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Dealing with the Dark Night

What is the difference between dark night and depression?

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Can anyone explain the difference succintly?

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/15/16 3:29 PM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
I feel qualified to answer this question! emoticon  I've been diagnosed bipolar for eight years and framed my practice through the nana model, under the guidance of a teacher, for two.

First off, many valid sources consider the 'dark night' to be different from the 'dukkha nanas,' in that the former is something much more major and lasting longer.  For instance, Shinzen Young considers the dark night to be one-and-the-same with a major dissociative episode brought on by meditation practice (which can last for months or years).  In contrast, the dukkha nanas are temporary states of mind that one cycles through within the course of a day, or over a couple days.  While a given nana can be one's cutting edge for years, one is not always in it, during those years.

To answer your question, there is not currently a discernable difference, for me, between the dukkha nanas and depression.  Both became much easier to deal with after  4 path shifts.  The only obvious difference is that I did not cross the a&p until age 19, and did not start paying attention to cycles until age 21, but have been experiencing depression since age 13.  So whatever I experienced before the first a&p was depression and not dukkha nanas.  The other major difference is that when you are practicing intensely, the concentration frames the entry into the dukkha nanas such that they are experienced in a much more vibratory and trippy manner than in normal depression.

P.s.- There is also no obvious difference for me, between a&p and mania, or between eq & hypo-mania.  Just sayin...

P.s. 2- A major depressive episode would theoretically be presen across all the nanas because it lasts for weeks and months.  My bipolar is such that I experience lots of mini ups and downs, which is why they are not obviously discernible from the nanas.

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/15/16 5:31 PM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
I don't think anyone can explain the difference as succinctly as you'd like. However, as you probably know, the term "dark night" originates with St. John of the Cross. In Fr. Dubay's book Fire Within, you can find an analysis of the difference between the dark night and ordinary depression, based on the writings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/15/16 11:40 PM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
Rick O'Shez:
What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Can anyone explain the difference succintly?

Perhaps you could define the terms you wish for someone to differentiate?
  1. What do you mean by Dark Night?
  2. What do you mean by Depression?
  3. What is your context? Do you have one? Both? Neither?
MCTB 5. Dissolution, Entrance to the Dark Night
DSM IV Major Depressive Episode
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/depression

~D

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/19/16 12:20 AM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
That's something I'd like to know too. Is depression even recognised in buddhism - the buddhism of the original scriptures and teachings that is ?

There are a ton of things that can cause depression ranging from brain tumors to head injuries to infections etc. - things that aren't immediately obvious.
I would have thought it sensible to check stuff like that before assuming it's just a matter of doing more diligent practice. Otherwise people could be diligently practicing themselves to death on their tumours and syndromes.

Also orgasm can be followed by depression and mood swings - and just about everybody is an orgasm addict, including hip young buddhists. So they say.

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/19/16 3:34 AM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
My experience is that depression is due to thought activity and the resulting heavy and constricted sense in the body.

Dark night of the soul is when there is the transcendent realization/revelation that the world that was taken to be real is nothing, doesn't exist as a world. There is desperation about this state of affairs and this desperation is the accumulated conditioned energy of the separate self that is being burned away. All that being nothing too.

That's the way I see these anyway. Speaking from direct experience, although that is now a mere memory and not the actuality. Suchness is beyond the despairing mind.

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/20/16 2:48 AM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
A physician or therapist would probably be interested mostly in the frequency, duration and intensity of the episodes, and focus on how to prevent those from happening.

From the practice point of view, it is all about the difference between dukkha and dukkha ñana. Betwen suffering and the knowledge of fundamental suffering/dissatisfaction. Being depressed, anxious or angry is one thing. Being mindfully aware of the shitty side of experience in real time, another. The dukkha ñanas are about knowing the inescapable dissatisfactoriness of every sensation in real time.

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/20/16 11:29 AM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
A whole lot of people have wondered about this, and in fact I asked the identical question when I was working to get first path. I found that each individual nyana had its distinct flavor, and paying close attention helped me get oriented. I crossed the A&P when I was 19, but suffered from depression and anxiety beginning at around 13 (like Noah), and continued to have difficulties with my mental health thereafter. I did a lot of therapy and worked with a number of different meds, chasing after balance. It was only when I discovered pragmatic dharma at age 57 that I addressed the dark night stuff, and recognized the value of awakening. Getting there was no picnic, I'm afraid. The term "dark night" is dicey, as others have said, but my description would rest on the point that highly unpleasant mind states occur when the yogi gains clear, direct insight into the three characteristics while identification with the ego is still strong. The net effect is that the threat to ego identity brings on suffering. 

I suppose the Buddha might have seen all of these things simply as dukkha, since there were no therapists or SSRIs back in the day. 

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/20/16 11:31 PM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
As a long term practitioner of this system of pragmatic buddhism  (eight plus years) having achieved 2nd path and been blessed with the sweetest, sexyest, bliss filled, Kundalini awakening (on going these past 5months)......and.....as a sufferer of schizoaffective dissorder and chronic depression, for which i was placed in permanent retirement some 27 years ago......let me say......

I emphatically endorse every single word of Laurels post.  She expresses what i feel totally, completely and utterly.

Love your wisdom Laurel.....Blessings Dear Lady

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/21/16 6:40 AM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
There occassionally are periods of good concentration and clarity, brain works fast. I think people who are on that spectrum look others who have "long wires" declare as something wrong and deserve to be lifted up to their spectrum in order to be named healthy.

I vote that while having a dark nights its healthy to avoid driving a car with high speeds.

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/21/16 12:40 PM as a reply to Stuie Law.
Thank you kindly, Stuie, and blessings right back at you! emoticon

RE: What is the difference between dark night and depression?
Answer
6/29/16 11:47 PM as a reply to Rick O'Shez.
Dark nights because of dark nights ?
Low levels of vit D are associated with depression. Anyone in northern latitudes is likely to be low or deficient in vit D after winter, especially with dark skin.

https://www.foundmyfitness.com/news/t/depression

There are likely other effects of months of low light.

Did anyone notice seasonal effects ? Don't the places in Asia where people go for retreats have long days ?