An Alternative View of an Epidemic
by Ram Giri

Over 120 million people suffer from serious depression worldwide. Most of them live in the richest countries in the world, where, one would think, people have less reason to be depressed. What’s going on?

What the statistics don’t tell us is that many of these people are not depressed even though they have the symptoms of depression, possibly all the way to suicidal ideas. They suffer from a completely different experience: disillusionment with the world. They sense, in some vague manner, that what they have counted on to give happiness and meaning to their lives is unable to do so, and will always betray them. Materialistic values are too small for them. They have unmasked them as hopeless, and therefore they have become hopeless.

Far from being an illness, such disillusionment is the root of the aspiration for spiritual emancipation. It is a difficult but necessary phase; it is the Dark Night of the Soul, the ‘eye of the needle,’ through which every spiritual seeker has to go pass. After all ‘dis-illusioned’ means to become free of illusion. In order to live in the next paradigm you first have to be dis-illusioned by the old one.

Most physicians and psychologists are unable to recognize this condition. They are unfamiliar with the spiritual dimension and therefore unable to lead people to an effective spiritual practice, which alone is able to resolve this state. “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” They hit their patients with a label of ‘illness’ and medicate them. This can terminate the beginning of a meaningful transformation and turn it into a very challenging illness. The well-meant effort of the psychologist actually creates the depression because it teaches that a true solution to an existential crisis is unavailable.

When the flame of a higher aspiration is kindled in the heart, dis-illusionment is the dawning of wisdom. It is difficult, essential and precious. It shows us the truth, that all things in this world are fleeting and transient, and that what we have hoped will make us happy and give meaning to our lives can never fulfill us. It robs us of the illusion that gratifying the ego works. Everything we have put stake in turns out to be useless.

In the midst of this pain a subtle intellect begins to emerge which is capable of grasping the truth: no amount of temporary pleasures, power, money, sex and experiences can bring us what we really want. And in this critical moment, as we begin to sense how shallow or misguided some aspects of our life has been, we need guidance to a way of life that can make sense to us, that can actually fill our emptiness. But instead we are told that our brains aren’t functioning and that the only hope for us is to take pills to become compliant once more. And if we submit, we are again locked in the old paradigm of despair, the jail in our head.

But those in whom the spiritual flame has been kindled more strongly will be able to break this unintended conspiracy. They recognize that this world is filled with sorrows and does not keep what it appears to promise. They will not submit, but out of hopelessness their hearts will become alive. They may turn to the examples of those who have travelled the path to spiritual emancipation before us. They will seek a liberation that is indestructible. They will seek the bliss of the Self.

Going through the symptoms of disillusionment is not a distraction on this path. It is the path. The journey goes through this crisis to freedom, and as we get dis-illusioned many times we come to experience progressively higher states of grace.

The great scripture of India, the Yoga Vasistha, begins with the aspirant brooding over the vanity of all things. He is tormented by worries and anxieties. He is dejected and has become very thin. He is indifferent to sense pleasures. The whole world has become painful to him and he contemplates ending his life. Many pages describe the multiple aspects of disillusionment, how the world of the senses is unfulfilling and empty. A paradigm shift is desperately needed. In the end of this chapter the sages, who see the true and positive significance of this state of mind, praise him:

“He alone is called a ‘human’ who has the light of spiritual aspiration burning in his heart. Others are not fit to be called ‘human.’ They are nothing but animals revolving in the wheel of birth and death, driven by attachment, infatuation, and ignorance… They are blessed who aspire to realize the essential Self through their existence in this world of illusory objects and perishable pleasures.”

If you feel down, hopeless, or disoriented, and if you identify with what I am saying in some way, you most likely do not suffer from depression but are in the midst of disillusionment. This is the development of a new state of mind that carries in it vast promise. It is the first step to true freedom and the profound happiness of enlightenment. Congratulations to you!

The most important first step is to realize the difference between disillusionment and depression. Cease to think of yourself as ill, but realize you are in a positive process of spiritual awakening. Next begin to seek out the most effective ways you can further this awakening. Be sure you look for more than fleeting comfort, but rather define the ultimate, timeless goal you seek, such as liberation from suffering, unconditional love, peace, Self-realization, etc. Then let your entire being strive for that goal.

In this context, whatever spiritual path attracts you deeply, that is the one for you. I have my personal bias here: I feel the Skills for Awakening are particularly capable of dissolving suffering at the root and enable you to move into a new paradigm of being: freedom. But more than recommend one path over another, I trust that the awakening consciousness in your heart will guide your way perfectly.

You are the architect of your destiny.

with love,

Ram Giri

Author's Bio: 

Ram Giri Braun, Ph.D. is a pioneer and innovator in the awakening of human consciousness to its full potential. In his unique combination of being a Swami, psychologist, yogi and meditation teacher, he has identified and tested the most effective ways you can live your life fully. He is the founder of the Skills for Awakening® and HeartSourcing™ meditation, a powerful spiritual practice to awaken the true essence of ones Heart and end the cycles of suffering. Ram Giri, from his deep compassion, clarity and wisdom, makes complex issues easy to understand. He combines psychological knowledge, spiritual insight and his own personal inner journey to inspire in his clients and audiences an enthusiasm about their own quest for true happiness and enlightenment.
Ram Giri offers seminars and workshops as well as one-on-one mentoring and spiritual life coaching internationally.