15 May Three Responses to Ontological Anxiety
definition of ontological: one’s being, or existence.
ontological anxiety: the fear of the potential loss of being.
Existential psychology makes a distinction between this kind of ontological anxiety and ordinary neurotic anxiety – about threats to our self-esteem, pleasure, or security. Ordinary anxiety is often a smoke screen that allows us to distract ourselves from the scary groundlessness that underlies our life. Worrying about what people think of us or about whether we are getting ahead, for instance, keeps us from having to face the deeper existential dread of our whole ground falling out from under us. We often seem to be in love with our neurosis because at least it occupies us and gives us something to hold on to. It gives us a sense of self- unlike those moments of world collapse, when there seems to be nothing there at all.
John Welwood in Toward a Psychology of Awakening p. 149
1. Existentialism – meet the deeper emptiness and create one’s own meaning from that experience.
2. Buddhism – to realize the illusion of Self and how it attaches to “structures” to feel safe, going deeper into the emptiness until one realizes the peace way below where everything is one.
3. Christianity – to rely on, trust and feel safe in the omnipotence and love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, giving deeper meaning to one’s inherent soul and Self.
I wonder if all three can be combined.