The Depression Conspiracy

Posted on August 8, 2011

An Alternative View of an Epidemic…

by Ram Giri

Over 120 million people suffer from serious depression worldwide. Most of them live in the richest countries in the world, where, one would think, people have less reason to be depressed. What’s going on?

What the statistics don’t tell us is that many of these people are not depressed even though they have the symptoms of depression, possibly all the way to suicidal ideas. They suffer from a completely different experience: disillusionment with the world. They sense, in some vague manner, that what they have counted on to give happiness and meaning to their lives is unable to do so, and will always betray them. Materialistic values are too small for them. They have unmasked them as hopeless, and therefore they have become hopeless.

Far from being an illness, such disillusionment is the root of the aspiration for spiritual emancipation. It is a difficult but necessary phase; it is the Dark Night of the Soul, the ‘eye of the needle,’ through which every spiritual seeker has to go pass. After all ‘dis-illusioned’ means to become free of illusion. In order to live in the next paradigm you first have to be dis-illusioned by the old one.

Most physicians and psychologists are unable to recognize this condition. They are unfamiliar with the spiritual dimension and therefore unable to lead people to an effective spiritual practice, which alone is able to resolve this state. “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” They hit their patients with a label of ‘illness’ and medicate them. This can terminate the beginning of a meaningful transformation and turn it into a very challenging illness. The well-meant effort of the psychologist actually creates the depression because it teaches that a true solution to an existential crisis is unavailable.

When the flame of a higher aspiration is kindled in the heart, dis-illusionment is the dawning of wisdom. It is difficult, essential and precious. It shows us the truth, that all things in this world are fleeting and transient, and that what we have hoped will make us happy and give meaning to our lives can never fulfill us.  It robs us of the illusion that gratifying the ego works.  Everything we have put stake in turns out to be useless.

In the midst of this pain a subtle intellect begins to emerge which is capable of grasping the truth: no amount of temporary pleasures, power, money, sex and experiences can bring us what we really want. And in this critical moment, as we begin to sense how shallow or misguided some aspects of our life have been, we need guidance to a way of life that can make sense to us, that can actually fill our emptiness. But instead we are told that our brains aren’t functioning and that the only hope for us is to take pills to become compliant once more.  And if we submit, we are again locked in the old paradigm of despair, the jail in our head.

But those in whom the spiritual flame has been kindled more strongly will be able to break this unintended conspiracy.  They recognize that this world is filled with sorrows and does not keep what it appears to promise. They will not submit, but out of hopelessness their hearts will become alive.  They may turn to the examples of those who have traveled the path to spiritual emancipation before us.  They will seek a liberation that is indestructible. They will seek the bliss of the Self.

Going through the symptoms of disillusionment is not a distraction on this path. It is the path. The journey goes through this crisis to freedom, and as we get dis-illusioned many times we come to experience progressively higher states of grace.

The great scripture of India, the Yoga Vasistha, begins with the aspirant brooding over the vanity of all things.  He is tormented by worries and anxieties. He is dejected and has become very thin.  He is indifferent to sense pleasures.  The whole world has become painful to him and he contemplates ending his life.  Many pages describe the multiple aspects of disillusionment, how the world of the senses is unfulfilling and empty.  A paradigm shift is desperately needed.  In the end of this chapter the sages, who see the true and positive significance of this state of mind, praise him:

“He alone is called a ‘human’ who has the light of spiritual aspiration burning in his heart. Others are not fit to be called ‘human.’  They are nothing but animals revolving in the wheel of birth and death, driven by attachment, infatuation, and ignorance… They are blessed who aspire to realize the essential Self through their existence in this world of illusory objects and perishable pleasures.”

If you feel down, hopeless, or disoriented, and if you identify with what I am saying in some way, you most likely do not suffer from depression but are in the midst of disillusionment.  This is the development of a new state of mind that carries in it vast promise.  It is the first step to true freedom and the profound happiness of enlightenment.  Congratulations to you!

