Author Topic: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana  (Read 29304 times)

Graham

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Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« on: December 15, 2009, 05:20:21 AM »
Many devotees get feelings of depression/despair/hopelessness at an apparent lack of progress in their sadhana or meditation. They are often overcome by the trials and tribulations of life and become despondent.

This is normal and to assist those who suffer from these problems I will relate a few incidents in my own life, to show that there is hope even in the darkest of moments.

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I first came across Bhagavan in 1974 or 1975 after reading 'In Days of Great Peace' by Mouni Sadhu. This book changed my life completely and I became determined to attain Liberation in this lifetime.

For the first few years I engaged in what can only be described as tepid efforts as I sought to understand what exactly it was I was supposed to be doing, during which time I purchased every book published in English by the ashram. I then decided to intensify my practice to the exclusion of all else, apart from that which is absolutely necessary for the maintenance of life.

After two years of this intense sadhana I had many profound and powerful experiences, but none were permanent. Other things happened in my worldly life which at the time appeared to be extremely unhelpful, even disastrous. A period of despair and depression then followed coupled with intense meditation to try and lift it, so intense that I suffered from fits and other debilitating ailments. This continued for some time and throughout this difficult period I prayed intensely for a solution, but none came.

Then one morning whilst in the deepest of depressions, I was pleading with Bhagavan, asking 'what kind of guru are you, that you desert your devotees and leave them helpless?', when suddenly out of the air a voice thundered: "You believe the illusion is real" and then became silent.

Six words that removed the depression in an instant, all doubts dispelled. I spent the remainder of that day laughing at my past stupidity.

This was not the end of sadhana by any means and I continued my practice of meditation but with less strain, not wanting to bring about more fits.

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During the next few years my worldly life collapsed completely and I was left virtually destitute, to the point of having to go out at night to look for money that people might have dropped in the street, so that I could eat.

After eleven years of this worldly struggle, with no apparent progress in meditation, I was again feeling helpless, but remained determined.

At this time an invitation appeared in the post, to attend a concert in Leicester in the UK. I would not normally attend such things, but somehow felt drawn towards it. My daughter and her friend also wanted to go. So I borrowed a friend's car and set out for the concert in good time.

Because of a error we arrived one hour later than the published start of the concert and feared the worst, but to our surprise the group was also late and had not arrived.

Finally, when all was set, we sat down in the large empty venue and the concert began - no-one else came to the concert apart from the daughter of the organiser and a small child. The group played and sang a few songs, but the flute player was especially entrancing and I was told that he was a substitute who had suddenly appeared after the group's regular player had fallen ill just before leaving India.

The concert over, we were all invited to one of the organiser's homes to eat before setting off for our destinations. After food we all shook hands, but when the flutist took my hand, it was like a powerful electric shock, the heart centre vibrated powerfully and opened. I was left in a daze and his radiant smile and slight nod of the head conveyed the reassurance that all was well and my torment was over.

I then set off for home. The group who also left at the same time followed behind me in their minibus towards the motorway. Still in a daze, I became confused about which way to go, at which point the minibus stopped and the flutist leaned out of window and said - 'you go that way', pointing in the right direction.

After arriving home safely I discovered that no-one else had any unusual experiences there.

Years later I asked the organisers of the group if they remembered the flutist, but they say they cannot remember anything about the concert at all.

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Many of the forum members will know of my work with relation to the restoration of Bhagavan's photos. This has been going on in one form or another for seventeen years and many devotees have obtained the restored versions from the ashram.

It has been very hard work, often frustrating, requiring reworking countless times, because as technology advanced errors became apparent that were invisible before. In truth, I was never happy with the results, because badly damaged images required far too many changes to be made to remove the thousands of scratches.

Obtaining accurate prints has also been a source of constant frustration and disappointment in India. So after fourteen years of problems we decided that the only way to get good prints would be to transfer the restored photos to negative and use those to produce consistent photographic prints.

With this view in mind, six months ago I started restoring the photos again with fellow devotee Karthik Venkatasubramanian (the photographer) from Chennai. But this has proven to be something of a disaster for reasons that were beyond us to understand; everything we tried went wrong, including re-scanning the negatives and producing new negatives with various service providers across the world.

