Is depression always an illness? A Buddhist view of Robin Williams’ passing

The death this week of Robin Williams has put depression back in the headlines. The media coverage is welcome because by talking openly about mental health challenges we can create some good from a desperately tragic suicide. The rhetoric around a previously taboo topic has been changing rapidly in recent years, thanks in part to the courageous candour of celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alastair Campbell, Leon McKenzie, Graeme Fowler, Ruby Wax and of course, Robin Williams himself.

Robin_WilliamsAs a result, the ‘pull yourself together’ school of encouragement has mostly disappeared into the shadows, along with the ‘stiff upper lip’ brigade. Even the ‘what did he have to be depressed about?’ gang have been mercifully quiet. This more open and enlightened mindset now views depression as a recognised illness, which, like cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure, needs proper treatment.

But as I chant about Robin Williams’ suicide, I find myself wondering if ‘illness’ is always the most useful way to look at clinical depression. I ask myself whether Nichiren Buddhism, with its rich insights into the workings of the human mind, can bring a different perspective to the topic. And I think the answers are No and Yes. Let me explain…

Some of you may recall that I have written about my own 18 month experience of deep depression on this blog. For most of that time, I felt lethargic, panicky, fragile, tearful, desperate and bleak, despite the many wonderful people and things in my life. And I also remember one bright, sunny day driving down a motorway thinking that if my front tyre had a blow-out and I hit the next bridge at 80 mph, that warm black void would be easier than facing another moment alive.

And yet, I never really found myself labelling my condition as an ‘illness’. In fact as I continued to chant (and despite any visible signs of progress) my faith was always saying to me, often in just the faintest of whispers:This is not an illness to be cured. This is you tackling your illusions about life. This is not a condition to be coped with, this is a crucible in which to forge a stronger and wiser you. This is not a failure, this is you doing your human revolution.” So, how would I summarise the massive difference that chanting daimoku can make to depression? Two little words: Clarity and Hope.

Based solely on my own experience (and without knowing what Robin Williams was actually feeling when he took his life), depression is not an illness that kills people. It is despair about depression that kills people. It is the illusion that the depression will never end that drives someone to commit suicide. Therefore the most powerful gifts we can give to a depressed person are not always Prozac and Elavil (though they may be helpful in the short or long term…), they are insight and hope. Delivered on a bed of warm encouragement. And fired by determined faith.

Daisaku Ikeda explains: “Hope transforms pessimism into optimism. Hope is invincible. Hope changes everything. It changes winter into summer, darkness into dawn, descent into ascent, barrenness into creativity, agony into joy. Hope is the sun. It is light. It is passion. It is the fundamental force for life’s blossoming. Hope is a decision you make. Hope is a flame we nurture in our hearts that must be fanned by our determination.”

These are not just comforting words meant to help you feel better. This is encouragement with deep roots in a Buddhist theory that stretches the boundaries of currently accepted psychological models. The principle I am referring to is known as the “mutual possession of the ten worlds.” Briefly, this theory explains that our apparently separate moods (or ‘life-states’) ‘contain’ all the others. Let’s take a mundane example. You felt angry and frustrated in a traffic jam this morning. You feel upbeat and cheerful two hours later, surrounded by your lovely colleagues at work. So, where exactly has your anger gone? It can’t have left your mind or disappeared into the ether, in fact with the right provocation it could come roaring back out of you in an instant. It’s just in a latent state whereas during the traffic jam it was in a manifest state. Now you see it, now you don’t.

It is the same with hope and clarity. Even in the depths of depression, they are in there somewhere. They have to be. This is how life works. When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, we bring them to the surface.

Hope

 

Which means that instead of saying “I’m depressed” or “I’m suffering from depression”, it can be much healthier to look in the mirror and say: “This great Buddha is feeling depressed today,” or “I am experiencing depression.” And then chant for hope and clarity to emerge as surely as a lotus flower from a muddy pond. Chant also for wisdom, so that you can find the best professional help if that is the best route for you.

As Nichiren optimistically declared: “All of the people of the ten worlds can attain Buddhahood. We can comprehend this when we remember that fire can be produced by a stone taken from the bottom of a river, and a candle can light up a place that has been dark for billions of years.”

It is natural to feel despair when a brilliant, talented and inspirational figure such as Robin Williams commits suicide. But as great Buddhas let’s determine from this tragedy to teach more people about Nam Myoho Renge Kyo so that they can tap into a reservoir of clarity and hope strong enough to defeat any obstacle.

