Falling above the mind
WHAT IS MADNESS?
There are two possibilities:
Madness literally means going out of the mind; hence the two possibilities. You can go out of the mind either below the mind or above the mind.
Ordinarily, people go below the mind because it needs no effort, you don't have to do anything. Any shock can shatter the stability of your mind: somebody you loved died, your business has gone bankrupt -- the shock is so much that you cannot keep your normality. You fall below the mind, your behavior becomes irrational.
But you go beyond the misery -- if you had remained in the normal mind the shock would have created immense misery. It is a natural way to avoid the shock. It simply pulls you down; now you don't know what has happened. Your business has gone bankrupt, your wife has died or your child has died -- it doesn't matter, in fact you don't even remember.
You have entered into a new phase, you have become a new person. But it is going to be irrational, abnormal, unpredictable. This is ordinarily called madness, insanity, all over the world.
Only in the East have we found that there is another kind of madness, too, that comes from deep meditation: going beyond the mind. Both are outside the mind; hence there is some similarity. So sometimes you will find that the madman once in a while behaves almost as a wise man. He has insights -- he has no control over them, they are just flashes, but sometimes he can see things which you cannot see.
In the East, where mind has been the sole center of all research down the centuries, we have discovered that you can go above the mind. Sufism accepts that state and calls it the state of a masta -- a divine madman. He is mad, but he is superhumanly mad. His behavior is irrational as far as our logic is concerned. But perhaps there is a higher logic, according to which his behavior is not irrational.
In India such a man is called paramhansa. Ramakrishna, in the last century, was one of the men who was called paramhansa. The behavior of a paramhansa is utterly mad, but intensely beautiful, and has a depth which even the greatest genius of the mind does not have.
It happened that in Ramakrishna's time... He lived just outside Calcutta, on the bank of the Ganges in a small temple. Now many temples have arisen, and in Calcutta... At that time Calcutta was the capital of India, not New Delhi, so the cream of intellectuals, creative people, was in Calcutta. And anyway, Bengalis are the most intelligent people in India, mostly intellectual.
Keshav Chandra Sen was a great genius as far as intellect is concerned, and he was a co- founder of a religion, brahmasamaj -- the society of the divine. He was known all over India. Ramakrishna was not known, except to a few people in Calcutta on the riverbank where he lived. He was uneducated, and people thought he was mad -- the people of the mind -- because his behavior was not explainable by mental concepts.
But slowly, slowly his influence was increasing, particularly in Calcutta -- which was very close; people could come to see him.
And Keshav Chandra Sen was worried that a villager, uneducated... And even professors of the universities were becoming devotees; they would touch his feet. And whatever he was saying was so ordinary. The man had nothing exceptional. One day finally he decided to go and argue with this man and finish this whole thing.
He went. Hundreds of people who knew Keshav Chandra and a few who knew Ramakrishna, they all gathered to see what would transpire. Ramakrishna's followers were very much afraid, knowing that Keshav Chandra could defeat anybody if it was a question of rationality. He had proved his mettle hundreds of times, all over India. He had defeated great scholars without much effort. Now, how was poor Ramakrishna going to stand up before him?
Everybody among the followers was nervous, but Ramakrishna was not. He was again and again asking, "Keshava has not come yet?" He would not use even his whole name:
Keshav Chandra Sen. He would say simply, "Keshava has not come yet?"
Finally Keshav Chandra arrived with his great following. Ramakrishna hugged him.
Keshav Chandra was not prepared for that. He had come to fight, and he made it clear to Ramakrishna, "These things won't help. I have come to discuss each and every point of your philosophy. Don't try to create a friendship. I have come as an enemy: either you defeat me and I will be your follower, or be ready to become my follower."
Ramakrishna said, "That we will be doing soon -- hugging has nothing to do with it! I have always loved you. Whenever I have heard about you and your ideas, that you say there is no God... and I know there is God, but still I enjoy and love you. In fact your great intelligence is proof that existence is intelligent; otherwise from where does intelligence come? You are a proof to me that God is -- but that we will discuss later on.
What is the hurry? And there is no need for any enmity. The discussion can be in deep friendship.
"And you know, I am a poor man. I don't know any logic. I have never discussed with anybody. It is going to be a very easy job for you, so you need not be so tense! I have prepared some sweet for you; first take the sweet. I have prepared it with much love. And then you can start your so-called discussion."
