Schizophrenia, Enlightenment

G – Everything is connected, but some things lie closer together on the infinite mesh of interconnectedness than others. This is the case with schizophrenia and what is called enlightenment. They are two manifestations of the same phenomenon. In both cases the mind has come to the end of conventional thought. There are two possible reactions to this. The first is to let go of the mind and the ego. The other is to try to maintain the mind and ego in the face of the infinite, which is dangerous.

S - Can you explain what you mean by “to the end of conventional thought”?

G – Thought is limited. What the mind can know is limited. What can be known is infinite. When something limited comes up against something infinite, it reveals itself as being infinitely small. Some people, for whatever reason, have an experience of this infinity, this nothingness out of which all manifestation springs. When that happens, their consciousness undergoes a revolution. This is what happened to Jesus, to the Buddha, and to a great many more people who we have never heard of. This is also what happens to what we call schizophrenics, although their consciousnesses are prevented from undergoing the same revolution due mainly to fear. They are afraid—and this is not a judgement of them—of letting go of their egos, of their thoughts, and of falling back into that infinite nothingness that they have become aware of. Of course, it is impossible to try to figure out infinity, and to carry the ego into infinity.

S – You're saying they are refusing to let themselves “go crazy” and in so doing actually go crazy.

G – Crazy is a particularly meaningless word, but for lack of a better one, yes. This analogy might help. Imagine you have been born and raised in an empty reservoir. In this reservoir, where you have spent all your life, you have gradually filled up a large bag with pebbles. You have loved finding and examining every one of these pebbles. They are your treasures, and you have put each one of them in your bag for safekeeping. Over time you have come to associate completely with this collection of pebbles. This bag of little stones has become your identity. It is all that you know of yourself. Then one day, when your bag has filled up and become rather heavy, water begins to fill up the reservoir. First it is an inch high, then two, then three. Gradually the water level rises. You are of course alarmed. You have never seen this liquid substance before, and now it is inundating you. You clutch your bag to protect it from the rising torrent of water. Soon the water has reached your neck, and you have become very frightened. Now something inside you, some infinitely distant inner voice, tells you that you must let go of your bag of stones in order to swim and not drown. What, let go of your stones! What does that even mean? You are your stones. If you let go of them you will be nothing. It’s almost better to drown than let that happen. Now here we have come to the deciding moment. You can put down the bag of stones and swim, or you can hold onto it and flounder. The bag is your identity, your thoughts, everything that you believe makes you who you are. The bag is your separateness. You cannot keep it, yet many try to.

S – I think I see.

G – If you try to maintain your ego—which is all about division, creating objects out of the word for the subject that you are to interact with—then you are going to be overcome with fear. It will seem like infinity itself is lining up in opposition to you. Everyone will seem to be out to get you. Everything will seem to relate to you. Fear is the result of this.

S – So what happens if you let go of the bag? You become Jesus I suppose.

G – No, you become what you are in essence, which is what Jesus was in essence—pure love. You are that which has always been aware of your thoughts, of your ego. You become the swimmer instead of the bag of stones.

S – What happens then?

G – The thoughts will still come, and some of them will be very strange indeed, and will seem absolutely correct. You may want to cling onto them. If you simply let them arise and do not grasp them, they will go back to where they came from. Now you will begin to see what is, you will apprehend reality in all its glory. I assure you, when you see reality, thoughts will become laughably small in your awareness.

S – Ah….thanks.

G- You are, as always, very welcome.

Further Comments:

Letting to is the answer. Once the filter through which the world is seen falls away (that filter is your conception of yourself), you are free to see the world as it is. Holding onto ego in the face of the infinite is, I am sure, the reason for schizophrenia. What awaits you when you let go is complete and natural sanity. What we call sanity today has nothing in common with it. I'm not saying the strange thoughts will not still come, you will just see them for the dust and wind that they are.

It happens on its own through direct realization. The more clearly you see the infinitely small nature of your thoughts--no matter how strange and compelling--the easier it is to let them just be and then be on their way. Do not seek to get rid of thought, do not position yourself against thought, try to suppress it, squash it, etc. Thought is a natural aspect of this experience we are all having, but clinging to it and making sandcastles out of that thought is not. Thought is not your enemy. Instead, realize the unreality of your thoughts and relax. Let the rest take care of itself. It will.

Metaphors and analogy are just more thought. I hand you that. Mine makes no more sense than yours as a thought. You cannot plan your escape from fear, or thought, or anything unpleasant. There is no process that can liberate you. Direct realization in the present is all we have.

