The Tao of Depression

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Like most of you, depression is a constant in my life. Even when I am feeling fine, I know it is lurking in the shadows somewhere, waiting to pounce, catch me unaware, with my guard down, especially in a moment of weakness.

     

    It is there. It’s never going to go away. For me, that is a fact of life, one I have no choice but to accept. Strangely enough, acceptance is my secret weapon. What I accept, I can learn to live with. So when depression knocks, I tend to open the door.

     

    The Tao Te Ching is full of this kind of paradoxical wisdom. You find success in submitting, you gain respect in being humble. Here is one of my favorite verses:

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    All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. If you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.

     

    According to the ultimate Tao master, Yoda: “To answer power with power, the Jedi way this is not.”

     

    So, basically, what the Tao is teaching us is that when we give depression nothing to oppose, depression tends to lose its force. Or - to put it another way - nothing feeds a depression more than fighting it. The depression wins every time.

     

    When the sage walks, he leaves no footprints behind.

     

    Depression is the opposite of life. And life has its obligations. But become too attached to life, or what we mistake for life, and see what happens. Fear and desire is all about the past and future. Life is all about the present. But, here we are, right now, sharing it with depression.

     

    Yield and remain whole. Bend and remain straight.

     

    Your depression is telling you to stay in bed. Your obligations are telling you that you need to go to work. You fear what may happen if you don’t go to work. You tough it out. You stand firm. You break ...

     

    Wisdom is knowing when to act and not act. We’re all way too good at acting. The Tao, by contrast, features a lot of non-acting - the ruler who rules by not ruling, the sage who remains silent. Even the water, which just flows.

     

    Paradoxically, non-acting may yield a far more favorable outcome, but rarely do we view this as an option. Otherwise, Laozi would have found something else to write about. 

     

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    This piece is intended as food for thought. Please feel free to share your wisdom and insights. Comments below ...    

Published On: May 31, 2014