The Blue Sangha

May 21, 2010 by     Print This Post Print This Post

One out of every six people will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetimes, making it virtually impossible to go through life without knowing someone, a parent, a spouse, a child, a friend, a fellow worker or an acquaintance who will struggle from one of these afflictions. Unlike other illness such as Cancer or Heart Disease, the stigma of mental illness isolates those who most need to be included by society, to be bolstered by compassion and understanding and not to be made into an object of fear.

It would be comforting to think that practitioners, due to their years of meditation practice were somehow immune from Mental Illness. However, we have seen where this type of thinking leads and the consequences it incurs.

In the past the Sapashana group was very affective in helping practitioners get sober and remain that way. The purpose of The Blue Sangha is to facilitate a conversation and get practitioners, anonymously if they wish, to start talking about their struggles with Mental Illness whether it is Depression or Bi-Polar. If it’s in the DSM-4, you’re welcome here.

I have no idea if anyone will come and sit at this table but, that isn’t important. What is important is that a conversation has begun, a one sided conversation so far but, I hope that we can change that.

Love, Lhagthong Norbu    /   Kevin Lyons


147 Responses to “The Blue Sangha”

  1. David Carey on March 25th, 2011 12:39 pm

    Thanks Jacqui, I think there is a lot of wisdom in what you say. Sometimes all you can do is just be there with it. I once even thought of writing a self-help book with one page, one sentence…
    “Just don’t fucking kill yourself.” That about covers it sometimes.

  2. Jacqui on March 25th, 2011 12:46 pm

    David, thanks for the laugh. I have soooo been there. In fact, that’s been my mantra at times… “Just don’t fucking kill yourself.” Anyone care to translate that into Tibetan or Sanskrit so it sounds a bit more classy?

  3. Suzanne Duarte on March 25th, 2011 1:01 pm

    Hi David, Brigid and damchö, this is a great discussion, one that I’ve been having with myself and with a few friends almost continually this month! It has indeed been a very intense and volatile time, at least as I’ve experienced it, as the headlines have shown, and as the astrologers have described.

    Beginning last weekend, I experienced several days of being so sensitive that I was on the edge of tears and couldn’t hold back the tears much of the time. Extreme emotions including anxiety, fear, rage, grief and despair were bobbing around in my psyche. There were moments when I wondered if I was having a “nervous breakdown.”

    But, like Brigid, I recognize that “anxiety is an appropriate response to today’s insane world.” Like Damchö, I’d rather “feel too much than too little.”

    The astrologer Eric Francis, who I read every week, wrote on 3/18/11 regarding my Sun sign:

    “You have to pass through one last rift of dark psychology before you break free into an emotionally clear space. You’ve grown accustomed to being a little less than clear, and more sensitive than usual. This combination can create a situation that stirs up some emotionally rooted fear — old fear, related to some cryptic ancestral material. This may have you feeling fogged in at the moment. I know that when you’re experiencing emotions in your immediate psychic environment you’re going to assume that they’re exclusively about you, but I suggest you consider the possibility that you’re burning off something from the distant past.  Do so boldly, let yourself be carried by the wave of emotion and let yourself be lofted to a higher, safer orbit.  Through this process you will gain an incredible perspective, where you will see your potential and your options clearly.” 

    Eric also wrote, regarding the collective situation: “In terms of how to process all this disaster…, my own preference is to be aware rather than to pretend something is not happening. My preference is to stay connected and creative and curious rather than to pull away. I choose to embrace this moment with a sense of adventure rather than dread. This is a moment of collective awakening. It may be the beginning of the very moment of collective awakening, here at the edge of the world.”

    Maybe the intensity we are feeling is burning off ancestral karma! Maybe this is necessary for the collective awakening!

  4. edward on March 25th, 2011 3:16 pm

    “one last rift of dark psychology” ? sounds good to me! lol 🙂

    Yes, the troubles in Japan and the Middle East are very disturbing… it’s like the whole world is nuts and is self-destructing through ignorance, aggression and greed. Especially ignorance.

    Here’s something I read recently, about how our minds and world events could be connected: Aurobindo: world events are shaped by non-physical forces Not a very Buddhist way of looking at things, but perhaps it has some resonance with how tonglen works.