Keshav Chandra was finding it a little difficult. The man was strange; he offered him a sweet, he hugged him. He had already destroyed the animosity, the aggressiveness -- in a very subtle way, without saying a word. And strangest of all, he says that my presence -- that is, Keshav Chandra's presence -- is enough proof of God, there is no need of other proof. Without God how is such intelligence possible? The world would be dead. The world is intelligent, and God is nothing but the intelligence of existence.
After taking his sweet, Ramakrishna said, "Now you start your game!" And Keshav Chandra was arguing against whatever he had found in Ramakrishna's small books -- his followers collected his sayings and stories, anecdotes from his life. And Ramakrishna would enjoy it, and would say to his followers, "Look how beautifully he has criticized it!" And many times he would stand up and hug him and say, "You are a genius! Your criticism is perfect."
Keshav Chandra said, "I have not come here to get your approval; I have come to argue."
Ramakrishna said, "I don't see there is any question of argument. You are the proof. I don't need to give any other proof; I can take you to the whole world as a proof that God exists -- Keshav Chandra is the proof!"
Keshav Chandra had never come across such a man, and what he was saying had immense significance; it was penetrating Keshav Chandra's heart. And the presence of the man, and the way he behaved, his lovingness... Something happened to Keshav Chandra that his followers could not believe.
By the end of the discussion, Ramakrishna said, "You tell me who is defeated and who is victorious, and I will follow it. If you are victorious, I will become your follower. But I don't know the ways of discussion and I don't know the judgment. You judge; you are efficient enough to make the judgment. You can say to me, `You are defeated,' and I am defeated."
And Keshav Chandra's followers were shocked to see that Keshav Chandra fell at the feet of Ramakrishna. They could not believe their eyes! When they had gone, everybody was asking, "Keshav Chandra, what happened to you?"
He said, "I don't know. One thing is certain, that that man has experienced something about which I have been only talking. I can talk efficiently, but he has it; he radiates it. I have that much intelligence at least to see the aura of the man, to feel the radiance of his love, to see his simplicity, sincerity; to see his trust, that he says to me that, `You decide, and if I am defeated...' And he has not argued at all. How can you defeat a person who has not argued at all? On the contrary, he was appreciating my criticism and he was telling his disciples, `Listen, this is the way a thing should be criticized.'
"And as I was sitting by his side, slowly, slowly something melted in me -- the antagonism, the aggressiveness. And this is the first time this has happened with anybody. People think he is mad, but if he is mad, then I would like also to be mad. He is far superior to our so-called sanity."
It was very difficult to take Ramakrishna from one place to another place, because anywhere on the road, in the middle of the road... And Calcutta is a very overpopulated city, with more than ten million people in one city. And the traffic is the worst in the world. It is bound to be because thousands of people are walking; there are all kinds of vehicles -- cars, trams, buses. He would start dancing in the middle of the road because something reminded him of God. And anything could remind him of God... a beautiful child, and he would start dancing and singing. His followers would feel very embarrassed -- they had to protect him from all sides -- that in this traffic... And the police were bound to come, and that man was creating a traffic jam.
But outside India he would have been in a mad asylum because in the West madness is madness; there are no two categories. In India he became almost a divine being, a god, because people realized, slowly, slowly, that he looks irrational but there is something divine in his irrationality.
He had been doing things from his very childhood. His family was worried -- what is going to happen to this child? People suggested -- as it is customary in India and in other countries too -- that it will be good to marry him so he will forget all about God and all about meditation and will become engaged in worldly affairs. But they thought that he would refuse -- and that would have been the ordinary expectation. But he was a madman; he does not follow your expectations.
When his father asked, fearing that he is going to say no, Ramakrishna said with great joy, "Yes! But where is the girl?"
They said, "This boy is mad! This is not the right way. He is so ready... immediately!
And he is asking, `Where is the girl? To whom am I going to be married? Do it soon!'" Just in a nearby village, another village, he was taken on a particular day to see the girl.
And in India this is the way: the girl will come with some sweets to put on your plate, and that's the only moment you can see her -- just for a moment -- and decide.
When he was going to see his future wife, his mother had given him three rupees, just in case he needs them. When the girl came with the sweets, he looked at the girl, took out his three rupees and put them at her feet, touched her feet and said, "Mother, you are the right girl. I am going to marry you."
His father said, "You idiot, you don't understand that nobody calls his wife mother.
But everybody knew that he was a little eccentric -- first putting those three rupees at the feet of the girl... everybody was shocked. And then touching her feet and telling the girl then and there, "Mother, you are really beautiful. I am going to marry you -- it is settled."
