Enlightenment and Insanity

Whether you're exploring Buddhism for the first time or you're already on the path, feel free to ask questions of any kind here.

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:09 am

There is plenty of literature in comparative religion about it, in one class, we studied papers on 'holy madness and liminality' (where 'liminal' people are those 'betwixt and between' like outcastes, vagabonds, tricksters, gypsies, and so on).

There was also the well-known case of 'crazy wisdom' teacher Da Free John (now deceased) who basically exiled himself with a group of followers to an island in Fiji after a group of disenchanted devotees went to the press with stories of sexual and drug abuse. He was apparently trying to emulate the siddhas, in fact published a book called 'The Method of the Siddhas', however I noticed that in Keith Dowman's book on the 84 maha-siddhas he explicitly states in the foreword that in his view the 'Da Free John cult' has no relationship with and does not represent that lineage.

I can find some of the 'traditional' accounts of 'holy madness' but probably not for a while, I'm travelling in the USA.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
User avatar
Wayfarer
 
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:52 am

jeeprs wrote:
Shel wrote:I don't know where you got this graphic from or how it relates to Maslow's hierarchy but sociopaths are normal and socialized, in the sense that they are all but undetectable in society. Their needs are not normal of course, there are apparently gaps in some areas, but they span the length of Maslow's heirchy.


I beg to differ. In this model if they are 'sociopathic' they are on the left of the bellcurve. Moving towards the right is also realizing ever-higher degrees of integration. That is reflected in the observation that exceptional humans are 'people of integrity'. 'Integrity' is 'functioning as a whole'. It is significant that one of the common manifestations of delusional disorders is 'hearing voices' which are perceived by the subject as belonging to some other being or force but actually come from within themselves.

Anyway, the broader point is that in liberal societies 'normal' is 'normative'. Sure sociopaths can perform in society, I wouldn't be surprised if many run Wall Street banks, but in the context of this discussion there is something 'beyond normal', in other words something which can't be defined or assessed in terms of the 'consensus reality' that we 'normally' inhabit.

A hierarchy of needs on a bell-curve, with sociopaths on the far left of the curve. How does it make sense to put a hierarchy of needs on a bell-curve? To illustrate what most people need? That is already illustrated by the hierarchy. People need everything in the hierarchy potentially, it's just that no one will have time or inclination to be spiritual or express themselves creatively, for instance, if they are struggling with basic needs like food and shelter. Sociopaths are no less capable than anyone else in securing basic needs, and they can develop needs in the highest sphere of self-actualization. The are apparently some gaps, specifically in the area of a need for intimacy or love, but they are certainly not stuck at the bottom only needing food, water, and other basics.

And in what society is normal not normative? I'm supposed to live in one of the most individualistic societies in history, yet we are lead around like sheep. Indeed we are lead around by sociopaths in many cases.

What is an example of abnormal enlightened behavior?
shel
 
Posts: 1500
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:57 am

jeeprs wrote:There is plenty of literature in comparative religion about it, in one class, we studied papers on 'holy madness and liminality' (where 'liminal' people are those 'betwixt and between' like outcastes, vagabonds, tricksters, gypsies, and so on).


Outcastes, vagabonds, tricksters, and gypsies do not represent the norm, sure, but they are also not representative of insanity.
shel
 
Posts: 1500
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:33 am

Which is part of the point I am trying to make....
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
User avatar
Wayfarer
 
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:52 am

undefineable wrote:Well social convention is the context within which people help and are of use to one another, so surely this wouldn't need to happen often-?


It would be case by case. With proper discerning wisdom and compassion, the bodhisattva calculates the optimal course of action to benefit beings. That might include taking on the appearance of an iconoclast or even a lunatic.

This of course assumes the bodhisattva is doing this for the benefit of others and not their own self-aggrandizement.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby brendan » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:55 am

Indrajala wrote:
undefineable wrote:Well social convention is the context within which people help and are of use to one another, so surely this wouldn't need to happen often-?