    The other thing for me is to make sure I take my health supplements… when I forget to take them, I start feeling depressed, like the world is horrible and out to get me, nobody loves me, etc. etc., but all that grand philosophy seems to be as much based on my own blood chemistry as anything else…

  5. Susanne Vincent on March 26th, 2011 2:29 am

    Warm greetings, a little late, to all you lovely ones.

    Would it be reasonable to say that if we’re fairly aware of what is happening currently in the world, and are NOT depressed, then maybe that’s a sign of insanity?

    We’re in a time of unprecedented turbulence, beyond the insecurity of a world war. At least you can win a world war. Defeat the enemy, etc.
    What we have here is a situation of almost complete insecurity, a Ph D course in Impermanence.

    All the ‘institutions’ of infrastructure – the basic ground of our social order – are proving untrustworthy. Guardians and stewards (banks, the military, the law, healthcare, corporates, governments) are found to be corrupted. No economy – or even state – can be guaranteed as stable. Supplies of basic commodities for survival (food, water, fuel) are increasingly insecure. We have eaten or polluted most of the earth, and now the fundamental integrity of our ecosystems is either irreparably damaged or on the brink. And along with seismic violence and crazy weather, we now have no fewer than six nuclear reactors gone critical, right next to the ocean, and no status reports. If it was a horror movie, you’d say it was over the top.

    Yet most people just clip coupons and poddle along. Others are imagining disasters that aren’t even happening. While we may be able to avoid the panic, we must also take care to test for vital signs sometimes and make sure we haven’t just shut down to avoid experiencing what is occurring.

    Praise and honour to those who are prepared to witness the truth in themselves and the outer world.
    It’s a hard road, and it’s important to cry when crying is due, feel loss, be shocked, feel despair, feel alienated, horrified. Whoever we are, some of this turbulence is affecting us all, and the sheer edge-iness of it will bring up stuff for us like a shovel.

    Meanwhile, what is this oft-quoted, yet largely unapplied advice . . .?

    “When human beings lose their connection to nature, to heaven and earth, then they do not know how to nurture their environment or how to rule their world … Healing our society goes hand in hand with healing our personal, elemental connection with the phenomenal world.” CTR (GES?? )

    The dharma – truth of the situation – is the same energetic truth as ‘connection with the earth’. The earth doesn’t bullshit, it is completely honest. Connecting with the fire, water, earth and living sap in ourselves also, we find out what we’re made of. If we had that connection, we would sob at the loss of the 95% of big fish in the world that humans have killed, and nearly all the big mammals. And the wanton disruption of the elemental cycles of the beautiful system called Planet. And the hundreds of millions of people who have been killed, broken or displaced. I think if this knowledge doesn’t knock at the gates of our unknowing, then what will? We cannot help but be part of it.

    Love to all

  6. Susanne Vincent on March 26th, 2011 3:03 am

    PS: Apart from the lucrative pursuit of ‘deep diving’ into – rather than out of – this tempest, I must suggest two more practices that can be genuinely helpful.

    Firstly to settle in a good space and slowly read the text that starts:

    The Sadhana of Mahamudra: Which Quells the Mighty Warring of the Three Lords of Materialism and Brings Realization of the Ocean of Siddhas of the Practice Lineage

    “This is the darkest hour of the dark ages. Disease, famine and warfare are raging like the fierce north wind. The Buddha’s teaching has waned in strength. The various schools of the sangha are fighting amongst themselves with sectarian bitterness; and although the Buddha’s teaching was perfectly expounded and there have been many reliable teachings since then from other great gurus, yet they pursue intellectual speculations. The sacred mantra has strayed into Pön and the yogis of tantra are losing the insight of meditation. They spend their whole time going through villages and performing little ceremonies for material gain.

    On the whole, no one acts according to the highest code of discipline, meditation and wisdom. The jewel-like teaching of insight is fading day by day. The Buddha’s teaching is used merely for political purposes and to draw people together socially. As a result the blessings of spiritual energy are being lost. Even those with great devotion are beginning to lose heart. If the buddhas of the three times and the great teachers were to comment, they would surely express their disappointment. So to enable individuals to ask for their help and to renew spiritual strength, I have written this Sadhana of Mahamudra . . .”

    (BTW if you need a copy, I have it in Word, please email

    The other thing I found really good was to watch Robin Williams in The Fisher King (1991, an unsung gem), and whoop and laugh out loud.