The most important first step is to realize the difference between disillusionment and depression.  Cease to think of yourself as ill, but realize you are in a positive process of spiritual awakening. Next begin to seek out the most effective ways you can further this awakening.  Be sure you look for more than fleeting comfort, but rather define the ultimate, timeless goal you seek, such as liberation from suffering, unconditional love, peace, Self-realization, etc.  Then let your entire being strive for that goal.

In this context, whatever spiritual path attracts you deeply, that is the one for you. I have my personal bias here: I feel the Skills for Awakening are particularly capable of dissolving suffering at the root and enable you to move into a new paradigm of being: freedom.  But more than recommend one path over another, I trust that the awakening consciousness in your heart will guide your way perfectly.

~ You are the architect of your destiny ~

Everyone knows someone who is down or depressed.  Why don’t you share this article with them?  You’ll never know, you might save a life.

with love and gratitude,

Ram Giri

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18 Responses to “The Depression Conspiracy”

  1. John Irvin
    Aug 09, 2011

    Thank you Ram Giri for you wonderful words. I love life. Ask and it shall be given to you. Your article was perfect and answered a question that I had. You’re a beautiful soul. Thank you.


  2. wendy bryan
    Aug 09, 2011

    this really speaks to me on all levels. So nice to read this and identify. Sometimes I cannot always find a common spiritual traveler because my thoughts feel so alternative. This view I love. When I do find it, I want to absorb into my soul. Read it everyday. Thank you for writing this and sharing it.
    wendy


  3. Sol
    Aug 09, 2011

    Ram Giri, thanks for giving us this words, in a so clear language. I enjoy them every time.
    See u soon. Love.


  4. Kathy Doner
    Aug 09, 2011

    Thank you Ram Giri for reminding me of what you taught so long ago at a workshop! At that time the concept was very theoretical.
    This last year everything stable and dependable seemed to dissolve as a 15 year relationship abruptly ended. Depression, anger, confusion and jealousy reigned! I could have taken medication and covered the wound with a band-aid but it would have festered underneath. Instead I remembered and experienced the “dark night” with the deep faith that it would be transformative. And it has been. I now deeply know what is dependable (love from my Higher Power) and who I can rely on– my Higher Self.
    I’m coming out of the gloomy dripping forest now onto a bright alpine meadow — new, fresh and bold.
    May we all have this connection and trust that the challenges have a purpose.
    Love–Kathy


  5. Ram Giri
    Aug 09, 2011

    The challenges ARE the love of the universe/God manifesting for us, because they only have one purpose, which is to bring us to enlightenment. THIS is the world of God.
    (Curiously I am sending you this from a village high in the Austrian Alps surrounded by these bright meadows…)
    Love, RG


  6. Debra London
    Aug 09, 2011

    Ramgiri,
    I want to raise two points here. I take issue with the use of the word “conspiracy” meaning two or more people plotting to do harm to others for their own gain. I can’t find how or where people are conspiring against spirit or Inquiry and I see depression as a gift and something to treat with whatever tools we have. I can’t find it in all my years of psychiatric practice (which has included an awareness of spirit so that I would be one of the “good guys”) that any of my professional colleagues would intentionally conspire to use their helping of others to shut off their patients/clients “spiritual” growth. People share what they know with good intentions and they can only share what they understand. Also, to say that using medications is incombatible with spiritual growth is not consistent with my experience. Some peoples depression needs meds before they can even begin to do any kind of Inquiry. To conflate all depression with disillusionment is ignoring many aspects of our existence like science and everything we know about the biologically real aspect of depression. We need Inquiry, yes and we might as well use everything is this amazing world to help us. Thank you for allowing me to share these points with you. oxoxo Debra


  7. Colleen Loehr
    Aug 09, 2011

    EXCELLENT article! Thank you! In my work as a psychiatrist I have seen what you describe in this article so many times- disillusionment is misdiagnosed as depression. There is a brief post I wrote called “Is Happiness a Disease?” that also touches on this. Thank you again. I will print, email, and share on Facebook this relevant and insightful article.
    http://emersonandtolle.blogspot.com/2010/10/is-happiness-disease.html