To overcome the errors with negative production, we decided that the only way to do this properly would be to obtain an LVT Image Recorder (the machine that creates the negatives) and do the work ourselves, but there is only one of these machines in India and enquiries were made as to its availability. We also tried different scanning methods and still the results were not satisfactory.

We were totally bemused by it all until a few days ago, when in a moment of despair an apparently crazy idea popped into Karthik's head, which forced him to try something that normally he would never contemplate.

This resulted in the successful capturing of images from the original negatives by an unusual method, whereby the majority of scratches, fungus stains and blemishes on the negatives are almost completely removed without any retouching at all, producing sharp and clear images that look as if they were taken yesterday. Experimentation with this method continues.

You can see the results HERE - (I've called it a miracle because that is what it is).

The owner of the LVT in India, also has a very professional instant print set-up and Karthik decided to send some of the digital images to him for test printing. The results from these are perfect, for the first time in fourteen years both photographs of Arunachala and the restored photographs of Bhagavan look exactly as they do on the screen. The owner is also considering the request for the LVT.

There is lot more background to this story, most of it private details, but suffice to say that a very clear and precise thread can be seen throughout this whole sequence of events, that has drawn us inexorably to this point where years of problems are solved in a matter of a few days through what appeared at first sight to be disaster.

As a consequence of this, the entire restoration project has to be started all over again from scratch and all previous work discarded.

Do I regret it, no, of course not. We will simply continue, removing any residual blemishes that this method cannot remove automatically.

Doing all of this work repeatedly over so many years, in addition to my earlier trials and tribulations, has taught me patience, tolerance and fortitude. Furnishing me with the certain knowledge that at the right time, everything comes right by God's grace, according to His plan, not ours.

-----------

The only advice I can give is 'never lose hope and never give in to despair in your efforts to Realize the Self. Meditate when sattva is predominant and when rajas and tamas are predominant, turn to prayer until they pass'.

Above all else, have faith in God and in yourself and it will all come right in the end. Nothing is more certain than that.

-----------

The point of frustration at a lack of progress in meditation remains to be clarified.

Throughout advaitic texts you will find the statement that 'all are already Realised' is repeated over and over again. You will also find the contradictory statements that 'no effort is required to Realise the Self' and 'effort is required'. Both statements are true in the right context.

Repeated and constant effort is required to turn the mind away from the world towards its source, the Self. But it cannot Realise the Self because Self is already Realised.

To expect the mind to Realise the Self is like expecting the 'Role' played by an actor to Realise the actor, or the illusiory snake to Realise the rope. In these cases the actor and the rope are real, the Role the actor plays and snake are illusions.

There are countless projections of ego/mind, but only one Self. The ego/mind is an illusion, it is only a thought, it cannot Realise the Self, it can only surrender to it and be consumed/negated by it. So all efforts to Realise an individual Self will end in frustration and failure, because it is the ego which is trying to become Self-realised, which it can never do - it can however become ego-realised, followed by a complete descent into tamas.

Little more can be said on this point; you have to understand it yourself through practice and apply it.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2009, 12:12:16 PM by Graham »

Nagaraj

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Gratitude
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2009, 09:37:16 PM »
Dear Graham

I don't know if you remember me, but I was a member in this Forum for some time and then due to some reasons, I did not strike in chord here in this place and I had the urge to move out of this forum as I felt this is not a right place for discussions etc... but then still I used to check this forum each day several times and read all the articles posted by fellow devotees and I took my share of cake where ever I found it in various posts.

But today, now, as usual I visited the forum to see updates in posts and I saw 2 posts from you and I don't know why or for what reason, I again felt a strong urge within me to become part of this forum. I felt so strongly withing me the genuine-ity in your todays posts! some kind of chord struck within me and here I am!

I went through all your struggle by reading couple minutes your posts. Sometimes what we believe as pains actually end up being our extreme contentment, but we just mistake the process as suffering. I cry in front of Sri Ramana Maharshi out of pain of not being able to have been during his physical presence. there will be a lot of pain in my heart, unbearable yet it is so pleasing, blissful. I want that pain again and again.

