[excerpt from SANE, getting real with reality]
In ancient Rome and Greece ‘aimless wandering’ was considered a form of madness. The ‘treatment’ was stoning and beating.
In mid 1800s America, the label ‘Dysaesthesia Aethiopica’ indicated that black men and women were incapable of living in freedom. The ‘treatment’ was slavery.
In the 1850s and 60s when train travel was becoming possible, it was believed that the shaking motion injured the brain, sending travellers mad. The ‘treatment’ was to stop using trains.
In Victorian times, the ‘vapours’ were proof that women were fragile, delicate and unable to cope with the demands of life. The ‘treatment’ was to isolate them from them any responsibility.
Only 100 years ago, women who became pregnant outside marriage were deemed insane. The ‘treatment’ was institutionalisation.
Right up to the 1980s, homosexuality was classified by the World Health Organisation as a psychological disorder. The ‘treatment’ was therapy and drugs.
Beliefs are the product of familial, educational, social, historical, geographical, religious and cultural influence. They are not objective truths.
And yet they create the entire set of ‘truths’ through which all experience of self and other is judged and categorised and corrected.
In other words, our entire reality, which also includes every idea of who we are, of what is wrong or right with us, is a creation of thought and belief, a product of conditioning.
So, let’s be very clear from the outset on this…
Categorisations will inevitably change as collective or personal belief changes and are therefore inherently temporary.
To take a concept or label and to believe it to be a fundamental truth is to not understand concepts and labels.
History has shown only too well the fallacy, violence, inhumanity and danger of believing a concept without enquiry, curiosity and openness.
In this book we will explore how the degree to which we suffer, to which we feel separate from the reality around us, to which we are lost and deluded, to which we are in conflict with others, experience, nature, emotions and thoughts, is the degree to which there is confusion about what is true.
So, if we cannot use labels to determine sanity or insanity, who we are and who we are not, what is right or wrong, what can we use?
The answer is so simple.
We realise what is there before label and concept.
And what remains after.
And this might sound incredibly disappointing to those of us seeking the magic cure for the confusion and exhaustion.
It sounds like nothing. It sounds like some facile play on words that has nothing to do with real life. The mind is screaming - tell me what to do, tell me how to feel better, tell me how to stop the unrest, tell me how to make my life easier.
And this pointing beyond label and concept sounds desperately inadequate.
Yet it is the only sanity. The misunderstanding of this is the only reason why we spend our lives trying and failing to feel better.
Let’s have a look in more detail at what it involves:
It is the realisation of the role of belief in creating the apparent reality, the judgement, the meaning of all experience of self and other.
It is the realisation of what these labels and concepts are. Indeed, it is the realisation of what all labels and concepts really are.
It is the realisation of what does not change, what is beyond the transient, ephemeral and insubstantial.
Sanity lies in the essence that is revealed when judgement, belief and thought are no longer taken as reality.
And this shift between the delusion of unquestioned belief and the sanity beyond all belief is the case whether we are therapist or client, doctor or patient, teacher or student.
It is the case whether we are running a government or sweeping pavements.
It is the case whether we are earning billions or begging for coins.
It is the case whether people wait on our every word or we are spurned by society.
This book proposes that there is only one question when it comes to sanity.
Do we understand the true nature of self and other?
Just that one simple question.
The sanity that we are considering here is the sanity of knowing who we are and what we are not, about what is true, objective and real and what is not.
It is the sanity of knowing that, ultimately, nothing is true, objective or real.
It is the sanity of understanding that belief is not reality. And that everything, ultimately is belief.
It is the knowing that every form, including the form of our apparently ‘own’ mind and body is a temporary creation of perception.
What difference would it make to the world if we realised that delusion was an inevitable aspect of the human condition?
And that the simple realisation of inevitable delusion was enough for all of us to become sane…?