‟How can I deal with a sense of despair and worthlessness?”

By Matthieu Ricard on May 26, 2011

Please try to contemplate the following: No matter what, Buddha-nature is always present in all sentient beings. Therefore, there is nothing in any human being, you or anyone else, which is fundamentally wrong.

This is not just some naïve belief. Think about the basic nature of mind. It is even more fundamental than happiness or suffering. Pure awareness is the most basic quality of being: awareness. How could that be degraded? Only the content of the mind, mental fabrications, can ‟go wrong”. In fact, they can go wrong in a big way. But the basic nature of awareness remains the same.

This is the crucial point. Mental events result from countless causes and conditions are they are by nature impermanent. Therefore it is impossible for them to be permanently wrong. So the perception of being fundamentally ‟ bad ‟ or ‟wrong ‟only occurs as long as we feed ruminations that perpetuate the particular mental state that makes us think that we are ‟bad”.

What is the way out of this frame of mind? Try to understand that what you perceive as‟ wrong ‟ is not an intrinsic quality of the mind. As it is not permanent there is no reason to feel despair. There is always a way to get out of this.

You need to encourage in your mind the conditions that can serve as direct antidotes to the afflictive mental states. Just to give a few examples:
• Meditating wholeheartedly on compassion for all beings who suffer as much or, in many cases, more than you do.
• Seeing the empty nature of thoughts when you earnestly look directly at them.
• Bringing to mind mental images that are very different from what is triggering your suffering (think for instance of a place where everything is peaceful and harmonious.)
• Look deep within at a ‟place” within yourself, or a state of experience, that is not affected by suffering and rest in that place.

Above all, never loose confidence that there is always a potential for change within ourselves and that we usually vastly underestimate the power of transformation of mind. Mind can be our worst enemy, but also our best friend.