As I sit I am convinced I go deeper into my sub-conscious and unconscious and all sorts of gems then appear. Change these and we change our lives. It might even be the case that new or unresolved stuff comes up and we have to enter therapy for a while, at least until some sort of resolution has been achieved. My own view of the world, born out of my experiences, is that we are all fundamentally bonkers and only some can stay within acceptable parameters. For the others we have the less bonkers trying to help. Unfortunately some of these helpers think of themselves as sane, which must cause all sorts of misunderstandings along the way. If I was a drunk I would prefer to go to a recovering drunk for help. Ditto with my mental health problems.
When I started practice, Genpo Sensei used to talk about all the conditions we can expect to meet including rage, hatred, jealousy etc. I used to sit there ticking them off, one by one, whispering “nope” to each. How dull life was as I sat with my analytical little mind rationalising away. Then one day I suddenly realised I did have a problem and it might be worth looking again. Later when I went for an interview he asked me what I did for a living; in response to my answer he said “Have you discovered your own learning difficulty?” I had and it was a shock and did this discovery make me a better support worker? I am far far too humble to say. But I do wonder if today’s psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health nurses have discovered their own mental health problems and whether this would help them in their work.
My own journey has been fascinating and so far I have discovered in myself mild forms of schizophrenia, anxiety, paranoia, depression, attention deficit disorder, depersonalisation, multiple personality disorder, (which makes dropping the self more difficult, obviously), denial, learning difficulties, and dyslexia; goodness knows what else lies around the corner. Genpo also told me about his recent visit to a psychiatric ward and how well he had got on with the patients. He had no problem being the same as them. One can imagine a Big Mind/Big Heart course for psychiatrists and the compassion that could come from that. ‘Can I speak to the voice of multiple personality disorder please. Which personality am I speaking to?’
It was interesting to discover recently that Realisation can also cause a medically recognised condition, and this can push a small percentage of folk into a state of strong anxiety, particularly if they have no background or support to help and show understanding. Sometimes these spontaneous awakenings can happen and the reaction is one of strong negativity and fear. Or, perhaps just as bad, a reaction of extreme elation and bliss which has the opposite effect, one of deep attachment. Gimme another fix, I’m a spiritual rock star.
All this is to say that we all need a teacher as we wander our universes and if they show a bit of madness now and then, thank Buddha for that.