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Dark Night vs. Depression?

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Dark Night vs. Depression?
depression dark night
Answer
2/7/10 4:24 PM
Hi,

I´m posting this since I have a bit of a hard time at the moment.
I experience symptoms of depression such as anger, senselessness, lack of motivation and so on.
Nothing new, nothing spectacular, just the human dilemma.

Since the "worldy" label for this is depresseion I wonder wether it´s also the Dark Night or whatever spiritual concept may be applied.

So can ordinary depression also be the Dark Night or are these things to different, eg. the Dark Night encompasses symptoms of depression?

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Thanks
Sitting Bull

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
yoga depression dark night kundalini
Answer
2/9/10 12:45 PM as a reply to S. Pro.
Dear Sitting Bull,

I have suffered of terrible depression during the whole of 2009. Anger, senselessness, not feeling like anything at all, "life sucks", anhedonia, despair, panic attacks, inability to socialize, lowered intelligence, etc, etc, etc.

This new year I did my second ten-day meditation retreat, I meditated mahasi-style up to stream-entry, just like Daniel Ingram recommends. Not only my depression is now gone, but I am finding a kind of joy in life that I hadn't felt since childhood. Moreover, the phenomena associated with my previous kundalini awakening have smoothed out and transformed my life into a sort-of "constant love-making" with everything around me!

Of course, only a month has passed since my retreat. But my personal experience and my knowledge of the literature convinces me that depression can be permanently cured (whether I've already done so or not), and that meditation and Yoga are the way to go.

I know depression is terrible, and I hope this post will bring you some courage and consolation. I'm guessing you already read Daniel Ingram's Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha, and check out the Advanced Yoga Practices (AYP) site, that's what I do now, and it has some very good methods.

Bruno

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/9/10 1:54 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Wow! Bruno, your story is more or less the same as mine.

I have been depressed and miserable for years. I was rolling in the dukkha nanas ever since my first vipassnaa course.

Then I also went at landed 1st path on the 1st day of January this year on retreat. Bruno is right, the depression hasn't come back. Suffering is still there mind you but subtler or rather more manageable with the mind that I now have, which is much more together, powerful and more on top of things than before my course.

I rolled in misery for years until I figured out what I was going through, There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And life is now one big adventure. There are still ups and downs but there is less attachment to outcomes so less suffering indeed. It's only been over a month like Bruno but I don't see myself suffering to the degree that I did previously.

I recommend as Bruno does. Read Daniel's book. Practice and go for stream entry and it will change a lot of things in many, many positive ways. The dukkha nanas are just stages we go through and are impermanent. Work through them!


But if applying one's meditation skills to observe the suffering ultimately doesn't help , I'd seek advice from loved ones and maybe mental health professionals. I would not say that all negative states of mind, like depression, are meditation stage related.

I was in your shoes only last year. Now I am so much happier now. And that's a fact!

Metta,
Nick

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/11/10 4:19 AM as a reply to S. Pro.
Short answer:

Technically, Dark Night follows A&P like Thunder follows Lightening. If you have crossed the A&P and aren't at Equanimity yet, that's the Dark Night, but they duration, strength, and dysfunction vary widely between people. If you haven't crossed the A&P yet, that's not the particular Dark Night referred to here in that technical use of the word.

Practically, if you are are depressed, you are depressed, and the feeling can be very much the same.

Meditation can help, as everyone points out, unless you are depressed already, and then cross the A&P and hit the Dark Night, which can make things worse, at least for a while.

Getting stream entry is highly recommended for its own reasons.

However, warnings continue: I think of third path as sort of the Dark Night of the big cycle of the paths, so watch for that.

One way or the other, things like working on real issue and getting your life, relationship, money, family, psychology, etc. trips together, as well as exercise, talking with skillful people about it, and just deciding to be happy, dammit, can help, obviously, regardless of the cause.

Helpful?

D

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/11/10 5:35 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


However, warnings continue: I think of third path as sort of the Dark Night of the big cycle of the paths, so watch for that.

