This may seem an unnecessary heading, for most people should know what mental problems are, but in fact, most of us have very limited and perhaps naive concepts regarding the meaning and scope of mental problems.
The most basic mental problem with most people is lack of meaning. Psychiatrists as far back as Jung recognized this basic mental problem. Jung correctly pointed out that the main motivating force in everyone's life is the need to find meaning. This is usually covered over, however, by multitudinous activities or other conflicts in life that make people forget this problem exists. Or, perhaps, it is more true to say that most people participate in so many different activities in their daily life in order to forget that they can see no meaning in their life. Most psychoneurotic problems, as well as many physical problems, are caused by the basic fact that people attach no meaning to life. Everything seems pointless and futile and the despair results in intense negative emotions which can result in the breakdown of mental and bodily functions.
Jung recognized this, for he wrote with devastating simplicity, yet directness and insight: "When conscious life has lost its meaning and its promise, then it is as though a panic breaks loose ..." This sums up the state of most people's life. They are living an empty, meaningless life, without hope. So if you are in this position, then you have a mental problem, the most basic one that a human being can have. If the sense of meaninglessness is sufficiently overpowering, then you will take steps to resolve it. And there is meaning in life, in the life of each and every one of us, but you must find it out for yourself. If you forget the present emptiness in your life, then you are escaping; ifyou try to cloud the question over with dogmatic assertions that there is meaning without really knowing it from the depths of your being, then you are still escaping. You must find out for yourself, through your own experience. The method is yoga. From this will come knowledge and understanding of your real nature and your incredible relationship with existence. The problem of lack of meaning in life will automatically drop away and dissolve as you experience higher awareness and knowledge.
When you attain higher knowledge, then you can bear anything in life. You will be able to swim through the ups and downs of life with perfect ease.
There are many other more obvious mental problems, some of which you will be conscious of and others that you will not be able to recognize, for they will lie in the deeper levels of the subconscious mind. Some people are scared of insects, of certain animals, of open spaces, of closed spaces, of other people, of tbe opposite sex, of the dark and so on; the list is without end. Some people have sexual complexes, such as impotence; other people have a strong hatred of their mother or father, or both; others have strong feelings ofjealousy towards others either specifically or generally; others have had and still feel the shock of death, perhaps of a close friend or relative. Examples can be quoted to completely fill this section. All of these problems must be rooted out ifyou want to achieve happiness in life.
There are some people who become neurotic because they feel that they are normal, or rather ordinary if compared to other people. There are also those who feel that they are above normal in ability and become neurotic because they are not like other people. Actually everyone has incredible potential; we are all potential geniuses. Therefore the real difference between a so-called normal person and a so-called talented person, is that the latter has utilized more of his inner potential. Nothing more. Therefore, please don't worry if you feel that you are only normal or perhaps abnormal, for we all have remarkable dormant ability; some merely manifest it more than others.
Some people say that inferiority is an integral part of man's nature. We strongly reject this, for there are many great yogis and sages who certainly don't feel the slightest inferiority; nor at the same time do they go to the other extreme and become superior in their attitude towards others. The feeling of inferiority is an emotional imbalance, which is caused by a lack of understanding ofone's real nature. It results in excessive envy and competition in order for the individual to reduce the feeling of inadequacy when compared to others.
Though normally not recognized as a mental problem, we would also classify conditioning as a mental problem. In other words, those people (in fact everyone to a great degree, some more than others) who are attached to dogmas and fixed concepts, have a mental problem. Pride in one's country, skin colour, status, religious beliefs and intellectual ability are all mental problems in that people are fixed in their ideas. The mind has ceased to be a reservoir of spontaneous ideas; instead, it is a repository of fixed, rigid and stereotyped thought patterns. This is a major block and an obstacle to higher awareness. In other words, conditioning is a mental problem. Also included in this category is the tendency to accept ideas without reflection and personal experience. Many people believe almost implicitly everything that they read or hear, without ever relating it to their own experience. Believe nothing until you have tested it for yourself. This also applies to the contents of this book. Consider the opinions and ideas given, but only accept them when you have found them to be valid through personal experience. Only know and believe that the water is salty when you have tasted it. In fact, we consider blind susceptibility to ideas and attachment to already accumulated ideas as being a major mental problem. One should certainly be receptive, but not blindly naive.
There are many other problems, too many to discuss here. T he reader will know some of these. They will have to be removed systematically. Most problems, however, will lie below the level of normal perception, in the subconscious. All you will know is that these cause unhappiness, depression, etc. In life without really knowing the reason or the source. These must be recognized and then eliminated. One thing we must emphasize is that all mental problems and blocks can be removed; they need not remain a permanent part of your character. All that is required is the need and effort to remove them.
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