UNDERSTANDING MENTAL ILLNESS AND MENTAL HEALTH
A Psychospiritual perspective
Upon birth on planet earth, a human child experiences what Alfred Adler (1921) in his book, The Neurotic Constitution, called a sense of weakness and inadequacy. While all children so feel, some children, due to inherited organ deficits feel it more acutely. Those children who feel more acutely inadequate, according to Alfred Adler, develop a sense of inferiority. Before age six they recognize that in our world it takes a sense of power and adequacy to adapt to it, to do what one must do to survive in the world. Thus, the child that feels inadequate and unable to compete with other children and master his environment uses his thinking and imagination to invent a different self, the self that he wishes that were he it he would more easily adapt to the exigencies of the physical and social world and control his world and successfully cope with whatever life throws at him.
Adler said that such children then embark on pursuit of superiority. They want to be superior to their world, and that includes all people and the physical environment. Adler called this approach to life neurotic.
Neurotics are not superior to anybody or to anything; superiority is just a wished-for state that they are not in reality, but they often take the wished-for state as if it is real and thus feel angry if you do not treat them as if, in fact, they are superior persons.
Karen Horney (1950) explained the neurotic phenomenon from a family and sociological perspective; she said that when the parents and significant others of a child do not love and accept him as he is, and, instead, ask him to measure up to a high standard before they accept him, that he rejects his real self and uses his mind to invent the type of self that he thinks that his parents and society in general would accept, the ideal self. The child thereafter seeks to become the ideal self. But he is not the ideal self. He has a real self (that is now rejected in pursuit of the imaginary ideal self). The child struggles on to become the imaginary ideal self.
Because he wants to become the ideal, perfect self and is not it, he is compelled to anticipate situations where he is not going to function as the ideal self. Thus, he is filled with what Horney called Basic Anxiety, fear of not becoming his ideal self at games with other kids, at school’s formal sports and learning situations, especially at taking examinations where he is not likely to do well.
If you are perfect and ideal how come, you fail your examinations? The ideal, perfect person ought to make perfect grades, but since the child is not making perfect grades at school and at play, he has cognitive dissonance because his desired ideal self is not like what his real self does in the real world. Thus, he is filled with anxiety, but he so identifies with the ideal self that he would not let it go; he feels that if he lets it go that he would become nothing, even die. So, he soldiers on, filled with anxiety.
He likes you if you treat him as the ideal person he desperately wants to be and is angry at you if you did not validate his ideal self-image. This child, as Adler said, thinks and acts “as if” he is his desired superior self, or as Horney calls it, ideal self, powerful self, which he is not. He wants to be the number one in whatever he does and if he does not attain that status, he feels anxious and or angry.
Some such children drop out of school and competitive situations to avoid failing in them hence not be the desired number one person that they wish to be in all situations.
They may withdraw from society as a whole and on the sidelines of society they imagine that if only they participated that they would do better than those who participate. If you did not run the one hundred meters sprint race under then seconds, in real life, you can always sit on the bleachers and imagine yourself running it in nine seconds, or be the best basketball player, football player, best student or best in everything that people do. But in the real-world people practice and compete and a few emerge temporary best at what they do; you are not going to be the best at what you did not participate in.
The neurotic child, both Adler and Horney tell us, desires to be the best in everything people do and fearing failing they stop doing anything at all. Of course, some struggle on and manage to be successful in life. Some become tops in their professions. The world is ruled by neurotics, or as they are now called, personality disorder persons.
Whereas the active, aggressive child struggles on to win, passive children withdraw from relating to people and competition and become avoidant personalities; they fear trying to relate to people because they fear failing and social rejection and to avoid failing and rejection, they keep to themselves; in idle state they keep alive the imagination that they are very good but do not demonstrate that goodness in real life.
The critical issue here is the rejection of the real self-and the desire to be a self-invented alternative ideal self, aka superior self. The individual is not the ideal self, superior self and perfect self. He has a real self, a real self he fled from before age six and is now struggling to become an imaginary self-constructed ideal, powerful self. Since he has not lived as the real self, he really does not know what it is, he is striving to become the imaginary, ideal self.
