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In a recent post on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, you can read Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice on how to transform depression into the path of enlightenment:
“Depression can be a good thing, because it is a sign of purification, of having practiced Dharma.
“There are different levels of how negative karma is purified. With the first level, you never experience the suffering results of your actions. With the second level, you experience these results, but rather than experiencing the suffering result of the negative action for many eons in the lower realms – the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms – instead, the result manifests in this life in the form of some problem, such as depression, a toothache or headache, or being criticized by people and so forth. Unbelievably negative karma manifests as just this problem or even as bad dreams or nightmares; often in the form of sickness, failure in business, or some disaster in your family or in your relationships – other people treating you badly or abusing you; and also in the form of depression.
“This way you never have to experience the heavy suffering for an incredible length of time, therefore, experiencing this depression is a positive thing. This can be related to whatever problems you have, so you feel positive and happy about them. You should understand all the rest of your problems, whatever you have, in this same way.
“Then there’s the next level of purifying karma. By experiencing this [suffering result] now, you don’t have to be reborn in the lower realms, or maybe for a very short time and the suffering is very light. For example, when you throw a stone on a rock, it hits in one second, like snapping your fingers. Similarly, in that way, all those heavy sufferings for a great length of time are finished instead, by experiencing this suffering now. If you compare that to the experience of heavy suffering for an incredible length of time, it’s very positive, very good. It’s fantastic!
“There’s no question that the problems experienced in the human realm are an incredibly great comfort, even a pleasure, compared to those extremely heavy sufferings in the hell, hungry ghost and animal realms. So now that negative karma that we don’t have to experience is really fantastic. …”
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an organization dedicated to preserving Mahayana Buddhism through offering the Buddha’s authentic teachings and to facilitating reflection, meditation, practice and the opportunity to actualize and directly experience the Buddha’s teachings. Sign up to receive news and updates.
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About Mandala Publications
Mandala Publications is the official publication of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), an international charitable organization founded by two Tibetan Buddhist masters, Lama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche. FPMT is a vibrant international community, with a network of 160 affiliate centers, projects and services, and members in more than 30 countries.
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