But just by a very strange coincidence, the whole family of the girl wanted to deny this marriage because they said, "This boy is mad, and if he is starting this way what will happen in their married life nobody knows." But the girl insisted that if she will marry anybody, she will marry this man.
He was a beautiful man. So the family had to decide for the marriage. The marriage happened; they lived together their whole life. Ramakrishna continued to call her mother.
There was never any husband-wife relationship between them. On the contrary... In Bengal they worship the mother goddess, Kali. So in those days when they worship the mother goddess all over Bengal -- and in other places also, wherever Bengalis are in India... they are the only people in India left who still conceive of God as a mother.
In those days, every year he would put Sharda, his wife, naked on a throne and worship her -- just as naked as the statue of the mother goddess is in the temples. He would not go to the temple; he would say, "When I have a living mother with me, why should I go and worship a stone statue?"
Anybody will say this is madness, sheer madness. But in so many ways his madness cannot be categorized with that of other mad people. His madness is beyond mind, not below mind. Each of his statements is of tremendous importance, simple but full of meaning. Just like a villager, he tells small stories. But those stories are so beautiful that you can get out of them much more meaning than out of a whole scripture. And his life...
if you watch carefully, you will find that he is not an ordinary man; he is superhuman.
One day Ramakrishna and his followers are passing the Ganges in a boat and suddenly in the middle he starts crying, "Don't beat me! I have not done anything wrong. Why are you beating me?" And tears started flowing.
And his people said, "Nobody is beating you -- what are you doing?" Even his own followers once in a while suspected that he was insane, because they were only followers.
Nobody was beating him, and he was crying. And they could see from his face that he was being whipped very badly.
And he said, "You don't believe me? Just look at my back." They removed his clothes and they could not believe it: there were so many lines, blood oozing; he had been whipped badly. They could not believe... what to make of it? This man is mad and he is making his followers mad.
But when they reached the other shore, they found a man who had been beaten, and there was a crowd. And they looked at his back and they were surprised: the marks of the beating were exactly the same on both Ramakrishna's and this man's back. Such oneness of feeling, that when somebody else is being beaten -- innocently, he has not done anything -- Ramakrishna becomes part of that person, they become one.
This is not madness, this is a tremendous experience, a man of Himalayan heights... And although he was not a preacher, not a scholar, in everything that he says you can find the insight of the greatest men who have walked on the earth. Of course his way is that of a villager....
One man came to Ramakrishna and said, "I am going to Varanasi to take a dip in the Ganges to get rid of my sins" -- that's Hindus' belief.
Ramakrishna said, "Very good idea, you can go. But do you know that on the bank of the Ganges there are big, huge trees?"
The man said, "Yes, I know."
He said, "When you take a dip in the Ganges your sins will leave you, but they will sit on the trees. And how long can you remain under the water? You will have to come out, you will have to come home. And when you are dressed and ready to go home, those sins jump back on you. So it is futile, but it is up to you."
He will not say that this is stupid -- that the Ganges cannot take your sins away. But he says it in his own way, without hurting the man's feelings. And he has said it in a beautiful way: "You can go. The Ganges will do its work, it will purify you -- but how long you will remain in the Ganges? Sooner or later you will have to come out. And what do you think? Those trees are standing there, they are the resting places for the sins.
"And sometimes it happens that even other people' sins jump upon you. Seeing a better man, they change. So I will not suggest it. Find some other way. This is dangerous -- so many people are taking a bath in the Ganges, and all their sins are on the trees; they get mixed up. And then it is up to them to choose. It is better to have your own sins. At least you are acquainted with them. You may come back with some new sins, more dangerous.
"But I will not prevent you; I never prevent anybody. You can go and try, but I have told you the whole story. Nobody talks about the trees because the priests who are sitting on the banks of the Ganges, their whole business will flop if people come to know about the trees and the real secret. And sins, nobody can see, they are invisible; so they sit on the trees and wait."
This man, in India, became paramhansa. Paramhansa means literally "the greatest swan"... because in Indian mythology it is thought that the swan eats only pearls; that is his food. And the swan is the only bird in existence that if you put before him milk mixed with water he will drink the milk and leave the water behind. He has the capacity to discriminate between water and milk.
Paramhansa means "the greatest swan" who has become capable of discriminating between darkness and light, between right and wrong. It is not an effort on his part; it has become simply his nature. But his behavior may look mad.