    Much love

  7. windy sky on March 26th, 2011 6:39 am

    This life is characterized by suffering.
    I think our practice is to work on increasing our capacity to open our hearts and minds to it. Instead of forever just running away from it screaming.
    Learning to *stay*, to tolerate it, enter it, work with it. Develop a bit of intestinal fortitude.
    Things have always been terrifying, horrific and ‘dark’ in the world. We used to worry about starving and being eaten by dinosaurs. We’re animals. We’ve been killing, starving and destroying since time began. Every era in history has been characterized by terror and horror.
    Things are pretty cushy and wonderful for us in North America compared to the rest of the world. The thing we seem to suffer most from is social isolation, loneliness, and nothing to do.
    I find the best antidote to terror, despair, and anxiety is to work hard, and help others. Clean up the house, have a chat with a neighbour, scrub the bathroom, help someone old or ill, invite someone over for lunch, do the laundry. Do something creative. Work for the local Green Party. Lobby for alternative energy.

  8. Michael Sullivan on March 26th, 2011 8:54 am

    Not so sure re: being worried about being eaten by dinosaurs, notwithstanding the “Jeezus riding a dinosaur” motif of some fundamentalist theme parks…..

    I DO think that some degree of depression these days can be a sign of some degree of vipashyana. But along with that comes the opportunity / ability to relax the mind. And if you can’t cut through, well then maybe you are depressed!

    Valuable teaching re cutting through in difficult circumstances: Patrul’s commentary on the 3 Statements of Garab Dorje, and the technique presented there…

  9. Suzanne Duarte on March 26th, 2011 9:07 am

    I’ve been contemplating the chapter on the Charnel Ground in the Sadhana of Mahamudra Sourcebook. When I first heard the Vidyadhara talk about the charnel ground at a seminar in Boulder in 1975, I thought about it as an exotic metaphor.

    Charnel ground: “a place to die and a place to be born … a wasteland of some kind … an abandoned place where nobody would want to hang out…. It does not try to hide its truth about reality: there are corpses lying all over the place, loose arms, loose hands, loose internal organs…. Jackals and vultures are roaming around, each one devising his own scheme for getting the best pieces of the corpses. That is precisely what we are doing in this country and in this world…. *This* is the charnel ground, and that is why we don’t like it.”

    I just could not get it that the United States right then was the charnel ground, and that one had to build one’s mandala right in the middle of all the conflict, corruption, death, decay, predation, chaos, injustice, poverty, etc. I was one of the people he talks about in that talk – people who are looking for a perfect situation, or who want to reform the world – whose attitudes he characterized as “spiritual materialism.” It took a lot more experience of the world and of myself to see what he was saying in that talk.

    He talks about our habitual impulse to avoid our own experience: “[T]he chaos that takes place in your neurosis is the only home ground that you can build your mandala on. If we are looking for something else, then we want to reject that ground and find a better, higher, more loving, less aggressive place…. Large areas of our life have been devoted to trying to avoid discovering our own experience.”

    He says, however, that we can discover that the charnel ground is workable. Then it becomes our “working basis. It is the expression of our neurosis, which we have to work with. We begin to find that there is enormous strength and power behind it. We are not trying to get away from the charnel ground…. Building the mandala is actually part of the charnel ground principle…. We decide to work with our charnel ground … because there is so much devotion and faith and trust in our own sanity already. Our sanity automatically becomes a rock… it is everywhere, in every one of our hearts.”

    So accepting charnel ground = discovering/claiming sanity!

  10. David Carey on March 26th, 2011 9:52 am

    I am actually quite surprised at how helpful I have found the comments here. When I am in a difficult place with anxiety/ depression ect. I tend to be extremely cynical. I have tried all the words and concepts and tricks I can find and nothing makes it any better. I do think there is some intelligence that just wants to cut through all the words. Now I am starting to think that words, when they come from a place of empathy or compassion, actual can make a difference. Shocking!