  8. Diana Mars
    Aug 09, 2011

    I am once again amazed. I just finished reading this section of the Vasisthista with tears in my eyes as it described basically my entire life. Then here you come talking & expanding on this very subject. I feel like all my intense struggle & unhappiness is being validated as a tangible, worthy path. Thank you for your words & for leading me to Vedanta & the Skills. . . . .
    The Alps sound wonderful!!
    Love, Diana


  9. ramgiri
    Aug 10, 2011

    Hello Debra,
    I fully agree with all your points. Judging from my limited experience, as a spiritually aware psychiatrist you are unfortunately an exception in your profession.
    I mean to refer here to a ‘conspiracy’ of ignorance, of blindness. Those caught in this ignorance, spawned by the materialistic view, cannot recognize the Dark Night of the Soul for what it is and therefore cannot treat it appropriately. This is certainly mostly unintentional. Medications can be a great blessing when needed, and as you know there is a tremendous incentive for psychiatrists to continue to (a) pathologize their patients (the whole system is geared for that) and (b) simply to medicate them. We’re all aware of the gargantuan efforts of the pharmacological industry to sell their products (at least here in the US). Some critics have argued that now new diseases are being invented to feed this profit machine. Here is where the word ‘conspiracy’ is quite appropriate, I think. I know of too many of your colleagues who find it convenient and profitable to medicate their patients and then see them for a 6 minute med check (for which they bill a full hour’s charge). This is what I have observed over many years in the US and I hope the situation is different in England. In any case, I have no conflict with the views you expressed. With love, Ram Giri.


  10. ramgiri
    Aug 10, 2011

    Hi Colleen,
    I loved hearing from you. To your article: very well said! The addiction of the mind to distraction is one of the most virulent demons in the spiritual psychology of Vedanta. If we just had a pill for that…
    Keep in touch,
    Ram Giri


  11. Sarah
    Aug 10, 2011

    HI Rami and hi to Debra,

    The question has arisen as to the identity of the conspiracy. I would identify the conspiracy as materialistic, drug led, and money orientated. Sould go to the doctor with symptoms of depression, automatic response is still : try these pills. Taking pills masks the symptoms and lines the pockets of those selling the drugs. It is perhaps a cynical way of looking at things but I think its true for the most part. Doctors of medicine do not have the time to look beyond the symptoms, to see depression as perhaps something greater than what is exhibited. Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion. Your articile was very good. thank you


  12. lorrie
    Aug 11, 2011

    You first must be awake, to your self in order to Be


  13. Nancy
    Aug 13, 2011

    Hi and thank you for this article! So amazing to have someone’s words resonate with my experience (personally and professionally)… I’m (still) in my own Dark Night of the Soul, and am amazed how, just when I think I’ve “hit the bottom” yet another floor cracks under my feet and I’m dropped “down” another layer. So far, I’m just crying as much as I need to, and trusting the ‘rabbit hole’ so to speak.
    So, can I add my 2 cents on the professional side?… as a therapist in private practice, in addition to seeing what you’re talking about in the field (the automatic assumption of pathology and symptoms, and treating this with meds, etc.), I also see that the essential sorrow (and/or grief?) gets missed at best, and further confused as symptoms as well.
    For me, I never use the word “depression” in my practice, (and even before my Dark Night started, not much… never seemed right somehow)… instead, I’ll talk about what you’ve written about (not nearly as articulately though! ;) … or, if the client is less spiritually open or inclined, I’ll use the language of grief/loss/sorrow to start the process of inquiry into the depths (sometimes quite sneakily I think!). Even if this initiating “layer” doesn’t drop them into the path (or they turn and run!), at least they have (hopefully) more of an acceptance (maybe even embracing) of their essential sorrow.
    Another humble opinion is that I’m not sure how a mental health clinician would really be able to recognize these states of affect/being as opportunity into spiritual awakening WITHOUT having gone through at least a “Dark Evening of the Soul”!
    Thanks for letting me chime in,
    and xoxoxo
    Nancy