DELUSION DISORDER, AKA PARANOIA
In some situations, the child convinces himself that he is his imaginary ideal self and lives as if he is it; he pretends, compulsively, as if he is the superior self (see Swanson et al, 1970, The Paranoid; also see Meisner, 1978, The Paranoid Process).
Such people develop delusions (of grandeur, or jealousy, somatic, erotomania, persecution). Delusion disorder, aka paranoia is thinking and behaving as if one is one’s wished for ideal alternative self. Here, one has totally forgotten one’s real self, an imperfect self, and totally identified with the fantasy ideal, superior and perfect self and thinks and behaves from its standpoint. This person thinks not from his real mind but from the alternative ideal self’s mind. He is now considered psychotic, insane and mad because what he says does not take into consideration his imperfect self-and other people’s imperfect selves.
He uses his perfect standards of behavior to judge all people and, of course, find them not good enough and tell them so. And the people he tells so feel offended by him and ask him if he is better than them. Of course, he is not better than them. The judge, evaluator, criticizer using ideal standards to judge people hardly can do better what real people do. You can criticize a book, now go author a book and let us see how well you write! See David Shapiro, 1981, Autonomy and the Rigid Character. Also see David Shapiro (1965). Neurotic Styles.
The point here is that the deluded person, the paranoid person is now living from an imaginary ideal self, a wished-for self but not his real self. So, we say that he is psychotic. But since he thinks that he is merely trying to make people perfect by referencing their behavior to ideal standards of behavior, he does not understand why people think that what he is doing is not okay.
For one thing, people did not ask him to make them perfect; they tell him to first try to make himself perfect and learn that no human being can ever become perfect, and thereafter give up the neurotic wish for perfection.
The thinking and behaving patterns now called deluded is predicated on desire for ideals, perfection and power. The desire for perfection cannot be gratified in the real world.
What is psychosis? Psychosis or mental illness is defined as the presence of bizarre delusions and hallucinations in one or more of the five senses (auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile and so on).
Psychosis exists in schizophrenia (schizophrenia has five types, including disorganized, paranoid, undifferentiated, residual and catatonic), in mania as in Bipolar affective disorder, in depression with psychotic features and so on.
In psychosis one behaves in a manner that is not congruent with the reality that people see in their world. If you wished to be the richest man on earth, the most intelligent man on earth, the most powerful man on earth, all these are understandable desires and aspirations considering your imperfection, but if you proceed to claim to be so and is not so in the real world then you are deluded.
If you are an average student and claim to have Albert Einstein’s IQ of 160 but cannot do what the man did, then you are deluded; if you are the most intelligent person on earth then prove it in doing something that you are extraordinarily well at. If you claim to be immensely wealthy and is poor, then you are not wealthy. If you claim to be immensely powerful and you are unemployed and poor, you are obviously not powerful in the real world.
The relevant point here is that what the individual wishes that he is, is not always what he is in real life and if he believes that he is the wished-for status then he is deluded. Such a person is considered mentally ill, mentally disordered, psychotic.
These days mentally ill people’s bodies are filled with antipsychotic medications that calm down their nervous systems but do not really change their deluded thinking patterns. No one has scientifically demonstrated the correlation of biological states and delusion disorder.
Delusion disorder is not caused by any specific medical order but there are medical issues involved but they are only causally related to delusion if they dispose the individual to think in a deluded manner. Delusion disorder is a thinking disorder, not a medical disorder.
What would change deluded thinking pattern is to not wish for perfection and ideals and not pursue those, for they are impossible perfect goals that no real human being can achieve. If the deluded person were to accept that he does not need the goals he was seeking and let go of them, he would relax his mind and body and become what folks call a normal person.
