Depression is quite often a response to our present conflict between material pressures and spiritual aspirations. used wisely, it can be a springboard to spiritual awakening and wisdom
Religion Offers ReliefSince depression is in many ways a crisis of meaning, religion can restore our faith in life and ourselves. Here, in India, we have always handled our mental and psychological traumas by going to a guru, going on a pilgrimage, seeing an astrologer, and the like. These options are worth exploring for they can cure us. Moreover, the spiritual truths enshrined in all religions can be of profound comfort and inspiration. Religions tell us how to live life by revealing the spiritual laws that govern it. We can find our way back by using their powerful resources.
Cause: Depressive disease figured prominently in the sacred writings of India, including the twin epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna’s dismay on the eve of battle is well-known. He says, “My mind is very restless, forceful and strong, O Krishna, it is more difficult to control the mind than the wind.” The Hindu view is that depression is caused by ignorance; we do not recognise that we are part of God, because maya blinds our eyes and distorts our vision.
Cure: The Bhagavad Gita states, “Let a man raise himself by his own self, let him not debase himself. For he is himself his friend, himself his foe.” One’s own mind has a preventive and a curative function. Healthy habits of attitude, thoughts, dispositions and feeling can offer equilibrium. It brings out the fact that enormous resources are available within for healing. Since thoughts create reality, Krishna offers loving refuge: “Focus your mind on Me alone and let you intellect dwell upon Me through meditation and contemplation. Thereafter you shall certainly come to Me.”
Cause: The Buddhist perspective is that an underlying selfishness/egotism is often the basic cause of feeling depressed. This does not mean that the suffering person should be ‘blamed’ for the condition, but rather opens up a very different approach to the problem.
Cure: Openness is a key factor. Miracles do happen when we stop resisting them. The mind is shaping and changing continuously. One of the ways by which the Buddhists say we can mould the mind the way we want is through meditation. Sincerely trying to help others is another cure when we are stuck in our own misery.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama says: “There was an empirical study that found that people who have the tendency to use more self-referential terms (I, me, myself) tend to have more health problems and earlier deaths. Being self-absorbed has an immediate effect of narrowing one’s focus and blurring one’s vision. It is like being pressed down by a heavy load. If, on the other hand, you think more about others’ well-being, it immediately makes you feel more expansive, liberated and free.”
Cause: Whenever an individual falls out of a life described by spiritual principles, such as austerity, kindness, and truthfulness, they find themselves in the abyss of depression.
Cure: The first step towards emerging out of a depression is to take responsibility. It is not possible for a practising Jain to shrug his shoulders at his own fate and say “God wanted me to be depressed”; nor to shirk spiritual practice and say “Let God bring me out”. Devout Jains will feel obliged to make tremendous effort at self-improvement for their own well-being: nobody else will do it for them. Through severe austerity and daily meditation, relief can be found.
Cause: When one’s actions go against one’s beliefs, depression is brought on. Depression is usually spiritually induced. A sense of having failed to live out the will of God can give rise to it.
Cure: Within the pages of the Bible are the answers to man’s most pressing needs. The Bible urges us to take refuge in God and surrender all worries, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
It also tells us that we were created in the very image or likeness of God, and therefore our lives have tremendous meaning. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Cause: According to the Quran, the main reason why man collapses before life’s stresses and gets depressed is because he does not find a safe haven in True Faith.
Cure: God is the Lord of all the worlds, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. These are among the attributes and most beautiful names of God which a Muslim believes in, and repeats in his prayer, and acts of worship, and uses as guides throughout his life. These attributes fill a believer’s heart with the love of his Lord who looks after him, bestows his blessings on him, and extends his mercy to him. If a believer does what is good, God will be more benevolent towards him, and if he does wrong, God will open wide the door for him to enjoy his forgiveness and enable him to repent, correct his behavior and return to his Lord. “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of God: for God forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (Surat al Zumar 39, verse 53)
- Megha Bajaj
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