Love and Light

Dx

PS. There has been a big reaction to this post on Facebook, most of it incredibly positive. But I want to clarify a couple of things for a few people who have misinterpreted what I was trying to say. First, I am not a mental health expert and I am sharing here a PERSONAL experience of chanting and depression, not ‘THE’ Buddhist view of it. Second, I am asking questions, not claiming to give authoritative answers. Third, I PERSONALLY did not see my depression as an illness (this was not a conscious choice, by the way, it’s just how I felt…), and based on daimoku I feel that was the right attitude for me at the time. But it is not right for everyone. And if I get depression again one day, I may absolutely need to see it as illness for my human revolution at that point. Fourth, if I thought taking medication would be the wisest course of action in that situation, I would do it. Fifth, chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is very powerful and I have known of cases where people with mental health difficulties have been given strong guidance NOT to chant, or to chant very little.

42 Replies to “Is depression always an illness? A Buddhist view of Robin Williams’ passing”

  1. Brian Takashima says:

    Sensei mentions that there are illnesses of the body, the mind and the spirit, but to always maintain hope, for hope is the starting point for being able to move forward. With Nam-myoho-renge-kyo anyone can win!

  2. Sg says:

    I have heard from robins wife that Robin was in the first stages of Parkinson disease. I belive that he had a strong inner belief he was not going to go thru with life like this. I, like him have a dark negative side that speaks to me constantly. I can’t shut him up! Chanting works so seldom that I can’t rely on it. Neither can I rely on members to live up to their so called Buddhist responsibility to help someone in need. Lets be realistic. Members are humans posing as Buddhists. Where really is anyone to go for relief? Sleeping pills, heroin, alcohol, yes suicide. If you don’t think you’re worthy no will. I agree with robin. Shut your mind up the best way you know how. Chanting does NOT work for everyone. It’s not magic. Who do you know who has “changed their karma”.

    1. Hi Sg, yes I have just heard the same re Parkinson’s. I, like you (and everyone else) have a dark and negative side. I also agree that chanting doesn’t work for everyone. And that it is not magic. To answer your question I know loads of people who have changed their karma, transforming it into a powerful mission for Kosen Rufu. I hope you will keep going with chanting and get the support you need. All best, David

  3. Preeti Batra says:

    Hi David,you have explained this beautifully as when one is depressed one only needs hope and faith to get out from any situation as all the ten worlds exists in us and at any given point we are in one state or another. We have seen so many people changing their karmas in our district.

    1. Hey Preeti, that’s really good news about people changing karma in your district, you must be supporting each other very warmly and this is truly Kosen Rufu in action… well done D 🙂

  4. Suzanne says:

    I disagree that chanting doesn’t work for everyone. Chanting Nam myoho renge kyo not only works for everyone, it is often the ONLY thing that works. It is not an overnight easy fix, however. Faith is what will cure any illness, and I am speaking of illness in the broadest sense. Faith is composed of practice and study. Nichiren never says, for instance, that if you chant one hour your illness will disappear overnight. David’s personal experience is both inspiring and convincing. His breakthrough in his depression came after constant courageous challenge to his darker side.

    We ALL, each of us, have this darker side, which manifests in different ways in each person. Some have a tendency to depression, others perhaps to inertia or arrogance. The list is endless. By challenging this darker side through our practice of daily chanting and sharing Buddhism with others, we grow, become happy, and solidify our Buddhahood. As a matter of fact, unless we have this darker side to challenge, we CANNOT manifest Buddhahood.

    1. Wow, powerful stuff there Suzanne, I am in awe of your strong faith, thank you for this :-). The only caveat I would add to what you say however, is that in some situations people with mental health challenges are given strong guidance not to chant, or just to chant a little and in that sense I am not sure we can claim that faith will ‘cure’ any illness. Your comment re our ‘darker side’ reminds of Linda Johnson’s famous guidance: “All life at every moment inherently contains two opposing forces or functions. A bright, enlightened, confident, powerful side and a delusional, negative, dark side. These are the two powers in life. No human being is missing either one. This is the nature of life. It will never change. There is no enlightenment in Buddhism that is not the by-product of facing adversity head-on, walking through it and transforming it into something of greatness.”
      I found this so helpful when I was depressed. Thank you again, David

  5. David says:

    Thank you for this post, David.

    I would never judge anyone who commits suicide to have failed in life – as Nichiren tells us, it is impossible to fathom anyone else’s karma.

