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Coping With Depression

by Bhakti Tirtha Swami

Reposted from

Mental Illness on the Rise

In their 2001 World Health Report, the World Health Organization reported on the condition of mental health around the world, estimating that 450 million people on the planet have a mental or behavioral disorder. Furthermore, depression is now a leading cause of disability around the world, and, among the ten leading causes of the global burden of disease, it ranks fourth. The World Health Organization estimates that, in the next twenty years, depression will move up the list to become the second leading cause of disease. They also report that one million people commit suicide every year and between ten and twenty million make an attempt.

Considering these points, it is very important for us as spiritualists to understand mental illness so that we can help people who suffer from some of these problems. By understanding the effects of these mental disturbances on the consciousness, we will increase our effectiveness. This knowledge is a way that individuals with a higher level of consciousness can assist in many environments and bring in God consciousness. The spiritual warrior must protect the healthy and serve the wounded. In order to equip ourselves, we will examine mental illness and specifically depression from a psychological, physiological, and of course spiritual perspective.

Causes of Depression

Psychosomatic Diseases

Psychosomatic diseases distinctly develop from the mind, and, in certain instances, a person’s mind literally causes them to experience a disease or repress the symptoms of a particular type of sickness, even to the degree of paralysis. Psychoneuroimmunology is a medical and psychological science, which studies the influence of the mind on the body. What does this topic have to do with depression? Psychosomatic diseases illustrate the power of the mind and are important for us as we try to understand depression. Just by recognizing the process of thinking, feeling, and willing, we understand how thoughts lead to actions. If we repeatedly maintain certain thoughts in our minds, they will eventually turn into words and then actions.

Furthermore, when a person feels alienated or unloved, it affects the mind. More specifically, it activates the neurotransmitters, which then send messages throughout the whole body and consequently cause an attack on the cells and organs in our own bodies. Many diseases actually develop due to the mind?s frequent attacks on the cells and organs in the body. The mind has just that kind of power. Conversely, when a person feels cared for and loved, their physical and psychological immune system actually gets stronger. Love literally heals, protects, and gives longevity, and a lack of love literally kills.

Biological Factors

Some types of mental illness as well as depression actually have a biological origin or counterpart. There are many different types of ailments, diseases, or problems that can cause a mental disturbance. Sometimes a physical imbalance such as sugar diabetes or low blood sugar can lead to an imbalanced mental state. A lack of certain vitamins or nutrients can create problems, even a thyroid problem. Some studies suggest that many people in mental institutions actually have a biological problem.

The Dark Night of the Soul

Christian theology has a term called “the dark night of the soul” or a period of serious testing which applies to all serious spiritual seekers. At certain times during our spiritual progression, we may go through periods of rapid advancement and growth although we may find it hard to perceive the situation in this positive way. We might reach a point in our lives when we begin to think, “I am chanting; meditating; praying; fasting; reading the scriptures; visiting the temple, church, synagogue, or mosque; and following the spiritual laws and principles, but I am miserable! Where is God?” At this point, one even begins to seriously doubt Krishna’s mercy and attentiveness. Such a person might feel that even God has forsaken them.

Many times we fall into a state of depression because we have been acting in the right way and our level of consciousness has become more elevated, but we fail to understand the seemingly negative circumstances and challenges in our lives. However, the Supreme lets us burn up that karma so that we can move into another chapter. If you look back through your lives, you may even recall times when you have in fact experienced such a period and began to question God’s existence or His fairness. However, when you look back now, you realize the purpose of such events in your life because they have helped you to increase or elevate your consciousness. Often, the result of intense suffering is elevation in consciousness. Such suffering gives us the intensity to break through the last layers of mundane consciousness.

