- "There is no anti-depressant that will cure a depression
that's spiritually based, for the malaise doesn't originate from brain
dysfunction, but from an accurate response to the desecration of life."
- --David R. Hawkins, Power Vs. Force
- I recently read a news report stating that loneliness
has become a serious health problem for millions of Americans. According
to this report, we see emerging the paradox of an exploding population,
and increased social isolation for many of us. The average American now
has only two friends in whom to confide on important matters, and roughly
a quarter of us have no such friend at all. The United States may still
be perceived as the Land of Opportunity, but it is also increasingly the
land of the depressed and alone.
- The obvious irony is that more and more of us are isolated
despite the total pervasiveness of electronic "communication."
Cell phones, text messaging, email, and internet chat rooms have resoundingly
failed as substitutes for actual human contact.
- Why are we alone? Of course, the necessity of work, familial
obligations, and the endless distractions of "entertainment"
rob us of time that could be spent on socialization. But a more fundamental
problem may be driving many of us into private worlds deprived of love
- From my perspective, depression and loneliness amongst
Americans may be as inevitable as lung cancer for smokers. No culture that
devalues life, love, and meaning as profoundly as ours can produce a happy
or unified populace. From the day we are born, our ability to love our
selves and connect with others is subverted by a thousand barriers emplaced
by cultural conditioning.
- What are these barriers? They are ways of seeing our
selves, others, and the world that lead to a sense of separation and aloneness.
One very large such barrier is the conditioned habit of judgment. The respective
machineries of education, religion, and media in various ways program us
to judge our selves and others in a profoundly limited light. When we ask
our selves, "Who am I? Who are my neighbors?" the answers we
get are hopelessly distorted.
- "Judgment" implies knowledge of what is "right"
and "wrong." When we stand in judgment of other people, we accept
those who seem "good," and condemn those who seem "bad."
But what is our basis for discerning "goodness" or "badness"
in a person? Consider this example: When a man sees an attractive young
lady in a provocative dress, he tends to feel "good." When he
sees an elderly woman with no teeth and ragged clothes, he tends to feel
"bad." He has accepted the attractive lady as "good,"
and condemned the elderly woman as "bad."
- The above example demonstrates that our habitual judgments
tend to be insane. The attractive woman is accepted as "good"
even though she has presented nothing on the surface that is lasting, loving,
meaningful, or helpful. The elderly woman is condemned as "bad"
even though she is "guilty" of nothing other than the physical
decline that inevitably touches us all. So why does the man believe the
attractive lady offers him everything, and the elderly woman offers him
nothing? His thinking is affected by something much deeper than mere biological
urges. He can only see and feel as he has been programmed to for his entire
- We all know what our culture values and rewards: physical
attractiveness, stature, wealth, and power. Media so pervasive as to be
almost unavoidable pummels us with images of "very special people"
-- physically gorgeous actors, singers, models, and athletes. We are trained
to value in our selves and others only that which is impermanent, transient,
not helpful, and not loving.
- The individual thought system that arises from these
collective "values" could only be egotism. The proof of this
is everywhere. If you've walked into a shopping mall or movie theater recently,
you probably know this is so. Your fellow citizens probably did not greet
you with eye contact and a warm and open smile. More likely, their eyes
darted about -- challenging, judging, scoping for sexually attractive "scenery,"
and sizing up the "competition." Or perhaps they started blankly,
oblivious of your presence. You probably felt no possibility of connection
with them at all.
- The problems with rampant egotism as I see them are 1)
the ego cannot makes "judgments" based on truth; 2) the ego has
no ability to love or be loved. The most an ego can ever hope for is to
be an object of vicarious empowerment for other egos. Look at the way we
worship professional athletes. When an athlete performs well, his fans
experience an increased sense of self. When the athlete performs poorly,
these same fans curse his name and go searching for another idol. For whom
is that "loving," or even remotely satisfying? Where is the actual
enhancement of self in that?
- These horrific judgments we place on our selves and others
are driving us into isolation and depression. Increasingly, we only want
for our selves the impermanent surface qualities that the world defines
as "special." And these are the only qualities we find desirable
- This pathological need for "specialness" is
far more destructive than mere vanity or superficiality. It is the taproot
of much of the mayhem, madness, and murder we see on the nightly news.
The need for religious, racial, or nationalistic "specialness"
has led to more death than any other force in history. Jews who hate Muslims
and Muslims who hate Jews are both victims of the same pathology. Just
like the person who has been programmed only to value physical attractiveness,
religious and racial "warriors" cannot experience any true connection
or love with another human being. Love has been strangled by judgments
that are totally illusory and conditioned by culture.
- But TRUE connection -- both with others, and with one's
own true nature -- is possible, and it can be surprisingly easy. All one
need do is recognize that he is totally insane, and choose not to accept
the validity of his habitual judgments. This action is advised by all of
history's great spiritual teachers. Jesus taught that one must love his
neighbor as himself, and to love one's enemies and pray for those who persecute
him. Buddha taught that perception can only see illusion, and thus all
judgments must be fallacious. It is clearly not possible to really SEE
another person from a position of judgment, which always arises from the
- I would not be writing this essay if I had not walked
a country mile with sadness by my side. I am sad more often than I am happy.
I yearn for connection with others more than anything on Earth. And I feel
nothing but compassion for my many brothers and sisters who have lost the
ability to love and loved. But I am hopeful because I have recognized that
critical first step we all must take before real connection is possible.
- I will never again be so foolish as to judge another
-- or myself -- based on my habits of perception. I know very little, but
one thing I do know is that all of God's creation is worthy of love. We
habitually condemn others based on what we see on the surface, but all
we CAN see is the impermanent body/brain/ego machinery that has been defiled
and debased by cultural programming. That is not who a person really is.
It is not who I am.
- Maybe you've elected to read this essay because it's
title resonated with you. Maybe sadness is your close companion, too. It
is with no guile, strategy, or sentimentality that I tell you "I love
you." It is a simple statement of fact. God created you as Love, as
he made me. If I look into your eyes and really see you, I will only see
myself reflected back. I love you. Whomever you are, whatever your story,
no matter what. I've wasted years of my life trying the alternative, and
it is too painful for me to bear any longer.
- We can be friends again. We can end all suffering and
sadness and violence and death. We can go home. Just take one little step.
The first step. The final step.