It seems that if we want to live comfortably in modern society, there are many sacrifices we have to make. Some of them are visible: following rules, not standing out too much or too little, not betraying others, practicing tolerance, and so on. Many of them are invisible and unconscious; e.g. suppressing a talent because we consider ourselves not good enough compared to the competition; not giving in to negative tendencies reflected in our physical posture; doing and saying what we really want to, and so on. The conditioning that prepares for or engenders these sacrifices begins at birth.
Imagine for a moment the degree of suppression involved in sacrificing your gender so that you will be accepted, be normalized, and have a chance of being outwardly ‘happy’ in your life. The agony of being trapped in the wrong body is without parallel, and the relentless persecution of the incarcerated, detestable. Imagine the desperation of parents who do not seem to have an average child who responds to social indoctrination like other children. Imagine the mental torture of being forced to write with your right hand when you are wired-up to be left-hand dominant?
These extreme degrees of ‘fitting in’ are surely worthy of becoming depressed, or even suicidal. It is just amazing that there are not more depressed and suicidal people, but the social current is too great for most of us, so we give in and get swept along.
The majority of the human inhabitants of the so-called ‘civilised’ world suppress a substantial part of their true nature because their desire to fit in and to be accepted overwhelms them. This suppression creates a kind of friction, the resistance of two surfaces rubbing together – the true nature and the conditioned nature. They are in conflict, and so an incongruity between outside and inside arises. It is ironic that outside life is usually dedicated to creating harmony, getting along with others, building relationships, and so on. But inside there is a conflict, opposition, which will create wear and tear on the spirit.
Out in reality, away from achieving and end-gaining to create a respectable image to present to others, to being successful, informed, smart, popular, sexy, etc., there is no friction or conflict. There is no distinction between inside and outside. Life (energy) flows where it will, or is needed, like silk on smooth skin.
This suppression is likely to become unconscious, tied into conditioning dictated by family, peers, social class, culture, education, religion, etc. Wearing masks can be pleasurable, even natural depending on the disposition. It can enable us to live up to the expectations of others, it may be satisfying, but it does inevitably create a duality, an inside and an outside, an us-and-them situation.
Duality usually leads to isolation and distancing from natural ways, and eventually a breakdown in our ability to be completely honest with ourselves. This misplacing of the link with our true nature is surely the greatest loss of all. But added to this there are many victims of ‘depression’ who experience physical loss of a parent or loved one at a young age. Such a situation seems insupportable, and yet the strength of the human spirit can withstand it. So, what is our true nature? I hope to make suggestions about this.
Depression? The word is strange to my way of thinking. – definition: ‘to press down, to be pressed down.’ Before 20th century, it was referred to as ‘melancholia.’ (‘black bile’ in ancient Greek). In Mesopotamia in 2nd millennium BC, it was attributed to a form of demonic possession, the sufferer tended by priests…in other words, it was a spiritual illness: while physicians treated physical illnesses .
Exorcism (beating, restraint, starvation) was a common treatment for such disorders in Babylonian, Chinese and Egyptian civilizations. In Greek and Roman societies, it was thought to be biological and psychological, healed with gymnastics, massage, special diets, music, baths, poppy extract and donkey’s milk, etc.
The word ‘depression’ is quite similar to the word ‘suppression.’ Depressing something, such as a spring, means that the release of such pressure is inevitable in time. Gravity comes to mind in this respect – our bodies are weighted down by the gravitational force allowing us to remain in the vertical plane for extended periods of time . It also keeps our feet on the earth.
Mammals need great unconscious effort to stay in the upright , and so if we are depressed it is common to retire to the horizontal, to remain in bed and avoid getting up into such a force-field. Humans were once four-legged animals who stayed close to the ground. But the first human, Australopithecus , to stand up to pick the best fruit from the top of the tree and to look out on the horizon, changed our classification into Homo Erectus . In other words, we became a different species to most other mammals.
In brief, as we stood up, gradually we developed consciousness and were able to make choices. We developed the means to express love and art, but along with those incredible abilities came arrogance, thirst for power, and the over-development of the ego. In the gravitational field, can this depression, this force exerted from above, contribute to the loss of state control? If we add to this considerable force spiritual isolation and skepticism, the inertia of thought, the sacrifices, the denial of our true nature, then it is easy to see how a vibrant spiral of energy or spirit can become truly compressed.
It becomes distorted, locked away, and so the organism becomes non -functional. Out of desperation, those closest to this organism become distressed and seek external means of recovery such as therapy, medication, hospitalisation. Meanwhile, the organism itself is distressed that it has no relationship with itself, no resources. It realises that it has always been dependent on external conditions, and an entirely synthetic reality lived out behind screens and filters.
