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Comes with the Territory

Date: Mon, 26 May 2008 23:12:28 -0400 To: From: Douglass Lauder Subject: Comes with the Territory Baba "A'lote cha'ya'te dukha-sukhate ket'eche janam kato..." (PS 1128) Purport: O' Baba, in search of You I have passed so many lives in pleasure and pain, in effulgence and darkness. My days have passed in good and bad, virtue and vice, bliss and misery. Over and over again, countless times, I have come onto this earth. Baba, in this relative world, whatever I have gained, I have lost. Everything in this material world is transitory: Nothing is stationary; nothing is permanent. Baba, whatever came to me has gone away. Even then by Your grace the lamp of my hope remains lit to get You. Baba, the cyclone of my life has come making a loud, bustling sound and it has turned my existence upside down. Baba, in this difficult situation, I have received Your grace and I want for my mind to be fully satiated in Your divine love. Even then I have lost the path and am moving in a downward direction. I do not understand what is right and what is wrong-- what is virtue and what is vice. Baba, please save me from this miserable situation, from this cyclone of my life. O' my dearmost, by Your boundless compassion I have regained the path: I am adhering to Your teachings and I am slowly moving towards You. Baba, by Your grace today I understand You. I have learned how to move with Your divine effulgence. Baba, after wiping away the darkness, please grace me with more and more of Your effulgence so that I can become one with You. Baba, without Your grace nothing can happen. Please keep me under Your shelter and accept my total surrender...
Namaskar, Around the globe-- especially in the "developing world"-- it is commonly believed that the so-called first-world nations are tops in all regards-- in all respects. Overwhelmed by the glamour and material wealth of the west, people naively think that in every sphere of life, from physical to psychic & from technology to happiness, that the "developed" nations are towering above the rest. And of course, of all the so-called developed nations, it is widely deemed that the cream of the crop is the USA. Therefore life there must be perfect and sweet, problem-free. Many innocent people fall prey to this misnomer.
However what most fail to realise is that the USA is riddled with problems from head to toe. While there are many defects to point out, perhaps one of the most concerning items is the widespread psychic disorder known as depression: Where people are consumed and overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness, nervousness, lack of self-assurance, extreme anxiety, despair, and sorrow etc. Here we are not talking about a scenario where a distinct incident occurred which caused one to feel sad such as if one's mother or spouse has died and the person is temporarily overcome by grief for a few weeks etc. That is not what is being discussed here-- that is not the epidemic problem at hand in the USA. Rather the major tragedy befalling countless citizens in the US is that just in the course of their 'normal' way of living their psychic state is becoming so weak, so imbalanced, and so fragile that for no apparent reason the mass of people are suffering from melancholy, loneliness, helplessness, and an array unfounded fears and phobias. All of which lead up to a huge number of cases of the psychic ailment known as depression. And this is disease is multiplying everyday in the USA.
To investigate this matter further, there are various directions by which to proceed. But certainly one obvious avenue is to look into the cause behind this disturbing phenomenon of mounting depression in the so-called first-world nation, the USA.
Scanning the scene, professionals and lay people alike point to a wide array of reasons for the rise of depression in the US. These range from organic chemical imbalances in the brain to daily stress and pressures of life in this fast-paced materialistic conglomerate. Not to count out organic imbalances, but far and away the initial cause or the outer layer of depression stems from present day living environment in the USA. Life has become highly automated and technological and more and more complex in the US. Solving problems is no longer a one-person job. And this causes huge anxiety in people's mental plate as they are constantly worried about 'What if something goes wrong'. And side by side in this ever-growing technological world, common citizens are called upon to do more things and to live life at a faster pace. All of this leads to a mode of existence where one becomes riddled with more and more anxieties and fears. Of course we cannot blame technology and science as being the necessary evil in this scenario. Rather the uncontrolled and imbalanced use of science and technology is arguably the leading external cause for the extreme rise of nervousness, anxiety, and ultimately depression. Where people in countries like the US become increasingly frazzled and think that life is beyond their control.
