health of the Soul

Throughout life our immaterial self, that is our soul, needs lots of special care. The activity of spiritual life is maintaining, fine tuning, nourishing, guiding and guarding the soul. Neglecting the soul leads to all sorts of problems in life—or should I say all problems in life. Just as the body can become ill from neglect, so too the soul can become sick if it is not cared for and nourished. And if one notices he is ill but does not seek treatment the illness progresses. This applies also to the small or seemingly minor symptoms that we observe. If we see even the slightest sign of a symptom with our body we rush to seek a physician, but with the soul do don’t have the same response. We neglect, procrastinate, avoid, and then explain away all the symptoms and warning signs.

Sickness of soul can creep in through any of the thee power of the soul—through the mind, will and heart. It can also creep in to the soul through the body—through the five physical senses. There can be a myriad of symptoms that indicate illness of the soul, but some of the more common indicators are prolonged states of: unhappiness, instability, anxiety, confusion, restlessness, discontent, obsession and fear. Beyond this there are hundreds of symptoms. These indicators and symptoms are traced back to sin, or what the Church Fathers call the 8 passions.

These illnesses of the soul often start in the mind—in our thoughts. If left untreated the disease then spreads to the will and makes its way to the heart or spiritual center of the soul. In some cases these illnesses become established and the person learns to be accustomed to the diseases. The person goes through life, and experiences all its ups and downs, and suffers from the cycles of pleasure and pain, without a clue that there is an illness deep inside. That’s the best case scenario. In the worst case, if the illnesses persist and continue spreading, the soul can eventually collapse into itself like a dying star. In modern terms this can be called a nervous breakdown. The disease can become all consuming, as a person becomes primarily engrossed with self. This is when the physical senses take over and the heart becomes darkened and unfamiliar. God and purpose are no longer of interest and the worst kind of illness of the soul is established.

When talking about disease of the soul we cannot avoid discussing one of the more unpleasant things about being human, and that is sin. The topic is one that is rarely openly discussed in our society. It is something that we would rather not talk about, or even think about. The mere pronouncement of the word itself causes most people to cringe and feel uncomfortable. However, the path to inner happiness requires a close look at sin and the 8 passions. We must face both sin and the passions head on for this is the cause of all unhappiness and suffering. This is at the core of unseen warfare.