Getting Religion, Losing Depression—Motivational Mix and Match…

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Buddhist Temple in Laos

Depression is very over-rated, in my opinion, which means that I don’t much believe in it, and not for lack of trying—and crying.  It’s too easy.  It’s a cop-out, unless you ARE truly depressed, of course, in some clinically measurable way, i.e. most likely chemical (but that’s never been proven).  Unhappiness, while not simple, is simply not depression, even when one is ‘minor’ and the other ‘major’.  There’s a qualitative difference IMHO.

‘Unhappiness’ means you need to make some changes in your life, not in your prescription—motivational therapy optional.  That is not always easy, of course, and may involve some compromises you never imagined making.  Fortunately, in this transient age, impermanence is currency, and you can always go back to from where you came.  Keep that bizniz card in your pocket and an open door to your back. 

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Christian church in Sri Lanka

The best offense is a good defense.  We are a push-button society, and that includes pills—a pill for this and a pill for that.  Well, for a headache or an STD, that certainly makes sense: easy come, easy go, if you’re lucky.  But for ‘depression’, I’m not so sure, unless you have a clinically measurable ‘imbalance’, and I’m not sure that includes Xanax.  So if things haven’t turned out like you planned, before reaching for that pill bottle, first ask yourself what goals you have in life, and how you plan to achieve it.

Unfortunately that whole rap about ‘living in the moment’ is of little help to you right now, so you might want to ditch that idea.  There’s nothing wrong with being rational, as that used to be the hallmark of our Western civilization, back when we were ascendant, before we become degenerate hedonists ‘living in the moment’ and ‘being very present’.  I agree that the present is the most important of moments for us—but not the only.

Remember the old saying: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it“?   No?  I didn’t think so.  That was Jorge Santayana, and it used to be considered quite the pithy take on history—but not now, not when latter 20th c. thinkers like Alan Watts and Joseph Campbell—both of whom I love, but for other reasons—urged us to ‘follow our bliss’ and such.  That’s what the European diaspora does—fun fun fun in someone else’s sun…

FWIW I’d probably rate the relatively importance of the three dimensions of time about 30-40-30 for past-present-future or maybe 20-50-30 to deemphasize the past, obsession with which is probably the most import thing to remember—then forget.  That sounds about right.  To not become obsessed with any one dimension of time is the important thing—balance, the Middle Path between extremes…

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Christian church in Ethiopia

Enter religion into the fray, and this is where it excels in its role as motivation and inspiration.  For some people, this is its ONLY role, i.e. to make you feel good.  In this role preachers are in their element as motivational speakers, something they are expected to excel at. For others of us, this is not enough, to basically shoot us a line of sh*t, like a high-school football coach on Friday nights, but if the rap can utilize parables and stories to explain and enlighten our day-to-day reality with its trials and tribulations, then something important has been accomplished.

Some of us are not only obsessed with “getting through this thing called life” (thank you, Prince), but understanding it also, since talk is cheap.  We want proof(s), i.e. Science.  Religion takes a heavy rap for its superstitions and meaningless rituals, and the New-Age styles of worship are not always an improvement.  Substitute ‘earth energy’ for ‘God’s word’ and you’re right back where you’re started—the nature of myth and ritual, and ultimate reliance on faith and belief.  That’s good, but not good enough for me.

I like to know that I’m not at odds with Science, and I like to know that my life has a plan, however shifting, but always more than just “following my bliss” waif-like and bird-like.  When life gets me down, first I try to fight (but not with fists), then I feint, and bluff, and look for new strategies for success, and new definitions for it, also.  Sometimes changing courses mid-stream leads you to new goals and paths hitherto unimagined.

BTW a good motivational speaker-preacher-religious leader-enlightened individual can accomplish the same effects irrespective of any one particular religion-faith-philosophy.  The quirks and specs may change, but the message is the same: find your place in the Great Chain of Being, keep your options open and persevere.  See you there, somewhere along the way…

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