The Influence of Subtle Entities

In some cases, different subtle entities actually affect the body. Some people’s thoughts, desires, and activities are so degraded and low that they invite or allow very negative and sinister entities to enter into their bodies and influence them to partake in extremely negative activities. Therefore, individuals who are not becoming more spiritual are gradually losing some of their freewill and their creative expression of consciousness. The bombardments of different types of influences and propaganda intrusion will have a greater affect on them. These increasing phenomena also can cause mental illness.

Women More Prone to Depression

Women usually suffer from depression more than men and have a greater susceptibility to fall into states of depression. One reason is that they usually have less control of their environments and tend to be more emotional. When a person has issues such as economic, political, social, or religious problems, it will affect them a little less if they have some control of the situation. However, when a person finds him or herself in the middle of a problem and must simply remain at the mercy of the situation, it causes so much more stress on the consciousness.

The World Health Organization reports that 20% of the world’s female population has been physically or sexually abused by a man at some time in their life. If a woman has repressed certain aspects of her past, these memories may begin to surface between her late thirties and forties which can lead to some disturbances in the mind or consciousness. A man may not understand the woman’s struggles during this period since some of her problems stem from issues of abuse during her childhood.

Misuse of Vedic and ancient cultures is another serious area that leads to problems and facilitates depression. A culture, which adheres to the idea that the man provides and dominates in a monarchial or autocratic arrangement, can become very destructive if the people abuse this philosophy. Instead of caretaking and facilitating the women, the men can create a completely opposite situation, which then leads to various types of abuse. When this happens, it of course produces great depression among the women. In many cases, the men just accept the arrangement as traditional culture without thinking deeply on the matter or feeling at fault.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Depression

Spiritually Minded Therapists

We now want to spend some time looking at solutions or at least ways of dealing with depression in a healthy manner. First of all, we have a need for spiritually minded therapists, or therapists who are appreciative of the spiritual culture, and most importantly, who are actually following such a culture. Although some of these mental challenges are physiological or biological, other mental disturbances stem from the mind, which means that talk therapy can help a person work through them. However, it can be dangerous to go to a therapist who does not understand or appreciate the spiritual dimension because they can even make one’s situation worse.

For instance, when a saintly person starts speaking in a spirit of humility, the average therapist will categorize this as low self-esteem and begin to treat the problem as low self-esteem. They do not understand that humility is a part of the wealth of a saintly person. The saint’s gratitude and closeness to God ultimately make him or her humble. The aspiring spiritualist may be fixed in simplicity and renunciation, but the therapist may see this as anti-social behavior. The saint may be pursuing chastity or celibacy, but the therapist may see this as unhealthy sexual repression. The list goes on and on. For these reasons, there is a need to have godly devotees with special expertise so that they can service their own communities and keep the devotional focus.

Maintaining Both the Body and Soul

We sometimes think that we can solve all of our problems simply through the execution of the rituals, and actually such practices can provide the essential help if we perform them with sufficient depth and purity. However, since such depth is very rare, additional help is needed to assist the practitioner in the removal of various blocks. As spiritual institutions and communities expand all around the world, we need to maintain body and soul together. The Vaishnava saint, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, explained that, in order to develop a healthy community, we need to balance the following four needs:

  • We need to take care of the body.
  • We need to properly stimulate the mind.
  • We need to have a sense of social well-being.
  • We need to study the sastra.

As we embark on the devotional path and experience certain types of challenges that go along with normal association, we should also seek out help, and if possible, search for those in the community who have a little more understanding of the physical and psychological needs as well as the spiritual aspects.

The Enemies of the Mind

Imagine a situation in which six enemies constantly surround you and incessantly wait for the opportune moment to attack when you put your guard down. The six enemies are lust, anger, greed, bewilderment, intoxication, and envy. These are some of the ways in which depression, anxiety, gloom, and frustration affect the mind. As soon as you become lackadaisical, they will swiftly approach. However, we can try to sufficiently reinforce ourselves and strengthen our weak spots if we know that maya will attack us in these weak areas. If we know the enemy’s hiding place—the mind, we can keep our distance instead of remaining in an insecure position or allowing the enemy to constantly attack from an ambush.

