The awareness of human separation, without reunion by love–is the source of shame. It is a at the same time the source of guilt and anxiety.
The deepest need of humans, then, is the need to overcome their separateness, to leave the prison of aloneness. The absolute failure to achieve this aim means insanity, because the panic of complete isolation can be overcome only by such a radical withdrawal from the world outside that the feeling of separation disappears-because the world outside, from which one is separated, has disappeared.The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm. Chapter 2, The Art of Loving. Page 14.
Humans of all ages and cultures are confronted with the solution of one and the same question: the question of how to overcome separateness, how to achieve union, how to transcend one’s own individual life and find at-onement. The question is the same for primitive humans living in caves, for nomadics taking care of flock, for the peasant in Egypt, the Phoenician trader, the Roman soldier, the medieval monk, the Japanese samurai, the modern clerk, and factory hand. The question is the same, for it springs from the same ground: the human situation, the conditions of human existence. The answer varies. The question can be answered by animal worship, by human sacrifice or military conquest, by indulgence in luxury, by ascetic renunciation, by obsessional work, by artistic creation, by the love of God and by the love Man. While there are many answers- the record of which is human history- they are nevertheless not innumerable. On the contrary, as soon as one ignores smaller divergences which belong more to the periphery than to the center, one discovers that there is only a limited number of answers which have been given, and only could have been given by humans in the various cultures in which they have lived. The history of religion and philosophy is the history of these answers, of their diversity as well as of their limitation in number