Excerpted from William Chu’s weekly Q&A 20210424, transcribed by Xunfei Voice, with omissions.
Q: …The mind works on its own, and basically all that comes to mind is bad thoughts, things that I don’t like, things that are not pleasant. For example, I would be addicted to browsing online videos, or not getting up. I feel like I’m trying to escape. I want to escape from those undesirable mind objects… I use the “non-self cognition” to observe it, that is to say, I can understand that this is not me, this is just an object, so I’m not completely trapped as before, but this state will certainly continue to appear for a long time. My heart is still quite troubled. I would like to hear if Teacher Chu has any good advice.
A: 首先我们心态上面，像你刚刚所讲的，很多的人会指责你，而且很多的人他会因为point out the obvious，就会跟你讲一些，好像他们觉得再浅白不过、再明显不过的道理，你看干嘛那么想不开，干嘛那么的负面，他们会这样子讲。实际上抑郁症它是一个非常合理的一个反应，就是对人生是一个非常合理的反应。我说讲老实话。
A: First of all, in terms of our mindset. Like you just said, many people would blame you, and people would be like “point out the obvious”, telling you stuff, as if they think it is simple and obvious. They say look, why take things so hard? Why so negative? They will say this way. In fact, depression is a very reasonable reaction to life. Let me be honest.
What does it mean by a very reasonable response to life? Without going very far, simply to say that we will all die, so if we all die, then to a certain extent, all our efforts, all our achievements, all our happiness, it is all very absurd, and then it is all in vain in the end. And then, we live in this world and this universe, it has millions of ways to destroy you, millions of ways to endanger you and threaten you, and it is threatening you this way all the time. So the strange thing is not that you get depression. The strange thing is that why other people don’t get depression.
Normal people should be like, depression should be normal, and it is very strange that a person would seem to be indifferent to the situation he is in, and then still be able to get drunk and forget about his situation in that very superficial, in fact very tasteless kind of joy. So you don’t have to look at yourself in a special way, but rather say, I am a person who corresponds to this world in a more reasonable way than many people in this world. So in terms of the mindset, you should not think that this is a problem, this is a disease, that this is something that seems to make you inferior to other people. There is no need to think like that. No need to think like that at all.
But at the same time, our mind is not completely uncontrollable. Our mind, to a large extent, IS really uncontrollable, but ah, the consciousness and the mind, there is a little bit of detour in the space that is difficult to grasp. It is exactly within this little space of detour that our practice takes place. And although it is just a little bit per moment, if you can stabilize your direction and stick to that direction, it will change some habits.
I was just talking about depression is a reasonable reaction to the world, so why change it? Because it’s difficult and uncomfortable when you’re depressed. It’s purely for this pragmatic attitude, not that you are abnormal, so you have to change it, you have to become like other people… The reason why you want to self-medicate is because depression is uncomfortable, it is distressing. To that extent it is necessary to understand that depression is a behavioral circuit. It is a circuit of inertia within the mind. And this circuit, you can slowly modify it with a firm, but calm attitude. So treating depression, or trying to alleviate the suffering caused by depression, is a big topic, and there is a lot to discuss.
One of the directions you can consider and try to ruminate is that, people in general are practicing experiencing joy, and if you want to turn your depressed state into a joyful state, it’s too much to ask. But you can experience the taste of equanimity in a relaxed and quiet state. This equanimity, this taste of idleness, it may not be joyful in your immediate mood. But there is a richness in it, there is a taste in it.
And if your mind is not settled enough, if you are not quiet enough, you will not be able to easily savor this light, yet rich taste underneath. If your mind is not stable enough, it will not be easy for you to steadily, durably and densely immerse yourself in such a taste. You will habitually, because of your horse-rocketing-in-the-sky（天马行空）, like a dragonfly skimming the surface of the water, just touching a little bit, touching a little bit, and then immediately you have to search for other tastes again. If you always stay in this slapdash horse-rocketing-in-the-sky state, your depression will be especially severe because you don’t get a steady and uninterrupted nourishment.
So instead of emphasizing the development of joy, it would be better to emphasize the development of peace, to emphasize to savor that lightness, that clear water-like taste, under the premise of moderating one’s activities.
You can consider this, the way to ease yourself down is not to suppress, but to feel relaxed. It is an easily accessible state. Contentment is an easily accessible state. That horse-rocketing-in-the-sky, it’s actually a very exhausting state, but because of your deep-rooted inertia, you feel as if that’s the right one, that’s the natural one. Actually it’s not. Even for a short period of time, you can see how exerting it is when you are horse-rocketing-in-the-sky, and you experience the alleviation of the exertion during little moments, to let yourself settle down.
Q: What do you mean by horse-rocketing-in-the-sky, teacher?
A: You see, you say that your swiping the phone is in order to escape, that is a kind of horse-rocketing-in-the-sky. That is, your swiping the phone is a way to escape the uncomfortable feeling of the depression in front of you. However, the images you see on the phone, the entertainment you get, it might be just a moment, and then you will soon feel that depression has caught up with you again, and you have to swipe the next screen, you have to search for the next program, just barely able to find an escape. And then this escape is only a short moment, and then you have to be busy looking for the next move, the next move, the next move… This is a kind of horse-rocketing-in-the-sky. It is a very busy state. When you are in that busy state, your depression is not easy to get relieved, that gloomy feeling is not easy to get relieved. If you want relief, you have to get a lasting taste in relatively few movements. You need to go in that direction.
Examine the qualities of Desire Realm, and one of the qualities of Desire Realm is that your movements have to be very complicated, you have to be very busy, otherwise the feeling of escape which Desire Realm offers you is interrupted at a stroke, and you will be immediately uncomfortable. You have to hurry to find the next activity, so it’s very busy.
You will be in that heightened state of restlessness all the time. And the sustenance provided by Desire Realm is just a little bit, a little bit. It whets your appetite. And you will feel very unsatisfied with that little bit, little bit, therefore you have a lot of gain-and-loss mind. You’ll feel like you’re busy and you’ll have a lot of fear because you feel like all the things I want in the world, so easily they will be gone. I need a lot, I need to accumulate a lot, and I have to go through a lot of means so that it can supply steadily what I want.
Such is the nature of Desire Realm. And your desire will become especially strong and your gain-and-loss mind will become especially strong. If your desire and your gain-and-loss mind is strong, you will not be able to quiet down, you will not be able to save your energy. If you don’t quiet down, if you don’t save your energy, you won’t be able to get that lasting, high-quality rest, that high-quality method of self-nourishment.
Even if there is no obvious joy, as long as you can get a high-quality, steady, self-nourishing method, you will not be depressed . You will find that there is a great richness in peace and tranquility. It is very difficult to tell where the bottom of that taste of richness is, or where the ceiling is.
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator with amendments.