Many mental breakdowns deal with the mindset of lust because unsatisfied lust turns into anger and then turns into great illusion and confusion. We can also understand depression as anger turned toward oneself. Enviousness also creates an imbalance within us. We should be param-duhkha-duhkhi-kripam-buddhi which means that we should feel the misery of others as well as their happiness. We should feel happy for another person when we see something positive happen in their life. Actually, we should feel the same happiness for them that we would feel for our own selves in that same situation. This type of mindset can help prevent depression and mental disturbance. If we learn how to weed out these negative tendencies, we will find that it will lead to some wonderful solutions.

Relinquish Selfishness

If we find ourselves in a state of depression, we can also examine our degree of self-centeredness. There are two ways to play God. We play God when we see ourselves as superior and as the most important person. We also play God when we place ourselves in the center by thinking of ourselves as the most inferior or most unfortunate person. Other times people play God by considering that everything revolves around their problems. If you ask them, “How are you?” they will respond, “I am so glad you asked! I have a headache, stomachache, and a pain in my leg. I need a raise and my son is giving me such problems.” By focusing too much on our misfortunes, it will reinforce our problems rather than eliminate them. On the other hand, if we try to help someone else or try to go beyond our own immediate situation, we will see that Krishna will give us the help we need and even take away our own particular issues. Depression means that we are focusing too much on our own problems and withholding our love from others.

Faith is Most Important

We will not have the ability to persevere without faith but we cannot fake faith. When certain aspects of a person’s life are not going so well, his or her faith does get weaker. Our faith relates to what has happened in the past, what is happening in the present, and more directly with what we are anticipating in the future. If our past has been rough and our present is incoherent, our faith in the future will be weak. However, if we see positive events around us that we feel good about, we will have strong faith. Only a rare person can maintain strong faith when they have had a difficult past and a rocky present. In our communities, we want to create environments that will energize us and help increase our faith.

Gratitude as a Way of Life

Sometimes our mental challenges become very stagnant because we do not move through them. We do not appreciate the past, but the more we have gratitude, the more we create auspiciousness in the future. Sometimes the Supreme Personality of Godhead gives to us and sometimes He takes away. As devotees, we want to have such a grateful mindset that when God gives us so much wealth, we say thank you. When God takes it away and puts us into a state of impoverishment, we thank Him for protecting us from false pride. We thank Him for any situation that allows us to keep a simple life.

If we can just develop this consciousness and constantly thank the Supreme in any situation, we will be able to learn and grow from any circumstance. We will make the auspicious situations more auspicious and we will turn any inauspicious situations into auspicious ones. It will become a learning experience, and as we honor it with gratitude, Krishna will naturally make arrangements for us.


The mind is the greatest enemy although we can make it our greatest friend. It all depends on attitude. Setbacks happen in institutions, families, and to us individually but we want to avoid getting too depressed, discouraged, and disappointed. We should try to thank the Lord and try to learn from our circumstances. We wait for the Supreme to do more than we could have done for ourselves. This means that we need steady faith and perseverance. We can all encourage each other by first trying to have that faith and that faith will spill over and help someone else. In this way, we all inherit the Kingdom of God.

Deities and Deity Worship

Reposted from
No copyright infringement is intended.

Deities play an important part in most temples of Krishna. But what is the significance of Deities and Deity worship? One thing to understand is that all the images or Deities in the Vedic pantheon, as found in the temples, are made according to explicit details and instructions found in the Vedic texts. Then they are installed in the temple in an elaborate ceremony wherein the Divine personalities are called to appear in the form of the Deity. Some of the Deities are demigods, while others, such as Krishna, Vishnu, or Ramachandra, are forms displaying various pastimes of the Supreme Being.

