Saturday, May 24, 2008


“When we remember we are all insane, the mystery disappears and life stands explained.”
~ Mark Twain

The word insane does not mean we need to be institutionalized; it means that we are not ‘sound’ or whole. The root idea of the word insane refers to being ‘out of order’ or ‘displaced’. It was originally used of physical ailments, especially broken bones and dislocated joints. This notion of displacement is similar to the first noble truth on the Buddhist path to serenity and bliss, dukkha, which suggests that each human being, especially in adolescence, experiences a sense of alienation. An ancient Gnostic teaching suggested that Ultimate Reality broke into a billion pieces, and each human is one of those fragments. The aim of life is for Ultimate Reality to be put back together again one piece or life at a time. That means each of us must do his or her part to reassemble Reality. Each of the various religious systems and modern psychological models is motivated by this ubiquitous desire to ‘come together right now’ as John Lennon sang. Even though it feels quite wrong, there is nothing cosmically Wrong. In other words, imperfection is perfect. Taoism speaks of this:

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.

Tao Te Ching, 22

This does not negate the wholeness message of New Thought, but rather explains the appeal of it. The aim of life is to be expelled from and return to wholeness in Eden, to be cut up and reassembled like the fragmented corpse of Osiris, to reunite the divided yin and the yang, to create a new heavens and earth, to integrate the fractured body, soul and spirit, etc.

We are here to become sane. Humans in general have a sense of separation or insanity – that is normal. As Mark Twain recognized, “When we remember we are all insane, the mystery disappears and life stands explained.” We actually become more sane when we recognize and admit how insane we really are.

Archetypal Depth Psychology suggests that the reason for this experience of separation or dislocation is to make a Living Soul which has never existed before. The English poet John Keats suggested this just before his death when he wrote that we are on this earth to go through experiences in order to 'make an intelligence into a Soul.' In other words, we are on this planet as a fetus in a womb being formed through the fractured events of this life. This gives the notion of Mother Earth an even deeper significance.

Scott Peck began his best selling book The Road Less Travelled with this line, “Life is difficult.” Peck went on to say that the moment one realizes this fact of existence, life becomes less difficult. If you want to become whole, let yourself be partial; if you want to become sane, let yourself be insane.

No comments: