Question: When I find myself feeling depressed — in the dumps so to speak — I tend to see myself as the victim of whatever situation is at hand. Then the more I find reasons to justify being the victim, the longer I tend to stay at my personal pity party. What would it take to snap myself out of this sad stupor?
Answer: When faced with any despair, the first thing our mind asks is: “What’s to be done?” “Who can I speak to about it?” “What’s the best way for me to handle it?” “Is there any way out?” And at the heart of these complaints, whether detected or not, is the mind’s favorite question: “Why does everything happen to me?”
But at the root of each of these fearful questions which seem to seek a way out of the sorrow lies a secret assumption, one that keeps us defeated and going around in sad circles. And the deception is so unconscious and habitual that if it weren’t for the existence of higher powers of perception, this subtle betrayal would be complete. The assumption is that whatever your current pain may be, it must be real. And further, that since that ache is lodged in your heart — it must follow that that pain belongs to you. Even if you doubt the existence of a higher, happier life level, the following is beyond all doubt: living from a mind that automatically assumes suffering is real, gives you no choice other than to remain a perpetual victim. This defeated inner condition is the same as being sentenced to a life of perpetual sadness and resentment. Our lives aren’t meant to be spent in this wasteful way.
The next time any sadness calls for you, slow the whole of yourself down and work to quietly observe yourself. Your voluntary state of conscious but alert relaxation will stand in sharp contrast to the rapid-fire contents of your own mind as one thought after another races through it, competing for your attention. Use your consciousness of this contrast, and the higher self-awareness this inner conflict naturally creates, to keep you wide-awake to these invading thoughts and feelings. This sustained and elevated awareness is vital to your success.
No matter how familiar that sadness may seem as it floods through you, allow your new awareness to help you just consciously brush aside what you think you know about it. Make it your heartfelt intention to see what that pain is trying to tell you about you. If the mind can get you to believe in its conflict and suffering, then the reasons for that suffering must be real. This is where the darkness triumphs. In so many unspoken words — words whispered in the dimly lit portions of your own mind — it tells you: “Since this pain is real, your problem has to be real as well.” Yes, there may be a real problem. But it’s rarely, if ever, what we think it is.
The source of our suffering isn’t that life fails to live up to our expectations, but that we live from a nature that meets life with countless unconscious demands. And contrary to what our minds would have us believe, happiness is not having our demands met. Lasting contentment is being free of our own undeveloped and demanding nature. The only thing that makes us unhappy is our ideas about how to make ourselves happy.
Begin today, right this moment, to see all the ways you try to make sense of suffering. And then see that suffering never makes any sense! Meet as many moments as you can with this new wisdom. Look at all of life, and all of its demanding relationships from the undemanding eyes of your higher nature. If you do your part, you can’t help but hit the higher mark. One day the new freedoms you’re sure to see, ˆ
For extra profitable inner practice, learn to see the deception in any assumption that wants you to believe that there is no higher alternative to your suffering than to either run from it or simply endure it. Never listen to any pain that is asking you what to do about it. The moment you seek a solution to its tormented question, you’re under its authority, which makes you its victim.