I had a young man who was diagnosed as having bipolar affective disorder with delusion features; during his manic phase he would claim to be the wealthiest person on earth, that he is the smartest person on earth. I simply said: if you are the smartest man on earth, and the wealthiest man on earth, the most powerful man on earth, how come you are been fed by society as a mentally ill person? You should have made tons of money if you are wealthy and is the smartest person on earth. I told him that he is not in any of the states that he claimed to be. I asked him to stop wishing to be this or that perfect self-and try to think and live from the real self. But since all his life he has been trying to live from the ideal self, he no longer knows what his real self is. In that case I told him to give up trying to be the deluded, powerful self and keep quiet.
I asked him to not think or behave from the wished-for perfect self. I told him to tell himself that he does not know who his real self is and keep quiet.
Unless you can ascertain that you are thinking and or behaving from your real self-do not say or do anything. See, Helen Schucman (1975). A course in miracles.
He thereafter remained quiet most of the time. Now where is the delusion that accompanies mania?
Mania itself is simply the body made to work at a faster and rapid rate by the desires put into the mind. Your grandiose desires can make you think in a hypomanic manner and that speeds up the working of your bodily processes, especially your central nervous system.
If you have no desires, as Gautama Buddha told us 2500 years ago, your mind and body relaxes, and you are calm and peaceful. Do this now: do not have any desire, even the desire to live as a separated self in body and on earth and you notice that your body and mind becomes calm, and you live peacefully. See Dwight Goddard (2010). A Buddhist Bible.
It is the numerous desires that people fill their minds with that arouse the excitatory neurochemicals associated with mania; manic people use their minds to speed up their bodies, not their bodies causing their rapid thinking, as psychiatry tells us.
Thinking, that is, the mind causes everything people do. In schizophrenia it is the mind that has deluded wishes, it is the mind that has the wishes that are called hallucinations.
In anxiety disorders it is the mind that desires grandeur and has many fears of failing now called anxiety. You can sit in your room and use your mind to anticipate danger and feel all the symptoms of fear, now called anxiety disorder.
Most Personality disorders are caused by patterns of thinking that are not healthy. Personality disorders are really disorders in the manner individuals conceptualize who they are; they are thinking disorders and, as such, can be corrected when the individual changes his thinking about him. See Aron Beck (1990) and Albert Ellis (1975).
For a more comprehensive description of the various personality disorders, see The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 2013. I will summarize them here.
Paranoid personality disorder is a belief that other people are out to get one and one is afraid of them and, as such, one is defensive most of the time; one is suspicious, not trusting other people’s ability to protect one’s interests. One can change how one sees one’s self so that one comes to trust people or, at least, not expect them to have hostile intentions towards one; the underlying sense of weakness and fear that disposes the paranoid person to feel so fragile that he believes that people can snuff out his life at all times can be addressed from the perspective of correcting his thinking about his self and other people.
Schizotypal personality is having beliefs that people in one’s world consider odd and eccentric; these beliefs can be changed with proper logical thinking.
Schizoid personalities do not necessarily complain about their lack of interest in socializing with people but if they feel concerned about their aloneness, they can always learn socializing skills.
Narcissistic personalities feel not good enough and compensate with compulsive desire to seem special; they use people to get what they want and thereafter dump them; that is, they are self-centered and use people and have no love for other people; they can be taught to love and respect themselves and for other persons, and dispense with obsessional desire to be seen by other people as special; attention seeking is time and energy consuming, and moreover makes one the slave of other people’s approval and fear of it.
Histrionic personalities who want to be the center of social attention can be taught to give love to get love and not believe that the world revolves around them.
Antisocial personalities with their low social conscience and tendency to engage in antisocial and criminal activities can be taught the utility of being prosocial while we live in society.
Borderline personalities can be helped to become independent and not believe that they need every person to take care of them.
Avoidant personalities believe that they are not good enough and that if people get close to them that they will reject them. Nobody would reject them and even if rejected they can live with social rejection hence should relate to people regardless of rejection and not waste their time feeling anxious from fear of social rejection.
