Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jun 28, 2010 1:49 pm

this question goes to the heart of is the dhamma true or not. if an arahant can suffer than what is the point of buddhism? if an arahant can suffer there is no reason to strive to be an arahant since alas the buddha lied and there is no end to suffering in his system.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby PeterB » Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:04 pm

I dont agree jc superstar. It points to yet another distinction that needs to be made to separate Buddhadhamma from the Veda religions prevalent at the time of its birth.
It is a Hindu/Vedic belief that realised beings do not experience physical or emotional pain.
There is nothing canonical to support this. What is supported is a view that they regard the arising of physical or emotional pain as simply that which arises. They dont own it or define themselves by it.
It is quite clear from the description of the Paranibbana that the Buddha was experiencing pain.
Verse 28 Paranibbana Sutta " sharp and deadly pains came upon him, but The Buddha endured them with patience and mindfulness".
It was simply arising.
The aim of Dhamma is to produce freedom, not to produce robots.
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby Hoo » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:23 pm

PeterB wrote:Without wanting to be pedantic Hoo the evidence is that although stress and an unwise diet can be the means which enable the bacteria to gain a foothold , it is they, the bacteria which stop the body from healing itself as it does with other lesions. Working backwards from effect to cause , if a dose of an appropriate antibiotic is given to a sufferer from stomach ulcers the ulcers will heal even if the diet remains the same and the stressors are relieved. Of course while the stress remains and/or diet remains unamended the likelihood of the ulcers returning remains high.


Hi Peter and Ben,

The bacteria aren't the sole cause at work in all ulcers. What you are saying is generally true, that the bacteria are present and will need treatment in about half of the cases. But other cases continue for other causes. E.G. a chronic smoker who drinks and is under a lot of stress is at higher risk even if the bacteria aren't present.

So I don't think any of use are making a case for 'sole cause.' I see it more as a question of whether an arahant will experience physiological effects and/or psychological/behavioral effects. JMHO, but I tend to agree with those above who say that physical effects would be experienced but psychological effects would not be 'suffered.'

But I still think there is a joke in there about an arahant who suffers from stress induced ulcer or tension headaches. :) I just don't have the comedic skills to tell it!

Hoo, not a faded glory comedian, nor a comedian of any sort :zzz:
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:55 pm

PeterB wrote:I dont agree jc superstar. It points to yet another distinction that needs to be made to separate Buddhadhamma from the Veda religions prevalent at the time of its birth.
It is a Hindu/Vedic belief that realised beings do not experience physical or emotional pain.
There is nothing canonical to support this. What is supported is a view that they regard the arising of physical or emotional pain as simply that which arises. They dont own it or define themselves by it.
It is quite clear from the description of the Paranibbana that the Buddha was experiencing pain.
Verse 28 Paranibbana Sutta " sharp and deadly pains came upon him, but The Buddha endured them with patience and mindfulness".
It was simply arising.
The aim of Dhamma is to produce freedom, not to produce robots.

i'm not talking about pain. but suffering. well dukkha, translate that how you will.
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:17 pm

Greetings Hoo,

Hoo wrote:But to go back to clinical depression, I thought Retro had a good take on it. The arahant may be experiencing poor serotonin reuptake or other brain-chemical problem, for example, but he doesn't *suffer* because of it. He experiences the body but does not suffer because he has ended suffering.(if I understand what Retro and others were saying).

Yes, you understood my position.

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If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby altar » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:09 pm

Hi all,

No one here has mentioned anything about what constitutes depression.
The point has been made that an arahant can experience physical pain. This is clearly a feeling that has no other implications beyond itself as the arahant has no aversion or negativity towards it.
What then are we calling depression? Is it merely a low feeling in the mind? This is NOT what is meant by depression. It usually means negativity towards oneself and towards others resulting in lack of interest. Either a mental thought like a dagger, "I hate myself," or a weight, like, "Why must I get out of bed, ugahhuhh," due to a heavy mind. Heavy with what? One with metta "wakes easily, sleeps easily, and dreams no evil dreams."
Ask yourself, if you had literally no hatred, could you be depressed? It would simply be a feeling in the mind, not real depression, if you think so.
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby PeterB » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:18 pm

