overcoming the sin unto death

Irrespective of who we are, we will all face times in our lives when we will feel bogged down. The world is not fair, and that is not going to change any time soon. Given that this is the case, an individual can (and sometimes should) feel overwhelmed due to the demands of daily living. It’s not easy to wake up early for work. It’s not easy to pay bills, to keep food on the table, to try to remain in good health, etc. There are also family, relationships, and other social obligations to take into consideration. Life is a grind. It’s not easy. None of it is, clearly.

This life is complicated — or, at the bare minimum, it appears to be. If you take a man’s mortal existence at face value, it is difficult to avoid questioning the necessity and the value of it all. A man is born, despite his own say-so. If he’s lucky, he lives for 70, maybe 80 years. As a byproduct of his existence, he faces difficulties, and he suffers. Inevitably, this suffering culminates in an inescapable death. Though some people are more acquainted with their mortality than others, knowledge of these facts will almost always provoke thoughts of anxiety and depression within the average person when they are forced to confront the inevitability of their own demise. Such feelings are normal, yet that cannot be said for when they escalate into an obsessive passion: that which is known as despair.

“The fundamental fear of conscious selfhood is despair”

Soren Kierkegaard

The modern world, and the medical establishment in particular, loves to tote about the physical implications of clinical depression. There are physical characteristics of depression, of course, but throwing SSRIs at suffering people should not be viewed as proper, ethical treatment. Taken to their absolute limits, anxiety and depression will drive one to despair. A complete absence of hope, despair is a genuine illness of the soul that will render its victims psychologically and spiritually impotent. When one is conscious of their despair, it is often due to a(n) incessant regret[s]. Such a person would be more than happy to experience their entire self being consumed in the fire of their own despair. When faced with such desperation, a person must find strength from a higher source that allows them to acknowledge their own regret or refusal to accept the reality of their mortality.

Oftentimes, this refusal to accept reality is an unconscious one. We get caught up in the day-to-day grind, and our impulses drag us from here to there seeking out whatever catches our eye. In such times it is easy to find and give in to carnal desires, as it can be a comfort that allows us to decompress from the things in life we have to do that we don’t want to do. Granted, this egotism will only take us so far. We will soon tire of living for ourselves, and it is necessary that we must encounter something outside of us alone.

In the video above, Mishima rightly notes the absurdity of a selfish life: “I think it is natural for me to find it obscene for human beings to live only for themselves.” In other words, one must step outside of themselves and pursue the Ideal. We are not meant to live for ourselves alone, we are not strong enough to do so. In light of this, one need not despair or fear death; rather, we should find that which is worth dying for.

“Human lives are mysterious in that human beings are not strong enough to live and die for themselves”

If we give way to despair, it will lead us to a static existence. Such a state of paralysis will not allow us to truly live, nor to face the issue of our mortality with courage. The cure to despair is the actualization of our self, which includes both a recognition that our lives cannot be lived for our individual self alone and that nothing we have done is beyond forgiveness. The Divine Image we all bear is enough to demonstrate that values beyond what we want for ourselves are vital to our existence. Failure to acknowledge this will foster disrupting thoughts within that tell us that the desire to go on is meaningless.

At any rate, regardless of what you are going through, you are not alone. Reach out to someone if you need to. Nothing is over. If you have breath in your lungs, you can and will make it.

Do not let the sadness of the swamp get to you. You have to try. You are my friend, and I love you.

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