Dependent personalities can be taught that each of us needs to take care of his survival needs and does not need to depend on other people to survive and, as such, do not need to please other people to get them to take care of one.
Obsessive-compulsive personalities have a need to be perfect and ideal; no human being can be perfect or ideal and they do not need to feel anxious from fear of imperfection and accept their human imperfection.
Passive aggressive personalities can be taught assertiveness so that they do not need to bottle their frustrations; occasionally, they explode in anger at those they feel treated like door mats.
The salient point is that all personality disorders are manners of thinking about the self that are problematic; they can be changed so that folks have correct and realistic self-views.
MENTAL ILLNESS IS REAL BUT IT CAN BE UNDERSTOOD AND CHANGED
Thomas Szasz (1961) tried to prove that there is no such thing as mental illness. R.D. Laing’s book, the Divided Self (1960) seem to agree with Dr. Szasz.
Helen Schucman (1975), on the other hand, argues that our entire universe is a product of mental disorder; she claims that the universe does not exist and is a hallucination in our minds and a belief in what is not real as real.
I see people with thinking disorders (mentation is thinking so it is okay to say that some people have thinking illness, aka mental illness). However, mental illness is not the big deal that psychiatrists trying to make their field medical, by positing biological causation of mental disorders, make it.
Mental illness is simply patterns of thinking that are not congruent with reality, as we know it. People with mental illness think in an obsessive-compulsive manner that is based on their goals. In the case of schizophrenia, paranoid type, Mania with delusion, delusion disorder, anxiety disorder, personality disorders, dissociative disorders and so on, these people think in such manner that the selves they are pursuing are not who they are, but they still do so, anyway.
One feels weak and small and wishes to be strong and powerful and uses one’s imagination to invent a powerful self and identify with that imaginary powerful self and come to believe that it is who one is, when, in fact, it is merely a wished-for self. If you stop wishing for the big, powerful self and relax, you find that your mind is now what Buddhists call a mind emptied of ego categories and you know peace of mind and body. See Robert Wright, 2017, Why Buddhism is true.
If you continue along with Buddhist no ego-based thinking, that is, stop wishing for all kinds of things, and remove the entirety of desires, even desire to live on earth, from your mind, you notice that your mind is not separate from other minds, you feel that you are a part of one universal mind. This is called Nirvanas (Hindus call it Samadhi and Zen call it Satori). See Karen Armstrong (2000), Buddha; also see Swami Nikhilanada (1948), The Gospel of Ramakrishna.
The idea of separated self-and separated mind is an illusion that produced this universe of separated things and multiplicity.
Even Quantum physics suggests that the world we see with our naked eyes may be false and that there is only mind at work in the universe (See Bohr, 1934, and Heisenberg, 2007).
In truth there is only one unified mind. When you allow your separated mind to metaphorically die you experience universal mind and in it feel peaceful, and eternal. Only one mind exists, that one mind has infinite parts of it, all of them it; one mind thinks through you, me and all of us but neither of us is separated from it. Our separated selves and minds are illusions.
Space, time and matter are all illusions. How? Consider matter, what is it? Matter is composed of the 118 elements in the universe. What are those elements composed of? They are different arrangements of electrons, protons and neutrons in an atom. And what are those subatomic particles composed of? Electrons are light with some negligible mass; protons and neutrons are composed of quarks. Quarks are composed of photons of light.
In effect, matter is composed of photons/light. Have you seen a photon, a particle of light? No one has seen it.
Our bodies, animals’ bodies, plants, mountains, planet earth and other planets, stars, galaxies are composed of photons (which no one has seen). Thus, matter does not exist and if matter does not exist, space, and time do not exist. Nothing exists where we see things existing with our five physical senses.
Only one unified mind exists; the entire universe is in our unified mind, our collective minds which are one shared mind.
What we have is mind relating to itself through its parts; a whole relating to itself through its parts; each part responding to other parts and coming to see itself as separated from other parts.
