Dear Dr. Pomfrey,
I might be experiencing despair or something like depression. I’ve been trying to be good to myself for years. I eat good food, meditate, and try to be a good person. I think I’m acting rightly but I don’t have good luck, and I have a hard time starting things or staying with them. I feel like nature is telling me to retire or give up, but I’m 56 and don’t have the money. I’m in an unfavorable jyotish [Eastern astrology] period where I won’t be making money for another ten years. I need someone to take care of me but I don’t have anybody. I’m kind of lost. Do you have any suggestions for me, or could we talk or whatever you do? —Lost
Dear Outta Here,
You are always welcome to call, but first let’s see if you really need to. I’d like to start by saying that I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties. Suffering, even if self-generated, is painful.
If we knew each other personally, you would know that what I’m about to say to you is not heartless, condescending, or macho. I have approximately three minutes to connect with you—so I won’t waste your time with “idiot compassion.” True compassion is not about commiseration, it’s about transformation.
My doctoral dissertation was on the first recorded therapy session in history, between Lord Krishna (also known as God) and the most highly developed warrior of his time, Arjuna. The session notes can be found in a book known as the Bhagavad-Gita. As the story unfolds, Arjuna is about to engage in the greatest battle of all time. However, as Krishna pulls his chariot on to the battlefield, Arjuna notices relatives, teachers, and friends in the opposing army. Arjuna’s heart becomes overwhelmed—he drops his bow and arrows, sits down in his chariot “dismayed in heart and mind,” and resolves not to fight.
Lost, you are Arjuna. You are the “warrior” who has sought to do the right things for yourself, yet when it comes time to actually fight the battle of life, you have become overwhelmed and incapacitated—as a result, you dropped your bow.
Krishna’s act of compassion is to inform Arjuna his behavior is disgraceful, weak, unmanly, and coming at a heck-of-a-wrong time. Lost, this is exactly what I would say to you. You are 56, not 5 or 6. Why the whiny little boy? If you were in therapy, I would explore why you chose this story—you know, the weak, impotent, it’s not my fault, the-planets-made-me-do-it story.
Regarding your lack of “good luck.” Is nature a distant reality that treats you favorably or not? No, you are nature’s intelligence. If you want nature’s support, reach around and grab your back pockets and lift your butt off the chair. Krishna told Arjuna, “Stand up and fight.” Lost, pick up your masculine nature and grab your bow!
I know, I know . . . you’re in a bad astrology phase and were thinking to spend the next ten years at Café Paradiso until “the planets” replenish your testosterone levels! Lost, astrology represents your past actions stored in giant savings and loans in the sky (known as the planets). At the appropriate time, your “savings” are forwarded to you. It’s not “nature” doing something to you. It’s you in the past doing something to you. However, you are more powerful, more resourceful, and more evolved than you were in your past. Through choice, decision, focus, and commitment, you can, to a great extent, override the shadow of the past.
Yoga Vasishta, another great therapist from ancient India, stated that nobody has ever seen the god of destiny, but everybody has seen what one day’s hard work will produce. Lost, you’re not in a bad jyotish phase—you’re in a bad phase of understanding of jyotish. Life is not punitive or restrictive, it is educational. This phase of your life is intended to teach you—don’t miss one day of class.
You’re wondering if nature is telling you to “give up?” Lost, were you raised by teddy bears? Nature is telling you to wake up, grow up, stand up, and move on. You are at a turning point. You’re frustrated and trying to decide whether you should take it down a notch to depression? No, get excited when you’re frustrated—it means you’re ready for change. Here are three points I suggest you start with.
One: Know that you are the creator of your life. You create the same way that the scriptures state that God creates—through language. In the Bible, the book of Genesis states that God spoke and it “stood fast.” The Eastern scriptures report God simply “thought” and the world came into existence. Language matters. What you say to yourself today becomes your world tomorrow.
Two: Stop whining and start doing. Create a mission statement. Decide why you are on the planet and what you are going to create while here. Do it today. If it changes in a month or a year, that’s okay—just choose something now and begin.
Three: Exercise vigorously. Thirty minutes five days a week (check with your doctor) will provide testosterone and human growth hormone. You need both.
Krishna tells Arjuna in their first therapy session that “action is superior to inaction,” and that a yogi is “he who does what ought to be done.” So, Lost, start your journey—and don’t hide behind the stars—aim straight for them.