Susan, thanks for a great thought provoking post...

You know, I get that in modern Western psychology depression is viewed as a
dysfunctional mental state... And I  get that the state of ³depression²
exists along a continuum and that in certain cases there is very much
chemical balances  that may require pharmacological interventions..

That said, in the ³psychology² of spirituality doesn¹t depression have a
more ³functional² role on the landscape of praxis? For example, doesn¹t both
Christian and Buddhist practitioners of meditation recognize the ³dark night
of the soul² as a critical ³stage² of the path? Isn¹t (spiritual) depression
a state to be embraced?

I¹m currently reading a wonderful book entitled ³Japanese Death Poems ­
Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on  the Verge of Death².  Like
practitioners of tea ceremony and calligraphy, Zen haiku poets aspire to
evoke/attain a ³state of  consciousness² called ³mono no aware². Edward
Seidensticker, the brilliant translator of the ³Tale of the Genji² defined
³mono no aware² as the deep spiritual sadness that occurs during the
simultaneous perception of beauty and the transitory nature of all things.
Ivan Morris, the late great scholar of Japanese literature, defined ³mono no
aware² as spiritual pathos/depression.  In any event, it can be argued that
if spiritual depression was not embraced in certain circles of Zen, much of
haiku, tea ceremony, calligraphy, etc would simply not have existed...

So my question is what exactly is the role of depression ­ if any ­ in our
Zen Buddhist practices?


On 5/1/06 4:56 PM, "Susan" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:

> There are a number of groups around that teach mindfulness
> meditation for people with depression and other types of mental
> problems - but they are not limited to these types of people as this
> is how I first learned how to meditate, and I don't suffer from any
> of these problems, I just wanted to learn how to meditate.
> "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction" or MBSR is the name of the
> program, it is commonly facilitated by
> psychiatrists/psychotherapists, but not always. The program was
> developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts
> Medical Centre and is widely offered throughout the United States
> and Canada. Doing a simple google search for this program and the
> city in which your friend is in might bring up something useful.
> It's an 8 week program in which one practices about 45 minutes each
> night, and they meet together once a week to talk about their
> experiences and meditate as a group.
> This is a good way to get started and begin to deal with depression
> to boot, without aligning oneself with a particular branch of
> Buddhism.
> Susan
> --- In, "dkotschessa" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
> wrote:
>> >
>> > --- In, "greentealeaf111"
>> > <greentealeaf111@> wrote:
>>> > >
>>> > > How could handle a friend with depression, without becoming
>>> > > depressed?  What is the Zen teaching on depression?
>>> > >
>> > 
>> > Depends on what you mean by "handle."  If they want to get out of
> it, 
>> > it's really something they have to do themselves.
>> > 
>> > As far as a "zen teaching on depression" it's really just like any
>> > emotion.  You just need to be 100% aware of it, observe it
> mindfully 
>> > and continue your practice (zazen or whatever).  Emotions are just
>> > physiological storms in your body.  Depression is kind of a
> monsoon!
>> > 
>> > If you are worried about "catching" it from another person when
> you 
>> > are trying to help them, mindfulness/awareness is really your
> guard 
>> > against that.
>> > 
>> > -DaveK

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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