The whole cannot be shattered into parts for if that were to happen the whole and its parts would cease existing; only the whole and its parts exist; there is no such thing as individuality, but we struggle mightily to seem individuated, and separated from the whole and each other, all illusion.
Particles, atoms, elements, matter do not exist; they are mere ideas in the mind of the universal mind; our minds make them seem to exist when, in fact, they do not exist apart from our minds.
Nothing exists except the mind. And what is the mind?
The mind is thinking; the universe is a thinking machine; it is a web of thinking, an interconnected computer, a kind of internet where parts think and are connected in their thinking.
Helen Schucman (1975) and Hinduism (1948) said that the world we all see during the daytime is produced by our collective minds, the universal mind. How does it do it? I do not know, and you do not know, either. Neuroscience has not demonstrated how the mind or brain produce thinking or dreams.
The world is our collective projections, all our thinking produced the day world. At night each of us sleeps, dreams, and sees the same day world but this time uses it to enact his personal goal accomplishment.
During the day, we collectively use the world to accomplish our mutual goals and at night when we sleep and dream, we use the same world to accomplish private, individualized goals; the day world is a shared dream, and the night dream is a solo, unshared dream.
The same process that produces our day world and our nightly dreams are involved in the production of psychotic hallucinations. The psychotic is dreaming in a solo manner when he has visual hallucinations; he uses that dream to gratify his unshared goals of grandeur, of creating the universe and is its lord, just as we use the day world’s dream to collectively create the universe and lord it and individually use our nightly dreams to create the universe and lord it.
Dreams are our means, as Sigmund Freud (1940) said, of gratifying our wishes (Helen Schucman said that we use dreams satisfy our desire to be God and create the universe, create each other and create what happens to us).
Beyond dreams, day, nightly and psychotic hallucinations is another world, a world that we cannot understand with our ego separated minds, a world of non-dualism where all things are consciously known to be joined (our world is also joined but we are not consciously aware of it). This is the world that mystics talk about. See Richard Maurice Bucke (1901). Cosmic Consciousness, and Evelyn Underhill (1909). Mysticism), and William James (1901), Varieties of Religious Experience.
REORIENTING ONE’S THINKING PATTERNS IS NEEDED TO HEAL MOST MENTAL DISORDERS
The most successful psychotherapy out there is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), formulated by Albert Ellis (1975) and refined by Aaron Beck (1990). It teaches folks to do what the Roman philosopher, Epictetus taught long ago.
Epictetus taught that it is not what is happening out there that makes one feel angry, sad, or fearful but how one interprets it. The same event can be interpreted differently and how one does so can make one feel anxious or sad, or angry. Therefore, one ought to interpret events in such a manner that they do not elicit noxious feelings in one.
However, the type of change in thinking pattern that heals mental disorders is metaphysical. The individual must initially change his self-concept and self-image and give them up and have no self-concept and self-image (Schucman, 1975).
The self-concept and self-image (George Kelly, 1955) were formed during the child’s formative years, usually, during the first six years of the child’s life on earth. It is a concept; concepts are not truths. It is the individual that posited his self-concept and self-image; he is not his self-concept and self-image. He can change both.
You can decide that you are not the desired grandiose self-concept that you had invented and stop seeking to become it. If you are not the desired big self, then who are you?
You have a real self but have not lived from that real self since you were a child; for many reasons you fled from your real self and invented a false, ideal self and are now trying to become it hence your various mental and emotional upsets.
Now, stop wishing for a false self-concept and keep quiet. You will attain inner silence if you are not trying to think or behave from a false, grandiose self-concept. Keep quiet. Do not think or speak or act from the standpoint of the false, big self, for it is not who you are.
Who you are you do not know? Who we are is more than our bodies and concepts! Human beings are part of a self and mind beyond what our separated ego self-concepts can understand.
We are part of life and life is unified; life can be called spirit, although it is nameless. For now, the salient point is to choose not to think or talk or behave from the desired false, ego self. Stay quiet rather than do anything from the false ego self, for it is the false separated self that one made that is the insane self; one’s real self, part of one unified life, unified spirit self is always sane.