It would be case by case. With proper discerning wisdom and compassion, the bodhisattva calculates the optimal course of action to benefit beings. That might include taking on the appearance of an iconoclast or even a lunatic.

This of course assumes the bodhisattva is doing this for the benefit of others and not their own self-aggrandizement.


I think these comments sum up nicely why most of western psychology (when examined from the view via BuddhaDharma) belongs in the recycling bin.
Last edited by brendan on Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
brendan
 
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2011 11:25 am

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:58 am

shel wrote:You mean like killing the Buddha in the street? That would certainly be considered insane by standard social convention. However Linji did not actually kill the Buddha.


You're right. The idea is that the perception of the Buddha is delusional and must not be embraced in the context of his ideas on practice.

Nevertheless, Linji would beat his students and shout at them. There's also the old stories about using buddha sculptures for firewood and so on for the purpose of edification.

The unwise could attempt this and it really would be crazy for them to do so. Someone with wisdom, however, could genuinely benefit others through eccentric behaviour. On the other hand, they could just as well benefit beings through being stately, noble and conservative.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 02, 2013 3:01 am

brendan wrote:I think these comments sum up nicely why most of western psychology (when examined from the view on Dharma) belongs in the recycling bin.


It has some utility, though I've never actually seen psychiatry work. Ever.

Buddhists however to avoid lawsuits have to state "seek professional help" rather than taking on the responsibility of mental care for themselves.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby smcj » Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:44 am

It has some utility, though I've never actually seen psychiatry work. Ever.

Current psychiatry entails prescribing psych meds. Psychiatrists don't want to listen to your problems. They want to be "real doctors" and give you medicine.

In the last few years I've had one person in my family that suffered a psychotic break, and another friend go schizophrenic. I've seen psych meds help bring people back from over the cliff.

However, psychiatry can only bring people back to some level of functionality. It does not give answers as to the greater meaning of life, or what to do with it. Dharma does.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
smcj
 
Posts: 2078
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:53 am

smcj wrote:Current psychiatry entails prescribing psych meds. Psychiatrists don't want to listen to your problems. They want to be "real doctors" and give you medicine.


People used to get by fine without psychiatry, even when every calorie counted, your life expectancy wasn't so high and most families buried at least one child. Humanity has managed fine without anti-depressants up until recently.

The modern first-world lifestyle is so grinding, stressful and full of unsatisfied desires (you can thank advertising for that), but few are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of their mental health. Living a simple lifestyle with fewer desires is actually conducive to mental health. However, we don't normally recognize excessive desire and ambitions as basically being as problematic to one's health as gluttony and substance addictions despite both leading to the same problems.

In fact, advertising and retail are actually perpetuating excessive desire, which leads to worry and fear, and consequently stress which undermines mental health.


However, psychiatry can only bring people back to some level of functionality. It does not give answers as to the greater meaning of life, or what to do with it. Dharma does.


The amount of anti-depressant use in the western world is shocking. I know so many people back home in Canada who are on them or were on them at some point. In some places whole towns are literally doped up on anti-depressants. It is all perfectly legal, too.

Given the forces at work in the world, I honestly don't know how effective Dharma would be unless great sacrifices are made. Stressed out office workers hooked on meds and in debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars are not going to benefit -that- much from quiet meditation and reading about impermanence unless they abandon the immediate causes for their mental anguish.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby smcj » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:06 am

The amount of anti-depressant use in the western world is shocking. I know so many people back home in Canada who are on them or were on them at some point. In some places whole towns are literally doped up on anti-depressants. It is all perfectly legal, too.

Actually I was talking about anti-psychotics. When someone goes from ranting irrationally, to babbling, to making random non-word syllables, to only making bird chirping sounds, they're pretty far gone. At that point no communication was possible at all, not even insane communication. :crazy: The anti-psychotics brought him back. Pretty impressive.

