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The Cause of Psychic Afflictions

One of the factors responsible for anxiety is acquisitiveness. In a social environment where people's thoughts revolve around the axis of materialism, where wealth and passing material comforts are considered the criteria of prosperity and misfortune, and where everyone is constantly after the satisfaction of this inner urge, life is undoubtedly full of perpetual stress and anxiety. That is because no matter however extensive one's efforts may be, he cannot satisfy his endless greed, fill his mental vacuum, and realise all his desires and wishes. Also, often there arise insuperable obstacles in the way of his desires and goals, which lead him into various kinds of misgivings and torments. His mind and nerves are greatly disturbed as a result of this mental vexation. Moreover, since his attachment is to unenduring things, which are prone every moment to destruction and extinction, their transitory charm cannot give tranquillity to his tormented life. Such a person, no doubt, will not feel happy within himself.

Another important factor that causes spiritual anguish is the thought of death and absolute extinction. When death is believed to be the last limit of life and the end of everything, the awesome phantom of non-existence darkens the soul and pours bitterness into every joy of life. Psychic strain, despair and despondency, especially in the later part of life, will put him in a state of painful torture. Similarly, a haunting fear of encountering some undefined danger-something one fears without being able to express precisely what terrifies him-misgivings and apprehensions cripple the soul and shatter man's debilitated nerves like a sledge hammer. One becomes constantly listless as a result of financial insecurity or inadequacy; another is agitated on account of his unmanageable wealth and is beset with a thousand financial cares, some fret at the difficulty of meeting their commitments due to unfavourable factors and justify their always remaining in a state of consternation. Some are so full of scruples about certain particulars that they tire and exhaust everyone about themselves.

Such persons, as a matter of principle, are those whose anxiety seeks an outlet in order to surface, and they are constantly after some fresh pretext to start lamenting and complaining. The problems of life take a specially fearsome aspect in the evenings, for the fatigue resulting from day's work draws a curtain over the intellect and suppresses its power of rational judgement. At such times it no longer possesses its usual vigour, whereas the power of imagination is still active; its figments and fancies, finding the arena empty without a rival, torment the person severely.

If misgivings and futile apprehensives were to occur to anyone as a result of some small mistake, he should know that something that shouldn't have happened has taken place and there is no use in getting troubled about it. Moreover, he has no right to complain about what he had to suffer as a result of his own act. Everyone must reap what he has sown and if he has sowed a bad seed who is to blame? If one becomes upset by his mistake and sees its consequences to be much graver than they really are, he would fail to make amends, for that would divide his attention.

That which is certain is that one cannot succeed in solving one's problems with agitation and vexation, for agitation does not increase the capacity of one who has made a mistake, and regret and sorrow cannot change what is past. The only result that one obtains from his gloomy thoughts is to make his life gloomy and paralyse his activity. Peace of mind is necessary for one to disentangle the issues through reflection, and then try not to repeat the mistake. It is by correct reasoning that man can bring a discipline in his moral conduct.

Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"

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