One of the primary things missing from modern life is a framework upon which the fabric of one’s life can be hung. Our lives once hung upon the framework of Christianity, but, after the death of the monotheistic God, our lives were without a frame of reference. Many still are in this condition. It is like a body walking around without a skeleton to support it. I believe this lack of a schema is why we have biological imbalances that bring about the inevitable encounter with nihilism, and then black states of depression. The soul and body are so closely intertwined that our biological chemistry does, indeed, affect our mental well-being. This is just one example of living in a soulless age.
The recent passing of actor, Robin Williams, greatly saddened me. He follows a long line of geniuses who have battled the abyss of melancholy. The ideas of modern science have failed to provide an adequate framework that can protect and uphold our lives. All they offer is drug therapy, which is merely a palliative. By not providing an adequate framework for coping with life’s pathology, modern psychology has failed the masses of humanity who suffer from depression. Geniuses suffer most because their minds are more acutely aware of reality and its terrors.
Once, mankind’s suffering was mitigated by participation in the imaginal realm through myth, ritual, stories, music, and art. During and after the Enlightenment, the sacred nature of these was relegated to an inferior position in human affairs, thus desouling and desacralizing human consciousness. For instance, there was a very good reason for ritual in ancient times. Symbolic rituals have a way of moving the soul, building it and protecting it from harm.
Joseph Campbell wrote,
For it is the rite, the ritual and its imagery, that counts in religion, and where that is missing the words are mere carriers of concepts that may or may not make contemporary sense. A ritual is an organization of mythological symbols; and by participating in the drama of the rite one is brought directly in touch with these, not as verbal reports of historic events, either past, present, or to be, but as revelations, here and now, of what is always and forever. Where the synagogues and churches go wrong is by telling what their symbols “mean” (Myths to Live By).
To attempt to give meaning to the mystery of ritual symbols is to try and force the dark secrets of the Underworld up into the light of day where the ego can understand them. These things, however, work, many times, apart from the understanding. The archetypal Powers who work through the symbols cannot be rationalized. They are suprarational entities. As long as the scientific model remains closed to the experiences of the psyche, science will never accept the truth of the soul.
The framework we need to restore to mankind is the knowledge of soul. All the truth we have gleaned concerning soul: myth, symbols, ritual, art, the imaginal, music, and all other avenues that build soul (there are many), can be disseminated around the globe. I believe if we can restore this framework to our world, we will see another renaissance, not only of learning and the arts, but of physical and mental health. It will not be perfect because the way of soul is pathologization, but we will once again have a strong skeletal structure upon which to hang our lives. If we continue on the road we are on, the entire structure will collapse.