I had decided I am never going to be part of any forums or discussions, but here I am without any agenda or with any views and with any intentions to posts various threads or to discuss or clarify doubts but simply present!

I would like to show deep gratitude for your services. I have revolved around your room doors (websites) for long hours. you and your team gave me a doorway to everything of Sri Ramana Maharshi who is everything to me. Thank you.

Nagaraj
॥ शांतमात्मनि तिष्ट ॥
Remain quietly in the Self.
~ Vasishta

Graham

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2009, 12:10:44 PM »
Yes Nagaraj,

I remember you and wondered where you had gone.

Suffering is an intrinsic part of the process of spiritual maturity. Those who find the world pleasing do not give it up, so suffering is actually God's Grace helping us to turn away from it.

Suffering is only the mind's refusal to accept the inevitable. If we are surrendered to God then there is no suffering, because we accept everything as it is.

This is the most valuable lesson of my 60 years in this world.

Akira

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2010, 04:05:55 PM »
Thank you for sharing your experience, Graham. It has encouraged me a lot.

amiatall

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2010, 01:18:16 PM »
Thank you for the work on photos. And for this place where there are no borders for internationality.
Thank you for letting His will to work through you.

Akira

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2010, 12:14:50 PM »
The concert over, we were all invited to one of the organiser's homes to eat before setting off for our destinations. After food we all shook hands, but when the flutist took my hand, it was like a powerful electric shock, the heart centre vibrated powerfully and opened. I was left in a daze and his radiant smile and slight nod of the head conveyed the reassurance that all was well and my torment was over.

Dear Graham,

You said that the heart centre vibrated and opened.
I have never had this kind of blessed experience.
Is the Heart centre you mentioned on(or in) the right side of the chest as Bhagavan explained?
Once it opened, it is open permanently?

Subramanian.R

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2010, 10:24:41 AM »
In Bhagavan's experience, He calls it Nadi-mathanam, where the nerves
are all churned. You feel that everything is over and you are going to
become a bag of rotten potatoes.  If the sadhana is genuine, this ends
up in a clear experience of the Absolute.  Then you be still and "it is
the birds that sing."  This nerve racking is also called Siva Sakti Natanam,
the dance of Sakti, before she takes you to Siva.  This happens in Aham
Sphurti. The I thought becomes I consciousness and then I-I.  Aham-Aham.

Arunachala Siva.
   

Graham

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2010, 06:55:03 PM »
The heart-centre is the Self. It is not in the body, the body is an appearance in It, however there is a sensation, an appearance of it to the right of the chest, but not as you imagine it to be. The experience is without body, yet with it. Very hard to describe.

But like so many experiences, and I have had many, it is just an experience. Self-realisation is the end of experiences.

I will take this opportunity to clarify a profound mistake in publications. Bhagavan 'never' told anyone to concentrate on the right side of the chest, on the contrary, he told Annamalai Swami that he would never realise the self by doing that.

This mistake was created by a group of influential people in the 1950's here in Tiruvannamalai, who were unclear about what Bhagavan meant by concentrate on the heart and they decided that he meant concentrate on the right side of the chest - completely wrong!

Simple logic should clarify this - in order to concentrate on the right side of the chest there has to be a body as the starting point, the body is a projection of the mind which arises from consciousness, body-consciousness is the obstacle, so how can the obstacle overcome the obstacle. It is a vicious circle.

The heart centre is both the seat of dark ignorance and the Self - two sides of the same coin.

Graham

nsuresh

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2010, 07:17:13 AM »
Dear Graham,
Thanks for accepting me into these forums.  Your advice regarding praying during periods of Rajas and tamas and practicing self-enquiry when Sattva is domiant is very appropriate.  Although to some extent we can control the states of mind using pure saatvic diet, breathing exercise etc, past tendencies control the three states of mind.  So one needs to have a plan of action for the three states.
Please continue to share your experiences and advice with other aspirants.
At Bhagavan's holy feet,
Suresh

Katy

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2013, 12:17:51 AM »
Dear Graham,

