In general, if you are suffering from depression, getting the proper mental health support is critical. Doing this is in conjunction with the spiritual path has had profound benefits for many of my students.
Once again, I return to the post bliss state story of awakening. I get to talk about this part a lot because far fewer people go searching for answers when they’re in spiritual bliss compared to when they drop into what I’ll call today, “spiritual depression.”
And the story is the same as most of the other blog posts I’ve published on this site. It’s the ego that is depressed. It’s ideas, toys, relationships, and so on are being taken from it, and it doesn’t like it. I also like to emphasize that we’re talking about the unconscious ego, here. It’s my opinion that we always have an ego. It’s just a lens to parse through tons of physical, emotional, mental, and psychic information to figure what is important and what isn’t to surviving in this world. But when we don’t know we’re doing this, that’s unconsciousness. Unconsciousness is in the dark and is self-ignorant. You don’t realize that you can view life in different ways that are often dramatically different from how you now see life.
Which is part of why people can drop into a spiritual depression. The bigger the gap between the Truth of life and how you and your unconscious ego want it to go, the more depressed you can become. Additionally, deep inner shifts can take a lot of energy, and that low energy can be misinterpreted as a kind of depressed state too. So this spiritual depression post-spiritual awakening can have a couple different elements, and hopefully, this blog post can help you see it for what it really is and let go more deeply into the powerful and profound spiritual unfolding arising in you.
In other blog posts, I’ve talked about the trap of trying to hold onto any state of awareness. All human experiences come and go, but with bliss, the desire to hold on tends to be stronger than most.
And why not? Bliss feels great. It’s an amazing, completely sober experience that is almost or as fun as orgasm and much longer lasting. Why wouldn’t people want to hang onto that feeling?
It’s because holding onto anything will bring suffering. The joy of a blissful experience is in the moment. In letting it go, you allow yourself to continue to grow, and in some ways, bliss and a new level of loving openness will normalize for you. When something normalizes, it becomes your state of existence, so you lose a level of differentiation. It’s like climbing a mountain. You feel exhilarated once you get to 2000 meters after starting at sea level. But if you stay there for awhile, the exhilaration burns off. It’s just where you are. It doesn’t feel particularly high to you anymore. And such if you were to be living in some level of bliss, you would tend to not really notice until you got pulled out of it.
Dropping Into Your Issues Without Ego Consent
It’s such a strange thing that something so healthful gets so much resistance from us. Sure, these painful feelings and sensations aren’t fun, but this is a purging. The poison and toxic pains stuck inside are coming up. It’s best to let them come up and go. This makes space for more joy, but that also shouldn’t be a carrot on the stick for you. There is no end goal to awakening, and there is no perfect bliss state to attain. The perfect state of awareness is the one that is here and now. There’s nothing more to it than that. It is quite simple, and the over-complicated unconscious ego probably doesn’t like that.
You see a lot of the reasons so many people like bliss and other high state experiences is because they’re already in so much pain. In this way, many people often use high-state experiences on the spiritual path as a salve for their wounds. It’s another bandage or a way to mask or numb the deeper pain. Those uses of the spiritual path are extremely temporary and ultimately futile. The worst students that come to me are typically the ones who have been doing that and are now coming to me for a new fix because the other spiritual “drugs” no longer work. But I am not masking things for people. I’m helping them rip open scabs, clean out poisons, and find the bullets stuck inside. Until you get yourself–your ego–on board with this, there isn’t going to be any permanent healing. And you’ll keep seeking external feelings like bliss and whatever else you can find to make you feel good and to hide the fact that you feel so bad.
The Unconscious Ego Kicking and Screaming Scale
Let’s put spiritual depression on the mid-way point of the ego kicking and screaming scale. It’s below spiritual lethargy and apathy, but it’s above the dark night of the soul. You can certainly move towards the dark night by holding on more. And to be fair, if you have had trauma or other abuses in your life, you can easily move in that direction as part of your sacred healing. The darker it gets, the more important it is to get some external support. While we all innately have all of our healing abilities inside and through our connection to the Divine, we do honor the human and ego aspects of us that need support, encouragement, and external forms of love from time to time. There’s no shame or failure in reaching out for help, although none of us can do this work for you. So after reaching out, return to your inner, sacred process and spiritual work.
However, more often than not, the deepening of the darkness comes because people are holding onto beliefs for dear life. They are in no real danger other than the dangers created in the mind of the ego. An actual danger is if someone is physically hurting you, you can’t get enough to eat, you don’t have clothing and shelter to survive winter, and so forth. Usually, the ego is throwing a fit because you think you have to divorce somebody, quit your job, leave your apartment, and other decidedly first world problems. I’m not saying these changes are easy. I’m saying that holding onto illusions and beliefs that aren’t true to your reality are going to cause you tremendous pain and suffering that is not necessary. They have to be let go otherwise you’ll drop deeper into spiritual depression and maybe into a dark night of the soul.
Accepting the Grace Within You
At some point if you want to heal and grow, you have to accept this grace that has come to you. A lot of us who have awakened don’t realize how amazing this opportunity is. Being confronted by both your light and darkness at the same time can be quite overwhelming, so those who awaken often don’t know what to make of the experience. Sometimes this happens all at once. Although sometimes, there’s space between the two such as how I’m depicting it today with a bliss stage followed by moving into your inner darkness to embrace and heal it. It can go in reverse too where the work comes first, and it feels like you’re immediately immersed in darkness. There’s no real way to generalization this part. Spiritual awakening is incredibly individual.
But for all the intensity and power of it, you still have to choose it. If you want the spiritual depression to end in a healthy way, choose awakening. Choose your spiritual growth. Learn to identify the old beliefs that are causing so much upset, and focus on reality instead. Oftentimes, you’ll notice that you are fine in your physical reality. When this is the case, breathe even more deeply into the fear and depression to see through the lies that are creating needless suffering. You will eventually release the upset feelings and physical sensations when you no longer believe in the idea that something is wrong.
Birthing a Conscious Ego
As many of you know, I am not at war with the ego. There is nothing to fight, and any one who is at war with the ego is creating a duality that is not true to reality. There is nothing to fight. If we start fighting any aspect of ourselves, we are creating a new unconscious ego to fight an old unconscious ego and truly creating a lot of unnecessary nonsense in our spiritual work. The conscious ego that we create is quite simple. It knows that it’s made-up. It knows that it has limitations and that there are other ways to see life. It knows that life is bigger than it is and that life doesn’t flow according to its ideas. It knows that it can be dropped or re-shaped, and the conscious ego knows that ultimately it serves the Divine. And past that, it doesn’t need much adornment. It doesn’t need to announce itself to anyone or avoid any issues inside of us. The truly conscious ego is not a big deal. Kind of like your hips.
When your hips work fine, you don’t think anything of it. But if they don’t work right, all kinds of problems quickly crop up. Your hips are extremely important just like your ego. When they work right, they are invisible,and greatly aid you moving about your life. Unfortunately with the unconscious ego, it has been invisible and out of alignment with reality, causing people to move in unhealthy and sometimes insane ways. It’s often only when something like spiritual depression comes along that we can even start to see what the unconscious ego is doing and how it is making us feel. Then we can turn the light on it.
As we heal these dark and forgotten places, we create a conscious ego, which will melt back into the invisible with a distinct difference. We know that its there, and we know how to re-shape it. And that kind of self power is true power, and that true power can help snap you out of any spiritual depression that the old unconscious ego might ever throw your way.