This is my feeling, that there are many madmen in India who are really mad, who have not gone beyond mind -- I have seen a few -- but they are worshipped as paramhansas.
Their irrational acts are interpreted by great scholars in such a way that they start having meaning. I have watched these people and they are really mad, they are not paramhansas.
Perhaps the case may be similar in the West; there may be a few paramhansas who are living in mad asylums, because you don't have any other category. Once a man starts behaving in a bizarre, berserk manner, he is mad. So on both sides there is confusion. But I think, still, the Eastern confusion is better. There is no harm in worshipping a madman; you are not doing any harm. But to put a paramhansa into a madhouse and force him through medicines and injections and treatment to come back into the mind is real harm.
Western psychology has still no category for the second one, which it needs. But that category will arise only when it accepts supermind. Before Sigmund Freud it had not even accepted the unconscious mind -- only the conscious mind. For thousands of years in the West there was no idea of the unconscious mind.
With Sigmund Freud, the unconscious mind became established. With Jung, the collective unconscious mind became established. Now somebody is needed to establish the cosmic unconscious mind. A tremendous field is available for any genius to establish it. Because in the Eastern psychology all these three are accepted, have been accepted for thousands of years.
And this is below the conscious mind. Above the conscious mind are also three: the superconscious, the collective superconscious, and the cosmic superconscious. On those, no work has been even started. The second category of madmen that I am talking about is somewhere in these three categories; certainly in the superconscious but perhaps if it grows deeper, it may become collective superconscious. And in a man like Ramakrishna it is cosmic superconscious.
When he was dying he had a cancer of the throat, and it became impossible for him to eat anything or drink anything. And his followers were telling him again and again, "You just close your eyes and tell the existence -- it will listen to you." He would close his eyes, but would forget all about it. After a while, when he would open his eyes... the disciples were waiting; they would say, "What happened?"
He said, "Nothing, because when I close my eyes everything becomes silent. What are you expecting to happen?"
They said, "We had asked you to ask existence...." Finally they forced his wife, Sharda:
"Perhaps only you can persuade him."
Unwillingly, reluctantly, she asked him. With tears in her eyes she said, "I don't want to tell you to do anything because that is interfering, and my whole life I have never said a single word to interfere. You are far above; my hands cannot reach. But because these people are so deeply in anguish, I have agreed to say to you, just once: Close your eyes and ask existence, `What are you doing to me? Remove this cancer from my throat.'" He said, "Because you have never asked anything -- every wife is asking everything, any day, every day; for your whole life you have never asked anything -- and this is maybe my last day, or last days, I will fulfill it."
He closed his eyes, opened his eyes and said, "Sharda, I asked. And I heard a voice saying to me, `Ramakrishna, can't you drink with other people's throats? Can't you eat with other people's throats? Do you necessarily need your own? Are you still attached to your own body?'
"And I said, `No' -- I had to say the truth. So the voice said, `From now onwards, you eat with everybody's throat, drink with everybody's throat.'" This is the stage of cosmic consciousness. This man may look mad, may behave in some ways which do not fit with our mind... and psychology has to find a place for this man, separate from the madman we know.
So there is a possibility of becoming mad below the mind, and with that too you can be on three levels. You can be mad, just unconscious; you can be mad collectively unconscious. And each step down you will become more and more mad. You can be mad at the level of the cosmic unconscious mind; that is the worst that can happen to a man.
He will live just like a stone, a rock. He has lost all touch... he is so far away, miles away from consciousness.
Psychology has tried to pull these people back to the mind -- not very successfully, but still, if the person has only fallen one step, it can pull him back. From the second step it becomes more difficult; and from the third step I don't think psychology has yet been able to find any way to pull the person back.
It is very difficult to pull the person down from superconsciousness, but it is possible.
And psychology is doing it -- at least in the West -- with a few people who may not be mad in the ordinary sense.
For example, Vincent Van Gogh was kept for one year in a madhouse; and I don't think he was mad, he was painting things the way we don't know things are. During that one year in the madhouse he had painted his best paintings. And that is proof that he was perhaps in a higher state than the ordinary mind.
Perhaps he had reached the superconscious. In that one year he painted one painting in which the stars are spirals. And everybody laughed, "This is absolutely mad! Who has seen stars as spirals?" And just recently, a few days ago, physics has come to the same conclusion, that stars are spirals. It is because of the distance that we cannot see it. A hundred years after Van Gogh...