    I too, have struggled deeply with bipolar depression – my experience has included hospitalisation and many treatments of electroconvulsive therapy. I have been practising for 24 years and at times wondered if my practice is making any difference at all. But over time, I have also come to feel strongly that without my practice, I would probably not still be alive. And slowly, painfully slowly, and though I have all too often felt like one of the world’s eternal basket cases and and a complete failure, I feel I may be uncovering my mission. I have had much support from fellow members too, though I know that is not always the case for everyone.

    I see you have reviewed Clark Strand’s book Waking the Buddha on this site. I stumbled across it a few days ago and was reading about the casserole ladies of the SGI which reminded me of the casserole ladies of SGI Cape Town who have definitely been lifesavers for me at times.

    http://wakingthebuddha.org/spiritualbut-not-shallow-or-how-the-nones-are-coming-of-age/

    The thought that chanting does not help everyone I find deeply dismaying. It does not always seem to help me. But usually it does.

    I really wish you all the best, Sg.

    1. Dear David, thank you for reaching out so sincerely to encourage Sg. I have been overwhelmed today by the number of people opening their hearts today on this site and on my FB page to share their experience of mental illness. You are a star. All best, DH.

  6. David says:

    In its acute forms, I think it is always an illness, though, David. It is certainly one that comes with a great many physical symptoms as well. I am not sure it is always possible to distinguish between an illness of despair, and despair itself. Though I agree that the hope that it will end can make it difference to how one endures it.

  7. Hi David…thanks for your article. Didn’t know if you saw this 2007 article from the SGI Quarterly?
    The Search for Meaning: Creative Responses to Depressionhttp://www.sgiquarterly.org/feature2007Oct-1.html

  8. Vittoria says:

    I am in avery difficult time of my life and your words have centred deeply inside my heart. They are incredible true. In our today’s society we need to highlight what you have stated, people tend to escape and stay distant once they feel or hear someone is in despair. Like if depression, despair, hardship, struggle are a kind of transmittable disease. Nichiren Buddhism has always been my anchor, it is an amazing practice but not all the members use this opportunity, I believe we need to spread experiences and/or words like these.
    I will print out this article and make sure I can spread it as much as I can. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Vittoria and I am happy to hear you found this article useful. All best, David

  9. Nick Pearce says:

    Thanks for this David. I recently read a book called Human Givens that I felt was very aligned to Buddhist thinking about how we function as human beings. It had a fairly lengthy section on depression and its treatment and was very forthright about the damage that is done by some of the mainstream medical and therapeutic approaches that consider depression to be a chronic illness. It gave anecdotal examples of how Human Givens therapeutic approaches had relieved long suffering patients in the course of one or two sessions and I would say that imparting hope and clarity where key components. I mention this to introduce and hopefully address Sg’s comments whose words I found very poignant.
    I suppose the first thing to say is that in my experience, the moments of darkest despair can make it seemingly impossible to chant at all. It is the fundamental battle between our darkness and our Buddha and there are times when, despite our best efforts, the darkness is winning. It is at these moments that we can often convince ourselves that chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is pointless because it doesn’t work anyway. I have done this many times even after years of practice and with very many concrete examples of its efficacy!
    Further, it is at these moments that our minds start to frame the practice in terms of magic. It feels that only a miracle could resolve our issues and, as we don’t believe in magic, there can be no solution.
    Ultimately it is our faith in Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and our Buddha nature that determines whether chanting will ‘work’ or help us overcome our negativity. To say that chanting does not work for everyone is to say that not everyone is able manifest faith in NMRK at any given moment.
    Whilst this could be said about almost any system of belief, (someone once said that if everyone could agree to crochet for peace then it would probably succeed!), the wonderful thing about Nichiren Buddhism is that faith equals practice. To chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, even when it doesn’t feel like it is helping, is to manifest faith and tap into your Buddha state.
    This of course loops back to my previous point that there are times when things are just too dark, where you are just too exhausted, defeated to even utter the words. This is when you need support and encouragement. It is unfortunate but not surprising, Sg, that you may feel let down by fellow members, I have too at times but again it is a question of framing if you like. To say, ‘Members are humans posing as Buddhists’ is to fundamentally misunderstand the practice. ‘The purpose of the appearance in this world of Shakyamuni Buddha lies in his behaviour as a human being.’ To be a Buddhist or even a Buddha is to be a human struggling to overcome their negative karma.