Thank you for accepting me to this forum. Depression, despair and hopelessness are something I have found on this path. It is very comforting to see this is expected some times on this path. I remember the day I realized that the 'I' that started this quest (ego) must die to allow the real Self to be seen. I went through a time of depression wondering how this would happen, and also why I had even started such a quest. I asked why me? Why should my I die when others arnt bothered by such things and just get on with life. I soon realized this was just self pity.  Sometimes it feels like Bhagavan has almost left me, that Im making no progress or even going backwards, but I tell myself he is always there within even in these times of hopelessness. I know once Bhagavan has shown us his grace he will never let us go, it is just remembering this in times of trouble. Your post is of great help, many thanks. Katy

Graham

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2013, 04:35:32 AM »
Dear Katy,

The ego cannot realise the Self, it is this failed effort that brings about depression.

It is like the character played by an actor trying to realise (become) the actor as an independent entity.

All effort - and effort IS required - should be directed at holding onto your awareness of Being whenever possible to the exclusion of all else, including the effort itself (not thinking about it, but just being aware). This is real self-enquiry and brings the right results in the end.

Best wishes

Graham

Katy

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2013, 01:39:52 PM »
Dear Graham,

Thank you! May I say that is one of the most perfect explanations as to why a seeker can fall into depression. That it is the failed effort by the ego and that its like a character in a play trying to become an actual entity! Its exactly right, I tryed all sorts of paths before I found Bhagavan and they all ended in getting nowhere and depressed. It was the ego trying all those paths which is why the Self was never realized from them. It is a step in the right direction to realize the ego is doing this, to stand back and be aware of its many subtle ways of diverting us off the path. Even when Id found Bhagavan my ego kept trying to go down other paths, Id keep getting e mails from new age sites Id subscribed to ages ago, and I could feel my ego wanting to join the live blog or ascension course or whatever,  but I did not allow the ego to divert me this time. Bhagavan IS the way and I thank you for putting this issue in such an understandable way.

Many thanks Katy

swayam

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2013, 04:45:17 PM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Dear Graham

Just for my satisfaction, Thanks a TON for sharing your hardships(?...!)

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Alma Gentil

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2013, 06:31:26 PM »
Dear Sri Graham,

Also thank you for accepting me to this Forum. It is wonderful to read these dialogues, to feel very in contact with persons that also love Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and His teachings.
Bhagavan permitted me to visit Ramanashram last August.2012, one year ago. Never in my life thought it possible to such a travel, from Portugal to India, for all reasons. But… “the way was opened” for me.
Visiting this Forum means “to recharge the batteries, so to speak”. I have stopped in many “Topics” of this Forum, mentally writing my gratitude, but in this one, started by You in December.2009, I dare to start my “Newby”:

1-   I have acquired at Ramanashram Library a collection in 2 Volumes of Ramana Maharshi Photos – 2 big-size and so marvellous volumes! I believe this wonderful work is the same you are mentioning here in this Topic. I couldn’t bring in my luggage all the books I wished I could bring. These 2 Volumes of Bhagavan Photos were destined to a friend that introduced me to the Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, as an expression of my deep gratitude. So, I present my deep gratitude also to You, for making this possible, through Your brilliant work.

2-   I am perplexed about the following explanation, when you mention the “mistake”:


"Posted by: Graham
« on: April 24, 2010, 06:55:03 PM » Insert Quote
 The heart-centre is the Self. It is not in the body, the body is an appearance in It, however there is a sensation, an appearance of it to the right of the chest, but not as you imagine it to be. The experience is without body, yet with it. Very hard to describe.
But like so many experiences, and I have had many, it is just an experience. Self-realisation is the end of experiences.
I will take this opportunity to clarify a profound mistake in publications. Bhagavan 'never' told anyone to concentrate on the right side of the chest, on the contrary, he told Annamalai Swami that he would never realise the self by doing that.
This mistake was created by a group of influential people in the 1950's here in Tiruvannamalai, who were unclear about what Bhagavan meant by concentrate on the heart and they decided that he meant concentrate on the right side of the chest - completely wrong!
Simple logic should clarify this - in order to concentrate on the right side of the chest there has to be a body as the starting point, the body is a projection of the mind which arises from consciousness, body-consciousness is the obstacle, so how can the obstacle overcome the obstacle. It is a vicious circle.
The heart centre is both the seat of dark ignorance and the Self - two sides of the same coin."