What you have described altar are some ways that some people who are feeling depressed experience their reality. However that is the everyday conventional use of the word depression . The clinical use differs from that. Those signs may or may not be present in any number of combinations in Clinical Depression. For example many people with Clinical Depression present with a variety of physiological signs, and may not be aware of a Flattening Of Affect ( "heaviness of feelings ")
It might be surprising for example , but if your doctor suspects Depression she may ask you about your bowel activity....
Depression frequently results in constipation. There is no clear cut off point between the "mind" and the body.
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby Annapurna » Tue Jun 29, 2010 7:10 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:this question goes to the heart of is the dhamma true or not. if an arahant can suffer than what is the point of buddhism? if an arahant can suffer there is no reason to strive to be an arahant since alas the buddha lied and there is no end to suffering in his system.



if an arahant can suffer than what is the point of buddhism?


The point is not a release from physical pain in THIS life.

It is ending rebirth and ending the suffering this entails, more than anything. Remember the Buddha also complained about severe abdominal pain before he died. It's not like Buddhas or Arahants lose physical sensations and become painless.

An Arahant or a Buddha still has a biological body with all the nervous reactions that come along with it and which will report injury and pain to the brain.

Those painful sensations will be realized, and suffered through, because pain is pain and remains unpleasant, but an Arahant's reaction to it will be according to his realization.
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby altar » Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:35 pm

PeterB wrote:What you have described altar are some ways that some people who are feeling depressed experience their reality. However that is the everyday conventional use of the word depression . The clinical use differs from that. Those signs may or may not be present in any number of combinations in Clinical Depression. For example many people with Clinical Depression present with a variety of physiological signs, and may not be aware of a Flattening Of Affect ( "heaviness of feelings ")
It might be surprising for example , but if your doctor suspects Depression she may ask you about your bowel activity....
Depression frequently results in constipation. There is no clear cut off point between the "mind" and the body.


Nonetheless, Peter, if you take out the heavy mindset and hatred and glumness, it reallly takes the depression out of depression. They may as well call it "Biological Bowel and Other Associated Physiological Abnormality Condition"
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Jun 30, 2010 3:33 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:this question goes to the heart of is the dhamma true or not. if an arahant can suffer than what is the point of buddhism? if an arahant can suffer there is no reason to strive to be an arahant since alas the buddha lied and there is no end to suffering in his system.

I think the problem here is understanding the arahant like a person. please tell me is an arahant to be found?
the clinical depression affects what? the brain, the mind, the body? Is any of these the arahant?

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby altar » Wed Jun 30, 2010 4:24 pm

No acinteyyo that is not the question. We know arahants don't suffer from depression if they have it. The question is whether depression actually is a form of suffering, and therefore must have been extinguished by arahants, or not, if it is merely attachment to depression that counts as mental suffering.
That is, I believe the question can be simplified in this way:
Is depression dependent on ignorance and a manifestation of defilements?
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby Goedert » Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:16 pm

Friends,

This question put the dhamma in check.

As stated in many suttas...

An Arahat can't suffer from mental fermentations. The Buddha teached the end of MENTAL suffering not the end of PHYSICAL suffering. I don't remember the sutta but even the Lord relaxed his back, the physical stress is unevitable.

Depression is a mental suffering.

Who is someone here to describe the realisation of an Arahant?

Suppose someone have a knife. He sit in meditation posture and start to force the point of the knife against his leg. Now he is contemplatin by HIMSELF the root of physical pain. So he realeased that physical pain only exist if there is an identification/crave with/for a/the body, with a sensation, with the feeling, with the perception, with the consciouness, with the mind... So been free from the sense of "I feel pain. This pain is bad. This pain is suffering.", he realeases that pain existes but who feel it, is an aggregate.

People, the sutta states:

Khandha Sutta: Aggregates

At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said, "Monks, I will teach you the five aggregates & the five clinging-aggregates. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "Now what, monks, are the five aggregates?

"Whatever form is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of form.

"Whatever feeling is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of feeling.

"Whatever perception is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of perception.

"Whatever (mental) fabrications are past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: those are called the aggregate of fabrications.

"Whatever consciousness is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: that is called the aggregate of consciousness.

"These are called the five aggregates.

"And what are the five clinging-aggregates?

"Whatever form — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: that is called form as a clinging-aggregate.

"Whatever feeling — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: that is called feeling as a clinging-aggregate.

"Whatever perception — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: that is called perception as a clinging-aggregate.

