Managing the Madness
Is anyone actually sane, or are they just managing their madness? Sadhguru explains the connection between spirituality and sanity.
Q: Today, we are seeing so many people going to psychologists for treatment. It seems every single person has a shrink that he sees at least once a week. Why are we becoming so troubled? Are we all going crazier by the day?
Sadhguru: Today, ninety percent of the people are in different states of mental sickness. It is just that the level of sickness is sometimes manageable, sometimes unmanageable. Let us say you have asthma. Sometimes your asthma is manageable, so you do not consider yourself as sick. You take some syrup or tablet and manage. On a particular day, you become really sick and either totally collapse or are hospitalized. Only then you consider yourself as sick. That does not mean you were not sick on the other days. You were, but it was manageable.
The process of spirituality is not about moving into manageable madness, it is about going so mad that you become sane.
With mental states also, almost everybody is sick, but they are in some manageable level of sickness. Once in a while, they flare up for some time and then settle down again. They are managing, but the madness is very much there. All the psychologists and psychiatrists have only studied sick people. People like Freud never found a meditator or a Buddha to study. He would have studied only those people who were in different states of mental sickness – either manageably mad or unmanageably mad. And the one who is studying is also mad. It is not that he has transcended his limitations.
Unmanageable to Manageable Madness
On a certain day, three psychiatrists were traveling together on a train from Germany to France to attend the annual all-psychiatrists seminar. Sitting there, they started confiding their greatest secrets to each other. The first one said, “My greatest weakness is compulsive gambling. Every weekend, I take off from the clinic and let myself go full blast. Of course, I put all the money that I earn from my gambling spree into some charity box, and mind you, I don’t start stealing from another charity box until I go drinking. Then I get sodden drunk and finish the night in the gutter.” The second psychiatrist nodded his head in understanding and said, “Well, my greatest secret is that I am dependent on taking anti-depressants all the time, and I have to gulp down a double dosage before I sit in consultation with my patients.” The third one sat there very smugly and quietly. So the other two prodded her, “What about you? We’ve told you our deepest secrets. Now you have to tell us yours.” The third psychiatrist said, “Well, I’m a diagnosed gossiper, and I can’t wait to get off this train!”
According to the problem you have – anxiety, fear, psychosis or anything – they put you into the corresponding category and have a treatment for that. And what kind of a treatment it is! From unmanageable madness, they can bring you down to manageable madness.
Sanity Beyond Madness
No one can make you sane, please know this. The process of spirituality is not about moving into manageable madness, it is about going so mad that you become sane. You cross the limits of madness, then you become perfectly sane. You are born with the madness – the karma itself is madness. The very bondages and limitations that you have created for yourself, are they not madness?
If there is a mad man who thinks he is tied to a column – there is no rope or chain but he thinks he is tied – whatever you tell him, he will not listen. He will only go round and round the column. Isn’t this the way everybody is living, tied to some column? Being manageably mad or unmanageably mad really makes no difference. At least, if you become unmanageably mad, you can enjoy yourself in the asylum. You do not have to be ashamed of being mad anymore! You can just freak out the way you want to. A person growing on the spiritual path looks totally crazy because he is pushing himself to the point beyond madness, where it cannot touch him anymore.
If you get disturbed and then make yourself peaceful, that is not peace; it is just a lull, like the eye of the hurricane where everything is calm. Do not be fooled by this calm. The next gust will come again and it will be even worse. Hurricanes always move like this: because of the forward motion and the centrifugal and centripetal forces, the front end of the hurricane is less forceful than the rear end. So what you see first is nothing compared to what is going to come. The same goes with your mind.
The meditations at Isha are not about becoming peaceful. They are about blasting yourself into bits until there is no peace and no disturbance within you; only that can be called peace.
Everything in existence is like that. Whatever blows with force will blow, give a little space and then again blow. The mind is also like that. It goes through a phase of disturbance, then comes back to peace. Don’t ever think it is peace. It is just a break in the madness.
The meditations at Isha are not about becoming peaceful. They are about blasting yourself into bits until there is no peace and no disturbance within you; only that can be called peace. Peace means nothingness. Peace is not something that you create, peace is not something that happens. Peace is something that always is. What happens on the surface is disturbance. This is just like the ocean. On the surface of the ocean you will see waves, tremendous turbulence and turmoil. But if you go deep down, it is perfectly peaceful. The fundamental quality of existence is always peace.
Editor’s Note: Excerpted from Mystic’s Musings. Not for the faint-hearted, this book deftly guides us with answers about reality that transcend our fears, angers, hopes, and struggles. Sadhguru keeps us teetering on the edge of logic and captivates us with his answers to questions relating to life, death, rebirth, suffering, karma, and the journey of the Self. Download the sample pdf or purchase the ebook.