We think. "I am at level two because I have these spiritual characteristics...if I can just replace these less evolved spiritual characteristics with others that are more evolved, I will move up a level, or even skip right to the top level...Okay, so how do I get rid of these characteristics...what do I have to do, oh, why is so hard to get rid of these characteristics?....Maybe I need a new guru, another spiritual book, or maybe I should go on ATS and read some guy's spiritual musings...etc, etc" You see how any structure through which you must move, or which categorizes you, invokes the through-based mind, and sets up internal oppositions which are inherently self-blocking? Instead, the realization, that you are fully complete here and now, with nothing to do but realize that, brings you back to what is you seek. You find, ironically, by not seeking, but seeing what is...

Fear of the loony bin is a very common thing...I've had it many times. But when we realize that what we call "insanity" and "sanity" are both though-based states, concepts, ideas, unrealities, we see more clearly that there is nothing to be afraid of. Really, what you fear is only yourself, your true nature, which is nothing other than an infinite expanse of love. You are not unkind, or evil, or devious, or a killer, or anything which can be pointed to only by categorizing the world and carving it up into individual thoughts. You are much much more than that. As long as you are not buying into more thought, you are moving towards what is, and there is nothing to fear in that.

I do not claim enlightenment nor guru status, and anyone who does should be looked on with a proper amount of caution. Realization is a humbling experience not a self-aggrandizing one. Anyone who tells you that they have answers which you yourself do not have access to does not know what they are talking about. Anyone who sets themselves up as in any way superior to you has not realized. There is an egotistical side to spiritual awakening that all must be aware of. The ego reasserts itself in a position of spiritual dominance or superiority over others, and this is more dangerous than an unawake individual could ever be. ...and of course...sitting under a tree, or being up on a stage, or having followers, or not having followers, or not sitting under a tree, and all of that has nothing to do with what I am trying to point to. As for the void, which you seem to be comparing to a kind of conceptual emptiness, nihilism, etc, this is not the nothingness I am pointing to. The nothingness I am taking about is only nothing in so far as the mind is not able to grasp it. The source of true kindness, generosity, love, etc, is that very nothingness. However, when "good" works are only the result of wanting to "get into heaven," or to be "well regarded," or to atone for "sins", etc, then the source is the ego and mind: fear, competition, greed. These undo the good deed before it is even made.

It's important to be aware of the difficulty and terror that those with schizophrenia experience and not to diminish it, or to imply that they are somehow less than because they have not realized that they are not their thoughts, and that the universe bears no fundamental relationship to their thoughts. To say that a direct realization of one's true nature will stop the fear that schizophrenia inspires, is not to say that it is easy for schizophrenics to have that realization. I am not talking about easy or hard, possible or impossible...only what is. The problem is that the moment of realization comes when the mind can be seen for what it is, and it may well be that the speed and fluidity of the schizophrenics mind makes this more challenging...but I would say that the realization remains open to all because it is what we are. I have seen people literally pull themselves out of schizophrenia with the realization that all thought is illusory. For whatever reason, I have been surrounded by schizophrenics all my life, it has been a kind of theme--friends, family, and I have seen that this is possible. Medication...very tough. Yes schizophrenics can live somewhat normal lives on meds, but you still see it in their eyes. The infinite expanse and the boggled thoughts, the confusion, is still very much there. They do nothing but make those who consider themselves normal feel safe, while taking the edge off the hallucinations that schizophrenics experience. As such you may say they serve a purpose. I feel the only purpose they serve is to maintain a semblance of sanity for the sake of society and the comfort of the individual and their families. Is this wrong? No. Is this right? No. Is there another way...let's find out.

Connecting the dots as a compulsive behavior is indeed an important aspect of the schizophrenic's experience. The search for the real, the underlying essence. The problem is that this cannot be found by stringing concepts together with cause and effect strings (connecting the dots). You have a looking glass onto the infinite nature of existence. Why you have it, I don't know. But connecting the dots through infinity, where meaning is malleable, where everything is possible, where everything bleeds into everything else, is a futile and dangerous pursuit. Perhaps look at why you do this compulsively (yes we can point to neurological influences), but there is a reason you feel you must do this. I would say that you have glimpsed something very profound, the ultimate thing, and yet you do not realize yet that that ultimate reality cannot be held and manipulated by thought. All you can do is stand in it, be present with it, and know that your mind cannot touch it. When you know this in your very core, it is the deepest realization you can have. Then the mind no longer has an engine to drive it. I myself still have thoughts like the ones you describe all the time, and there are still moments when I get carried away by them. But the time it takes me to realize that I have been carried away by them is less than it has ever been. To be carried away by a thought requires your active participation, and there is a feeling of "making an effort" that you can actually sense. With enough time, this feeling to trying to think your way into infinity, of making an effort, may itself become an alarm that wakes you up and out of it. You are indeed the master of your universe, but don't get wrapped up in the concept of mastery, or you, or universe. Know only that you are in control

