So a friend sent me this article. I think it’s an important read for anyone going about on a “Spiritual Quest”:
I began embarking upon my spiritual journey about ten years ago, and experienced “India Syndrome” as well, along with my ex-wife Nhien. We were both thrown into what the article describes as a “Qi Gong Psychotic Reaction” or “Kundalini Syndrome”. It’s a pretty hardcore psychotic break, but something that has to be endured if you’re going to move past neuroses and other painful memories that many don’t realize limit your current psychological condition. The neural “re-arranging” that these “syndromes” initiate is part of an extensive mental, emotional, and spiritual housecleaning process, and yes, it sucks. But so does war, crime, greed, rape, child abuse, and host of other Western conditions that destabilize a fragile mind in the first place. No wonder things get messy.
If there’s one thing I learned, especially after going through stage III testicular and lung cancer, is this: in this thing called life, nobody gets out alive. Everyone dies. But at least when you engage in meditation, or these so-called spiritual journeys, despite their risks, you can break through a lot of limitations and pain blocks. If you’re really lucky, you might learn that death isn’t an eternal condition. Unfortunately, if you’re not willing to “surrender” to the process as the gurus say, it could all end miserably. I almost went crazy myself several times. In fact, I did go crazy. But those are the stakes. Life ain’t easy, especially those with traumatic pasts. But if you can endure the “initiation” as these psychotic conditions often are, you can grow stronger and see life for what it really is. It is a rare sight for many. I wouldn’t want to go through what is often called the “long dark night of the soul” again though. It was horrible. Truly. I really sympathize with the unfortunate seekers the article mentions who did not succeed in their spiritual journeys (or perhaps they did)?
The only thing more horrible though is the sheer lack of understanding our Western society has of the “psyche” in the first place; dispensing anti-depressants for conditions that require much more direct confrontation. It’s our prejudices in the first place that pre-dispose us to not “allowing” psychotic breaks to be what they are; healthy re-arrangement. Don’t get me wrong, they can end in complete insanity. But it’s better to be realistic about it, thorough about it, and not ignorant of its true nature. Sanity doesn’t care what you think about it. Like Jack Nicholson said: “You can’t handle the truth”. And that’s precisely the problem. An anti-depressant pill isn’t going to magically erase a rape. It can help, it can manage the symptoms, but it can’t erase. That requires a purging of the soul. And how pleasant is any purging really going to be? Think about it. Your mind doesn’t want you to remember, but your soul needs the healing. It ain’t going to be a walk in the park.
The biggest problem is people think spirituality is about blessings, angels, love, and light. Well yeah, it is. There are amazing moments of clarity and redemption to be had for sure. But often before you’ll see any angels, you’ve got to go through hell first and clear out all those demons first. Demons being any mental or emotional aberration that isn’t part of your true self. Most people carry TONS of stuff that when directly perceived presents itself for what it truly is. You can’t stuff emotions, especially painful ones, in a dark corner of your mind and expect them to shake hands with your rational mind the day it asks them politely to leave. What do you think those demons are going to do when they find you in there trying to clear them out? They don’t want to leave, and it brings upon a lot of terrible psychosis and mental breaks. That’s what happens when you houseclean the mind. It gets messy. What can you do? Either don’t begin the journey or complete the journey. Those are your only two options.
A Tibetan Guru once asked a bunch of wannabe new agers how many had a regular meditation practice. After a show of hands he made a startling recommendation; if they hadn’t yet started, DON’T! If they did, FINISH.
I think this says a lot about the stakes. Instead of worrying about psychosis, insanity, jumping off buildings, etc…people should instead realize that the journey of life is a journey of the mind. What’s in it is what dictates your life path more than any external event. In order to understand ourselves, we have to understand our minds. And our minds are much more than we think they are. But it can be at times a dangerous labyrinth. But you must find your way through. I think it would help if we de-stigmatized mental illness and found a more holistic pathway through these so called “neurological breaks”. They can lead to some profound healing once successfully navigated. Few people are prepared for such a journey. Our society surely isn’t. We in the West are really quite pathetic in some ways. We hope some magic mushrooms or trip to the Amazon for a week and drinking Ayahuasca with the natives will lead to some great, profound spiritual realization. It might, but they also might go completely insane as the article suggests. Until people in the West learn to let go of what they think spiritual quests should be and accept them for what they are; journeys into the unknown that don’t care what preconceived notions you’ve brought with you, expect to hear more of this. And for god-sakes, don’t take a Kundalini Yoga class and be surprised if you start speaking in tongues and perform spontaneous Kriyas that will surely upstage your instructor. One one hand, that means the classes are working. On the other hand, it means the classes are working. Look out!
You can pull more than a hammie doing Yoga…be careful!
It can be a long dangerous road as well as a road that leads to everything we ever dreamed of, as every myth and fairy tell (all of which are analogies on surviving the unconscious mind) has ever told us. It is well worth traveling despite the risks if we ever hope to be free. Truly free.