    Rather than see your fellow members as a sham for not being able to give the support you need, better to see them as all at different points in their own struggle. At any given point some will be riding high, shining with optimism and brimming with confidence whilst others may be deadlocked and feeling they are getting nowhere. Everyone else will be somewhere between those two points and WE ALL move up and down this axis all of the time, (the ten worlds). We are all human. In my experience I can see that the times when I felt unsupported and isolated where when I stopped reaching out to others or asking for support. If someone is unable to support you in your practice at that time someone else in your district, chapter, HQ will – I promise.
    Then again, and particularly with regard to depression, reaching out to others and asking for support is hardest when you need it most…
    It has taken me a ridiculous number of years to realise that changing my karma isn’t about arriving at some heavenly place devoid of problems and negativity but rather it is about establishing and maintaining a life condition where I can challenge my/our problems with optimism and determination, (sometimes cheerfully sometimes not… ), and feel gratitude for the opportunity to be the best me I can be.
    It really is a lot like I would imagine surfing to be! What’s taken me time is learning to accept the wipe outs and getting back on the board.

    1. Nick,
      thank you for this brilliant comment which I found very sincere and insightful. I hope Sg finds your warm encouragement useful.
      What is the name of the Human Givens book you recently read? It sounds great.
      Cheers,
      David

  10. Bernie Holland says:

    As usual David, you have created an interesting article about one of the pressing issues of our times. I have been supporting a friend (not a member of SGI) who has bi-polar disorder. I have ‘introduced’ him to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism and even taken him to a couple of discussion meetings as well as a Mental Health Forum conducted by Eddie Canfor Dumas. My friend has gleaned value from these experiences but still has a long way to go – but there again, don’t we all ! Having read this thread, I would like to offer an observation. When some people are in the desperate throes of suffering it is sometimes the case that others, high on life, really have no idea whatsoever of the pain, anxiety and anguish that is involved here. In situations such as this, I feel that it is unwise to proclaim that invocation of the daimoku always works for everyone. I know of people who have tried this and not arrived at the desired outcome, particularly in the case of chronic or terminal conditions. Furthermore, I don’t regard such ‘gung-ho’ behaviour as a true measure of faith and I say this because I too have, on more than one occasion over the last 30 years of my practice, allowed myself to become intoxicated in this way. However, I can look back on this with some amusement as it had all been predicted in the Sutra! The real perspective here, is that of the eternity of life. Even if someone has tried Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and come to their conclusion, deluded as it may be, that it is a futile endeavour, the truth here is that the seed of the Mystic Law has already been planted in their life. Therefore, even if they don’t practise, it remains that through our own sincere daimoku we can contribute towards the transformation of their negative karma.

    1. Dear Bernie,
      thank you for those kind words. I agree with everything you have said there, spot on as usual! I have also been to one of Eddy’s excellent meetings and am planning to go again in October.
      D 🙂

  11. annss McClain says:

    I am also a member of sgi n battle with my human revolution n my depression i would like to thank you for this new insight for we can be our own worst enemies but if it were not for ur insight i would not have a smile today thank u from las Vegas sgi blue diamond district

    1. Hey, that is so lovely to read and you have likewise put a smile on my face 🙂

  12. Rita says:

    I feel the problem is that when you are depressed you are feeling hopeless and have no faith. For sure chanting will lift you up, as it is the manifestation and affirmation of hope, but how to bring a depressed person from one mental state to the other if they don’t have the practice and a seed of faith?

    1. Bernie Holland says:

      Thank you Rita for presenting us with a really challenging question. I agree that it does appear impossible to help someone who doesn’t even have the seed of faith. Burton Watson has completed a translation of ‘The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings’ and on page 44 he discusses ‘Simile & Parable’. The passage reads: “The wind that is our breath, when it blows, comes out in the form of words. It is Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” .

      Many times, wherever I have been, I have been amazed by the way that plants can grow in the most apparently inhospitable conditions. How has this come about? It has come about by the scattering of seeds, either by creatures of flight, or by the wind itself. So when we are chanting daimoku, by the power of the wind of our breath, we are scattering seeds of enlightenment. By enlightenment here, I mean the lifting of a heavy burden – or ‘lightening the load’ as you could say. People suffering from depression can often teach us all a lesson or two about courage for they are like the plants I mentioned before, which are growing in inhospitable conditions – in situations where people patronise them, or just don’t make the effort to listen to what they have to say. Too often it is the case where people, instead of listening attentively to what the other person has to say, are already formulating their next decree! And I am not fearful of saying that I have witnessed this on occasions at SGI Discussion Meetings!