"Whatever (mental) fabrications — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — are clingable, offer sustenance, and are accompanied with mental fermentation: those are called fabrications as a clinging-aggregate.

"Whatever consciousness — past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near — is clingable, offers sustenance, and is accompanied with mental fermentation: that is called consciousness as a clinging-aggregate.

"These are called the five clinging-aggregates."

"Now, when a disciple of the noble ones discerns stress, the origination of stress, the cessation of stress, and the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress in this way, when — having entirely abandoned passion-obsession, having abolished aversion-obsession, having uprooted the view-&-conceit obsession 'I am'; having abandoned ignorance & given rise to clear knowing — he has put an end to suffering & stress right in the here-&-now, it is to this extent, too, that a disciple of the noble ones is a person of right view... who has arrived at this true Dhamma." (MN 9 PTS: M i 46 )


Sabbasava Sutta: All the Fermentations

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi, in Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's monastery. There he addressed the monks: "Monks!"

"Yes, lord," the monks replied.

The Blessed One said, "Monks, the ending of the fermentations is for one who knows & sees, I tell you, not for one who does not know & does not see. For one who knows what & sees what? Appropriate attention & inappropriate attention. When a monk attends inappropriately, unarisen fermentations arise, and arisen fermentations increase. When a monk attends appropriately, unarisen fermentations do not arise, and arisen fermentations are abandoned. There are fermentations to be abandoned by seeing, those to be abandoned by restraining, those to be abandoned by using, those to be abandoned by tolerating, those to be abandoned by avoiding, those to be abandoned by destroying, and those to be abandoned by developing.

"[1] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by seeing? There is the case where an uninstructed, run-of-the-mill person — who has no regard for noble ones, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma; who has no regard for men of integrity, is not well-versed or disciplined in their Dhamma — does not discern what ideas are fit for attention or what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas fit for attention and attends [instead] to ideas unfit for attention.

"And what are the ideas unfit for attention that he attends to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen fermentation of sensuality arises in him, and the arisen fermentation of sensuality increases; the unarisen fermentation of becoming arises in him, and arisen fermentation of becoming increases; the unarisen fermentation of ignorance arises in him, and the arisen fermentation of ignorance increases. These are the ideas unfit for attention that he attends to.

"And what are the ideas fit for attention that he does not attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen fermentation of sensuality does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of sensuality is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of becoming does not arise in him, and arisen fermentation of becoming is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of ignorance does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of ignorance is abandoned. These are the ideas fit for attention that he does not attend to. Through his attending to ideas unfit for attention and through his not attending to ideas fit for attention, both unarisen fermentations arise in him, and arisen fermentations increase.

"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'

"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.

"The well-instructed disciple of the noble ones — who has regard for noble ones, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma; who has regard for men of integrity, is well-versed & disciplined in their Dhamma — discerns what ideas are fit for attention and what ideas are unfit for attention. This being so, he does not attend to ideas unfit for attention and attends [instead] to ideas fit for attention.

"And what are the ideas unfit for attention that he does not attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen fermentation of sensuality arises in him, and the arisen fermentation of sensuality increases; the unarisen fermentation of becoming arises in him, and arisen fermentation of becoming increases; the unarisen fermentation of ignorance arises in him, and the arisen fermentation of ignorance increases. These are the ideas unfit for attention that he does not attend to.

"And what are the ideas fit for attention that he does attend to? Whatever ideas such that, when he attends to them, the unarisen fermentation of sensuality does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of sensuality is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of becoming does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of becoming is abandoned; the unarisen fermentation of ignorance does not arise in him, and the arisen fermentation of ignorance is abandoned. These are the ideas fit for attention that he does attend to. Through his not attending to ideas unfit for attention and through his attending to ideas fit for attention, unarisen fermentations do not arise in him, and arisen fermentations are abandoned.

"He attends appropriately, This is stress... This is the origination of stress... This is the cessation of stress... This is the way leading to the cessation of stress. As he attends appropriately in this way, three fetters are abandoned in him: identity-view, doubt, and grasping at precepts & practices. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by seeing.

"[2] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by restraining? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, dwells restrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were to dwell unrestrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty do not arise for him when he dwells restrained with the restraint of the eye-faculty.

Reflecting appropriately, he dwells restrained with the restraint of the ear-faculty...

