In order to start exploring the different causes of psychosis we first need a working definition. What I refer to as spiritual-psychosis is a form of psychosis that is precipitated by some sort of spiritual cause, catalyst, trigger or experience that then becomes a form of spiritual emergency. Whereas psychosis in the traditional sense has its origins in the realm of more widely recognised realms of false-delusional thoughts and thinking and/or strong emotional energies and reactionary responses to these aforementioned points. Over the next few weeks, I hope to explore and address various causes of spiritual-psychosis and what can be done to help people in this subjectively experienced inner state.
Psychosis due to complete mental ego self-identification
Eckhart Tolle brought to the forefront of the spiritual community that an individual that is absolutely and totally completely self-identified as thoughts will essentially tend to do and act out whatever appears in the mind. He refers to this state of being as “spiritual unconsciousness” not to be confused with the blacked out state as a result of complete loss of consciousness. We often enter into this lowered state all the time simply when moving or travelling from one location to another, it frequently happens when walking from one end of the house to the other or driving from the office back home and is very evident when we are tired and suffering from loss of alertness.
During these transitory in-between stages our attention is almost entirely pulled introspectively into the mind and we become most pre-occupied by thoughts of either where we are going and what we are about to do in the pending future, or we instead become pre-occupied with something from our past that is ruminating such as a recent or even past dispute, grievance or perceived wrong-doing. In this unaware state of unaware consciousness, we often have an imaginary dialogue with individual’s based on what we might have preferred to say in the heat of the moment in order to satisfy the needs of the ego-self to feel secure. However whilst this imaginary mental-dialogue is occurring we’re usually completely missing the present moment. Our physical eyes still look at the world around us, but are we really seeing? Often, the case is no. Our attention is what we truly see and perceive and so we often fail to stop and appreciate everything around us and we live our lives being dragged around from one point to another by a fictional mental entity that perceives itself to be more real than the conscious witnessing spirit within us. It often takes something quite unexpected to snap us out of this trance like and very hypnotic state. However also during peak experiences like a music festival or concert, the mind goes silent in awe, our alertness expands and we allow ourselves to truly appreciate the experience we’re having.
So how does the work of Eckhart Tolle as I have paraphrased above relate to psychosis? A person who is in control of his or her thoughts and mentally grounded and stable is thus largely unaffected, however, a person whose thoughts have begun to spiral downward or roll out of control can quickly lead to psychosis primarily because they are so fundamentally self-identified as thoughts rather than the witness. From the inner witness, one can perceive thought without responding with actions or behaviour that causes one to go out of control and lose touch with reality.
After completing the exercises in his book Power of Now I discovered that it is actually possible to live without using your vocalised chattering mind and operate directly from the witnessing consciousness. The overwhelming majority of our ordinary day to day activities can be done purely from our individual consciousness, and the various areas of the brain responsible for physical bodily and mechanical coordination still automatically perform practical functions without any sort of input from the sub-vocalised mind to guide us. This state of consciousness is often referred to as a state of “no mind”, or “no thought” as Eckhart refers to it. One can theorise that the very early versions of mankind without linear language lived primarily from this state of consciousness, which is one of inner being and pure awareness rather than vocalised thought in the form of either compulsive running commentary or monologues.
When an individual primarily operates from their state of consciousness and inner being or spirit then it does not actually matter all that much what the mind is doing or thinking at any given moment. In the process of dis-identifying, one’s true self from thought, you must initially learn to ignore the thoughts and reduce the level of addictive and compulsive uncontrolled thinking to a bare minimum through meditation. Once this state has been achieved and the person has become grounded in their new state of awareness it is possible for the mind to be going through all the motions of a psychosis whilst the witness consciousness or spirit simply observes the unfolding mental confusion and commotion that is occurring within the mind but you continue largely unaffected. Eventually, the delusional story will run its course and the mind will resettle itself after a period of sleep, rest or meditation but even during that period of time you will probably still have the ability to carry on with your normal day to day activities. It takes a while to achieve this level of heightened self-awareness and higher consciousness, but when one does the risk of future psychosis due to complete mind self-identification becomes extremely unlikely.
However, there are other types of psychosis that one would still be vulnerable to. We need to address that even spiritually precipitated psychosis have multiple causes and the chance of every human being who is potentially at risk of going through a psychosis becoming self-realised consciousness or totally free from the grasp of the mind is unlikely to occur for everybody in their present lifetime.
When a person who is living from an ordinary and quite low state of consciousness enters into a psychosis, they are quite literally at the mercy of their own thoughts and they are likely to respond to each thought as if it were real and as if it required an approp[riate response. This may, for example, include any newly perceived threats that they may encounter whilst their state of emotional energy is heightened and their thoughts operating from a state of paranoia.
Some individuals may become quite scared, fearful and respond as if they were under threat, which can progress into a manic episode. Some people can be scared, confused and actually quite vulnerable yet willing to co-operate and work with whoever is around them in order to help themselves. How an individual may respond to psychosis conditions is very much down to both the personality of the individual, their upbringing including values, conditioning and belief systems as well as many other environmental factors too numerous to list. There are a lot of different factors and variables in play both before and during a psychosis that makes predicting or unravelling ever nuance of the psychosis as extremely difficult. Most psychiatrists simply don’t even attempt to understand the processes at play and instead focus on resetting the person’s mental state through psychiatric intervention with a wide variety of sedative drugs, tranquillizers and restraining devices if necessary.
What the western model of psychosis does not presently do is make any form of distinction between an already traditionally recognised delusional psychosis with no spiritual triggers and a spiritual psychosis that is brought about through a very specific spiritual trigger or catalysing event. Western doctors need to start acknowledging the need for recognising a unique and distinct sub-set of psychosis symptoms in the form of spiritual-psychosis or a spiritually precipitated psychosis that many people are now suffering from more than prior times in our history.
People undergoing spiritual awakening also need to understand that their psychosis, even if it has a spiritual trigger, that they still go through and experience many of the same sorts of ungrounding from reality and mental confusion that still takes place in an ordinary psychosis, albeit that it manifests in different ways that are yet to seriously be studied in professionally funded research.
A person in a state of spiritual-psychosis is just as at risk of being perceived by friends, family or the general public as acting out of character or strangely due to the available spiritual concepts and unfolding ideas and inner realisations which are at play. I’ve also observed that many spiritual-psychosis sufferers are also often quite against the label of “psychosis” due to the stigma that often comes attached to with the perceptions of mental illness, this is also personally what I did at first in order to deny a manic-episode and psychosis that was very embarrassing. I later realised that totally rejecting the label (not the stigma) is actually a form of spiritual-bypassing and I learned to appreciate the value it has in helping both medical diagnosis and peer discussion occur. The medical community, whether it is traditional medicine, alternative medicine or spiritual healing actually requires the shared understanding from the label in order that dialogue can then take place around this psychospiritual health problem in order to help diagnose and treat individuals that have or are currently experiencing a short-term or persistent cases and prolonged episodes of psychosis.
In the next article on Psychosis, I am hoping to discuss the phenomena of ego-contamination and spiritual entity possession.