By saying that only a few or perhaps one person can attain full awakening (whatever that is), I think you are creating just the kind of beliefs that pose barriers to awakening. The mind is always doing this, and it does not matter what it turns its attention to. It is a concept machine, even when it is looking deep into a void. Even then it will find ways to structure that void, to create something that means something to it. This is futile, of course. My view is that all talk of chakras, auras, levels of awareness (while they may point to something that can be experienced) are limitations to awakening. Best to drop all concepts, all ideas of a path, of only certain people being predisposed to awakening, all of that stuff. I think the link between spirituality (or reality) and mental illness is becoming more clear. A fully awakened teacher may stand the best chance of helping to push a schizophrenic towards self-realization. There are more and more of them around. This bodes well for the "mentally ill."

Leaders, Self, Freedom

Seeker – I’m feeling the weight of the world today. There is so much anxiety, so much fear out there. People distrust, always seem to want something, “I do for you if you do for me.” It seems like a hopeless situation. New politicians come on the scene and promise hope, a new beginning, but all we get, if we’re lucky, is an updated version of the last leader. I’m loosing patience with it all.

Guru – We look for leaders to fix the world, to make it a kinder and more understanding place, but really this is not what we want. Our egos quickly become bored when there is nothing to fear, nothing to feel superior or inferior to. No great disasters on the horizon. When we cannot muse about the wrongs and evils of the past, or the hopes and fears of the future, what do we have? No, please understand this: we have created a state of affairs that suits us very well.

Seeker – That’s depressing.

Guru – Stop looking for a saviour, a guru, some leader to come and fix things. The solution to worldwide dysfunction resides in each individual. The solution is to recognize the illusory quality of the ego. When the ego is seen as nothing more than a mirage, then you have begun to clean your own house. Start with cleaning your own house, and then turn your attention on the world if you still want to.

Seeker – Ok, so I become enlightened, or awakened, or whatever it is, and the world remains dysfunctional. Then what?

Guru – How do you know what the world will be when you see reality for what it is, when you see truth? You do not see clearly now, so how do you know? You are projecting. Your mind cannot conceive of a seeing that has nothing to do with ego and concepts. You may find that there is nothing to fix anymore once you are free of dysfunction. Perhaps you will nevertheless feel compelled to act out of an unselfish sense of affection and compassion for all things. Find out and see.

Seeker – What if I fix myself and let the world go to hell?

Guru – Again, you are speculating about what you will feel when you see the universe for what it is. First see and then say what you see.

Seeker – Make me see then.

Guru – I cannot make you see. Your ego, the “I”, tells you that you need someone to come along and give you truth, when in fact you have the truth already, you are the truth. It is the ego that must go, and clear the way for the truth to shine. Even a fingernail can block the sun.

Seeker – How do I start?

Guru – Start by investigating the sense of “me” or “I.” Watch it move, see its motives. Every thought when the ego is active seeks something, desires something. It may not always be immediately clear what, so investigate it.

Seeker – Then poof, the ego just vanishes eh?

Guru – No, then you vanish.

Love, Ego, Religion

Seeker – There is one aspect of what you have been teaching me that I find hard to accept. I have realized that I am not my ego, and that my mind is infinitely limited, as you like to say. I understand that when the dependence on the mind is dropped, the present moment comes alive. My problem is that I feel only disconnectedness, or a numbness when I drop my thoughts. When I no longer think about other people and am no longer interested in them, how am I supposed to be concerned about them, and to…well…love them? You say that love is the point, but where does the love come in if you are no longer interested in other people?

Guru – Love does not come in or go out, it always is. The thoughts which you have dropped have been replaced by others, like the question “When I am no longer interested in other people, how am I supposed to be concerned about them?” So you see that the mind does not always give up its prime position easily. If you had truly dropped the barrier of thought and ego, this question would not even arise. The point is to realize—not in your mind—but to the very core, that your ego, the mind, your opinions and judgements, are only intermediaries between you and reality. If you truly remove the intermediary, you cannot help but feel deep compassion for the world. It is the most pure kind of compassion because it does not ask anything in return. It does not seek to feed the ego in compensation for its love.