  13. No prayer goes unanswered! I know many members PERSONALLY that have changed their Karma; this includes overcoming cancer, paralysis, flesh eating bacteria and yes, even depression, including PTSD. This also includes my own Human Revolution and my own health challenges. I have definitely seen many people change dramatically as their practice continued and study evolved so that faith could be expressed as benefit in their lives.

    Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo definitely works! You do not need to have faith or belief for it to work, Faith in True Buddhism is expectation! At first you have no reason to have faith but as you chant and see the results then faith comes as a matter of this practice as you continue until every prayer is answered. In my own experience many prayers were answered over time and then an overwhelming number of prayers were answered in a single day. This was the beginning of faith for me.

    When we chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo even the inanimate objects in our world rise to the world of Buddhahood. What is unique about the Lotus Sutra (expressed through the Gohonzon) is that the ten worlds contain each other. Even the worst person with the gravest sins who hears of this teaching will definitely attain Buddhahood.

    “Since the Law is wonderful, the person is worthy of respect; since the person is worthy of respect, the land is sacred.” (WND, 1097)

    For those living with depression, remember that everything changes; nothing remains the same but constantly evolves from moment to moment. It is an illusion to think that your situation will not ever change. Your life will change.

    “Life is the most precious of all treasures. Even one extra day of life is worth more than ten million ryo of gold. The Lotus Sutra surpasses all other sacred teachings of the Buddha’s lifetime because of the ‘Life Span’ chapter. The greatest prince in the land of Jambudvipa would be of less consequence than a blade of grass if he died in childhood. If he died young, even a person whose wisdom shone as brilliantly as the sun would be less than a living dog. So you must hasten to accumulate the treasure of faith and quickly conquer your illness.” (WND, 955)

    Never give up!

    9WND, 955

    1. Lovely words Bruce, thank you. D 🙂

  14. Christine says:

    Thank you David, always perspicacious and I agree that we have to deal with the illusions of life. As I described to you last year, I believe (through experience) that depression is but a ‘spiritual training ground’ which reveals to us how we can transform ourselves (i.e. change our bad habits and our despair) through the help of The Holy Spirit of God (Trinity) and constant prayer, the Liturgy of The Word, Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I still have many bad habits (habit forming) but I do also need co-operation from others, rather than antagonism. Robin Williams’ death is a tragedy for someone who gave so much of himself and no doubt helped people with the negative side of depression. How sad that others were not able to raise his spirits and give him hope. A tragedy.

    1. Hi Christine
      great to hear that your faith and practice have also proved powerful and yes, it could have been different for Robin W if someone had given him hope. Take care, Dxxx

    2. Bernie Holland says:

      I appreciate your comment here, Christine. Looking at things here as a ‘spiritual training ground’ is a great perspective on this.

      1. Christine says:

        Hi Bernie,
        Sorry for the delay in replying to your comment but I have recently moved house.
        Glad you understood this. I have found that each time I was depressed (about 12 brief periods in 44 years) I understood what I had to change about myself, e.g. bad habit of gossipping about or talking ill of other people (because this destroys another’s reputation) etc. It has taught me to greatly value people born with Down’s Syndrome or disabilities (or who have later acquired them). For me depression has been a constant ‘renewal’ and has strengthened my faith, given me greater insights into my religion and confirmed for me that Jesus really is The Way, The Truth and The Life and that to be a truly committed Roman Catholic means upholding the tenets of the faith and standing up and being counted on issues such as the Sacred nature of Marriage, Defence of Life from conception to natural death, Chastity and teaching children sound ethics and morals, defending Human rights and working for peace. It may seem as if the Church is dwindling to people outside, but as Pope Benedict said: ‘It is better to have a smaller, purer and more faithful church.’ Quality not quantity! 🙂

  15. David says:

    Perhaps there are times when it is best for someone with mental illness not to chant. I received that guidance myself once from Ricky Baynes, and at the time, it felt almost tangibly as if the daimoku would not fit in my head – like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Over time, that feeling has dissipated. It is still unbelievably hard to chant while seriously depressed – but if I can do so, it does not feel “wrong”.

    But the construction and expression of strong community based on Buddhahood is as fundamental to our practice as chanting itself. I recently came across a story about African traditional approaches to healing depression. The common thread is community, sangha, and the idea that if we can find ways as a community to express our joint and powerful desire for someone who is suffering to be healed, very often that is what may unfold.