The other scenario I spoke of was someone that had driven themselves insane with amphetamines. Amphetamine psychosis and schizophrenia evidently have the same symptoms, so they are hard to tell apart. When she's been clean for a week or so she's clear enough to take her meds. They help, but the drugs she takes to make her crazy are stronger than the meds they give her to make her sane. But there is choice and behavior in that scenario, so the meds that are not doing the trick can't be faulted.

Given the forces at work in the world, I honestly don't know how effective Dharma would be unless great sacrifices are made. Stressed out office workers hooked on meds and in debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars are not going to benefit -that- much from quiet meditation and reading about impermanence unless they abandon the immediate causes for their mental anguish.

Yep. Sometimes it isn't all about changing your attitude. Sometimes you've got to make an external change.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
smcj
 
Posts: 2078
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby lobster » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:17 am

Anti psychotics do work far better than nothing. Psychiatry is also aware of meditation related psychosis . . .
http://downthecrookedpath-meditation-gurus.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/meditation-related-psychosis-from.html

Some of us are too far gone for either model :woohoo:
I guess we have to find the Middle Way . . . the two med way, meds and meditation, both have their place :smile:
User avatar
lobster
 
Posts: 952
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby smcj » Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:45 am

From Lobster's link:
Some students misunderstand the Buddhist doctrine of “no-self,” meditate in a way to disidentify with their experience, and thereby cultivate a withdrawn, emotionally disconnected “schizoid” state.

Qualified teachers need to be around to protect and guide the student.
A human being has his limits. And thus, in every conceivable way, with every possible means, he tries to make the teaching enter into his own limits. ChNN
smcj
 
Posts: 2078
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Wayfarer » Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:51 pm

Indrajala wrote:The modern first-world lifestyle is so grinding, stressful and full of unsatisfied desires (you can thank advertising for that), but few are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of their mental health. Living a simple lifestyle with fewer desires is actually conducive to mental health. However, we don't normally recognize excessive desire and ambitions as basically being as problematic to one's health as gluttony and substance addictions despite both leading to the same problems.


I agree, but I think what it takes is the ability to voluntarily relinquish things, rather than to be deprived of them. If you can do without things freely, it is much better than being in a situation where you simply can't ever get them, which is the way it actually pans out nowadays.

I actually believe that liberal capitalism of some variety is the only way to greater prosperity generally, but due to mainly historical reasons, it has lost touch with its own moral code, mainly because of materialism. If you had a modern industrial society that was directed by a proper spiritual philosophy, it would be the best outcome. But of course in liberal democracies, because of the rebellion against religions generally, it is very hard to direct the mind to anything spiritual. This leads to the predicament so eloquently summarized by Mahatma Gandhi many years ago:

Wealth without work.

Pleasure without conscience.

Knowledge without character.

Commerce without morality.

Science without humanity.

Worship without sacrifice.

Politics without principle.
Learn to do good, refrain from evil, purify the mind ~ this is the teaching of the Buddhas
User avatar
Wayfarer
 
Posts: 1931
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:25 pm

jeeprs wrote:If you had a modern industrial society that was directed by a proper spiritual philosophy, it would be the best outcome.


Perhaps the best outcome for those belonging to the proper spiritual philosophy. Probably not so hot an outcome for those directed by the improper spiritual philosophies.
shel
 
Posts: 1500
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:29 pm

Indrajala wrote:Nevertheless, Linji would beat his students and shout at them. There's also the old stories about using buddha sculptures for firewood and so on for the purpose of edification.

Being tough or an iconoclast isn't viewed as insanity, or even particularly unusual.

Are there no actual examples of insane enlightened behavior?
shel
 
Posts: 1500
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Azidonis » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:44 pm

The difference is being able to function in society.
Azidonis
 
Posts: 99
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2012 1:04 am

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby Indrajala » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:30 am

jeeprs wrote: I actually believe that liberal capitalism of some variety is the only way to greater prosperity generally, but due to mainly historical reasons, it has lost touch with its own moral code, mainly because of materialism.


Ironically increased prosperity actually accelerates social disintegration over the long-term.

