There are two kinds of suffering:
1. A WOB message, like dis-ease, signaling the mind that it needs assistance.
2. Mind suffering which is how the mind interprets the WOB message.
We are taught that:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”.(Genesis 1,1)
”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1,1-2)
In the beginning there was suffering
From the medical perspective our beginning started when homo sapiens discovered how to alleviate suffering, which was about forty thousand years ago. Suffering is an instinct which makes the organism aware of danger. In the ameba which is mindless suffering is manifested by pain and distress (WOB suffering). Conscious (mind) suffering is manifested by anguish privation or misery.
The great discovery of homo sapiens was how to alleviate WOB suffering, which marks the beginning of the civilizations and medicine, whose founder was the Shaman. The first shaman recognized only WOB suffering since mind suffering was conceived later. This kind of shamanism might be regarded as naive or even pure. When shamans conceived nature as essentially cruel and evil, shamanism became pagan and people started suffering from mind diseases nurtured by sin.
Additional reading: Shamanism
Adam and Eve
Garden of Eden illustrates some characteristics of pure shamanism. Initially Adam and Eve were unaware of the Evil and obviously did not suffer. They were instructed to avoid one particular fruit: ” . . of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2,17). Nevertheless they disobeyed, ate it and discovered the Evil. This fateful episode confronted them with the Primordial Sin which is driven by a corrupt and immoral WOB: “. . .for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8,21) (1)
The first mind disease
The expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden initiated the first mind disease which was caused by sin and manifested by guilt. During the coming centuries sin and particularly the Primordial Sin drove mind diseases in believers of Western Religions. In ancient Greece and Rome whose philosophy was predominantly cosmo-centric and less theo-centric, sin played only a minor role in the etiology of diseases which were caused by ill-fate.
Freud recognized that some mind diseases, called neuroses manifested by anxiety , result from a conflict between the ego (mind) and id (WOB). By making the patient aware of his conflict Freud relieved his anxiety. Since however the conflict persisted the patient continued suffering from a milder mind disease. Which is the major disadvantage of psychoanalysis. Like in the case of paranoia which according to Freud results from the repression of homosexuality. By making the patient aware of his conflict his paranoia may be alleviated, since however the conflict persists, the patient will remain in the closet. The real solution would be to resolve the conflict entirely, which happens today in our post-modern society.
Further reading: WOB and Gender
The same applies to neuroses. Freud tried to rescue the patent from the tyranny of the sin, yet since the conflict was not resolved, mind disease prevailed in a more benign form. Freud’s method applies metaphors with the potential of initiating new mind diseases. Like the Oedipus complex which is supposed to occur during the phallic stage of the psycho-sexual development of the child. Obviously the male WOB loves his mother and the female WOB her father, which does not imply that they want to kill their adversaries. For the WOB killing is meaningless and this urge may originate only in the mind initiating a mind disease which is nourished by this bad metaphor.
Further reading: Medical
significance of WOB
Archetypes and Symbols
Jung’s archetypes are rooted in biological instincts devoid of content and manifested consciously by symbols. "A primordial image is determined as to its content only when it has become conscious and is therefore filled out with the material of conscious experience" (3). From the ethological viewpoint animal courtship should be regarded as a (biological) archetype. Or swarm intelligence which guides ant and bee societies, is yet another manifestation of an archetype. In humans an archetype that has appeared to consciousness is referred to as an "archetypal symbol”
We may thus distinguish between WOB archetypes which are instinctive, and mind archetypes whose symbols vary from culture to culture. WOB archetypes are unconscious and we (the mind) become aware of their existence when WOB control fails e.g. during illness. On the other hand mind archetypes may nurture mind disease. Although Jung distinguishes between the two kinds of archetype, to him they are inseparable. His treatment involves symbol manipulation ignoring their biological meaning. Since symbols contribute to mind diseases, his psychotherapy replaces grave mind disease with more gentle ones, exactly as Freud does. He does not eliminates them.
In other words Freud and Jung attempt to treat mind diseases and fail to consider the WOB. Their methods lack the shamanic dimension and fail therefore to communicate directly with WOB
For the German Catholic theologian E. Drewermann: Anxiety of death plagues humanity. He distinguishes between three kinds of anxiety; biological, psychological/social, and the existential At the center of human emotions lies the polarity between anxiety and trust. Absolute anxiety can be calmed only by absolute trust (3). Drewermann set to relieve the individual from mind disease caused by religion. WOB is obviously unaware of anxiety, which is communicated to it by the mind. Anxiety is a mind disease which may be alleviated with trust, yet the primordial sin prevails even in Drewermann’s theology.
God is dead
When Friedrich Nietzsche declared that God is dead he meant that man must find a new mode of being given the demise of God. Nietzsche actually killed a metaphysical God who from our present perspective was the initiator of mind disease. By killing God Nietzsche actually reduced the threat of mind disease and introduced the post-modern era.
Further reading: WOB and Theology
About 2400 years before Nietzsche, Buddha accomplished the same in a gentle way and without killing. He simply left the metaphysical God (of Hinduism) out. He preached a religion devoid of the supernatural, and devoted his interest to suffering (dukkha). His approach to the problems of life was essentially that of a physician (2). Reading Buddha’s teaching, the saga of the three western religions may be viewed as an ongoing effort to approach Buddha’s enlightenment yet without success. Which might explain why Nietzsche decided to kill God.
Nevertheless the metaphysical God retained his appeal even to Buddha’s followers who over the years embraced the metaphysical together with its mind disease inducing potential.
The open and promiscuous society of today eliminated many mind diseases of the past, e. g., homosexuality, yet its suffering prevails. It seems as if the western civilization is in the course of discovering Buddhism.
1. Hebrew-English Bible
2. Houston Smith The World’s Religions HarperColins N.Y.1986
3. Beier M. Embodying Hermeneutics: Eugen Drewermann's Depth Psychological Interpretation of Religious Symbols