    In some central Asian cultures, I am told, people will gather to sing to those who are ill. This is another powerful collective form of expression for the health of struggling individuals.

    It would be wonderful if we can always remember to find ways of expressing the collective desire for healing of struggling individuals within SGI – onwards, the choirs of “casserole ladies”!

    1. Dear David,
      thank you for these very enlightening comments. Ricky’s guidance sounds spot on (as always…) and I was fascinated to read about Andrew Solomon’s study of healing depression in Africa and the focus on singing and community: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/news/notes-on-an-exorcism

      It reminded me hugely of Lou Marinoff’s approach to all this (Marinoff has done a dialogue with Daisaku Ikeda) whose philosophy is best summed up in the title of his book ‘Plato not Prozac’. So yes, here’s to more casseroles and community! Thank you again. David

  16. Louise Jones says:

    NEVER GIVE UP should be in mind always, especially when you’re at point zero.

  17. Nancy C says:

    Hi David,
    Thanks for opening up this forum! It is vital that people know about mental illnesses and feel free to discuss what’s going on with them. I suffer from panic attacks. When I first started getting them it was very terrifying because I wasn’t in my right mind. I have survived a suicide attempt. After seeing the affect it had on my husband I got help. Medicine and therapy work. One of the things that one of my doctors said to me that really stuck in my head was, that he didn’t understand why I had tried to commit suicide, because panic attacks are very treatable. My response was that I had NO idea that what I was having was a panic attack! What I felt was so severe! It was overwhelming terror (I could tell that there was a lot of adrenaline going through me), yet there was nothing happening. I could only think about how to make the terror stop!
    I know that panic attacks and depression are different, however, just making it ok to talk about what your going through could save people in the future. Being able to talk about things without a stigma is a change our society needs!
    Sending prayers for your ability to find hope and support!

    1. Nancy
      many thanks for sharing – I have been overwhelmed by the honesty and open-ness of so many members in response to this post and the more that we share our personal stories, the less stigma there will be about mental health. Thank you again, David 🙂

  18. Nick pearce says:

    Human Givens: The New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking: A New Approach to Emotional Health and Clear Thinking Paperback – 1 Mar 2013
    by Joe Griffin (Author), Ivan Tyrrell (Author)

    1. Thank you Nick. 🙂

  19. NancyHill says:

    I hope an understanding of depression can truly permeate the SGI. While absolutely daimoku can be an integral part of overcoming this disease, I have spoken to members who feel guilty about taking prescribed antidepressants, as if needing this particular medication was proof that their faith was not strong enough. Just as a practitioner would not/should not reject cancer drugs, or insulin, we need to make sure members understand that antidepressants are for a disease, and the right medicine, combined with the right practice, is the key to overcoming the disease.

    1. Wise words Nancy Hill, thank you. D :-).

    2. brgeem says:

      Yes Nancy, I am pleased people recognise depression as a disease. It is much. much more than a ‘pull yourself together’ malady. When the body is sick, the mind and spirit must also be investigated – so few medics understand that. When I was recently in hospital, medics were concerned and surprised that I immediately called for a chaplain. I couldn’t have one without the other!

      1. Well said, more here on the Buddhist concept of the ‘oneness of mind and body’ – http://www.sgi.org/buddhism/buddhist-concepts/oneness-of-body-and-mind.html

  20. Rahul says:

    Hi david ,

    I need some personal guidance, kindly let me know how to connect with you.

    Regards
    Rahul

    1. Hi Rahul, you can email me on davidhare@btopenworld.com
      I look forward to hearing from you.
      David

  21. brgeem says:

    David, I have found your article extremely helpful. Your deep insights are profoundly good. Any such stable comments can only but help a subject which so many of us shy away from. I doubt there is a person on the planet who doesn’t suffer moments, short or long, of being ‘down’ – and these are the times to be still and listen, hard as it is, to what the soul is saying. Of course, when it comes to more serious depression it is important people rally round, not walk away from it, and many levels of professional help can be employed. Most of all, it is vital friends surround the utter loneliness that can ensue. It is always important to distinguish between aloneness and loneliness.
    Thank you, once again, for your writings.
    Graham-Michoel.

    1. Hello again, good to hear from you 🙂 That is a huge point about surrounding someone with friendship. I read somewhere that in some African villages, people literally gather around the person suffering with mental illness and sing to them in a sort of ‘healing ceremony’. I think perhaps we in the West can learn from this… All best, David

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