D


So I have read. But bring it on I say! I have to admit Daniel, I am not suffering the dark nights as I used to before 1st path. I know I am in them when I am in them but the mind is so on top of the sensations and equanimty rules the day.

I am not sure if this is because for the past nine years I have been training the mind not to react to the negative sensations (U Ba Khin/Goenka method). But I really am not suffering to the degree I once was...in fact I would say suffering has been significantly reduced. But when I heard about Kenneth's experience of 3rd path and the depression he went through, it made me think.. what is there to expect in 3rd path?

Did you write about that in your book? I'll check but if you didn't could you elaborate on what you mean by 3rd path being the big Dark night of all the paths cycle? I am intrigued and very curious. But all the same....bring it on!

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/12/10 1:32 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Hey,

I can't honestly remember if I wrote about that specifically or not in those words, but I mention fractals and the 3rd phase of anything is the Dark Night phase, at least in a 4-based fractal mapping system, in general terms.

Yeah, Kenneth and I were just having a long conversation today about that and related topics and what wisdom can be gained from realizing we are human and all try to do our best.

I have seen a relatively wide range of what 3rd path, however defined, does to people, but most seem to find it more challenging than second. It is of a different scope in some ways, wider, more about this right here, and has its own interesting traps: fascination with making emptiness a superspace or some primordial refuge, fascination with high jhanas and powers, fascination with subtle identifications with deep insights, and the like.

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/12/10 3:04 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
This is very interesting Daniel.

One could try to map the 4 Paths with common obsessions and concerns.
Like: the typical third path obsession is ....

It seems that the way out to go beyond third path is to get bored with "fascination with making emptiness a superspace or some primordial refuge, fascination with high jhanas and powers, fascination with subtle identifications with deep insights..." to eventually awaken to what is prior to all experiences".

-Alex

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/12/10 6:16 AM as a reply to Alex W.
Yeh Alex,

It seems boredom plays a big part in moving to the next path. You get all your new things to play with the after some time they lose their novelty and wow factor and they ultimately show you that there is still something missing, something to be seen or let go of. I have this real strange boredom or perhaps more of an indifference to the 8 jhanas for exampl. I see their benefit, and when in them understand that they can be extremely blissful but I have no desire during the day to dwell in them. They seem so mundane. I have to make resolutions to go into them if not the mind doesn't feel pulled towards them. It's so curious this state because previous to path, I would have been so in awe of it all and so a jhana junkie. At the moment I just have a feeling of wanting to be beyond it all. To end the crappy cycle stages. Haha! Desire for deliverance anyone?

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/12/10 7:41 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Thanks Nikolai. I guess I'm a kind of spoiled kid who easily gets bored with his new toys. I used to see it as a problem, but realize that this aristocratic disdain towards worldly pleasures, mystical experiences or even mindblowing insights is not necessarily a bad thing, provided that it is counter-balanced by a strong desire for liberation.

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/13/10 2:20 AM as a reply to Alex W.
The notion of awakening to that which is prior to all experiences when discussed at the pre-stream entry level, where one gets a Fruition and such, doesn't cause me much of a creepy feeling, but in this context, regarding anagamis, that is exactly the trap and really does cause my skin to crawl.

It is a very subtle trap, a very hard trap, a golden chain, to be seen through against the grain and pull to do otherwise.

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/13/10 2:48 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Thank you Daniel.
It seems that we are touching a very important point here.
My interest it not to cause your skin to crawl, but on the contrary to identify the traps and find a way out.
So if I understand you, this is the typical anagami trap.
I guess you have been through these in the past.
How did you come out? You just got bored with all that?

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/13/10 3:09 AM as a reply to Alex W.
Great questions.

I went around cycle after cycle, fantasy after fantasy, and watched what happened.

Initially, I was fascinated by Fruitions, and the Ultimate Potential fallacy: that somehow I could be the Ultimate Potential, see the Ultimate Potential, or rest in the Ultimate Potential. However, there was just a gap, a discontinuity, nothing to cling to.

Then I was fascinated by how the mind would assert the sensations and patterns that make up a separate self and wanted those to stop, but they were empty, happened on their own, were causal, not in anyone's control, so that didn't work.

