A Spiritual View of Depression, Part VI: Living with the Unknown
In the midst of flow, there is a need that beats within each human heart to find an anchorpoint, a place of steadiness that does not change, even if everything else does. This center that is changeless, that can be turned to when everything else is in flux, lives within each human being.
There is never a time in life when things are not changing — when one view of reality does not give way before another, or one person whom we are connected with or another does not go through a shift that changes them, or a situation we find ourselves in turns out not to be what we expected it to be. There is no time of pause in life’s ceaseless flow, however it may appear on the surface of things For even in the quiet times of peace, things that are of the future are being prepared, and the end of one phase is already on the horizon, waiting for the next phase to begin. This is the nature of life’s ceaseless movement, and it is part of wisdom to learn how to move with it.
Ordinarily, when change that comes into view is positive, valuable, hoped for, and appreciated, there is little thought given to what will happen next because the immediacy of the delight, pleasure, or comfort taken in what is, is what we seek to immerse ourselves in. But when change brings with it illness, or loss, or limitation, or helplessness, or an end to what may have appeared to be a hoped-for possibility, then the question of what comes next is very much in the foreground of consciousness, since the heart’s desire is to be free of limitation and pain, and the longing in the midst of either is always that there be a ‘next’ — a next phase, chapter, or situation in which the pain or limitation will be gone. Depression often occurs when this hoped for next chapter of life does not feel real or possible.
In the midst of flow, there is a need that beats within each human heart to find an anchorpoint, a place of steadiness that does not change, even if everything else does. This center that is changeless, that can be turned to when everything else is in flux, lives within each human being. It has been called many things, and is the feeling of an eternal Heart that beats inside — an experience of inner continuity, love, and lastingness that is ‘I Am’. This ‘I Am’ is the deeper sense of one’s existence that is ongoing, eternal, and part of something greater than oneself. It is a sense of beingness, love, purpose, knowing, that can be an anchorpoint in the sea of the unknown. Often, when one has drifted far away from this sense, it must be pursued in order to be found again, especially when adversity seems to be all around. Such a pursuit is a central reason, among others, to deepen one’s spiritual life.
‘I Am’ is the affirmation of one’s eternal being, of one’s ongoing life and existence beyond any limitation. In the face of physical disability or handicap, it is the knowing of the perfection and limitlessness of one’s deeper self. In the face of loss and the grief that follows, it is the feeling of one’s wholeness. In the face of heartache of any kind, it is the awareness that joy is still possible and love is still possible because the foundations of both love and joy are inextricably woven into life itself.
Everywhere in life, things are moving, relationships are changing, disappointments are happening, letting go is required, and the sense of the unknown exists as an everpresent companion to each step that we take. In the midst of this, there is the Eternal presence saying, I am with you, I amyou. It may be that the experience of inner stability and of unconquerable hope is difficult to locate at first, since the intensity of emotion, and especially that of depression, can cover any other feeling, However, knowing that there is a part of the self that is untouched by the circumstances of one’s life and that that part of the self is accessible, is a reason to strive to reach it, to search in every way possible for the path to find it. This is the nature of spiritual seeking everywhere, and in the presence of the unknown, it is the basis for moving past fear and sorrow into a new relationship with life.
Such movement can come through the beginning of a spiritual practice whose purpose is to help locate and create an experience of this eternal center. There is no one way to go about this, for the paths to truth are many and need to correspond to a person’s own preferences and predilections. Nevertheless, the signpost that such a path is useful is the sense of upliftment and peace that it brings — the inner quiet and stability that creates a knowing of being whole and held in the midst of whatever else may be going on. No matter what feelings are present on the emotional level, there is a level beneath these feelings that remains always true, always present. To seek it with a whole heart is to pursue wisdom. To find it is to experience truth.