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Spirituality VS psychotherapy

Abbas Di Palma discusses the difference between mental wellbeing and peace of the soul

One cannot deny the benefits that a person can obtain by consulting a professional psychiatrist but one should underline the difference between the spiritual aspects of our nature and the psychological ones. The former is related to theology and religion and deals directly with the soul while the latter with the subconscious and mental state.

Our modern era, with its schizophrenic lifestyle, has increased the illnesses of the human soul whose causes become manifest by persistence in immorality and ignoring of ethical values. Unfortunately, many people, by detaching themselves from true spirituality, are unable to distinguish between a spiritual problem and a mental one; consequently, in many cases, the psychotherapists play the role of spiritual healers by trying to save souls and to give patients everlasting peace. On the other hand spiritual scholars play the role of psychotherapists by considering sin as an illness to be cured by human and psychological means needless of the divine grace.

In reality on a spiritual level, things work quite differently and ‘spiritual remedies’ are to be found in a distinct way. In many cases, psychotherapy aims to recall in the mind of the patient remembrance of his past while spirituality teaches that evil, once repelled, is annulled and must not come back in any form: wrong thoughts are often causes of temptations potentially leading to the previous unwanted state. A human should ascetically kill the old personality and his vices, and give birth to a new man with its virtues while rejecting all that doesn’t conform to the natural and Sacred Law. Communication with God by prayers and invocations is the key and the Godly-given incomparable medicine that cannot be replaced by any psychological treatment.

Today many people deny a relationship with God and prefer to reveal their most intimate secrets in TV-shows or to psychotherapists. When a person is aware of his role and nature, he should not belittle himself or to be ashamed of the truth: only those who do not know themselves are slaves of their prejudice and are embarrassed by the products of their imagination. If we want to live a spiritual life we should allow our thoughts and visions to derive only from the mercy of God, leading to eternal happiness and Hereafter.

Mindset by itself is not sufficient to solve all our problems as we are not just ‘rational beings’ – provided with a thinking faculty – but indeed we are called to observe the ‘divine life’ through being sanctified by God’s grace.

To live a godly life requires knowing who we are, to have a goal in life and to pursue it even if it is a hard task, without becoming disheartened by our shortcomings. In reality problems and hardships, and even our failures, do not burden our life but it is the meanings we give to them that assist or trouble us. If we see our difficulties as something insuperable and irremediable we condemn ourselves to live desperately but if we are aware of our limits we can surpass them with the help of God who has no such limits and leads us towards the goal for which He created us.

We can strive to reach human perfection by fighting our dark impulses, identifying them by holding ourselves to account and by asking God to eradicate our old tendencies so that the light of faith may dwell in us as was the case with the prophets and saints.

I am not claiming that we are all perfect human beings but good people may live their life according to the meaning attributed to it while elevating themselves with divine assistance, pushing away the chaos

Spiritual life implies personal development and a constant meeting between divine grace and human answers (provided by willpower). We can summarise the aspects of this spiritual development in cognitive growth; which allows us to know the supernatural world and love always more and more; moral growth which brings the completion of faith by good deeds; emotional growth which allows wise people (like parents, elders, etc…) to rectify the negative pulse in the younger generations, and social growth which leads to respect and stimulates the values and potentialities in other people. Therefore, true spirituality includes all these elements: knowledge, love of God, of us and of others or, in other words, a pure moral individual and social life.

Man is often reluctant to accept the will of God and prefers to act as he wishes.  He tries to find comfort in things that cannot give him peace and in contrast he finds what is good for him as incomprehensible and unpleasant. That is why he/she tries to find shortcuts wherever possible, however, he still feels unhappy because it is, in fact, his inward chaos that makes him think that what he thought he liked is an achievement. Yet, if we look at our problems and difficulties with the eye of faith we would be able to embrace what we avoided all along with love, understanding that herein lies the secret of happiness. The secret is firstly understanding God’s act and secondly acting according to His plan. If we are stubborn and we act as independent beings needless of divine assistance we obstruct the realisation of the divine plan, letting our disorder and disharmonies keep us aloof from any tangible peace for the soul.

In conclusion, we must keep in mind that the soul is not only related to the psychological state but that its unhappiness is rooted in much deeper causes. The cure for this is to be found in a pious and religious life, not merely through the prescriptions of psychiatrists.

https://issuu.com/islamtoday/docs/islam_today_issue_56_february_2018_a005a81edc330c/16

 

 

 

 

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