Here’s a slightly different take on mental illness.
Before spiritual awakening, there were Spiritually Enlightened People (I didn’t know any personally, but believed in their existence nonetheless), Sane People, and Mentally Ill People. After awakening, everyone appears to be mentally ill.
What makes you different from the crazy homeless lady, dressed in rags, talking nonsense day after day? She’s having an animated dialogue with herself, and if you actually stop to listen to what she is saying, it’s usually rather unpleasant. We are all grateful not to be so afflicted, but how different are you, really? From my perspective, not much.
Sure, you are better dressed (I hope!), cleaner, and have a home. I’m happy that you do. But if you said aloud all the things you were thinking, what would that be like? Would it be a lot different?
Let’s examine your dialogue.
Paranoid: “I wonder why he said that.” “What did she mean by that?” “He’s trying to take my job” “She thinks I’m stupid” “They’re talking behind my back” “She’d love to see me fail”. Being paranoid over the outcome of future events is also very common. How much of your thinking revolves around imagining you know the intentions or thoughts of other people or groups? All the thoughts of how people, groups or situations (past, present and future) are stacked against you fall into this category.
Caught in a loop: You replay some experience over and over again in your head (this fits in very nicely with paranoid thinking). A few lines of a song play over and over. Someone does or says something and you replay it over and over. How much of your thinking is just a repetitive loop? Once you get to the end of the loop, it just replays itself from the beginning.
Sadistic: How much of your inner dialogue is demeaning, cruel and violent towards yourself or others? If you actually had to say these thoughts aloud in front of other people, what would that sound like? How much of your so called inner life is just plain abusive? If you spoke out loud to a five year old child the things you daily say to yourself, how sick and twisted would that be? What makes it okay to say it to yourself, “inside your head”?
Delusional: When you take “what is” and engage the mind in spinning elaborate stories about it, you are creating delusions. For instance, you may have been given up for adoption as an infant and then created a legend about your mother not loving you enough to even keep you and that you were abandoned and what kind of mother doesn’t love their own baby and you must not have been worth it, etc. You take that elaborate fiction to be your truth, and voila…you now have abandonment issues and worthiness issues, and everyone understands because you were given up as a baby…anyone would feel that way. But what if none of it was true? What if your mother gave you up precisely because she loved you so much and she knew she couldn’t give you all that she felt you deserved, because she valued you that much. What if it was the hardest thing she ever did in her life? The most selfless thing?
You just don’t know, but the mind always fills in gaps. It fills it in with all kinds of stories and assumptions and then makes them really solid. You tell yourself fanciful stories and then you believe them. That’s delusional.
So if this is the state of the average sane person, what does it even mean to be mentally ill? From my vantage point, the average sane person is not sane, nor particularly functional. But since our whole world is populated by people at this level, their range of insanity is rendered normal. People who make up this majority don’t understand that they are dysfunctional, that their mental illness is having a huge negative impact on their lives, because they mistake the dysfunction for what they call the human condition, or human nature.
So what does it mean to be mentally ill?
But there is a line your mind might cross, maybe you’re going to take that general mental illness that exists in every unawakened mind and up the ante a bit, turn up the dial. Maybe you’re going to take the paranoia and delusion that exists inside everyone’s head and say those things out loud, add a little more momentum. Maybe you’re going to use content that is alarming, such as aliens and government conspiracies instead of generally accepted delusions like personal unworthiness or that nobody loves you.
For me, one of the less than pleasant aspects of awakening was suddenly being aware of what people were thinking around me. Yes, all the thoughts. It was amazing to see how all these people who were apparently sane and normal were pretty much constantly having paranoid, sadistic and delusional thoughts. They were suffering this ceaseless internal grinding. I was especially astounded to “hear” all the intentions and meanings that were ascribed to me. I would say something and the person to whom I was speaking would take that morsel and go off with great speed and mastery…creating an entire fantasy world in which I was judging them or in which their “low vibration” was harming me or whatever. So many stories, all completely fantastic. It’s hard to keep up with.
Since those early days, I’ve worked diligently to filter out the mental activity of others the best I can. But my point is that if you could witness the general insanity that exists, perhaps you wouldn’t judge yourself so harshly if you have been labelled as “mentally ill”. There is a huge stigma that comes with that, and it doesn’t help anyone. Everyone should be questioning their so called reality. Everyone should be vigilant and mindful of their thoughts so that they don’t give momentum to their delusions.
Be kind to yourselves. If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or the like, don’t add to your troubles by creating an ugly story about it. Sit with it as it is. Know that you are just a few notches up from everyone else. I’ve spoken to people who were in the middle of psychotic breaks and what they say out loud doesn’t sound much different than what I hear going on inside of sane people’s heads. It’s a matter of a few degrees and some added momentum.
Are you sane? Really?
For those of you who are supposedly sane, take some time to really examine the contents of your mind. It’s a small space, your mind. You’re trapped in there with this voice you can’t seem to get away from. What is it telling you about yourself, about your world? Imagine actually, physically being trapped in a closet with someone who wouldn’t shut up. And all they would talk about is how everyone hates you or how you aren’t good enough, or how fat your are or that you’re too old, or that you’re lazy or ugly or people only hang out with you for your money. When this companion gets bored of that, they go on to create fanciful stories that often lead you to feel fear or sadness or alienation or self righteousness or indignation or like a victim or a martyr or a hero.
Reality does not need a narrator. You can taste a fresh peach without the mind telling you it’s good or bad or comparing it to all the other peaches you’ve ever eaten. Try to just be with your experience and let it be naked, unlabeled, un-narrated. What legends about yourself or others have you created? Challenge the reality of these stories, even if they are sacred or fundamental to who you think you are or how you believe life works.
Or better yet, Awaken. You are cordially invited to join the community of the Ultra Sane.
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