As I progressed, I became fascinated by panoramic perspectives, emptiness in real-time, the intrinsic luminosity of phenomena, and so tried to become that, to become the luminosity, to become some vast super-space of awareness, some emptiness that wasn't touched by bad things but could feel all the good things. This didn't work: all the bad things were just as palpable as the good things, and any subtle patterns of sensations that seemed to be luminosity, emptiness, Awareness, or space were just that, more qualities.

I wend around these cycles for years, cycle after cycle, layer after layer, illusion after illusion, with sensations trying to be more than what they were, which was mere empty causality.

Eventually the message and point sunk in, and I went for total perception of the Three Characteristics of Everything, including anything that seemed to be panoramic perspectives, awareness, emptiness, luminosity, perspective itself, and every other high or subtle permanence trap, and finally the thing cracked and attention re-synchronized itself in a way that answered the question in a way that couldn't be argued with.

All qualities, all experiences, all phenomena, all sensations are impermanent, empty, causal, and seeing that for anything and everything without exception is what flipped the last switch.

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/13/10 6:23 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel, thank you very much for these very helpful pointers.

"Panoramic perspectives, emptiness in real-time, the intrinsic luminosity of phenomena" pretty much describes what I am running into these days. But my initial fascination with this stuff is starting to fade away, together with the models and teachings that tend to reify awareness.

So, the main point at this stage is to go back to basics (The Three Characteristics), pick up Manjushri's sword and slash whatever stands on the way. I will see how it goes. Thanks again.

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/5/19 7:16 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
[quote=One way or the other, things like working on real issue and getting your life, relationship, money, family, psychology, etc. trips together, as well as exercise, talking with skillful people about it, and just deciding to be happy, dammit, can help, obviously, regardless of the cause.
]
Hi Daniel,

I realise that this post is 9 years old and I am not really expecting a reply. I have been trying to beat depression for a couple of years now, turning to meditation, but still struggling. It was my understanding that one should be dealing with their spiritual contentment first, and work on unattaching from all the earthly needs that you have mentioned. Am I totally off track? Apologies. I live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and have not been able to find a meditation teacher, can you recommend anyone in the area?

Thanks

RE: Dark Night vs. Depression?
Answer
2/5/19 11:14 AM as a reply to Fred.
Dear Fred,

Sorry to hear you are having a hard time.

If you are digging through 9-year-old posts, you are taking the DhO deep dive it seems. That might be both therapeutic and somewhat diagnostic of a deep level of interest in solving this somehow, so that's good.

Yeah, I think you are totally off track, to be honest, but this assessment is based on only your brief post, so I might just be talking out of my head.

Still, the notion that meditation on its own will necessarily fix it all and that you can just neglect other aspects of your life is not recommended. In fact, specifically, there are Three Trainings in Buddhism, designed to support each other, with none to be neglected, and the first one is skillful living in the world in the ordinary sense, Sila. While it is true that great suffering can sometimes motivate great meditation practice, great suffering and basic life dysfunction can also derail our attempts to get our meditation trip together, and, were I to bet, I would bet on those meditators who have other aspects of their psychological health more together than those who don't.

It definitely happens that some can get caught up in a spiritual quest and neglect their lives, as many of us here have done to various degrees, and it rarely goes well.

While it is true, as some above posters mention, that stream entry can help, you will wake up to your actual life in all its ordinary aspects, so you are encouraged to make it a life you would wish to wake up to.

You are also encouraged to work with your depression in the ordinary ways, sane exercise, good diet, sunlight, nature, psychology/psychiatry, service, hanging out with good friend and supportive family, reflecting on gratitude, and perhaps even get a medical workup (thyroid, anemia, B12, etc.). What is your social support like? How specifically is your life going regards jobs, relationships, function, will to live, etc.?

I know of no good teachers in the Amsterdam area, unfortunately, but perhaps some other poster will chime in. There is actually a reasonable possibility that I will be there sometime this late Spring/early Summer touring through, but those plans are still in flux.

Very best wishes,

Daniel