I am practicing like this, I always effort myself to maintain concentration on the right side of the chest, the spiritual centre, inquiring “who am I?”.
Perhaps this part of my path is only the ‘starting point’.
I understood the "sadhana" like that from the book "The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi – 1972 – Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai, Índia – Shambhala Publications Inc." (offered to my friend by a sadhu, at Ramanshram; an offer, in India, of a copy translated into Portuguese). And also from "Gems from Bhagavan – Selected by A. Devaraja Mudaliar".

Sometimes I hold in that centre Bhagavan beautiful face and intense look. I feel love and gratitude, and secure, and I know that I don’t have to do anything, just trust Him and everything is in its right place. As It Is.  I sometimes have this strange feeling that millions of my words wouldn’t be able to explain, but one simple Bhagavan phrase cleared it for me:

“He is concentrating on the reflection and complains that he cannot see the original.”

This phrase is mentioned in the Topic Re: Our Bhagavan-Stories
« Reply #241 on: August 07, 2013


I understand that in Your above simple lines You already explain what You mean, and I think it is clear to me, but how should I do my practice then?
Or my practice is what I do, I think, I feel, because I’m thinking on my Guru ALL the time. He is my permanent thought, really the substratum of all other thoughts. I Am In Love.
Please be so kind to elucidate me.


I began to prepare this “Reply” yesterday afternoon. I cried in my bed when I went to sleep, feeling such emptiness, as if a possible change or finishing in my “beloved” sadhana could be the sinking of all the process. I realized that I’m attached to it. Tonight I had a dream and now I only remember the sense of a phrase: - accept what comes to you, all has a purpose.

Early this morning, I went to meditate with a friend at her house. When we finished, down stairs I came across a baby bird struggling on the ground unable to fly. I snuggled the baby bird in my hand, feeling its heart beat so fast, and after a while it stopped struggling. I caressed it with lips, stroke it with soft finger, sent life-giving beams, just like Bhagavan did. We tried to put some water into his beak. He became peaceful for a while. Suddenly he struggled again trying to fly but life-force has failed, and closed his eyes. I couldn’t feel his heart beat anymore.

which is the purpose????

“Only when we realise that it is we who clothe the formless Arunachala with form - because we view it with the eyes of the body - that we shall begin to search within our hearts for the formless Reality which that form veils. Until then, we shall not penetrate and understand this miracle.”


3-   Since last June.13 I am building a Blog http://textomeditativo.blogspot.pt, where I am posting meditative texts, but always in Portuguese. I am translating and including texts from the Forum, mentioning there its Source, completed with the respective Link, so that visitors are able to consult the Forum immediately by clicking. For instance: ‘CAN A CRACKED EGG BE HATCHED?’ 
http://textomeditativo.blogspot.pt/2013/08/pode-um-ovo-partido-ser-chocado.html


Om Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi Om - Arunachala Shiva

Graham

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Re: Depression, despair and hopelessness in sadhana
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2013, 07:20:25 AM »
Dear Alma,

It is a mistake because you are concentrating on an object - a product of the mind - and not on the subject 'You'.

The heart-centre is neither in nor out of the body, so how can you concentrate on it?

The atma-spurana is a sensation that appears in the body, it is witnessed by the mind, which is a projection of the Self that arises through that heart-centre.

Bhagavan was very clear about this and you have already detailed one of His responses in your reply - “He is concentrating on the reflection and complains that he cannot see the original.”

This really is the most simple of things, but the mind doesn't like simple, it wants to 'think' and confuse matters, and that is its power.

The 'reflection' is the mind/ego/body complex and the 'original' is the witness, the witness is 'you', the one who is concentrating.

Why go on this circuitous route to find yourself who are always present in the beginning, middle and end. You are always aware of 'you', but your awareness of 'you' is broken up continuously by thoughts about objects.

The heart-centre is 'you' and that is what you are to concentrate on at every possible moment, until such time as self-awareness becomes permanent.

There is nothing difficult about this, the difficult part is breaking the habit of countless lifetimes by turning your attention away from the world to the witness of the world.

Graham

« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 05:51:50 AM by Graham »