All emotional and mental disorders can be healed if the individual can be taught to not think from his wished-for grandiose ego self, keep quiet, and try to figure out who his real self is.
In meditation folks often attain awareness of their real self. One is part of one joined life. There is only one life, oneself and one mind; it manifests in the infinite selves called human beings, animals and inanimate things but all of them are connected and share one mind and oneself. If one parks one’s mind in that unified mind one tends to be peaceful and happy.
The objective of Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism and Gnosticism is to teach the individual to stop thinking and behaving from a separated self and separated mind and, instead, to try to think and behave from a unified self.
Those who jettison the separated ego mind and attain unified mind are said to be enlightened to their real self and are now illuminated to their unified reality; they are characterized by peace and joy.
One is more likely to attain this state of union with all things if one is a loving and forgiving person. See Erich Fromm (1956), The Art of Loving.
FROM SEPARATED SELF-CONCEPT TO UNIFIED SELF-CONCEPT, TO NO SELF-CONCEPT
To be a human being is to have a separate self-concept. In fact, the entire universe was designed for each person to have a self-concept. The individual finds himself in a body and must live in space and time. From the moment he is born in body he feels the limitations imposed on him by his body. He is not able to do many things. He must learn to walk, run and even then, his body limits how fast he can walk and run. He must work to earn food for his body, have medications, clothes and shelter to survive. He is sentenced to slavery working to provide for his body. Eventually, that body that he is a slave to, ages, weakens and dies.
Some people are born in rickety bodies that cause them tremendous pain.
The human child creates a self-concept that says that he is the body he is born into, and he makes the most of it.
In some bodies the pain produced by it is enormous and the child rejects that body and seeks a different body, one that is less pained. He constructs a self-concept that is incongruent with his reality. He constructs a grandiose self-concept that is like a magical wand, and he believes that all he must do is wave it and it would banish all his earthly problems. Alas, in time he learns that that self-concept is a mere wished for self.
The self-concept is not real; it is a mere fantasy, an illusion of who one thinks that one is. Regardless of whether the self-concept, aka ego is normal, neurotic or psychotic, it is still unreal, it is a make belief self. Make belief or not, however, it is the self that people enslave themselves working to be and fighting to defend it. People live for, maybe, a hundred years defending their self-concepts (aka personality). Then they die and their self-concepts die with their bodies.
The self-concept disappears from existence with the body that it was formed to live in. We all know that upon our physical death our bodies that were composed of sixty-four elements (primarily carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, calcium, Sulphur, phosphor, iron, copper, zinc, sodium, chlorine etc. dies). The elements were held together with chemical bonds. The bonds break up and the elements separate into their kind. What is combined, molecules, separate.
Each of the elements is composed of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Neutrons and protons are composed of quarks which are composed of photons. Electrons are composed of light, which are also photons. Our bodies are composed of photons, light and when we die our bodies gradually return to photons of light.
Where our bodies used to be will be light, nothing really. Yet when we were living in flesh, we thought that we are the bodies that we see with our physical eyes. Bodies are nothing, they came from nothing and will die and return to nothing.
The ego separated self-concepts housed in bodies will die and return to nothing; what came from nothing (during the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago), returns to nothing, for nothing that comes from nothing lasts forever.
The entire universe of galaxies, stars, planets, comets, asteroids will, in trillions of years, decay and return to cold radiation, Big Chill, and eventually to the nothingness from where it came. Our egos and bodies are nothing.
It is difficult for the human being to accept the reality that his ego and body came from nothing, has temporary somethingness being and eventually dies and returns to nothingness.
WHO CONCEPTUALIZED THE EGO SEPARATED SELF CONCEPT?
Who is the conceptualizer? Who is the self that says, I am this separated self in this body living in space and time?
Ramana Maharshi (2010), a Hindu mystic, told his disciples to find out who the I, the real self is. He said that if they continue asking the question, who am I, who am I that they would eventually realize that they are not their bodies, not their separated ego selves and not the self that lives in matter, space and time. But who are they? He said, keep questioning until you get to know that you are nothing, which is the end of Jnana Yoga and then keep quiet.
