Questioner: “I am Brahman” is the simple and straightforward message of Advaita. Brahman is synonymous with Beingness, Consciousness and Happiness. If I = Happiness, I should be always happy, should never be depressed. But I am overcome by the feelings of unhappiness, I get depressed. How come?
Well, the answer is “You” (I) can never not be Happy.
Out of Beingness – Consciousness – Happiness, the first two are self-evident. We do not require an external proof to tell me that I exist or that I am conscious. Can you ever say “I am not here” or “I am not conscious”? You have to be there and be present to say, “I am not here.” Similarly, I have to be conscious to say, “I am not conscious.”
In the same way, “I” can never ever be other than Happiness.
What is then the “feel” of unhappiness or depression that arises?
The “feel” cannot be “I” nor can it belong to “I”. That “feel” must obviously be something other than “I”. That is to say that such a feeling cannot be real because Brahman is the only “thing” that is Real. If the feeling is not real, it has to be an imaginary thing for, “I” would never say: “I am unhappy.”
But a Ramesam or a Tom or Dick do “feel” unhappy and say: “I am unhappy; I feel depressed. I am suffering.”
Such a “feel” of unhappiness is like the proverbial snake on the rope. The I that says “I am unhappy” is not the True real “I” (“I” stands for “Beingness”, “Consciousness” and “Happiness). Let us designate as “i” (with lower case ‘i’ for distinction) the entity that says : “i am unhappy.”
“i” which says “i am unhappy” is an imaginary entity. It is just a thought. It is the “ego.” “Ego” sees the snake and gets scared. It is the “ego” which experiences the snake out there at a distance from itself. The True “I” has no separate object at a distance and distinct from Itself to be experienced by It.
[Only objects are experienced. ‘Happiness = I’ is the subject, not an object. Unhappiness is an object (thought) experienced by ‘i”.]
When “i” experience unhappiness, “I” mistake myself to be “i” forgetting that I am “I”.
I misidentify myself to be the ego thought “i” and ascribe whatever “i” feels to “I”.
So clearly the “feel” of unhappiness or depression does not belong to “I”. The moment the misidentification of “I” with “i” ends, the misattribution of unhappiness to “I” also ends. Automatically then unhappiness ceases.
Ending of unhappiness itself is Happiness. “i” do not have to “do” specially and specifically anything opposite to ‘unhappiness’ in order to be Happy.
You cannot get rid of the ‘pink elephant below your seat’ by doing something to get rid of it. So instead of ‘clinging’ to unhappiness by claiming ownership to it, first and foremost thing is to deny ownership to unhappiness. Drop the claim “i am unhappy.” Let the feel of unhappiness be orphaned and meet its own end.
In summary, the steps in ending ‘unhappiness’ are:
1) Recognize that “I” can never be other than Happiness.
2) Recognize that “i” which ‘experiences’ unhappiness is not the same as “I”.
3) Unhappiness is a “feel” of “i” and not that of “I”.
4) All thoughts and “feels” anyway are of a passing nature and therefore cannot be “Real” (i.e. they do not and cannot last over the three periods of time – past, present and future). Therefore unhappiness cannot be real.
5) So “i”, being only a thought, is not permanent. The “feel” of unhappiness also passes.
6) Making an effort to ‘do’ anything with unhappiness will only perpetuate it. The energy that you expend through your effort to get rid of ‘unhappiness’ will go to strengthen ‘unhappiness.’
7) Just do not pay attention to the ‘thought’ or ‘feel’ of ‘unhappiness’ and it will attenuate by itself because of negligence.
(N.B.: The above Non-dual teaching presupposes a healthy body-mind without a pathological condition requiring medical attention).
Why do I feel Unhappy? Why do I feel depressed?
From the perspective of the body:
One need not consider “unhappiness” and “depression” as totally avoidable unnecessary nuisance!!!
Maybe the body is telling something, raising a red flag.
“Just pay heed to me please” may be its cry! It is its way of cautioning you.
There is a foul smell I am ‘unhappy’ about: It means there is some rotting dead thing perhaps swarmed by infectious bacteria. (Some research shows that human bodies emit certain characteristic odors and our bodies prefer people with smells that are compatible with our genomic disposition and possibly be disgusted by others). So move away.
There is a depressing feeling after an exhausting work that has ended as a flop. Well, the body wants to rest. And so does the brain. So no use forcing the body to continue on with the struggle. Just step back, relax – let the body slump back in a couch, regain its glucose levels. Let the brain rest and get rid of the waste products that accumulated in the neurons. Both the body and the brain will be ready after a rest to take on the task having refreshed. So the body-brain combine is telling you not to be a slave driver, pleading with you not to over-tax it.
So unhappiness and depression (within reasonable limits) could be signaling mechanisms of the extent to which the body-brain system is abused.
(Also please have a look at: “Happy End to Dukhi’s Sorrowful Saga”).