We could suggest that a depressed person lacks love or being understood by people that matter to them. Perhaps they have been persecuted, bullied, pushed away from normality, from all the things valued in social life. However, all of these factors are external. They are contributory, but what about the internal, the acceptance and appreciation of oneself. Of course, we are heavily conditioned to think deeply, to reflect, to consider painstakingly. But thought is a dead thing. If we fill our hearts with thoughts – incessant, vacuous, divorced from reality, speculative, indulgent, etc. – then we will never make contact with our true nature.
The act of thinking is in fact mired in the quicksands of ‘time’ and ‘space’ and ‘duality.’ Activated by abstract words and flickering images, it is always separate from reality, theoretical, indirect, interpreting, compulsively selecting from an endless range of choices, options, etc.
Fear and anxiety, inadequacy, other negative values pervade thinking. But fear is a natural part of life, which thought distorts out of all proportion. Fear is part of us, in the same way as joy or hope is. There is no need to think about it. We merely accept it. ‘Thinking’ blocks these natural emotions, makes us want to escape, to run as fast as possible away from anything that generates this concept. But fear is not a concept like ‘time’ or ‘space’ are. Fear (origin in Old English, faer – calamity, danger – a signal to act, to flee, to hide, to retaliate, to brace ourselves) is part of the fabric of reality. It is part of unconditional love. Both fear and unconditional love are inside and outside because only the skin separates them. (see my article ‘Living in the Field’ – http://wp.me/p4j5nK-33) We are fear. We are love. They are not commodities we have the option to either buy into or reject. We are mistaken if we think they are choices we can make.
So, if and when we stand in the full unadulterated bore wave of life, there is no need to ruminate on these stitches of the fabric and so to render them dead, abstract, lifeless. If fear and love were not in our genes, our blood, then we could not survive, or even sustain our lives.
I suggest that human energy resembles a spring, which is a structure of metal formed into a tight spiral. On the physical plane, it is compressed in several ways: by the force of gravity, by defects or weaknesses in skeletal structure, by repeated bad physical habits, and so on.
On the emotional plane, weight is exerted through negative emotions like shame, embarrassment, rejection, and so on. They are often perceived as inflicted by others, causing physical manifestations like inertia, stooping, obstacles to free breathing, and so on. On the spiritual plane, by negative karma, impurities, blocking, etc. At all levels, excess pressure is the by-word of states of depression.
A microcosm of such compression can be observed in the spinal vertebrae. The force of gravity compacts the discs that act as shock absorbers between the bones, often trapping the spinal cord and blocking the flow of healthy chemicals to and from the brain. By taking refuge from gravity, we can allow the compression to be released and relieved. In the same way, by taking refuge from obsessive and redundant patterns of thought, the spirit will be unblocked.
Could it be simply that a depressed person is someone whose spirit, for a variety of plausible reasons as described above, is squeezed, blocked, compressed? That the spring is so tightly coiled back on itself, that the pressure becomes unbearable, and something has to give. A sea change is needed so there is an urge to removal all external conditions and to retreat inside? The sad thing is that this ‘retreat’ is so long overdue, that it is like stepping naked into a white dimensionless wilderness. Then the incredibly painful sense of loss of self and estrangement from one’s true positive bright nature sets in.
The spring has sprung, but it will never be the same again. It has been distorted by the perpetual strain and pressure, and this invariably leads to the replacement of the spring with addictive substances to anaesthetize the gigantic pain. A considerable period of this kind of suppression of our true nature, our urges, our dreams and hopes, will quickly bring us to this point.
Honesty is one of the main constituents of our relationship with self. We must accept ourselves now, at this moment precisely, without dependency on an abstract self-image created by others and how we intend to change. Accept without any notion of who we are or where we fit into groups, of what the stars or fortune-tellers say, of tomorrow or yesterday. All of those factors are not only abstract but passé, born of thought and words or other data.
In meditation, away from pressures, in a still silent place, our real self will reveal itself. The integrated self, in the moment, without influence or compression or dependence, appears. Indeed, words and pictures have no place at all when standing in the full flow of reality, in the fullness of our unique energy, totally integrated into the oneness of all existence. We step out from behind all the screens, kick away all the filters, and allow everything just to happen in the process of the heart.
Following is something of my experience. Just to set the scene, I was living with some native Australians returning to traditional life. ‘Ninija,’ is the female traditional landowner who became my spiritual guide forever more.
