PRACTICAL WISDOM
By James Westly

A Certain Madness
By James Westly


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The pursuit of Enlightenment involves departure from the known, the secure, the predictable, to embark upon a multi-dimensional journey into the unknown, that must, of necessity, include a passage through madness as a necessary part of the process.

Consider, that the journey involves acquiring new beliefs, new ways of being in the world. We study new ideas, find them attractive, begin living according to new sets of values that our head and heart find appealing. But this is not the whole story.

Prior to finding this new interest, right from the beginning, we were instilled with a strong set of rules and values concerning how we are to live, to survive. These values, these standards were established during our formative years, and were acquired not so much through verbal transmission as through modeling and imitation. We were taught the skills of survival, not spiritual evolution. These skills were deeply ingrained within us. They became the unconscious foundation for our ability to be in the world of survival, and were totally appropriate for this stage of our development.

Then we matured. We became successful enough at survival to be able to have enough time and energy available to be interested in spiritual pursuits. Now we are learning new values that hold the promise of connecting us to a whole new aspect of existence, a realm beyond survival consciousness, which we're eager to leave behind. Now the question is, how do these new values interface with our survival training?

What we inevitably find is, at least the potential for, internal conflict. How does, for instance, the imperative to "live in the moment, be spontaneous!" relate to the survival instructions to "be careful", "don't take risks", "consider everything carefully"? How does the idea that we "create our own reality", "we're responsible for our lives", co-exist with our survival tendencies to blame something or someone else when trouble arises, or the sometimes comforting notion that our circumstances are due to the influence of some event, or condition, or person, over which we had or have no power or control. How do we reconcile total responsibility with on-going victim think. How do we relate to "Be here, Be now", when we hate our job, have to live with freeway gridlock, and are afraid of what people will think?

When examined from this perspective, we begin to see that psychic discomfort and unrest is an inevitable, necessary, aspect of the spiritual path. Leaving behind the illusion of material security, living on edge and learning to trust, opening up to internal guidance that prompts you to take an action without offering a reason, all exist in direct conflict with our biological survival programming. Thus head and heart may find themselves at war with basic instinct.

Fine, you may say, I get it! Now, how do I get rid of it? The answer is, you don't. Even if you wanted to bail out, you can't. You already know too much. The place of comfort you left no longer exists. First, we must embrace the notion that madness is part of the process. Then, we need to explore, and bring to awareness, the programming in our biology that is at issue. It is specific to each individual. Generally the madness arises as a result of conflicts existing out of awareness. The struggle we experience out of all this provides the necessary motivation for bringing our consciousness into present moment. It becomes, at times, the only sane place for us To Be.

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