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|The Age Of Anxiety|
|Written by Michael|
|Saturday, 11 June 2011|
It is no secret that there is great darkness, confusion, and pain in the world. Bookstores are filled with self-help books on how to be happy. Layman's guides to psychology line shelf after shelf. Our generation has been called "the age of anxiety." People often live out their lives plagued with depression, sickness, a sense of dissatisfaction and constant unrest.
Psychiatrists and psychologists have become the prophets of the moment, proposing dozens of theories to explain man's existential dilemmas. Whether it is because we suffer from an Oedipus complex, or from a primal anxiety at having been separated from the womb, from sexual repression, or from the trauma of death, mankind is beset with neuroses. Vials of valium and an assortment of anti-depressants and "uppers" can be found in the medicine cabinets of the very best homes. Not to mention the twenty-four-hour bombardment of work, television, computer games, Internet pornography, discos, and drugs which people use to blot out the never ending angst that they feel.
The psychologist, Erich Fromm, in his book, "Psychoanalysis and Religion," describes an interesting photograph which captures the average man's pain:
Fromm continues and states: "We pretend that our life is based on a solid foundation and ignore the shadows of uneasiness, anxiety and confusion which never leave us."
Rabbi Kook understands all of this darkness and anguish. He sees its source not in external causes, not in the traumas of child hood, nor in the pressures to conform to behavioral norms. He looks beyond social, cultural, psychological, sexual, and family dynamics to shed spiritual light on the world's confusion and pain.
"What is the cause of melancholy?" he asks. "The answer is the over abundance of evil deeds, evil character traits, and evil beliefs on the soul. The soul's deep sensitivity feels the bitterness which these cause, and it draws back, frightened and depressed" (Orot HaT'shuva, 14:6).
"All depression stems from sin, and t'shuva comes to light the soul and transforms the depression to joy" (Ibid, 14:7).
If Rabbi Kook were to have studied the Life magazine photograph of the tense, unhappy people on the street corner who were waiting to cross the street, he would have suggested a far deeper reason for their anxiety than any psychologist could propose. A deeper reason, and a novel cure:
If Rabbi Kook saw the Life magazine photograph, he would have suggested a far deeper reason for their anxiety than any psychologist could propose.
The melancholy and anxiety haunting mankind is not a result of the "separation from the womb," but of a separation much deeper - the separation from G-d.
"I see how transgressions act as a barrier against the brilliant Divine light which shines on every soul, and they darken and cast a shadow upon the soul" (Ibid, 7:5).
The cause of depression is transgression and the estrangement it causes from G-d.
The remedy is t'shuva - for the individual, the community, and for the world. Rabbi Kook teaches that to discover true inner joy, every person, and all of Creation, must return to the Source of existence and forge a living connection to G-d.
The paperbacks on personal improvement, psychology, and self-help which line bookstore shelves, contain many useful insights and tips. After all, man is influenced by a wide gamut of factors dating back even before his conception, through his time in the womb, his childhood years, and spanning the many life passages each of us face. Rabbi Kook reveals that in addition to all of the fashionable theories and cures, on a far deeper level, there is a spiritual phenomenon of wonderous beauty, like a butterfly enclosed in a cacoon, waiting to soar free. This is the light and healing wonder of t'shuva.
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 11 June 2011 )|
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