Some people, however, do not believe that God has a form. But many verses in the Puranas and particularly the Brahma-samhita establish that the Supreme Being does have specific forms according to His pastimes. These texts also describe His variegated features, which include His spiritual shape, characteristics, beauty, strength, intelligence, activities, etc. Therefore, it is considered that the authorized Deities of the Supreme that are shaped according to these descriptions provide a view of the personal form of God.

Those who have no knowledge of God or His form will certainly consider the temple Deities as idols. But this is because they think that the Deities are simply the products of someone’s imagination. Of course, there are those who say that God has no form, spiritual or material, or that there is no Supreme Being. Others think that since God must be formless, they can imagine or worship any material form as God, or they regard any image as merely an external representation of the Supreme. But images such as those of the demigods are not additional forms of an impersonal God, nor are they equal to God. All such people who think in the above mentioned ways have resorted to their own imagination to reach such conclusions and are, therefore, idolaters. The imaginary images and opinions of God that are formed by those who have not properly learned about, seen, or realized God are indeed idols, and those who accept such images or opinions are certainly idolaters. This is because these images or opinions are based on ignorance and are not a true likeness of the Supreme Being’s personal form.

Nonetheless, God is described in the Vedic literature, which explains that God is sat-chit-ananda vigraha, or the form of complete spiritual essence, full of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, and is not material in any way. His body, soul, form, qualities, names, pastimes, etc., are all nondifferent and are of the same spiritual quality. This form of God is not an idol designed from someone’s imagination, but is the true form, even if He should descend into this material creation. And since the spiritual nature of God is absolute, He is nondifferent from His name. Thus, the name Krishna is an avatara or incarnation of Krishna in the form of sound. Similarly, His form in the temple is not merely a representation, but is also qualitatively the same as Krishna as the archa-vigraha, or the worshipable form.

Some people may question that if the Deity is made from material elements, such as stone, marble, metal, wood, or paint, how can it be the spiritual form of God? The answer is given that since God is the source of all material and spiritual energies, material elements are also a form of God. Therefore, God can manifest as the Deity in the temple, though made of stone or other elements, since He can transform what is spiritual into material energy, and material energy back into spiritual energy. Thus, the Deity can easily be accepted as the Supreme since He can appear in any element as He chooses. In this way, even though we may be unqualified to see God, who is beyond the perceptibility of our material senses, the living beings in this material creation are allowed to see and approach the Supreme through His archa-vigraha form as the worshipable Deity in the temple. This is considered His causeless mercy on the materially conditioned living beings.

In this manner, the Supreme Being gives Himself to His devotees so they can become absorbed in serving, remembering and meditating on Him. Thus, the Supreme comes to dwell in the temple, and the temple becomes the spiritual abode on earth. In time, the body, mind and senses of the devotee become spiritualized by serving the Deity, and the Supreme becomes fully manifest to him or her. Worshiping the Deity of the Supreme and using one’s senses in the process of bhakti-yoga, devotional service to the Supreme, provides a means for one’s true essential spiritual nature to unfold. The devotee becomes spiritually realized and the Deities reveal Their spiritual nature to the sincere souls according to their spiritual development. This can continue up to the level in which the Supreme Being in the form of the Deity engages in a personal relationship and performs reciprocal, loving pastimes with the devotee, as has previously taken place with other advanced individuals.

At this stage, having darshan or seeing the Deity is not simply a matter of looking at the Deity in the temple, but to one who is spiritually realized it is a matter of experiencing the Deity and entering into a personal, reciprocal relationship with the Supreme Personality in the form of the Deity. At that stage, you may view the Deity, but the Deity also gazes at you, and then there is a spiritual exchange wherein the Deity begins to reveal His personality to you. This is what separates those who are experienced from those who are not, or those who can delve into this spiritual exchange and those who may still be trying to figure it out. For those who have experienced such an exchange with the Supreme or His Deity, at this stage the worship of the Supreme Being in the Deity moves up to a whole different level, with no limits as to the spiritual love that can be shared between the devotee and the Deity.

