Rafed English

The Stormy Sea of Life

Life is like a restless sea, full of wonders and always in a state of perpetual turmoil caused by the waves of events. No one is secure from the violent waves on the surface of this deep ocean. Pleasure and pain in this world, like positive and negative forces in nature, together perform their function everywhere. Opposed to joy and delight are grief and sadness and opposed to youth and vitality are old age and weakness. Everyone who is alive must bear the burden of affliction and suffering. Everyone who sets out on this sea is bound to be drenched by its waters and encounter in the course of his life a series of unpleasant and painful events: failure, privation, the death of dear ones and many other afflictions of the kind. Who is it that has remained unscathed by the arrows of time and secure from the tempests of events? The type of hardships and calamities, it is true, is different in every age, but the universal principle of hardship and suffering is intertwined with man's life in all its stages. Certainly, the means of comfort and welfare have never been so within man's reach in any era of history to the extent they are accessible today. Similarly, he has never attain the knowledge of nature's complex mysteries that he possesses today and been never so successful in subduing nature's unfriendly elements to the extent of today. In the shadow of science and with the power of technology, the civilised human being has overcome many of his difficulties by employing nature's various forces to his benefit.

However, despite these remarkable advancements in science and its brilliant achievements, and in spite of possessing all the different means essential for a better life, man today not only does not possess the feeling of mental peace and security that are basic for a happy life, he is drifting further away from the goal of a pleasant and wholesome life. From the viewpoint of peace and happiness, the future prospects of this materialistic life of today are not promising.

It cannot be denied that in most advanced societies psychological stress and anxiety have constantly increased in direct proportion to scientific, industrial, and economic progress and with the expansion of civic amenities and affluence. With the increase in psychic problems, the corresponding increase in the number of psychotherapists and psychiatrists has not at all helped to meet the situation.

Dr. Schneider writes:

What is it that has a greater share of human misery than anything else? I can answer this question in my capacity as a physician. It is a chronic disease. It will frighten you somewhat if you think about it. For out of a thousand kinds of diseases to which the human constitution is prone, one of them is as prevalent as the remaining nine hundred and ninety-nine of them. In the United States of America, fifty percent of those who go to see a physician suffer from this illness. Some claim that the figure is even higher than fifty percent.

At the Oxis Clinic (?) in New Orleans a report was prepared about five hundred patients who had consecutively made a call to that place. It revealed that seventy-five percent of them suffered from this illness. A person could be affected by it irrespective of his age and the stage of his life. Moreover, the diagnosis and treatment of this disease are terribly expensive.

I will hasten to refrain from mentioning its name, for that may lead you to a misunderstanding. Its first characteristic is that it is not a real disease. Traditionally it was referred to as 'mental illness' and now they call it psychosomatic disorder. It is not an illness in the sense that the sick person should really consider himself to be ill. But the suffering that one undergoes as a result of it is as severe as the spasms of pain due to biliary colic.

Psychosomatic illness is not something produced by bacteria, virus, or an unnatural growth of bodily tissue, but is something caused by the conditions of daily life. Whenever someone is enclosed within a thick and impenetrable shell of anxieties, worries and problems from which he cannot emerge into the world of joy and peace, we consider him as suffering from psychosomatic illness. 1

Freud says:

The primitive man satisfied his desires in a better way than the civilised man. His life was free from mental anxieties and cares, and he did not suffer from psychic ailments. But since the advent of civilisation, industry and urbanisation, man came to suffer from serious mental illnesses. 2

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1. Kelidhaye Khushbakhti, trans. from English into Persian by Ahmad Aram, p. 285.

2. Otto Friedman, Rawanshenasr dar khidmat-e siyasat, 131.

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

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