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.
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."