Even then, the aforementioned complexity of life cannot be seen as the ultimate be-all and end-all cause of depression. Because complexity of life can be managed by a strong, well-balanced mind-- one that is God-centered. But tragically, the mass of the US is wrought with and overrun by materialism wherein people think that they are all alone in this universe and they can only rely on themselves to help them. And in that case when those non-theistic brothers and sisters are also surrounded by a hectic way of life, they readily fall prey to the diseases of materialism. Baba says, "In viprapatti, one feels that it is 'I' who does everything--and no one else. As a result of this, one becomes crude...Materialism is based on viprapatti; that is why there is sorrow everywhere in materialism." (AV-1) So according to Baba, this materialistic outlook of 'I am everything' is the underlying cause of psychic anxiety in the US. Without feeling that there is any greater entity to help them, people fall into the trap & defective way of thinking that 'they themselves are all there is in this universe'. And this causes them immense psychic strain and depression.
In contrast, no matter how complex this world may be, when one feels that there is some Great Entity controlling everything and that this Entity is there to help them, then this provides immense relief in life. That is why Baba's guideline is that in each and every step of the life one should rely on Parama Purusa. Otherwise it is not possible to move ahead. Baba says, "In the first phase you are to ask Parama Purusa for the vitality to fight against your physical frailities, your physical imperfections. In the second phase you are to ask for vitality, psychic vitality." (SS-18, p.9) Following a God-centered approach where one feels that He is benevolently controlling everything enables one to forge ahead in life. That is Baba's teaching. And indeed the eternal truth of this cosmos is that He is managing everything and it is He who gives us the energy to advance. So if one adopts the approach that Parama Purusa is the Grand Director and I am playing one part and that He is there to help me, then naturally this will put one in a comfortable state of psychic ease-- regardless of the situation. But when this outlook is mostly absent in the US and combined with the fact that life is extremely complex and fast-paced, these two factors stand as the primary cause of the extreme rise of depression and psychic ailments of melancholia in our US.
Here Baba beautifully points out the great joy of life which easily results from the path of surrender unto Him, and simultaneously He exposes the huge tension and hopelessness which results if one adopts the materialistic bent of mind that 'I am everything'. Baba says, In 'prapatti', the idea that 'everything is being done by His wish, that it is by His grace that He is using me as a tool, that He may or may not use me as a tool, but 'His will be done', predominates on one's mind. To get the full joy of prapatti, one has to surrender completely unto Him...The feeling is just the reverse in 'viprapatti.' In viprapatti, one feels that it is 'I' who does everything--and no one else. As a result of this, one becomes crude...Materialism is based on viprapatti; that is why there is sorrow everywhere in materialism." (AV-1) Thus there is a night and day difference between the God-centered approach of prapatti and the materialistic approach of viprapatti. In the first, in prapatti or the God-centered way of living, one feels surrounded by His grace in all situations and one feels that He is always there to help me. The devotee feels in their heart that Parama Purusa is personally arranging the best possible outcome for them. In contrast, in viprapatti or the materialistic outlook, ordinary citizens feel dwarfed by the complexity of life and overwhelmed by the vastness of this universe. They develop feelings of ineptness and suffer from the worry that life is way beyond their control and there is no one else to help them. In that case, the mind gets completely submerged and drowned in the depths of hopelessness and despair, leading to a chronic state of depression.
We know that the greatest wealth humanity has is its psychic wealth. But when the very way of living-- i.e. materialism-- erodes that special human treasure, then it is the obvious conclusion that materialism is terribly dangerous. Here Baba points out and warns us about extreme danger of materialism. Baba says, "Materialism is the most dangerous -- indeed, suicidal -- philosophy. ...Materialism is both defective and devoid of morality. That is why materialists do not recognize Shiva, did not recognize Him, and will not recognize Him. Even seeing Him before their very eyes, they will never understand who Shiva is." (NSS, Disc 18) As Baba warns us, when one's being gets painted in the colours of materialism then they feel inside that they are all alone and that there is no one else to help them. And stuck in that defective outlook, even if they were to see Taraka Brahma face to face in the street, they would be totally incapable of understanding who He is. They could not feel His grace due to the staticity of their materialistic bent of mind. Without that knowledge of His presence, without that inner joy, one is bound to suffer from melancholy and feelings of hopelessness. And when the lifestyle is so frenetic and fast-paced like in the USA, then that will only exacerbate the situation and more quickly invite that deranged psychic state known as depression. And that is what we are seeing today.
