Death is the supreme spiritual teacher, while depression is the second best. Depression can make you realize how limited your bogus self-identity really is, while death awareness can burst the bubble of your ego in one blow.
You’ve been living your whole life inside this imaginary bubble, separated from the rest of existence. You took your name, your memories, your experiences, your desires and your life-story, molded everything into a plastic wrap around yourself, and now you think this is who you are.
But you are not who you think you are! You’ve never been really alive yet. You are this imaginary character, a doll wrapped in plastic for protection. But this protection also limits and hinders you, you can’t achieve your full potential until you stay inside the packaging. You are a superhero confined into a cheap plastic bag. Your true self is behind your fake ego.
Unconsiously you also feel the limitations of your personality, so you strive to inflate your ego in every possible way. Every achievement, every success, every kind word, every acknowledging look, every bit of positive attention is a blow of air pumped into the balloon of your ego.
If you inflate your ego enough, you can feel quite comfortable, because there will be enough space in your bubble to move around. With enough air, your balloon will become so light that it will even lift up from the ground. You can feel ecstatic in a big ego, you can feel at the top of the world, above everybody else.
However, the balloon of the ego is leaky, and when you stop pumping it, feeding it, inflating it, it will become smaller and smaller. Not only that, but every failure, every bad decision, every humiliating experience is like a small needle piercing your bubble, that makes it deflate even quicker.
Deflation is actually a synonym for depression that’s largely forgotten. The more the plastic wrap deflates around you, the more it presses you down. At a point, you literally become depressed – pressed down – under the heavy weight of your own ego. And the thicker it is – meaning the more traumas, definitions, concepts, desires and expectations it has – the heavier it feels. The thicker the bubble, the bigger the struggle.
When your ego is deflated, it becomes a burden because you have to carry its full weight yourself, there’s nothing there to hold it. And you have to carry it everywhere you go, even to the bed, so it’s no surprise that you become so exhausted mentally and even physically. You feel that you’re fed up with life, but what you’re really fed up with is your ego.
You seem to lose interest in life, but what you really lose interest in is to feed your ego any longer, to upkeep this facade, to push the bubble away from yourself. In some cases, the balloon is pushing you so hard that you feel suffocated, crushed and unable to even move. This is when the ego turns into a bondage suit in which you’re torturing yourself.
Yes, you’re doing this whole thing to yourself, and the first step to get rid of depression is to realize this. It’s all in your mind, the bubble is not even real, and it never was. It’s just an interpretation, just a perspective, just a specific view of reality, but not reality itself. If you recognize this subjective nature of your worldview, you are able to change your interpretations or you can let go of them altogether.
However, you’re afraid to step out of your bubble, because you currently identify yourself with it. You’re afraid to let it go, because you think that without it you would die. But this is not true! In fact, until you’re living inside the bubble, you haven’t really lived yet. Outside, the real world is waiting for you, full of freedom, love and pleasure.
For your false self, depression is a misery, but for your True Self, it’s a great opportunity. An opportunity to recognize how much suffering the ego causes, how you’re causing the ego to appear, and ultimately how you’re causing your own suffering. Once you recognize this, there are two ways out of this hole: one is to slowly crawl out of it, the other is to break through it.
If you choose the longer way, you’re looking at years of healing, integration and therapy. Once you win back a relatively healthy ego, you can continue the path from psychology to spirituality and ultimately to enlightenment. But perhaps you won’t be motivated by then to pursue a spiritual path, because your suffering will be gone.
The other way, which is harder but also much quicker, is in exactly the opposite direction. It requires you to face your depression head-on without trying to run away from it. It requires great courage, because you have to let go of even the last clutch of self-worth you’re hanging onto, and let yourself fall into the hole of depression to emerge as a new enlightened being on the other side.
This is exactly what happened to Eckhart Tolle, an enlightened spiritual teacher. Eckhart emerged from a deep spiritual hole, a long-lasting chronic depression, in which he almost attempted suicide. He used to live in a state of almost continuous anxiety, but one night was especially hard for him.
He woke up with an intense hatred for the world, and especially towards his own existence. The desire to live was taken over by the desire to die. He could feel a deep longing for annihilation, for non-existence. And existence magically delivered it to him, but in a way he did not expect it. He thought he could not live with himself anymore.
Then he realized what a strange idea this was as if there were two sides of him: his self and an „I”. In fact, he just glimpsed his ego and separated himself from it. He even realized that only one of them was real. Next, he was sucked into a void inside himself. He was afraid at first, but then he stopped resisting and fell into it completely. When he woke up in the next morning, he was already enlightened.
In his case, depression was directly responsible to spiritual enlightenment, and he’s not alone. According to a study, the most common trigger of spiritual experiences is depression and despair. You are normally attached to external things, that work as a scaffolding that uphold your sense of self. When you experience loss, life detaches you from these fake pillars, and your identity collapses unto itself like a house of cards.
This is especially true when you lose your sense of self-worth during depression. But counterintuitively, this helps you detach from your personality very effectively. As you recognize that your ego is worthless, you may now glimpse your true self which is invaluable. After all, it’s much easier to awaken from a nightmare than from a cozy dream.
So, if you are depressed, I urge you to explore your depression and what lies behind your misery. Shed your ego like a snake sheds its skin. Snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that may have attached to their old skin. Your ego is similarly full of parasitical thoughts and it’s hindering you from spiritual growth.
If you don’t feel good in your skin, it’s a sign that you’ve outgrown it. Depression is an invitation to get rid of it at last, to come out of its tight grip and breathe some fresh air. Tear a big hole and come out of your bubble! Be reborn, be naked, be free!
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