Reflecting appropriately, he dwells restrained with the restraint of the nose-faculty...

Reflecting appropriately, he dwells restrained with the restraint of the tongue-faculty...

Reflecting appropriately, he dwells restrained with the restraint of the body-faculty...

Reflecting appropriately, he dwells restrained with the restraint of the intellect-faculty. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were to dwell unrestrained with the restraint of the intellect-faculty do not arise for him when he dwells restrained with the restraint of the intellect-faculty. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by restraining.

"[3] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by using? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, uses the robe simply to counteract cold, to counteract heat, to counteract the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; simply for the purpose of covering the parts of the body that cause shame.

"Reflecting appropriately, he uses almsfood, not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification; but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, thinking, 'Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.'

"Reflecting appropriately, he uses lodging simply to counteract cold, to counteract heat, to counteract the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; simply for protection from the inclemencies of weather and for the enjoyment of seclusion.

"Reflecting appropriately, he uses medicinal requisites that are used for curing the sick simply to counteract any pains of illness that have arisen and for maximum freedom from disease.

"The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to use these things [in this way] do not arise for him when he uses them [in this way]. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by using.

"[4] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating.

"[5] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by avoiding? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, avoids a wild elephant, a wild horse, a wild bull, a wild dog, a snake, a stump, a bramble patch, a chasm, a cliff, a cesspool, an open sewer. Reflecting appropriately, he avoids sitting in the sorts of unsuitable seats, wandering to the sorts of unsuitable habitats, and associating with the sorts of bad friends that would make his knowledgeable friends in the holy life suspect him of evil conduct. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to avoid these things do not arise for him when he avoids them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by avoiding.

"[6] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by destroying? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, does not tolerate an arisen thought of sensuality. He abandons it, destroys it, dispels it, & wipes it out of existence.

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of ill will...

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate an arisen thought of cruelty...

Reflecting appropriately, he does not tolerate arisen evil, unskillful mental qualities. He abandons them, destroys them, dispels them, & wipes them out of existence. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to destroy these things do not arise for him when he destroys them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by destroying.

"[7] And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by developing? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, develops mindfulness as a factor for Awakening dependent on seclusion... dispassion... cessation, resulting in letting go. He develops analysis of qualities as a factor for Awakening... persistence as a factor for Awakening... rapture as a factor for Awakening... serenity as a factor for Awakening... concentration as a factor for Awakening... equanimity as a factor for Awakening dependent on seclusion... dispassion... cessation, resulting in letting go. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to develop these qualities do not arise for him when he develops them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by developing.

"When a monk's fermentations that should be abandoned by seeing have been abandoned by seeing, his fermentations that should be abandoned by restraining have been abandoned by restraining, his fermentations that should be abandoned by using have been abandoned by using, his fermentations that should be abandoned by tolerating have been abandoned by tolerating, his fermentations that should be abandoned by avoiding have been abandoned by avoiding, his fermentations that should be abandoned by destroying have been abandoned by destroying, his fermentations that should be abandoned by developing have been abandoned by developing, then he is called a monk who dwells restrained with the restraint of all the fermentations. He has severed craving, thrown off the fetters, and — through the right penetration of conceit — has made an end of suffering & stress."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One's words.


People, the dhammapa states:

Verse 19. Fruits of Religious Life Through Practice

Though many sacred texts he chants
the heedless man's no practiser,
as cowherd counting other's kine
in samanaship he has no share.

Explanation: Some persons may know the words of the Buddha extensively and can repeat it all. But through utter neglect they do not live up to it. In consequence they do not reach any religions attainments. They do not enjoy the fruit of the recluse life. This is exactly like the way of life of a cowherd who looks after another's cattle. The cowherd takes the cattle to the pastures in the morning, and in the evening he takes them back to the owner's house. He gets only the wages.

Verse 20. Practice Ensures Fulfilment

Though few of the sacred texts he chant
in Dhamma does his practice run,
clear of delusion, lust and hate,
wisdom perfected, with heart well-freed.

Explanation: A true seeker of truth through he may speak only little of the Buddha's word. He may not be able to recite extensively from religious texts. But, if he belongs to the teaching of the Buddha assiduously, lives in accordance with the teaching of the Buddha, if he has got rid of passion, ill-will and delusion, he has well penetrated experience and is free from clinging to worldly things, he is a partaker of the life of a renunciate.