That is why none-- especially those living in the so-called developing world-- should unduly think that everything going on in the USA is great. Because the reality is that the US is a sinking ship-- one main reason certainly being that its general citizens are losing their mental balance day by day and succumbing to all kinds of psychic illnesses, especially depression. Here the point is not to ridicule any particular country or people but rather to dispel the myth that life in the materialistic USA is perfect and warn all our brothers and sisters-- wherever they may be living-- of the horrors of materialism. None should fall prey to this atheistic outlook and ruin their life by becoming depressed.
By Baba's divine grace all Ananda Margiis have come in His contact and feel His loving guidance in all we do. This keeps our minds ever resplendent and it is our duty to bring others along with us unto Him. Baba says, "You too should keep moving forward, and you will also attain victory after victory-- there is no doubt about it. Therefore continue your efforts tirelessly, do your duty and you will surely be crowned with success." (DMC, Anandanagar, 5/31/87) Namaskar, Dharmendra
Below are excerpts from various case studies published in top newspapers and medical magazines which document the wide-spread prevalence of depression in the USA. "The new numbers suggest that the United States is poised to rank No. 1 globally for mental illness." (Washington Post, 6/7/05) "One-quarter of all Americans met the criteria for having a mental illness within the past year, and fully a quarter of those had a 'serious' disorder that significantly disrupted their ability to function day to day, according to the largest and most detailed survey of the nation's mental health." (Washington Post, 6/7/05) "Major Depression affects 15% of Americans at some point during their lives, and 100 million people are affected on any given day...In the end, approximately 15-20% of those with major depression become chronically depressed. Approximately 15% of patients with major depression may commit suicide, as well, with men committing suicide at a rate 2 times as often as women." (American Psychology Association) "Depression affects millions of people in the USA, and costs the U.S. economy billions and billions of dollars in medical expenses and lost productivity. In turn, the treatment of depression is also a multi-billion dollar industry." ('The Demographic Correlates of Depression') "Depression is a disorder of mood, characterized by sadness and loss of interest in usually satisfying activities, a negative view of the self and hopelessness, passivity, indecisiveness, suicidal intentions, loss of appetite, weight loss, sleep disturbances, and other physical symptoms. Some or all of these symptoms may be present in people suffering from depression." (DCD) "10.6% of adults in the USA said that they have experienced depression in the last 12 months, either professionally diagnosed or self-diagnosed. Based upon a projected total population of 205 million adults, about 23 million people experience depression over the course of a year." (DCD) "Mental illness is absolutely going off the charts on college campuses [in the USA]...North America's college counseling centers report an increase in troubled students...85% of colleges report an increase during the past five years in students with severe psychological problems." (USA Today, 5/21/02) "Depression is being experienced more often in the US...depression is being experienced at younger ages; episodes are becoming more severe; and episodes are more frequent throughout individuals' lifetimes. The rate of depression has doubled in the US since WWII, with each generation showing greater rates of the depression than the last." (JAMA, vol. 268, 1992) "Depression is second only to heart disease in causing lost workdays in the USA." (DBSA, Chicago, IL)
*************************************** In Old Age
Baba says, "Over the age of fifty both the body and the mind start their decline. The power of memory diminishes and people start to forget things. This is the rule. But through the practice of vista'ra sadhana, this decline checks. Even an eighty year old person is able to keep the memory as fresh as a twenty five year old person. In the mental sphere, the result may be much more evident than in the physical sphere. Normally people hear, learn, and forget. But by the practice of sadhana, when the nerve cells get strengthened, dhruva smrti comes. Then one does not forget easily. In exactly the same way, by the dint of higher spiritual practice, one can bring about the expansion of oneself...Human beings become omniscient, become one with Parama Purusa. Nothing is impossible through the practice of sadhana." (DKG)

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