  14. Rosemary Ravinal
    Aug 16, 2011

    Ram Giri,
    I saved your article until today, wanting to read it with full attention. Thank you for putting into words what I have been living—40 years of depression, treated with various psychofarmaceutical drugs, some badly addictive, all ineffective. Your words: “When the flame of a higher aspiration is kindled in the heart, disillusionment is the dawning of wisdom,” are my affirmation as I enter a new phase of life as a single woman by choice. Please continue lighting our way.


  15. Ram Giri
    Aug 17, 2011

    Hi Nancy, thank you for your comments and feedback.
    There are now, luckily, many therapists who are open to the spiritual dimension. This is essential, because the profession has really taken over the function priests used to have in our society.
    There are many ways to guide someone toward their freedom without ever using the world ‘spiritual.’ I offer you the Skills for Awakening in the hope these amazing gifts will help you as much as they have helped me! To move out of the Dark Night, we must just know that we are moving in the right direction. Then the eventual release is inevitable. Meanwhile, please know that the deeper you go, the deeper you become.
    Here is a comment I just wrote to a group of my clients:
    “Once we have the aspiration for freedom, any ‘problem’ we have is the doorway to its opposite and from there to enlightenment. So if suicidal depression (or rather dis-illusionment) is destined to take us to a great and abounding love of life (my experience), then what problems are there, really? Aside from believing our thoughts that tell us the opposite, we are being led with complete certainty and inevitability to the bliss and wisdom of the Self.”
    I know with unshakable certainty that this experience of the Dark Night is the most profound blessing. Enlightenment is most precious because it doesn’t come easy. In the depth of my own journey, I kept remembering the saying “It’s darkest just before sunrise.” I wish you patience and strength – which is exactly waht you are getting.
    With love
    Ram Giri


  16. Bob
    Aug 19, 2011

    Exceptionally interesting, powerful and enlightening.
    Would be really helpful if you could publish a ‘dumbed down’ version for people who don’t own a thesaurus.
    I am English but had to read it numerous times to make sense of it
    Many thanks for this article :)


  17. Nicola
    Jul 04, 2013

    Hi, phew.. thank you for this new flood of light into my life. I have lived through depression a few years ago from a different level of consciousness, unaware of what was happening to me and I awoke to a new dimension of being, a new understanding of life. I came off Prozac after 6 years and experienced hypnotherapy and NLP which for me opened up a new colourful world full of endless possibilities.
    I had a burning desire to run/jog and I have ran for the last two years most days ever since. Which lifted my mood, made me fitter and gave me back some self belief. I have since studied NLP and I am soon to start an Hypnotherapy course. However I am doing depression again, although it is from a different view point. I am detaching from my ego and it is painful, but after reading your post I can take a breath of fresh air and invite another new consciousness into my life and stop searching for something to replace the void which was once filled with things that seem so unimportant now.
    Thank you to Rami Giri and everyones stories. It is comforting to know I’m not alone and it reminds me that there is purpose for the nothingness which will be revealed in time…Sending love Nicola x


  18. Administrator
    Jul 04, 2013

    Dear Nicola, The emptiness is the other side of the coin to a fullness that is absolute and does never wane. It is the fullness of the Heart that is always present underneath the mind’s grasping for fulfillment in the world of outer things. Outer things come and go, they are never stable and they can never fulfill us. But in the Heart there is a fullness that is timeless. It is the natural state of the soul. Seek that. It is the hidden purpose of your depression. In that the depression is a gift. Wrapped in terrible gift wrap it contains the pearl beyond price. Take off the gift wrap and enjoy the pearl! (You can find more at skillsforawakening.com). Much love
    Ram Giri



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