S – What about the numbness I feel?

G – The numbness is an imaginary empty space created by the mind. You have dropped some of the old habitual thoughts—some of the ways that your mind previously approached the subject of other people. But the mind itself is still very much in operation. The mind is now fixating on the absence of the favourite old thoughts, and creating an emptiness out of that that is nothing but conceptual. Drop the fixation on the thought that something is lacking. The only thing that can mourn the loss of thought is thought itself.

S – So you’re saying I’m still wrapped up in thought.

G – Yes, but do not be overly concerned. The process has begun. You have seen a glimmer of light. Full realization will come.

S – What…what does that kind of love feel like?

G – Any answer I gave you to that question would be inadequate and only spawn other thoughts, which would themselves be inadequate. It is like asking me to tell you what infinity feels like—or anything else which the mind cannot touch. You must experience it. I will say only that it is to have no barrier between the self and the beloved. There is no thought. There is no motive. No trying to figure someone out conceptually. You accept that you know nothing about them, and that nothing is everything. Of course, such love moves beyond people and encompasses everything. Without any barriers in the awareness there is nothing which does no reveal itself as worthy of love. There is nothing, which is not love itself.

S – How did you come to realize this?

G – This is not important. What matters is how you come to realize it.

S – Was it sudden?

G – It was always there. I did not always realize that it was, but I see now that there was no moment when it was not there. The problem, the wonderful joke of it, is that it is the simplest thing, and its utter simplicity causes us to overlook it. Be simple and you will see simplicity.

S – One more thing. I wanted to ask you about religion. Is there good in it?

G – Religion will tell you nothing that you do not already know. We see the inherent contradiction with religion. They preach unity, but they are all exclusive. They have names—like Christianity, Islam and Buddhism—which distinguish one from the other. They have different systems, approaches, devices. They have different uniforms. They occupy different territories. They have become tools of opposition. This is not to say that the underlying message of many religions is incompatible with the true. Nothing is fully incompatible with the true. But suffice it to say that any aspect of religions that appeals to separation must stand in opposition to what is—call it god, or being, or love. Whatever divides and opposes rows hard in the opposite direction of that.

Real Life

Seeker – It’s been a strange week. It seems that, with every passing day, my mind holds less and less power over me. Now I get a feeling or exhaustion at the very thought of getting back on the merry-go-round of thought. Why would I want to do that? It has never worked before…

Guru – Very good.

S – And yet real life remains. It’s just there and can’t be ignored. I have to act in the world. There are things I care about, like the ecological health of the planet, the suffering of children in war torn countries. These things require action, commitment, planning and strategy. They require participation of the mind.

G – They require purity of intent to be effective. The mind can be a helpful tool, but there must be awareness beyond the mind which runs deeper that the simple motives of the mind. The mind is rigid, inflexible, and resistant to change. This is its nature. Without such resistance, it cannot use causality. Without causality it is paralysed. But the awareness is fluid and without motive. It wants only what it is, which is a purity of love that the mind cannot touch. Such love requires no motives to be effective. So the mind is a tool, and must be seen as a tool. When and if you engage in activism, operate through mind, not from it.

S – Can you give me an example?

G – You are an environmental activist. You are incredibly distraught over the clear cutting of old growth trees in Canada’s Boreal Forest. You have developed a passionate dislike, possibly hate, for the companies that are causing this destruction. You are angry at the consumers who do not check to see if their paper products are FSC certified. Do you think it is possible to be an effective advocate for your cause in such a divided, fragmented state, a state in which illusion and unconsciousness reign? A more awake version of this would be someone who has deep concern about the rate of clear cutting, but sees the whole. They bear no ill will towards those whose actions are the cause of this. Such an individual would feel as connected with the CEO who is ordering the clear cutting and he would with the tree that is being felled. There would be concern for both, and a deep understanding that there is order underlying all the chaos, one that cannot be understood by the mind, quantified, justified. All actions then would arise from a centre of balance and generalized compassion. There would be no good guys and bad guys.

S – But wouldn’t you be paralysed? Don’t you need bad guys and good guys to be able to act, to make decisions? I mean…if you love the CEO as much as the tree, you just sit there like a big ball of compassion and do nothing.

G – Does a mother who loves her child in a deep and unconditional way stand back if she sees her child being cruel to an animal or bullying another child? No, on the contrary, she acts instantly and without thought, from a place of pure compassion, and addresses her child’s behaviour for his own sake, and for that of the animal or child he is inflicting harm upon.

S – That’s hard to do.

G – It is impossible for the mind to do.

S -