Today I had a realisation of what might be the true meaning of depression in relation to dualism and the messages of the great spiritual teachers.
My thoughts are these, that depression fundamentally Is a perception and feeling of being separate and isolated from the rest of reality. A feeling of being empty and alone. A feeling of life being utterly meaningless.
The cause of this; I believe is a mental separation between the depressed person and reality. This happens when the depressed person judges and rejects parts of reality setting up a dualistic separation of which their mind chooses a side. The result of choosing a side results the in the “other” as being perceived as antagonistic which results in anxiety within the mind and this invokes elements of the fight or flight response.
This burns out ones serotonin which exhausts the depressed person, further reinforcing that the idea that the world is something to be defended against, further reinforcing the feeling of separateness and the deepness of the depression.
We have been warned against the negative affects of dualistic thinking by the worlds wisdom literature.
From Genesis of the Bible
And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.
This is a warning against dualistic thought. When you engage in that judgement of the world “you will surely die”, meaning if you are judgemental you will fall into a state of being akin to a spiritual death.
Father Richard Rohr was quoted in the Huffington Post writing about dualistic thinking. It ran true for me.
This is why teachers like Jesus make so much of mercy, and forgiveness, and grace, because these are the things that, if truly experienced, totally break dualism down. Because once you experience being loved when you are unworthy, being forgiven when you did something wrong, that moves you into non-dual thinking. You move from what I call meritocracy, quid pro quo thinking, to the huge ocean of grace, where you stop counting, you stop calculating. That for me is the task of much of the entire spiritual life of a mystic or a saint – they fall deeper and deeper into that ocean of grace, and stop all the dang counting of “how much has been given to me,” “how much I deserve.” It’s reached its real low-point in our own American country, which is almost entirely about counting and deserving and earning — we call it a sense of entitlement. When you’re trapped inside of that mind, you’re going to have the kind of angry country we have today, where you’re just looking for who to blame, who to hate, who to shoot. It’s reaching that level.
For me this quote begins to reinforce some ideas that were starting to bubble around in my mind. The point of scripture isn’t to convey a literal history, nor is it to bluntly command us to live or think in a particular way. No rather it quietly, subtly presents ideas to us which help move our mind, body and spirits from lesser to greater ways of thinking and being. From fragmented, dualistic, opposition type thinking to wholistic, integrated thinking. Out of anxiety and depression and into freedom and joy.
Other great spiritual teachers have also taught about dualistic thinking as being detrimental to our mental health.
Wanting what’s good, without stop:
That’s the cause of suffering.
It’s a great fault: the strong fear of bad.
‘Good’ & ‘bad’ are poisons to the mind,
like foods that enflame a high fever.
The Dhamma isn’t clear
because of our basic desire for good.
Desire for good, when it’s great,
drags the mind into turbulent thought
until the mind gets inflated with evil,
and all its defilements proliferate.
The greater the error, the more they flourish,
taking one further & further away
from the genuine Dhamma.
Ajahn Mun’s Ballad of Liberation from the Five Khandhas
The Great Way is not difficult
for those who have no preferences.
When love and hate are both absent
everything becomes clear and undisguised.
Make the smallest distinction, however,
and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
If you wish to see the truth
then hold no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning of things is not understood
the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
Hsin Hsin Ming
Here is a proverb about dualism.. not sure where it comes from but it makes a good point as to why we should refrain from judgement.
Once there was a Chinese farmer who had a mare of which he was very proud. He was the envy of the entire village. But one day a wild stallion came and took the mare away. His friends all commiserated with him, You are so unlucky, you lost the finest working horse in the area. The farmer merely replied, Well, you never know. A few weeks later, the stallion, along with the farmers mare and three others, came into the farmers corral looking for food. Now his neighbors waxed enthusiastic. You are so fortunate, having so many horses. But the farmer merely responded, Well, you never know. The next day his son went out to break the wild horses and broke his leg in the effort. His friends again lamented, Your son, your helper and delight can no longer work with you. You are the most unfortunate of men. The farmer merely replied, Well, you never know. The very next week a general came in from the front lines where his troops were fighting valiantly, but he was losing. He came into the village and demanded every able-bodied man to join the army. But, of course, with a broken leg, the son could not go. His friends were muttering about his good luck, but the farmer merely said, Well, you never know.
Here are some more information on dualistic thinking
Just some food for thought.