  11. John Tischer on March 26th, 2011 1:33 pm

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” J. Krishnamurti

  12. Kevin Lyons on March 26th, 2011 4:52 pm

    Dear David ,Sometimes things are so raw in our lives that we can barely hold on to any type of positive outlook. But regardless of this, we have to try. I have a daughter who has been ill and hospitalized with Borderline Personality Disorder for most of the past twelve years. During that time there have been periods where I entered moods so dark and sad that barely any light could penetrate. I felt angry at how unfair it was that my daughter or anyone for that matter had to suffer the way she did. I felt that she had been cruelly adducted by something I couldn’t reason with.
    I discovered that there is a blessing in impermanence in that moods as I described are mitigated by change. We can’t thankfully remain in that type of hell without it changing into something else.
    If were honest with ourselves then we do the very best we can each day by taking care of ourselves or in learning how to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings. There is a statement in the book Zen Mind Beginners Mind that I have always loved. ” Regardless of what is happening the background is always in perfect harmony” David, like the imprint of a bird in the sky.
    If you can take a look at The Recovery section has some good links.

  13. David Carey on March 26th, 2011 6:45 pm

    Thanks Kevin, Yes, there is the rub isn’t it. In the midst of this charnel ground, this samsaric horror show. We must somehow find a way to realize the background, the space, the impermanence. If we have any compassion failure is not an option.

  14. John Castlebury on March 26th, 2011 8:23 pm

    [excerpt from HEDJKR’s commentary on Trakpa Gyaltsen’s Parting from the Four Attachments, Nepal 2009, Talk 8:]

    At a basic level, our perception is the only way we have of knowing everything that we think we know about life and reality. Our so-called everyday lives are no more than a continuous flow of perception; that’s all we have to work with. Perception is the process we use to determine our position in relation to everything.

    All we practitioners need to do is change our perception, which in turn will change our relation to everything. The process of re-educating our perception requires us to change our mind. Right now, we are used to thinking that what we see is definitely how it is in reality. So we have to re-train our perception and get used to thinking that what we see is definitely not how it is in reality, and learn that our perceptions only appear to us as we misperceive them to be, as sensed through our fog of emotions.

  15. Rob Graffis on March 27th, 2011 2:32 am

    Once again, as Thranghu Ripoche said about a bi-polar friend of mine who was going through a lot of psychic pain.
    “She should take her medications, and stay on them. She has suffered enough”.
    That was at a group audience at Marpa House in 1993, so there were witnesses to his statement.

  16. Rob Graffis on March 27th, 2011 2:51 am

    I do have to apologize for my bad typing, and impulsiveness when I do type.
    Usually if I don’t type at all though, I’ll say nothing.
    Mingyur Rinpoche discusses how he dealt with his own anxiety fits through meditation in his books.
    We all aren’t perfect.

  17. Kevin Lyons on March 27th, 2011 7:06 am

    Does anyone recall the story that CTR told about how Marpa reacted when finding out his son had fallen off a horse and died. It may have been the Marpa seminar. In any case, Marpa reacted as any father would. He cried and mourned his son. I don’t think that we ever transcend that type of suffering. Or at least I hope we don’t.

  18. David Carey on March 27th, 2011 7:55 am

    I find myself in hellish torment. Perhaps I have fucked up big time and I am heading to vajra hell. I beg the noble sangha, please please please say a mantra or a prayer for me and all who suffer.

  19. windy sky on March 27th, 2011 9:04 am

    David, is there someone you could phone, or go and visit? Human contact can help so much. Just to be with someone, talk to someone in person. My heart goes out to you, I have so been there.

  20. David Carey on March 27th, 2011 9:42 am

    Hi windy,
    I practiced with dharma friends and talked last night. I am going to see my father his wife and and old friend today. I am around my wife most of the time. Sometimes being around people helps me forget about myself just a little bit. Most of the time in my mind it’s all about me me me me me me and my suffering, how truly hellish. Why in the hell can’t I let go?

  21. Brigid Meier on March 27th, 2011 11:08 am

    Dear David,

    I will re-emphasize how crucial it is to move your meditation practice from your head into your body, especially when this much volatility is present. Surrendering to the earth and allowing it to absorb your angst will help to dissipate its hold on you; you are not separate from the earth and the earth can heal you. Go outside and lie down directly on the ground. NOW.

    Again, sincere good luck to you, amigo. You can do it.


  22. windy sky on March 27th, 2011 11:13 am

    Hi David,
    When I get like that, in my own private hellish torment, I’m usually hating myself, others, and/or ‘the way things are’. I’m refusing to accept any of it, or forgive anyone or anything. It feels like I’m in the midst of a roaring inferno. There is a rigid, harsh, unworkable quality to the torment. There is *judgement* involved..
    Relief, and a breath of air in the flames, only come with remembering about gentleness and compassion. Eventually, a moment comes when the core of me is moved to soften, and the flames recede, and I can breathe again, and open up.
    Is your torment at all like that..?

