The key to mental health stability

By Hanne Nabintu Herland

Read Hanne’s The Herland Report.

The world is a rough place. None of us survives this. The earth and the realm around it is seized by evil. We will inevitably all face death. The body, for which we have cared so much and protected from danger to the best of our ability when alive, will cease to exist and, in the grave, gradually rot and return to dust. It lived for a few years, and we filled those years with what we thought was valuable. After that, the time span of the body is over.

Most of us are not even remembered for long after our deaths. In the brutal cycle of a world burdened by the weight of gravity, hastened by the merciless torrent of time, most scarcely recall those who died. We have more than enough troubles attempting to survive the present as it is burdened by the devilish torment of the spiritual darkness of our own age.

Such is the doom of the physical state of mankind when not enlightened: We gravitate toward feeling self-exaltedly important, selfishly consumed by our often petty opinions of others, protecting only our own and that which nurtures selfish ambitions, consumed by fleeting vanity, engaging in all kinds of vile passions and more than anything – lofty, empty words that serve the self. This is the fallen state of the destitute man, dead while living, awaiting physical death to swallow the pitiful remnants of his petty life.

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No wonder many lose their sanity. No wonder our generation is drowning in mental health issues. The depressingly masochistic ideology of the atheist West now remorselessly preaches bodily pleasures, nihilism and emptiness to the young. Its end result is the desire for suicide, to end a meaningless life in which the hedonist pursuit was not able to satisfy the inner man, the soul. Borderless sex, rock ‘n’ roll, drugs and materialistic Hollywood glamor did not solve the problem of how to handle the suffering of this life.

An older and much more lasting solution and recipe for mental health is found in the thousands-of-year-old Holy Scriptures, also called the Bible – the most read book in the world. The Bible tops the list by far, with nearly 4 billion copies sold the past five decades alone. Guinness World Records state the Bible as the bestselling book of all time.

It is well worth delving into as it addresses the very existential questions of the meaning of life and how to attain peace of mind in the midst of upheaval. The Bible tells the comprehensive story of how mankind journeyed from beginning to its coming apocalyptic end, explaining how “the light of the mental sun of truth drives out the darkness of your enemy, the hater of all good,” as St. Seraphim of Sarov puts it.

The Holy Scriptures explain that the immortal soul, rather than the body with its varying and fleeting feelings, is the source of mental health. The key is to focus on the soul, the innermost heart of man. It is here that the battles for the destiny of man are fought. Isaac the Syrian, one of the important early Christian church fathers, calls the mind your inner king, the ruler of the feelings. In order to acquire a healthy soul, he prescribes the medicine of paying heed to yourself. “Keep yourself busy with incessant inner work, to the subtleness of your mind,” he says.

The aim is battling the evil passions that leads the soul to a sickened state and deprives it of its access to love – which is God, who resides in a metaphysical realm outside of our physical world. The soul links the body to that realm, while the mind is the channel through which man opens himself up to mental conversations with God, often called prayer or contemplation.

Early church father Gregory the Theologian deems it of utmost necessity to nourish the soul with the steady reading of the Bible. When its principles are implemented and followed, it clears the mental fog and cleanses out the poisons of the mind such as envy, greed, hatred, gluttony, a lying tongue and other vices that contaminate the heart. The Holy Scriptures illuminate the mind and opens divine possibilities to overcome evil.

Where God is, there is peace of mind, regardless of the circumstances. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me,” states Psalms 23. Therein lies the possibility to escape the mental doom and spiritual depression that characterizes our darkened age.

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