Soon, after this mystical dialogue with Ninija had begun, my aids to protection from desert assaults of flies and swarming mosquitos did indeed run out entirely. Then one strange night, besieged as usual by armies of them in my hut, I inexplicably removed all my clothes, opened the fly-screen door, and walked outside. To my amazement, I no longer compulsively swatted or cursed the winged squadrons. I was no longer repelled by their persistent tickling and foraging for moisture.
Outside, the moon welcomed me and banished all fears of poisonous snakes and pernicious spiders. I was given permission by the Great Mother to be a naked and innocent creature, without collections of possessions or status. I no longer had any use for sensual cravings, and suddenly my heart and mind were empty of their stuffing of pictures and words.
I stood there with my bare feet dredged in desert dust turned blue by the moonlight, shrouded by insects for which bared white flesh was a new sensation. I was empty and yet full. Instead of images, many of which had been planted there by the media throughout my life, the battery of my being was charged with Desert, Earth, Air, Sky, and Moon. My head was unaccustomedly clear and quiet. It was simple. I had taken up my place the Great Mother had been saving for me in eternity.
I no longer cowered in fear before the terrifying giants of desert death and intolerable pain. Instead, I had listened to Ninija, and she had led me to freedom. Looking back, I have to confess that my personal terror of disease and dying in a drawn-out agony had been my major motivation in choosing to join this project. I had selfishly coveted the secrets of primitive or indigenous peoples once I was sure that western science had no sure solutions to death or disease. My original motives may seem entirely selfish, but perhaps there was some unconscious wisdom involved, as you will see.
That night, quite soon after I stepped naked outside, Ninija arrived and led me, without any verbal instructions, away from the settlement. She turned left and right ahead of me among interminable thickets and mulga scrub, thorny bushes covering the desert as if obeying invisible signposts. Her broad back was dark blue in colour as we walked quickly.
Then, beyond the hillocks of spinifex grass, which she and her people called ‘Yellow Hill,’ we went on to a collection of large holes dug into the ground. They were deep and smooth-sided. Ninija turned and pointed at one, and I knew to climb down into it.
She slowly lowered her strong body into the hole to straddle me, her cheeks swelling and emptying rhythmically, her eyes closed. Then she began to produce long rivulets of saliva, which silvered down the narrow cleft between our bodies into the bottom of the hole. She reached blind arms below us, kneading her mouth fluids with the skin of the Earth to make paint.
I must have smiled in a bewildered way, for I had no idea what she was doing, or what it would lead to. Then her black eyes opened and penetrated my blue eyes as she brought her fingers close to me and began to paint the traditional patterns known as ‘clan lines’ on my naked body. She made what looked like fish or reptile scale shapes ranging down my chest and thighs, and an enormous tooth-filled jaw line across the width of my collar-bone. As she painted, she unexpectedly pronounced the words ‘Baru, Crocodile!’
Finally, moving to my head, on my cheeks she painted Baru’s tiny hooded eyes, and on my chin his ovoid nostrils. I shuddered. She directed me to lie face-down in the clay grave. Then I felt her strong fingers marking bigger scale shapes across my back and crocodile’s thick spine in line with my own. I struggled to resist blathering while she worked, but failed, blurting out impassioned questions about crocodiles. I demanded to know why she likened me to a reptile, exactly what type of crocodile I was, and so on. But she remained immune to my talk.
After a time, the realisation of how inappropriate words and thoughts were on this occasion slammed into my mind, and I was silent. When she had completed painting me, she told me in broken English that the Great Mother had shared my soul with Baru, crocodile. That I must go and watch and care for my scaly brother and sister ‘totems’ down by the green river.
Baru, Crocodile Man, according to the Dreaming myths, created fire with the friction of his tail by accident one day during a ritual. He later learned how to burn the lands with fire to make them more fertile. But then he couldn’t stop making it. So, the Vast Hot Desert came into being. Soon, all the species the Great Mother had created started to disappear in the ensuing drought, so she and her helpers created the Wet season exclusively to put Baru’s fires out. My clan lines painted, Ninija left me in the strange blue light of the desert clay hole. I had only ever seen pictures of crocodiles, and most of them were in zoos!
Everything was transformed after this night. To explain further, ancient peoples live so intimately with nature that when babies are born they are immediately associated with a particular animal or natural object or phenomena like weather. That then becomes their ‘totem’ or emblem, and they become the caretakers of it and are strongly spiritually linked with it for their entire life. In this way, they can protect and nurture their natural environment. On that night, through this initiation, I became one with the universe.
extract from ‘Easy-Happy-Sexy,’ a modern-day fable by Linden Thorp: sbpra.com/lindenthorp/
Darkness Visible: Depression Demystified (original article) – http://wp.me/p4j5nK-2H
Part 3 to follow.