Keeping quiet from the awareness that one does not know who one is, is called Raja Yoga, aka meditation. You sit quietly and try to get rid from your mind all conceptual understanding of who you and things are. You try to transcend conceptual understanding of phenomena because all concepts are approximations of the truth but are not the truth; all phenomena are nothing. So, one accepts that through one’s conscious ego mind, conscious thinking that one cannot and does not know who one is. One then keeps quiet.
THE WORLD OF LIGHT FORMS, THE ASTRAL WORLD IS STILL AN ILLUSION
When one keeps quiet that does not mean that one’s mind keeps quiet. One’s mind would keep dreaming. It will first dream that it finds itself in another world, one made of pure light, astral world, a world of light forms. In it we see everything we see on earth except that every person and thing are in light forms. That world of light forms seems real but in as much as it is in forms and has space, time and refined matter it cannot be real. It, too, is a dream, like our present world is a dream, although it can be called a purified dream, our world purified through negation of it. All forms are unreal.
One temporarily enjoys that purified dream (it is the world those who have had near death experience see) but also realize that it is not true. It is still a fictional world, as our world is a fictional world, although it can be called a better fiction, but fiction is fiction, unreality is unreality. The world of light forms is as insane as our present world although it is a pleasant insanity; if we see separated things, we are insane and are seeing nothing; reality is unified and transcends seeing, transcends perception; reality is unified, only the formless can unify.
So, who am I? If I am not the self in dense matter, not the self in light forms, who am I? I do not know. Ramana Maharshi says that if one keeps asking that question one day one will enter a world that is like what happens in our deep sleep when we have no dreams (we usually do not remember that dreamless sleep, for Hinduism says that it is Brahmaloca, the abode of Brahman, heaven where Atman and Brahman know themselves as not separated but as one and there is no more dreaming and need for words).
Maharshi says that after we discard our current world and the world of light forms that we enter a universe of formlessness, a place with no concepts, for concepts presume a separated world; he said that our egos cannot understand heaven and its unified spirit self; heaven transcends the categories of the world of space, time and matter and separated things and selves. We cannot transpose that world into our earthly language and speech because language and speech were designed to make us live in the world of separated selves and the world of multiplicity and opposites.
Heaven is a unified place where there is no separation, no seer and seen, no subjects and objects; there, all shelves share oneself. In heaven we are all parts of oneself, one God and know each other as us. If we are all one shared self what else is there to think about? In that nondual self, one experience eternity, immortality, permanence, and changelessness.
We are always in that unified self, and while in it we wished to go experience its opposite, the world of separation, the world of yin and yang, the world of good and bad, light and darkness; that wish placed us in our present universe.
THE UNIFEID NON-CONCEPTUAL, FORMLESS SELF AND WORLD, AKA HEAVEN
When we no longer wish a for separated existence, we extinguish the ego and its body and reawaken to the world of unified spirit, oneself. When this happens the prodigal son on a journey away from his self, his home and father has returned home (he was on a journey without distance, a journey to nowhere for wherever he went is in God, in him; God is in him and he is in God; heaven is in him, in you while there you dream that you are in hell, on earth).
Hinduism, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, Gnosticism say that that nonphysical unified spirit self is our true self and our true home; they say that we are aliens in the world of separated self.
Is this true or fantasy? I do not know; let us stop arguing and find out. We find out first by understanding the nothingness of the ego separated self and its world and then stop wishing for it and keep quiet and meditate and see if we can experience it.
If you can find out who your real self is then you will regain mental health, for mental health consist of having awareness of being part of one unified self that folks call God.
In unified spirit self we know perfect peace and joy, bliss and eternity.
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May 12, 2022
Dr Osuji will appreciate your feedback on this first draft of his paper on mental illness and mental health to enable him to better redraft it before publication. Thank you.