the world. A Sotapana already has right view with regard to the true nature of the world, the five aggregates or the so called “self”. He understands truly that whatever things that he has been identified with before as “mine”, “I”, or “myself” are actually impermanent, stressful and empty. He will never cling to it madly as before and it is impossible for him to fall into clinical depression like an uninstructed worldling again. A Sotapana might be depressed for a while when encountering the loss of someone dear but he knows the path to come out of it and he will come out of it. Just like venerable Ananda, when venerable Sariputta, venerable Mongallana and the Buddha were gone, he was depressed, down hearted and feeling empty. But it was only for a while because being a Sotapana, he knows the path to come out from suffering. If earlier, a person needs to depend on anti-depressant drugs for his superficial wellbeing, upon reaching the state of Sotapana, he can now throw away all of his anti-depressant drugs forever. Forever he is free.

Now, after talking about freedom from mental suffering, I would like to talk about our physical health. If one takes good care of his own physical health, he will enjoy at least 50%.of wellbeing, that is, bodily wellbeing. But If a person does not take good care of his bodily health and he is still an uninstructed worldling, he will suffer twice if he falls sick, that is, one part in body and the other part in the mind - for lamenting, complaining, worrying, ...

Earlier, I had said that when a person's mind is affected, his body will also be affected. But this does not mean that one who is totally free from mental suffering is also totally free from bodily sufferings. Although our mental wellbeing does influence our bodily wellbeing, this does not mean that all the causes of our bodily wellbeing is caused by our mind. I have found two places in the cannon that tell the causes that can affect our bodily wellbeing. One is from the Sutta and another from the Abhidhamma. They are as follows:

In the Sutta – SN. 36:21, it is mentioned that there are 8 causes that affect our feeling (bodily pain). They are:-

1. Disorders of the bile;

2. Disorders of the phlegm;

3. Disorders of the internal wind;

4. Imbalance of the combination of the bodily humors (bile, phlegm and wind);

5. Change of climate;

6. Uneven care of the body;

7. Harsh treatment (external forces); and

8. The result of kamma.

In the Abhidhamma, it is mentioned that there are only 4 causes but what I can see is that it is quite similar to the above except that it is presented in a different way and they are:-

1. The food that one consumes (the food one consumes could have effect on one or all of the bodily humors);

2. change of climate (environmental changes like electrical radio magnetic wave pollution, air pollution and any other type of pollution should also be included);

3. the mind (the capability of the mind in facing the vicissitudes of life); and

4. the fruition of past karma.

I will also like to bring to your knowledge some tips for health which I found mentioned by the Buddha in the Suttas:-

a. “When a man is always mindful, knowing moderation in the food he eats, his ailments then diminish; he ages slowly, guarding his life.” - (extracted from SN. 3:13)

b. “...Come, bhikkhus, eat a single session (before noon) by so doing, you too will be free from illness and affliction, and you will enjoy health, strength, and a comfortable abiding.”- (extracted from MN 65)

c. “... your medicine of strong-smelling urine (puttimutta) will seem to you to be just like the various tonics of a householder or householder's son... As you live contented, it will serve for your delight, for a comfortable abiding, for non-agitation, & for alighting on Unbinding.” - (extracted from AN. VIII, 30)

d. “... Good man, this repulsive urine (putimutta )is mixed with various medicines. Drink from it if you want; as you drink from it, its colour, smell and taste will not agree with you, but after drinking from it, you will be well...after drinking it, he became well.” - (extracted from MN.46)

e. “Monks, there are these five advantages of walking meditation (cankama) it hardens one for traveling; it is good for striving; it is healthy; tends to good digestion after one has eaten and drunk, munched and crunched; the concentration won from it, last long ...” - (extracted from AN. III, 29)

With the above information, I hope that by now you will know, at least, what needs to be balanced, what needs to be avoided, what needs to be done for your own well being, for your own happiness.

That's all for today. By the power of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, may all of you be successful in finding real peace, real harmony, real happiness and be happy always.

i There are many meditation centres around in Malaysia and all of them are doing a great job in strengthening the faith of the people in the teaching of the Buddha. But if a depressive person were to come to see me for advice, I will recommend him or her to attend at least a 10-day meditation course conducted by S.N. Goenka or his assistant teachers. Depressive people are weak in energy and self-discipline, they need constant encouragement. The simple meditation instruction coupled with the healthy atmospheric condition in the Goenka meditation centre, could help. These are their contact numbers: 012 339 0089 (Chinese speaking) and 016 341 4776 (English speaking)

ii If one is in poor health and all conventional treatments have failed, why not give urine therapy a try. Who knows this simple therapy will work miracles. The book titled “ The Water Of Life” by John W. Armstrong is a very powerful book, it can change people's perception with regard to urine. But if one does not have the guts to try urine therapy even after reading so many cases of successful stories, then why not try Water Therapy. It can also work like a miracle for curing many kinds of illnesses. Very often, I will drink about 1.5 litres of water first thing in the morning. After that, I can feel that my whole bodily cells become very happy. I feel refreshed, energized and good.


Source : http://www.sasanarakkha.org/dhamma/

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