Perhaps that man, when we thought that he was mad, was on a higher level of consciousness and was capable of seeing one century ahead of science, with no instruments, with nothing; just with his pure consciousness -- a visualization that stars are spirals.
There are other paintings in which he has painted strange things. Perhaps by and by we may come to know that they are not strange, they are exactly as he has painted them. In his whole life... After this one year he didn't live long, but he painted one painting in which trees are going higher than the stars. The stars are just on the way, and trees have passed them and are going higher. Even the painter's friends laughed, that "You are now making a fool of yourself! Trees going above the stars?"
Van Gogh said, "I don't know, but whenever I sit by the side of a tree I feel the ambition of the tree: it is the ambition of the earth to go beyond the stars. I don't know whether those trees are lying to me or I am deceived, but this happens every time I sit by the side of a tree. And I suddenly feel the tree is saying to me, `I am the aspiration of the earth to go beyond the stars.'" Perhaps man going to the moon, man going to Mars, man going to the stars, is also part of the same ambition, that the earth wants to go as far as possible, to enquire, to investigate.
Now, Van Gogh looks mad, but what he is saying is not absolutely senseless; it has a certain credibility about it. If in man there is a desire to reach to the stars, then in the trees also there must be a desire to reach beyond the stars, because we are all part of one life.
Trees are a different expression, we are a different expression, but the life is the same.
You ask me, "What is madness?" Madness can be defined as either falling below the mind or falling above the mind. Falling below the mind is sickness; falling above the mind is health, wholeness.
FOR THE PAST SEVEN YEARS I HAVE HEARD YOU SPEAKING ABOUT TRUTH. BUT THIS IS STILL AN EMPTY WORD FOR ME. OFTEN YOU SAY THAT ONE KNOWS TRUTH WHEN ONE IS SILENT INSIDE. I KNOW THIS DELICIOUS FEELING THAT TAKES ME OVER WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES AND BECOME QUIET INSIDE, BUT WHAT IS TRUTH TO DO WITH THAT?
That is the truth.
Truth is not an object that you will find somewhere when you are silent. Truth is your subjectivity.
Just try to understand. You are there, and the whole world is there. Whatever you see is an object, but who is seeing it is the subject.
In silence all objects disappear -- and the word `object, has to be remembered; it is the same word as `objection.' `Object' means that which prevents you.
So all preventions, all objects, all objections, disappear; you have the whole infinity, and just silence. It is full of consciousness, it is full of presence, of your being. But you will not find anything as the truth -- that will become an object. And truth is never an object.
Truth is subjectivity.
To discover your subjectivity -- unhindered, unobjected to by anything, in its total infinity and eternalness -- is the truth.
"The truth" is only a way of speaking; there is not something labeled "Truth," that one day you will find and open the box and see the contents and say, "Great! I have found the truth." There is no such box.
Your existence is the truth, and when you are silent you are in truth. And if the silence is absolute then you are the ultimate truth. But don't think of the truth as an object -- it is not an object.
It is not there, it is here.
SINCE BEING WITH YOU SO MUCH GROWTH AND MATURITY HAS HAPPENED IN ME -- I HAVE CHANGED IN EVERY ASPECT. AT THE SAME TIME, WHEN I LOOK INTO MYSELF, I FEEL THE SAME AS I DID WHEN I WAS A LITTLE CHILD.
IS THIS MY WITNESS, OR SOMETHING ELSE?
It is your witness.
Just remember one thing, that the feeling of being a child can be experienced in two ways. You can be a witness and the experience of childhood can be an object. Then one more step is needed: You have to become the purity, the innocence of the child... not separate -- you are it.
It will come. This is how it comes: first it comes as an object; you are still separate and watching it. This is beautiful and a great experience -- that all rubbish is thrown out and you are feeling a very pure, innocent state -- but you are still separate from it. Just go on witnessing it, and soon even the childhood will disappear, and there will be only the witness, the subjectivity. There will be only the mirror without mirroring anything. Then you have arrived home.
You can mirror beautiful things, and it is good, but when the mirror is absolutely empty...
One of the Buddhist scriptures has the name "The Empty Mirror." That exactly describes the ultimate state of consciousness, when you simply are and there is nothing -- not even childhood, not even silence, not even peace, not even blissfulness... nothing that you can observe it.
This ocean of nothingness surrounding you is nirvana.
There is nothing more to explore.
There is nothing more to find.
But as it is going it is good: you are changing, and even to feel one's childhood is a great experience. But greater experiences are ahead. Don't stop, just continue till only you are left, alone, without a second.