  23. David Carey on March 27th, 2011 12:46 pm

    hello Brigid, I did go out and lie on the earth. it is freezing cold here so I did not stay for a real long time but i am glad I did it. Thanks

    Yes, Windy, my torment is very much like that. I want so much for things to be different and my ego does not get it’s way.

    It is probably time for me to post less. I am hogging up a lot of space on the board. Also people are probably tired of hearing me whine. Thanks everyone

  24. Zer-me Dri'med on March 27th, 2011 1:11 pm

    Hi, David and all,
    Since this cafe table is for those of us interested in the intersection of meditation and depression, I do not see David’s cry for help as whining. I only wish I could reach through this computer and help somehow. My comments below are from my own expereince and not intended as any kind of quick fix: just ways to get the door open a crack and let some air in.

    Since no one else has mentioned it, I would add that exercise is vitally important. I come from a long family history of what’s called “anxious depression.” It’s the last thing one wants to do in this state, but getting out and moving the body, vigorously, really does help. My favorite exercise for depression, when I can afford it, is the weight-lifting machines at a gym. Chest presses are especially effective. Maybe they open the heart area, I don’t really know. If you can’t do that, just go for a long, fast walk, and pay attention to sense perceptions. There is a shutdown of the sense perceptions involved in depression and sometimes just placing a lot of atttention to the sense perception can help.

    I heard a very interesting interview with Cheri Huber on the Sounds True podcast recently. It’s called “There’s Nothing Wrong with You,” and she talks about how depression, with which she is personally very familiar, is based in self-hatred. She recommends an interesting exercise, too much to enter here. You can get to it from the Sounds True website, “Insights at the Edge” is the name of the podcast.

  25. Kevin Lyons on March 27th, 2011 3:16 pm

    David. I agree with what Zer-me said about excercise. She is right.. A good cardio- vascular workout like a spin class really seems to burn through some depression. I have found that thirty minutes of strenuous excercise three times a week lifted my spirits considerably.

  26. Zenda on March 27th, 2011 10:03 pm

    Hi David. I don’t see your posts as whining at all. Please take good care of yourself and try not to be so hard on yourself.

    Sending much love…

  27. David Carey on March 28th, 2011 10:40 am

    I thought of another thing I would like to say both as a reminder to myself and because it might be useful to other sufferers of anxiety/depression. I think it is very important not to lash out and blame others for our suffering. I marvel out how much support I get from the people in my life and now even the people on this board. I think most of my aggression is self-directed. As bad as that is for me personally, it does not seem to offend other people or drive them away much. When you are in a dark place, even a tiny point of light coming in from outside can be a very big deal.

  28. Kevin Lyons on March 28th, 2011 4:05 pm

    I hope that you find this video link about two dogs having lunch in a diner a nice diversion from our melting planet.

  29. Kevin Lyons on March 29th, 2011 2:30 pm

    The Blue Sangha is now on Facebook.

  30. Zer-me Dri'med on March 29th, 2011 5:09 pm

    Kevin, would you care to elaborate on what you just said about Facebook? I’m looking for work, and I certainly would not want what I have written here to be out where a potential employer could find it.

  31. Kevin Lyons on March 29th, 2011 7:57 pm

    Hi Zer-Me I am going to open a Face book Blue Sangha. Nothing that has been written to the RFS Blue Sangha will be transferred to the Facebook page. I know that people including myself have said things in confidence and I will not betray that confidence.
    The reason I am starting a Blue Sangha on facebook is to open it up to practitioners from other Buddhist traditions or at least that is the plan. The Facebook Blue Sangha will be a clean slate however, there are no guarantees that anyone will join. As for The Blue Sangha on RFS I will continue as long as people want the chat table. I am very grateful that this chat table was given a chance to thrive. Kevin
    Hi Zer-Me I am going to open a Face book Blue Sangha. Nothing that has been written to the RFS Blue Sangha will be transferred to the Facebook page. I know that people including myself have said things in confidence and I will not betray that confidence.
    The reason I am starting a Blue Sangha on facebook is to open it up to practitioners from other Buddhist traditions or at least that is the plan. The Facebook Blue Sangha will be a clean slate however, there are no guarantees that anyone will join. As for The Blue Sangha on RFS I will continue as long as people want the chat table. I am very grateful that this chat table was given a chance to thrive. Kevin
    Hi Zer-Me I am going to open a Face book Blue Sangha. Nothing that has been written to the RFS Blue Sangha will be transferred to the Facebook page. I know that people including myself have said things in confidence and I will not betray that confidence.
    The reason I am starting a Blue Sangha on facebook is to open it up to practitioners from other Buddhist traditions or at least that is the plan. The Facebook Blue Sangha will be a clean slate however, there are no guarantees that anyone will join. As for The Blue Sangha on RFS I will continue as long as people want the chat table. I am very grateful that this chat table was given a chance to thrive. Kevin

