Existential anxiety, a term that resonates with modernity, crosses cultural boundaries, each interpreting it through its own unique lens. Historically, the lexicon of anxiety has been limited, a reflection of humanity's reluctance to face its fears head-on. However, within the sacred texts of various traditions, we find insights into the genesis of this profound fear. These texts, ranging from religious scriptures to spiritual teachings, seek to address the quintessential human concern: the nature of our being and the fears that shadow it.


This exploration is not merely academic; it is deeply personal and universal. It touches on the existential angst that has puzzled and haunted humanity since its inception. Various spiritual paths offer solace and understanding, attempting to demystify the origins and purpose of our existential fears. This complex journey toward understanding is eloquently captured by Dr. Elias Rubenstein in his insightful book, "Protection From The Pandemic of Existential Fear," (1) where he explores the multifaceted nature of existential anxiety and offers insights into overcoming it. For example, many households have a Bible, a seminal text that in its opening chapters delves into the root of existential anxiety. According to the narrative, the advent of fear coincided with mankind's fall from Eden-a metaphorical paradise-triggered by the consumption of the forbidden fruit. This act of disobedience revealed the duality of good and evil, plunging humanity into a state of fear, guilt, and separation from the divine.


This narrative is not unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition. Similar motifs recur in other mythologies, illustrating humanity's departure from a state of unity and bliss, only to be ensnared by fear and separation. A closer examination of these ancient texts, however, reveals a paradoxically optimistic message: rather than being an absolute curse, existential fear serves as a catalyst for spiritual awakening and growth. It is suggested that without these fears, humanity would lack the impetus to seek a return to its original state of paradise, albeit with a significant difference. Through the journey of enlightenment and self-discovery, one is guided back to paradise, armed with wisdom, love, and understanding, transcending the initial state of ignorant bliss.


The philosophical tradition of Hermeticism offers a unique perspective on this existential dilemma, as taught, for example, at the Hermetic Academy. This institution serves as a beacon for those seeking to understand and navigate the complexities of existential anxiety through the lens of Hermetic wisdom. Hermeticism, with its rich tradition of esoteric knowledge, provides invaluable insights into the nature of reality, the self, and the universe, and offers guidance to individuals on their journey toward enlightenment and understanding. It does not advocate a simplistic reconciliation of opposites, but encourages a deeper appreciation of their inherent value. This view challenges the notion, often propagated in certain esoteric circles, that one must relentlessly pursue the "sunny side of life. In reality, the existence of light and darkness, day and night, is an intrinsic aspect of the human experience. Far from being a flaw, this duality is a fundamental law of nature, reflecting the inevitable interplay of polarities that defines our existence.


Attributing our existential fears to external entities such as religion, government, professions, or similar forces is a misdirection that fails to free us from the clutches of such fears. Instead, a proactive approach to dealing with these fears at their onset can pave the way for more effective coping mechanisms. As we progress on our spiritual journey, our perception of these fears undergoes a transformative shift. We begin to see them not as ominous threats, but as challenges to be met with skill and grace. Imagine a surfer skillfully riding the towering waves of an ocean teeming with mythical creatures below, embracing the thrill of the ride and mastering the art of surfing amidst potential danger. Existential anxiety, in its pervasive reach, acts much like a pandemic, spreading rapidly through our environment - be it at work, in our personal lives, or in the family environment. The challenge is not to disengage from these aspects of our lives, but to recognize and change the collective patterns of behavior that perpetuate this state of fear. It's about finding a balance where you don't get sucked into the quicksand of collective fear, but instead learn to navigate through it with awareness and resilience. This approach does not require isolation from our social or professional circles, but rather a conscious effort to identify, understand, and transform the underlying dynamics that fuel our existential anxiety.


In sum, the journey through existential anxiety is a wide-ranging exploration that spans cultures, spiritual traditions, and personal introspection. It reveals that our deepest fears, while daunting, hold the key to our most profound growth and understanding. By embracing and examining these fears, rather than fleeing from them, we embark on a path that leads not only back to our origins, but forward to a state of enriched existence marked by a harmony of wisdom, love, and a newfound understanding of the natural laws that govern our lives.



Author's Bio: 

(1) Rubenstein Elias. Protection From The Pandemic of Existential Fear. Paphos: Hermetic World, 2023.