    - Overproduction of elites as a result of increased wealth and money. The rich but powerless convert their wealth into political power. A lack of unity amongst elites often results in internal conflicts and political deadlock. At worst, you get civil war.

    - Increased prosperity normally means increasing populations and lower mortality rates, but once the carry capacity is reached and exceeded it is difficult for the surplus population to earn a proper livelihood as earlier generations did. Surplus labour means people work for lower wages, making the gap between rich and poor all the wider, contributing to the overproduction of elites. Soil depletion can also be an issue for farmers. Inheritance problems can also lead poor farmers to have insufficient land for subsistence, thus forcing them to sell out to landlords and becoming low paid tenant farmers, or migrating to the cities.

    - Overpopulation drives colonization of borderlands and the frontiers. In western history, this prompted the genocide of Native American peoples.

    - Wealthy elites become accustom to their standard of living and become quite willing to fight for it against internal enemies.

Eventually such disintegrating factors leads to weakening of the state and people. External enemies are quick to capitalize on the opportunity to seize land and wealth.

Long-term stability actually requires a degree of poverty strangely enough. The problem though is that if you don't increase complexity and generate sufficient wealth, then there is no deterrent against predatory powers taking what you have.

Most of the time, though, it seems logical to foster prosperity and generation of wealth as it seems to solve short-term problems, which the leadership inevitably has to immediately deal with rather than long-term planning.
Flower Ornament Depository (Blog)
Indrajāla's Contemplations (Blog)
Exploring Classical Chinese (Blog)
Dharma Depository (Site)

"Hui gives me no assistance. There is nothing that I say in which he does not delight." -Confucius
User avatar
Indrajala
 
Posts: 5914
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:19 pm
Location: Nepal

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby dzogchungpa » Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:16 pm

Indrajala wrote:
smcj wrote:Current psychiatry entails prescribing psych meds. Psychiatrists don't want to listen to your problems. They want to be "real doctors" and give you medicine.


People used to get by fine without psychiatry, even when every calorie counted, your life expectancy wasn't so high and most families buried at least one child. Humanity has managed fine without anti-depressants up until recently.

The modern first-world lifestyle is so grinding, stressful and full of unsatisfied desires (you can thank advertising for that), but few are willing to sacrifice for the benefit of their mental health. Living a simple lifestyle with fewer desires is actually conducive to mental health. However, we don't normally recognize excessive desire and ambitions as basically being as problematic to one's health as gluttony and substance addictions despite both leading to the same problems.

In fact, advertising and retail are actually perpetuating excessive desire, which leads to worry and fear, and consequently stress which undermines mental health.


However, psychiatry can only bring people back to some level of functionality. It does not give answers as to the greater meaning of life, or what to do with it. Dharma does.


The amount of anti-depressant use in the western world is shocking. I know so many people back home in Canada who are on them or were on them at some point. In some places whole towns are literally doped up on anti-depressants. It is all perfectly legal, too.

Given the forces at work in the world, I honestly don't know how effective Dharma would be unless great sacrifices are made. Stressed out office workers hooked on meds and in debt for hundreds of thousands of dollars are not going to benefit -that- much from quiet meditation and reading about impermanence unless they abandon the immediate causes for their mental anguish.

:good:
Note that, in the higher tantras, there is talk of a self and an I, even though in the lower teachings the absence of self and the absence of I is what is always proclaimed. - Tony Duff
To educate the educated is notoriously difficult. - Jacques Barzun
སརྦ་དྷརྨ་དྷཱ་ཏུ་ཨཱཏྨ་ཀོ་྅ཧཾ༔
User avatar
dzogchungpa
 
Posts: 2052
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 10:50 pm

Re: Enlightenment and Insanity

Postby shel » Tue Sep 03, 2013 11:54 pm

I have to say it's kinda silly to blame advertising and retail for perpetuating excessive desires. Advertisers and retailers don't make the products. Does it make sense to blame the free market society or capitalism? Sure, why not, but what's a better alternative?
shel
 
Posts: 1500
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:38 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Exploring Buddhism

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: underthetree and 7 guests

>