  32. David Carey on March 30th, 2011 8:17 am

    Oh rats, does this mean I won’t be famous for being batshit crazy?
    Seriously though, I hope the page is of benefit like this one is..

  33. David Carey on March 31st, 2011 2:30 pm

    Crawling out of hell
    Tips for those who suffer from anxiety and depression.

    First off, the disclaimers. These tips are not to be construed as medical advice. If you have a problem with acute anxiety or depression see a doctor or a mental health professional. If you take the words of some dude on the internet to be as important as a doctor or a mental health professional then you are some kind of idiot. So don’t sue me. My only expertise is that I have been through hell and somehow managed to live to tell the tale. I do not have a cure. I have gone through anxiety and depression for years, and I will probably do so again. I intend to survive them. At best some people will find these tips helpful some of the time. There is no dogma or gospel truth here. Everything is subject to revision.

    1. Drink lots of water. Even if you have to pee every hour, it is good to flush out. If your urine looks so dark and thick that it might crawl away by itself, that is a bad sign.
    2. Eat a light simple diet. Rice and corn are good, also almost any fruit or vegetable. Beans are ok too buy don’t overdo it. Eat very little or no meat or dairy products. A lot of people are allergic to wheat and probably don’t realize it. Don’t eat it unless you are sure it does not bother you. The downside of the light diet is that it gives you more energy and can actually make the anxiety worse at least in the short run. Drastic fast changes are rarely good. Many American seem to have a superstition that if they don’t eat a lot of protein everyday they will starve. This is nonsense as far as I can see. Tip2b. If you are an anorexic tip 2 does not apply to you Go eat a bacon double cheeseburger damn it.
    3. See a doctor and find out if you have underlying health problems that could be causing the anxiety/depression. Explore your anti-depressant options. Some work well for some people, some don’t. Only you can say what works for you.
    4. If you are in an acute crisis a tranquilizer like a zanax or a valium can be a lifesaver. Again see your doctor. I don’t regard these types of drugs as a cure or permanent solution, but they can help to survive to fight another day.
    5. Stay the hell away from alcohol and weed. This kind of self-medication might provide some kind of short term relief, but the backlash can be literally deadly. It should go without saying, stay away from hard drugs like coke, meth, and heroin. These things are a ticket to hell.
    6. Meditation and prayer can be helpful. Don’t be too ambitious, be gentle with yourself.
    7. Try to relax. This is easier said than done but it is still worth trying.
    8. Talk to family and friends. Try to be honest about what you are feeling. Denial is not helpful. Try not to lash out and blame others when you are hurting. Everyone needs help and support sometimes. There is no shame in it.
    9. Just don’t kill yourself. Suicide is never the answer. If you are honest with yourself you will see it is the suffering you want to end, not your life. If you were to kill yourself how do you know where you will end up? It might be an even worse place. If you have loved ones think of how terrible it would make them feel. Even if you only have hated ones, living well is the best revenge. Get well and happy and rich and show those bastards. Don’t go out like a chump or a loser.

    It is my hope that these tips will provide a little relief to someone suffering. If I am in the wrong in my words, I am truly sorry. Many times in my life I have fervently wished to die. I am very glad my body was smarter than the thoughts in my head because I am still here. I can still smile, and like the great Muhammad Ali says, “I am still pretty”

    May all being be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

    Om mani padme hum

  34. David Carey on September 3rd, 2011 8:59 am

    I think I am starting to understand vajra hell. When one’s own mind is filled with fear and anxiety, where is there to escape to? You can’t get rid of your own mind. I can’t escape this horrible suffering and I can’t give in to it. Maybe some Buddha can see through it, but it is all just a myth to me. It is not my experience. Here I am in reasonably good health, well loved by good people, with money in the bank, there is no reason to be in hell, and yet I am. I wish I could tell you all how to avoid this fate but I am not even sure how I got here. If I could see some cause for my fear and anxiety then I could do something about it. It just seems to come endlessly out of nowhere for no reason. Please say a prayer or a mantra for me and all beings who suffer.
    May all beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.

