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The Anxiety Caused By Being in Two Minds

“When one has gone on being in two minds for long enough then fickleness (Luke 12:29) takes over the reins. Perhaps it had for a while seemed as if the state of being in two minds still contained the tension that is needed for choosing and therewith the possibility of choosing. That has now been used up (if it was ever there) and the pagan soul has become slack and it becomes clear what that period of indecision really concealed. For as long as one is in two minds, a certain power is still needed to manage one’s thoughts, and while one is trying to make up one’s mind, one is trying to be master of one’s own house by organizing one’s thoughts. But now the reins of office have been taken over by thoughts that know no master but only the impulse of the moment. Impulsiveness is the master now, also in relation to the question of choosing God. At one moment, an impulse moves the pagan to think that it would be best to choose God, but then at another, it is something else, and then some third thing. But these movements—which mean nothing—acquire no meaning and leave no trace, apart from increasing their lethargy and slackness. Imagine a sluggish pool of stagnant water in which a bubble slowly rises to the surface and emptily bursts—that is how the fickle mind bubbles with impulses and then repeats the same thing again. And so when one has gone on being fickle for long enough (which naturally, leaves one drained of blood and enervated, as all ungodly rulers do) disconsolateness takes over the reins of power. Where previously the pagans had wanted to get rid of the idea of God, they now want to sink down into worldly emptiness and try to forget, to forget what is the most dangerous because also the most uplifting of all thoughts—namely, the remembrance of God or that one exists before God. For when one wants to sink down, what is more dangerous than what wants to raise one up? They think that they have now cured their pain, chased all imaginary ideas away and learned to find consolation. Ah! But there it is: it is much as when someone who has sunk very low says by way of comforting himself to someone who reminds him of something higher (oh horrible comfortlessness!), “Let me pass for what I am.” 

The light of spirit is extinguished, a soporific mist clouds the vision, nothing is worth taking an interest in and yet such people don’t want to die but to go on living as what they are. To dissolve in that way is horrific; it is worse than the dissolution undergone in death: it is to rot away while one lives, without even the strength to despair over oneself and one’s condition. The light of the spirit is extinguished and such disconsolate persons become crazily busy about all manner of things as long as nothing reminds them of God. They slave away from morning til night, making money, putting it aside, keeping things moving, and if you talk to them you will hear them constantly saying that this is the serious business of life. Oh frightful seriousness, it would almost be better to lose one’s mind.”

-Kierkegaard, "The Anxiety Caused By Being in Two Minds"



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