Bird Droppings April 20, 2011
Problems are often misunderstood explanations
“Although you may understand the explanations, if you are still suffering because of problems, you clearly do not understand the true nature of your mind, your body, and your senses.” Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Transforming Problems Into Happiness
Every day I deal with numerous issues among students in the high school in which I teach. I listen many times as students tell their explanation. I will often start my own statement with “as a parent looking at this”. When looking at a situation it changes depending on your view point and your perspective. Kids often forget they are not alone which is a key factor. Some of them want to be alone and wish they could get out of the house literally. I joke about the students who want to go to Valdosta State University in Valdosta Georgia. If you can imagine Georgia as a large rectangle and in the bottom most corner on the eastern side is Valdosta just about in Florida. In effect it is the farthest away college from anywhere in Georgia. So you can be far away from home and still get the Hope Scholarship which is available to Georgia students.
I think many people struggle with life myself included because we do not take time to truly look at honestly and openly where we are and why. Yes I can give you definitions and facts and from experience give you context of that content possibly even the true nature of ourselves but it is in actually living out that content that we understand.
“Happiness and suffering are dependent upon your mind, upon your interpretation. They do not come from outside, from others. All of your happiness and all of your suffering are created by you, by your own mind.” Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa is displaced Buddhist monk, a native of Nepal transplanted to India during the Chinese Communist takeover. We are our own biggest problems. I watch students anxious and depressed all from self induced fears and stress walking down the hallways. In our modern world stress is our number one killer and stress is self imposed. It is our interpretations of everyday events and then in turn its effect upon us. A good example is the number one solution according to The American Psychological Association for depression is to talk to someone, counsel, discuss and communicate. It is far more effective than any medications.
Why is this not used as much as several of the leading selling drugs on the market for one of the major psychological issues of our time? Possibly because we want a quick fix. We want solutions now, immediately, and definitely not after five sessions. Side effects and such no problem give me the meds is the common response. I don’t have time to talk, to meditate, to understand and or communicate with anyone. I just want better NOW!
“The greatest problems of humanity are psychological, not material. From birth to death, people are continually under the control of their mental sufferings. Depression happens in the first place due to being under the control of the ego, self-cherishing, attachment, anger, broken vows and pledges. 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.” Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Ego self cherishing attitude
As I listen to students who are depressed “I” is used a lot. Rinpoche offers a solution in getting away from “I”. For a number of years I have been a fan of Carl Jung’s ideas and thinking. Jung sent a letter to a friend who was depressed and this letter is in Jung’s writings on depression.
“I am sorry you are so miserable. “Depression'” means literally “being forced downwards.” This can happen even when you don’t consciously have any feeling at all of being “on top”! So I wouldn’t dismiss this hypothesis out of hand. If I had to live in a foreign country, I would seek out one or two people who seemed amiable and would make myself useful to them, so that libido came to me from outside, even though in a somewhat primitive form, say of a dog wagging its tail. I would raise animals and plants and find joy in their thriving. I would surround myself with beauty – no matter how primitive and artless – objects, colors, sounds. I would eat and drink well. When the darkness grows denser, I would penetrate to its very core and ground, and would not rest until amid the pain a light appeared to me, for in excessu affectus [in an excess of affect or passion] Nature reverses herself.” Carl G. Jung in a letter to a depressed friend
Stop wallowing in self pity and doubt find a friend talk about it. “I would raise animals and plants and find joy in their thriving”. Try and seek alternatives to moping and self absorbance. Delve deeper seeking what it is that is bothering you. Most situations of depression from my own experience are when a person self imposes their own isolation and withdrawal conversely you have to also un-impose and open doors and windows to let in light.
Perhaps it is our own hedonism that has brought about the tremendous increase in depression. We want so much and truly need so little. Our world is centered on wants and demands wants. We end up starving ourselves emotionally for lack of need fulfillment. We set ourselves up as being above all else and much like Humpty Dumpty when we fall the shattered pieces are impossible to mend. Ego and self are the culprit in this dilemma often being better than others is a birth right many believe and daily strive to prove in clothes, attitude, cars, friends and other superficially significant to them things.
I was looking at several senior pages at our high school year book which is at the printer and soon will be going out. Some were literally flagrant I am better than you pages it was advertising trying to prove to everyone and individuals self worth. Somewhere I read it is in how you live people really seeing who you are. It is the example you set that sets you apart and or marks you for life.
I walked about outside literally four times this morning with our dog. A few hours back it was out briefly into a swirl of clouds over head amidst a deep blue sky. More recently the clouds are gone and the moon is lighting the entire back yard and everywhere there are moon shadows. I wanted to sing Cat Stevens song, Moonshadow. For each of us life is a deep blue sky with swirling clouds and it is sorting through the clouds and finding again the stars and moon of our own being and building upon that. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.