On Chanting Hare Krishna

Excerpt from Krsna Consciousness The Topmost Yoga System
© Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE, HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness. As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Krishna Conscious entities, but due to our association with matter—since time immemorial—our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere. The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called Maya, or illusion. Maya means that which is not. And what is this illusion? The illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of the stringent laws of material nature. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all powerful master, it is called illusion. We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer the stringent laws of material nature, but we are ever more dependent on it. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Krishna Consciousness.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare is the transcendental process for reviving this original pure consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away all misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is the false consciousness that I am the lord of all I survey.

Krishna Consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original energy of the living entity. When we hear the transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. This simplest method is recommended for this age. By practical experience also, one can perceive that by the simple chanting of this Mahamantra, or the great chanting for deliverance, one can at once feel a transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum. In the material concept of life we are busy in the matter of sense gratification as if we were in the lower animal stage of life. A little elevated from this status of sense gratification, one is engaged in mental speculation for the purpose of getting out of the material clutches. A little elevated from this speculative status, when one is intelligent enough, one tries to find the Supreme Cause of all causes—within and without. And when one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind and intelligence, he is then on the transcendental plane. This chanting of the Hare Krishna Mantra is enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower status of consciousness—namely sensual, mental, and intellectual. There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need for mental speculation, nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this Mahamantra. It is automatic, from the spiritual platform, and as such anyone can take part in vibrating this transcendental sound vibration without any previous qualifications. In a more advanced stage, of course, one is not expected to commit offenses on grounds of spiritual understanding.

In the beginning, there may be the presence of all transcendental ecstasies—which are eight in number. These are: 1) being stopped as though dumb; 2) perspiration; 3) standing up of hairs on the body; 4) dislocation of voice; 5) trembling; 6) fading 7) crying in ecstasy; and 8) trance. But there is no doubt that chanting for a while takes one immediately to the spiritual platform and one shows the first symptom of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the Mantra. We have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting and dancing. Of course, for one who is too entangled in material life, it takes a little more time to come to the standard point, but even such a materially engrossed man is raised to the spiritual platform very quickly. When it is chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord in love, it has the greatest efficacy on hearers, and as such this chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effects can be achieved. As far as possible, chanting from the lips of non-devotees should be avoided. Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects.

The word Hare is the form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krishna and Rama are forms of addressing the Lord Himself. Both Krishna and Rama mean the Supreme Pleasure, and Hara is the supreme pleasure-energy of the Lord. The Supreme Pleasure Energy of the Lord helps us to reach the Lord.

The material energy called Maya is also one of the multi-energies of the Lord. We the living entities are also the energy—marginal energy—of the Lord. The living entities are described as superior to material energy. When the superior energy is in contact with the inferior energy, an incompatible situation arises, but when the superior marginal energy is in contact with the Superior Energy, called Hara, it is established in its happy, normal condition.

These three words, namely Hara, Krishna and Rama, are the transcendental seeds of the Mahamantra. The chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His Energy to give protection to the conditioned soul. This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother’s presence. Mother Hara helps the devotee to achieve the Lord Father’s grace, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this Mantra sincerely.

No other means of spiritual realization is as effective in this age of quarrel an hypocrisy as is the Mahamantra.


Flood Relief in Pakistan – Food for Life Global

October 2 — Food for Life Global affiliate, SKBP team visited the Hyderabad district and set up an outdoor kitchen at one of the many refugee camps. Relief Spokesperson, Vanamali das said, “We made many types of vegan meals, including basmati rice, vegetable curry and biryani, and served 500 to 600 woman and children. Our main challenge at this time is a reliable vehicle to transport the meals and supplies. We are urgently appealing to Food for Life Donors to continue supporting our efforts and specifically to help us obtain a reliable van or truck.” Please continue supporting this effort.

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