  35. Suzanne Duarte on September 3rd, 2011 9:42 am

    Oh, David, I’m so sorry to hear you are suffering this way. I send you the cool, peaceful, spaciousness of the tonglen outbreath, and hope that you can give this to yourself. That spaciousness exists beyond thought and concept.

  36. David Carey on September 3rd, 2011 11:03 am

    Thanks for the kind words Suzanne.
    I wish I could see the space in my mind. I seem to be stuck in a kind of negative feedback loop where fear feeds on fear, terror feeds on terror. I seem to be insane. I don’t think I am a threat to myself or others because I have zero interest in violence. I am not even depressed, just very absorbed in overwhelming fear. I am writing because it gives me a slight sense of perspective or relief. Thanks to everyone.

  37. damchö on September 3rd, 2011 12:39 pm

    Hi David, I know it doesn’t help a whole lot to say this, but I’m really in the same place as you, and have been for many years now. I could more-or-less have written your words myself. When I look back at my life I see that sometimes I live in the 3rd circle of hell, other times the 7th, other times the 22nd, other times the 89th… That’s really it. I have to go back a long time to remember a point when I was “just” depressed…

    (God that sounds horrible, sorry folks.)

    And coming back to this thread reminds me that I’d always wanted to thank you for your post of March 31. That was the beginning of an especially dark period which I am still in. But your advice there is great. There are a couple of those I need to follow a lot more than I do–especially number 1 I think…

    The only thing I can say is that somewhere in the depths of my experience there is some kind of knowledge of insubstantiality, and also the power of mind. Even though I can rarely contact that power at this point, and even though fear and grief are so strong and I often simply feel condemned, I know that that feeling just doesn’t make any sense from the standpoint of dharma.

    I will definitely send prayers and aspirations out to you. Recently the death of a beloved dog that I know got me back to sitting a little for the first time in a very long while. Right before bed. I am trying to keep it up. Managed it for a week, then fell off again. I know it’s good to do, even necessary to do. And I think it even helped my sleep a little (which is a major disaster area). Sitting was impossible for the longest time because it has been associated for many years with the experience of humiliation and condemnation, emanating from my time in SI. Those feelings are still there. I avoided them for the week I sat solely because my focus was on this beautiful, beautiful dog with such a pure heart, who gave so very much to his human companion.

    I too send cool spaciousness to you, in the deep wish that things shift for you very soon. Become a little softer, enabling you to contact that ground of peace that all the wisest people from every tradition assure us is there. And I also wish for you some true joy, because we need this too.

    All good!

  38. David Carey on September 3rd, 2011 1:34 pm

    Thanks so much Damcho. Somehow it helps more than you know to hear your words. I know I am not the only one to go through these sort of feelings and it helps to remember that we are all in this together. May the Buddhas bless you for your generosity.

  39. John Castlebury on September 3rd, 2011 1:44 pm

    [may i offer this excerpt of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s commentary on Sachen Kunga Nyingpo’s Parting from the Four Attachments, Nepal 2009, from Talk One.]


    Modern-day people are often faced with a tendency to depression, and this is despite having all the latest conveniences. I have concluded that most of our depression comes from a lack of even mundane discipline, never mind religious discipline. We are free to do whatever we like, yet we don’t even know where to begin or how to proceed. But you may find that even a simple discipline like tidying your room each day between 7:30 and 7:45 actually softens your chronic depression…

    Near the end of the Uttaratantra, Lord Maitreya stresses that it is vital to hear and read as much as we can in order to gain access to the spiritual path. And furthermore, if we are serious followers of dharma, merely hearing and reading are not enough; we have to contemplate. And by contemplate I mean we have to determine whether this path is a suitable one, and whether we are able to follow it. We have to ask does this path make logical sense, or is it all just a big misunderstanding. Just because the Buddha supposedly said so, we cannot simply trust that what we hear is the truth. We have to analyse for ourselves if this path of dharma applies to us, and so contemplation is a must.