Verse 35. Restrained Mind Leads To Happiness

The mind is very hard to check
and swift, it falls on what it wants.
The training of the mind is good,
a mind so tamed brings happiness.

Explanation: The mind is exceedingly subtle and is difficult to be seen. It attaches on whatever target it wishes. The wise guard the mind. The guarded mind brings bliss.

Verse 36. Protected Mind Leads To Happiness

The mind is very hard to see
and find, it falls on what it wants.
One who’s wise should guard the mind,
a guarded mind brings happiness.

Explanation: The mind moves about so fast it is difficult to get hold of it fully. It is swift. It has a way of focusing upon whatever it likes. It is good and of immense advantage to tame the mind. The tame mind brings bliss.

May our practice increase.
Metta to all.
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Jun 30, 2010 6:53 pm

altar wrote:The question is whether depression actually is a form of suffering,

Is a depression subject to change or not? What is subject to change is it pleasant or unpleasant?
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Api cāhaṃ, āvuso, imasmiṃyeva byāmamatte kaḷevare, sasaññimhi samanake lokañca paññāpemi lokasamudayañca lokanirodhañca lokanirodhagāminiñca paṭipadan. (AN4.45)

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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby Hoo » Thu Jul 01, 2010 2:21 am

altar wrote:Hi all,

No one here has mentioned anything about what constitutes depression.
The point has been made that an arahant can experience physical pain. This is clearly a feeling that has no other implications beyond itself as the arahant has no aversion or negativity towards it.
What then are we calling depression? Is it merely a low feeling in the mind? This is NOT what is meant by depression. It usually means negativity towards oneself and towards others resulting in lack of interest. Either a mental thought like a dagger, "I hate myself," or a weight, like, "Why must I get out of bed, ugahhuhh," due to a heavy mind. Heavy with what? One with metta "wakes easily, sleeps easily, and dreams no evil dreams."
Ask yourself, if you had literally no hatred, could you be depressed? It would simply be a feeling in the mind, not real depression, if you think so.


Hi Altar,

I see a couple of potential language problems with the original question. "Suffer from" seems to be asking whether an arahant "can experience" clinical depression. If one looks at the definitions of depression in the DSM or WHO manuals, the symptoms may include a number of ways in which the person interacts with their environment - few of which are Buddhist ways, much less ways in which an arahant does (as I understand it). So the definition looks destined to give a "no" answer. An arahant doesn't exhibit many of the symptoms so he/she must not experience clinical depression as it is usually defined.

He may have a disturbance in brain chemistry, heart or circulatory issues, dietary deficiencies, or other factors that can be associated with clinical depression. He might experience sleep disturbance, headaches, or other physiological symptoms. He might also experience a change in affect, a reduction of sympathetic joy, difficulty being kind or compassionate, etc.

So does he "suffer" or does he handle it without suffering? This is the other language problem I see. The term "suffer" means different things to different people in different cultures. I have had a recent illness that gave me a couple of true "gifts" of understanding. The illness was painful at times - Dhamma lesson. My patience was tried at times - Dhamma lesson, ....etc. Sometimes I suffered, sometimes not. I'm certainly not an arahant, but even I had the choice to suffer or not. Imagine how an arahant deals with it.

So can an arahant experience elements of clinical depression - I'd say yes. Does he suffer because of it - I'd say no because he is far beyond ordinary worldlings in dealing with what arises.

Thanks for posting the question :) It's given me a chance to explore some of the thoughts others have given above, as well as relate them to my own situation.

Hoo
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Re: Can Arahant suffer from clinical depression?

Postby Nibbida » Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:19 am

No dukkha = no depression.

An arhant may experience emotions like sadness, but depression is beyond sadness. It involves ruminative thinking, tons of papanca, a sense of separateness/withdrawal, and many other features that are contrary to the characteristics ascribed to awakening. Depression is a feedback loop of thinking and emotion. Features of an awakened mind would tend to prevent one from getting into that feedback loop.

People who do jhana practice alone note that anxiety and depression tend to disappear, although normal emotions remain. I have doubt that a stream-entrant would experience any significant depression. If they did, their experience of it would be different than that of most peoples'.
"Dispositions of the mind, like limbs of the body, acquire strength by exercise." --Thomas Jefferson

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