It was a deep dark Sunday morning. A voice in my head had just convinced me – yes I have hit depression. Nothing made sense anymore and a part of my inside had plummeted into a forsaken place. Except that I was that part. That week, even batting an eyelid was too effortful. I had heard all the stories of my mind and the worst had happened – I was each and every one of those stories. I had given up trying to fight my mind or to teach it to make sense. That week, Osho called out to me. It was the only space that I could buy my way into, to give room to this madness to be expressed. Whether I wanted to scream or shout or dance wildly, I did not know. What I did know is that I wanted to do it all and some more at once. Doing the meditations at the Osho Ashram gave this madness a structure. By the end of the week I had started feeling slightly more composed. The depression was still there. But I could convince myself for some moments that I was not the depression itself. There was an awareness of being in it. That Friday evening I went to meet a friend who, inspite of all he had on his mind and schedule, spared the time to really listen to what was going on. We have always had a special connection such that when he asks me a question, it feels like 10,000 gongs have started ringing simultaneously in my being. And my responses feel the first of their kind that I am listening to as I am voicing them. It is like a channeling of a part of me that I cannot identify with. As he held the space for me to speak, I could finally say what I was feeling – that I felt broken down, hopeless and victimized for good. I felt crushed and I could say that without any compromise. Keeping things simple comes and goes in phases. And I was grateful I could share with him exactly what I felt. At that moment, deep within the chaos of that sharing, there was a quiet realization which appeared to me as the dots connected later. For the first time in my life, I could remove the mask of being strong and be who I am and here was someone holding my hand through it. He didn’t give me any advice. He didn’t cry for me. He just let me be. And that felt comforting because at that time I had a feeling of being led to death. I can faintly dare to empathize what a man might feel being led to his death. At that moment, my dear friend just held me without trying to give me strength, courage or any of those things I would have normally longed for. In that one embrace he had done the very thing I realized I had missed as a child with my parents – the courage to let the child make its way to failure, to collapse, to death. As a child I often had a vision of lying in a hospital bed as a child and have my mother hold my hand as I slipped into a coma and died eventually. A few weeks back I truly experienced the essence of that vision. This man had become my parent who had fulfilled this deep longing to be accepted for wanting to die.
Compassion and courage cannot be taught. They can only be absorbed when someone embodies them. I simultaneously realized that this might be the reason behind Buddhists chanting the names of the Boddhisattvas. The stories of courage and compassion might be awakening those very qualities within them.
I met my Bodhisattva that day. He did not need to forgive me for being weak or victimized for in his eyes I could never commit a crime. He showed me what a parent I can become to myself – a parent who can simply hold her inner child’s hand as she dies the death of her ego. Someone who can hold the space for this ‘insane child’ that I am sometimes and lets me be even as I refuse to forgive myself.
Today I humbly bow to Quan Yin – the Tibetan goddess of great compassion – and simultaneously this man who embodied her presence for me. I also bow to those beautiful souls who have chosen insanity for their evolution and those who have chosen to be their parents and caretakers. This journey has no end, is what I had felt at a time in my past when my mother went through a phase of utterly violent insanity. I didn’t understand it then and felt a deep remorse towards life. What is the point? I had cried with the same frustration as Hillary Swank’s character in the movie “P.S I Love You”. Today I am deeply grateful to my mother for opening up my heart to great compassion that comes with great insanity. I am glad life was kind enough to bring this lesson back to me, this time by showing me a slice of my own insanity.
Depression can hit anyone anytime. There is no preparation time. Just like anger. This time when it hit me, I realized the wisdom of Byron Katie where she says – “Insanity is believing every thought that occurs”. I got an experience of this first hand. I was disarmed. Meditation, spiritual knowledge, all was left somewhere in an amnesia. It was my own mind that was simultaneously the cause for a great grief of betrayal and the only antidote. And there is no immunity.
As I still weave myself out of it, I am beginning to see an existence of nature around me even though there is a minute to minute struggle of wading through thoughts. This light around me is compassion. It shall never leave. And it is turning me into a grateful person – grateful to my mind for being what it is supposed to be – a crazy, jangling box that coughs out whatever you throw in it, amplified. Where a few weeks back I was refusing to accept my mind, now I can feel myself turning around, beginning to recognize it for what it is. It is a slow process. And while my friend was there to hold my hand as I sunk into hatred for myself, I shall practice the courage to give myself the space as I emerge into light.
Eternally grateful to you, Mum, and dear Chittaranjan Kaul. Thank God for the blessing of this journey.
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