    Suppose we have an hour to practise: the first fifteen minutes, we should listen to or read dharma; for the next fifteen minutes, we should contemplate, since hearing and contemplation deserve equal time; and for the last thirty minutes, we should practise meditation. If you are serious about following the path of dharma, you have to meditate. To hear and contemplate but not meditate is like reading the menu over and over but never ordering; what is the point? You must meditate. And what is meditation? Meditation is remaining completely and one-pointedly with our sure confidence in the dharma, which we gain from hearing and contemplation. More about that later.

  40. David Carey on September 3rd, 2011 2:55 pm

    Thanks for the good teachings John. I can see that discipline is a key point for me. Trungpa Rinpoche named me Discipline Banner. So I think he saw my problem is that area. I have managed to overindulge in just about every way possible. Reading might be helpful because I have become extremely cynical. I have lost my religion so to speak. I tend to think that belief is a disaster. But that is a belief in itself. It’s hard for me to see that sometimes belief is useful.

  41. David Carey on September 6th, 2011 3:38 pm

    From the point of view of myself, an unenlightened sentient being. Fear is the most powerful force in the universe. Relative fear, that is to say fear with a know cause, is not so bad. If a bear is chasing you in the woods, you can choose fight or flight. You could even choose to hold still and hope the bear goes away. The bear might be terrifying but in 15 minutes you probably will have escaped or the bear will have killed you. There is some kind of end or resolution to it. When you are trying to escape the bear you will not doubt your own sanity. You may fear the loss of your life, but that would seem like a pretty sane response to the situation. A much worse kind of fear is the fear of your own mind. You could try to fight the fear but if there is no apparent cause, you are fighting a ghost, fighting empty space, there is no hope to win. You could try to escape, but how can you escape your own mind? Wherever you go, there you are. Trungpa Rinpoche was so right, many warnings must be given. Better not to begin….ect. Once the path is begun there are only two choices enlightenment or vajra hell. Enlightenment seems like some far away myth to me. Vara hell seems quite real and immediate.At this point I am not sure if I am eternally damned but at the moment I can’t picture a place any worse than where I am. Maybe I am a cautionary tale. I entered the path with arrogance and ambition and now I am paying a horrible price. Don’t be like me. Anyone who isn’t in hell should feel very fortunate and grateful. Be gentle with yourself and not too ambitious.

    May all beings be free of suffering.

  42. John Castlebury on September 6th, 2011 7:33 pm

    Deus Ex Machina

    Your so-called hell
    Is mind’s creation
    What else can it be
    It has to come from
    Somewhere first

    Mind torments us
    With scenes of fire
    But where else does
    The fire come from
    But from our mind

    Mind turns us into
    A nervous wreck
    Scared to be struck
    By the blow that
    Comes from above

    Mind smites itself
    In life as a hedge
    Bribing the saviour
    Of the obsequious
    To bestow mercy

  43. Brigid Meier on September 7th, 2011 2:34 pm

    Dear David,

    A friend just posted the following on Facebook and I immediately thought of you and what possibly seems to be your condition of being an involuntary empath:

    It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. ~ Krishnamurti

    May you find peace in any way you can. I find Byron Katie’s The Work to be very helpful for on the spot dismantling of thoughts or feelings caused by thoughts.

    Love, Brigid

  44. Kevin Lyons on March 31st, 2012 6:37 am

    I would like to share this link about Depression and a student of Zen.

  45. Nancy on May 24th, 2013 12:01 am

    “I am proud to be maladjusted to an unjust society.” –Dr. Martin Luther King

    thanks for helping. Peace, Nancy

  46. HOPY on April 26th, 2014 5:45 am

    ” One out of six people will mental illness in their lifetime , making it almost impossible to go through life without knowing someone , a parent , spouse , a child , a friend , a staff colleague or an acquaintance and will struggle from one of negativity . Unlike other diseases such as cancer or heart disease , the stigma of schizophrenia patients who need to be included including social , supported by the love and understanding and not be made into an object of fear .

    It would be comforting to think that the students , due to their years of practicing meditation is somehow immune from mental illness . However, we have seen the kind where potential customers think and what consequences it incurs . ” Meditation is a method of training the mind , sometimes people have to excessive pressure from work , family cause psychosis but it is , I think that they should meditate , meditate , …. I like style of the temples they helped me peace of mind and much more .

  47. gump meaning on September 8th, 2014 10:35 am

    Yes! Finally someone writes about veteran benefits.