Today is thirty-eight days, which is five weeks and three days, of the Omer. Tiferet of Yesod. Beauty / Truth of Bonding / Foundation.
Holding onto a holy foundation is difficult. It is easy to become consumed by ephemeral material concerns — checking your Facebook feed, worrying how many likes your latest Instagram post has, getting lost in the never-ending supply of quality television. None of these things are evil, but when they are done without limits, we create space for the Yetzer HaRa, the inclination toward evil, and we close the door to our souls.
Sometimes, the truth we feel is so painful it tears apart our equilibrium. We lose sight of holiness when we enter depression — indeed, some sources say depression is the ultimate sin. This is a controversial statement to people steeped in medical diagnoses of mental health.
Consider this example: a young woman struggles to find her place in the world. She questions whether she deserves to be alive. Slowly, incrementally, while part of her observes the process, she sinks into depression. Eventually, she stops functioning and medical professionals declare her depressed and put her on a series of medications. But the fog doesn’t truly lift until she finds solid ground — within herself and beyond herself — on which to live a life of meaning and service.
The solid ground is the Jewish wisdom tradition, including prayer rituals, mystical insights, acknowledgement of the spirit, and struggle through the material world.
And the young woman isn’t so young anymore.
I recognize how tremendously psychiatric drugs can help people’s lives. I also recognize that there are limits to how psychiatry treats human suffering. I do not shy away from learning from psychology and neuroscience — Jung, neo-Jungian / depth psychology, Seligman’s positive psychology, and Siegel’s mindisght are bedrocks in the foundation I have built for myself.
In honor of Chris Cornell, whose memory will always be a blessing, may we take some time to reflect on what it means to create a foundation of truth. How can we bond with our friends and family in a way that supports them, and ourselves, in times of psychological and spiritual crisis? How can we be there, staying near to people even when they act poorly, speak hurtfully, and generally ignore all of our help?
Do we spend enough time outside of the social media nirvana bubble to know how our friends are truly doing? Are we physically present, mentally connected, and providing concrete support to those in need?
Our journeys through this world are interconnected. May our souls support one another, lift one another up, and help each other inhabit the beauty and truth of a holy foundation.