How Depression Can Induce Enlightenment – Good News
I was reading Eckhart Tolle’s famous book (Highly Recommended) – The Power of Now – couple of years ago and I’ve recently realized that his enlightenment experience was a result of intense depression. Not only his but many other enlightened people do report similar findings.
How strange is it that a state of intense depression can lead to a state of non-suffering and true liberation?
This reminds me a quote of Marcus Aurelius:
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Instead of viewing depression as an obstacle, we now see it as a potential path to enlightenment.
- Is it the only path to enlightenment? – No, of course not.
In fact, I don’t recommend getting depressed to be enlightened. There are much easier paths to it.
But this news is great for people who are currently suffering from intense depression. You might be closer to enlightenment and liberation – a state of non-suffering – than you think.
Now before we continue with how this works, it is likely that you may have prejudices and misjudgments about what enlightenment is, so first read this article and come back.
Foundational Article: What Is Enlightenment? – A Step by Step Process To Get Enlightened
Now that you have a solid idea of what enlightenment, let’s discuss how depression can lead to liberation.
In his book, Eckhart Tolle mentions that he was having these suicidal thoughts one day and as he was battling with himself, he has this thought popped up.
“I can’t live with myself anymore.”
But wait! What does that suppose to mean?
If you can’t live with yourself, then who is the “you” who struggles to live with yourself? Who is making this statement? There seems to be more than one version of yourself. Who is the real version?
At that moment, Eckhart Tolle had a profound insight. If this was the case, I must have at least 2 versions of me. In this circumstance, this version of Eckhart Tolle is the one who suffers from depression. But as we’ve just seen, your actual self, looks upon that depressed self.
So maybe things are not as they appear to be.
What happened is that a sense of separation has occurred. Your suicidal thoughts and emotions have become stories you observe in your mind. A depressed version of you is suffering in your mind. But these thoughts or even this depressed person who feels like you has nothing to do with the actual you.
We call this the illusion of identification. When you identify and attach yourself with your thoughts and emotions, you become a slave to your mind.
We’ve talked about this topic of identification with my good friend Martin Ball on my podcast: Interview With Martin Ball on Enlightenment, Identification, Meditation and Psychedelics
Let’s remember: What was the main principle of Stoicism?
Your mind is the only thing you control. So why don’t you control it? It is so easy to let go of control and let your mind rule you. Believing this and that.
Related Article: What is Stoicism? – 3 Practical Exercises to Get You Started
But if you take a rational and somewhat skeptic approach, you’ll start to question these thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself.
You’ll soon come to see that all of these thoughts come up and the only thing that you have control over is your interpretation and reactions to these thoughts.
If you have these suicidal thoughts, just like Eckhart Tolle did, separate that depressed version of you with your actual self.
What is your actual self?
Well, that is a complicated question to answer and I don’t want to confuse you any further. When you connect with your true self, that is called an enlightenment experience. And getting to that is a difficult and time-consuming process.
But I’ll say this: If you stop all the monkey mind you have in your mind and instead of lying to yourself (ex. saying I’m fine when you really have a difficult day) you act more honestly ,you’ll get closer to your true self.
And your true self doesn’t suffer. This alone makes it a worthy pursuit.
Stop those incessant thoughts in your mind. Start a daily mindfulness meditation practice. Stick to it. Keep teaching yourself about enlightenment and follow people who are enlightened.
Over the years, as a depressed person (currently), you’ll transcend that version of you and connect with your higher self. There are no shortcuts. You’ll need to commit to your self-actualization.
Till then, don’t give up on life.
Enlightenment is on the horizon after all 😉
Check out my other articles on enlightenment:
What is Enlightenment: A Step By Step Practical Guide
Stoicism & Buddhism: Similarities and Differences
Consider joining my free email course. There is much exclusive content waiting for you there as well.
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Do you want to stop suffering and enjoy life regardless of the circumstances?
If so, my free daily email course will teach you deep meditation work and mind training - integrating buddhist and stoic wisdom - to help you cultivate permanent happiness in your life.
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- Stoicism on Wisdom: Don’t Rationalize Irrational Behaviour
- Stoicism on Morality: Consequentialism and Virtue Ethics
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- What is Stoicism? A Definition and 3 Stoic Exercises To Get You Started
- Negative Visualization: An Ancient Stoic Technique For Creating Happiness