Re: Buddhist thought on mental illness?

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Posted by Shane ( on May 26, 2000 at 13:17:59:

In Reply to: Re: Buddhist thought on mental illness? posted by Stephen Pema Dorje on May 26, 2000 at 12:08:21:

Dear Pete,

As Stephen has already pointed out, mental illness from a buddhist perspective has to do with Karma. Remember that everything has causes, including mental or physical ill health, though that does not mean that there is nothing that can be done.

As with most buddhist questions, we can look to the Four Noble (or Arya) Truths to provide some answers. Just to recap:

1st Truth - Is the truth of suffering
2nd Truth - Is the truth of the cause of suffering
3rd Truth - Is the truth of the cessation of suffering
4th Truth - Is the truth of the path of suffering.

Think about what these truths mean! Oh, if you haven't come across these before or just need a refresher, then check out for a wonderful explanation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Anyhow, if mental illness has a cause (as logically it must) then if we can remove those causes then we must logically stop the suffering, ie the illness. How to remove the causes is the tricky part and this is where we may split. Myself, I am working on my illness (classified as dysthymia with episodes of major depression) primarily through the buddhas teachings as I feel that they make sense to me. Thsi decision was not a simply made decision and it took me approx. two years of concerted study in buddhism until I made up my mind. However buddhism isn't the only path available, there is also conventional psychotherapeutic methods, other religious paths, self help books/seminars, Neurolinguistic programing, subliminal programing, etc., etc.

The important point though (I feel) is to rigourously examine the situation and determine for yourself just what the causes are and therefore what ways are there for you to eliminate those.

I hope that this rambling discourse is in some way helpful, but please do not hesitate to email me if you would like to discuss this further.

Good Roads and Fair Weather,

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