Seeing the Full Elephant- Spirit, Science, Religion and Psychosis  

I am writing this piece in a general way so that even if you do not understand any of the disciplines that I am borrowing ideas from, you would be able to understand what I am talking about. This is my offering to you on these different, seemingly divergent issues- which flummox people on many sides of life (parents, doctors, social scientists, patients, religious followers, lay public, and scores of others), for they are not able to see beyond their disciplinary/experiential boundaries. To comprehend better, what I am about to share, kindly suspend any judgment about who I am or how qualified to write this. Just enjoy the writing, for whatever it is trying to share. (Since I will take several hours in writing it, with a view to shed more light on unconnected areas, I urge you to spend at least a few minutes, reading with some patience). I am annotating this writing with scores of resources, for you to refer- for I am not just writing from self experience, but self experience fortified by ideas and wisdom gleaned from the work of scores of people across the globe. This is not to suggest that I am the wise one here, but in bringing these ideas to you, I hope we will all grow from the possibilities that they open out for dialogues.

Birth Onward

I am going to start with the birth of a child. Recall that the process of birth itself is a dangerous, potentially perilous and fearsome journey, because a living entity from a primitive, borne in water form (just like the start of life on the planet earth, in water) comes into an aerial medium, through a birth canal- it can die in that process, the mother can die, the reasons for threat are many. The birth is a big triumph for so many and for the birthing mother is considered a second life. It is a big trauma- though not for all. So the state of trauma can come early- let us remember that. We know of many women who during the birth process have near death experiences, show signs of PTSD, as well. The same signs will come later in life when suddenly exposed to other traumas- rape, victimization of any sort, violence of a man made nature, natural calamity that threatens life, war, drowning, and etc etc.

Any child soon after being born is a creature of pure instinct- there is no reason,  judgment, or boundary. When there is an instinct for hunger it may cry, when it wants to ease its bowel or bladder, it does not wait for the appropriate location- it just follows its instinct and wants to ease that pressure. So that is the state when the ego, is in a primitive, undifferentiated stage- it does not recognize anyone, anything and so forth. In this state, since it has emerged from an amniotic environment, it can only connect with its mother, in a parasitic (helpless) dependence. Recall here the idea of id-ego-superego, given by Freud.

The next stage is the development of the ego stage- it starts differentiating between it’s self and another, family and outsiders and so forth. If you recall psychology is the discipline that wants to start seeing from an early stage how the mind learns, trains and starts getting ready for a role in society, someday in the future. Most development of the ego remains just that- attachment, connection, identification with self. So if you recall, people who are called egoistic are those who think that they matter the most or what they have to say matters the most, their own knowledge, or sense of self is very heightened. So anyhow the field of psychology is all about studying the path of this development and where it goes off its set path. What is the set path of anyone? If you recall the work of Freud, for him the stages of development of every human are so significant that he reduces everyone to their libidinal instincts only and psychoanalysis comes to center around the early years of a person’s life- and trying to identify the present, using the yardsticks of the past. There is something right about this and something wrong.

Just like they say a mighty oak hides inside a little acorn– the potential of each human lies inside it’s body- but nobody can see where it hides- it has to go through its own maturation, its unique experiences and become a special person, different from everyone, different from the ones who created it. This potential is different for everyone- just like any species. From the birth if someone follows a path of becoming who they are destined to, which is given as potential, this path is called the path of individuation (Jungian terminology). But often it is not easy to follow the path, in a linear manner. Everyone faces hardships of one or another kind, the path is not exactly laid down like a blueprint- it changes in response to external stimuli all the time. On the path many hurdles lie for everyone, and sometimes the hurdles can be extremely painful too, like loss of a mother, accident and loss of a limb, sudden disabling condition, war, calamity, physical violence, abusive family or anything else- the possibilities are innumerable. That changes the path of individuation and a person like a plant has to undergo many a season, many a mishap if it has to survive till an older situation. When these mishaps and traumas do not get addressed at the time when they occur people do not get over their impact, or they may be unable to express them, for they do not understand what happened. For instance take the case of a child who faces an abusive/incestuous adult at home. All these sufferings, these lack of expressions come to lie hidden in a person thereafter, and keep getting added to other suffering, which life necessarily brings.

C.G. Jung and Analytical Psychology

According to Jung, a person’s potential is not a sexual template but a spiritual one- and he tells us that the whole of human history lies coded in every person- called the collective unconscious, with which we have no regular communication, except through dreams and symbols. Those symbols are not such convenient ones like the logo of Coke/Pepsi. They lie hidden mid folds of stories that are handed down in every culture- through its mythology, fables and fairy tales. He also shares that the reason why mythology acquires any significance via gods and goddesses is not because they were real beings, but they were chosen to carry forward the messages that a culture wanted to transmit, about itself for generations ahead, through simple stories. They are patterns of behavior, which are chosen to be identified as desirable or noteworthy and made an example of.  So the power of a story in mythology does not lie in the story itself, but in its interpretation.[1] Joseph Campbell did some remarkable work in the area of mythology by studying the mythology of scores of peoples across the world and then he wrote many a book, for me personally a great book- The Hero with a Thousand Faces (life changing book as I see it). The essence of the book was that he brought together any number of stories from around the world to harbor on the fact that the HERO is not one person (only)- he can have a million forms, faces and voices. But ultimately every ‘hero’ (that potentially lies in every human as his/her unique potential) has to go through a big circle of suffering, losing his way, whiling his time, getting a reminder of who he is and then making the labourious journey of finding a way back into the world, with the learning gathered, and if possible, offer that to others. This pattern in every story of a mythic dimension is what Campbell calls the monomyth. It runs through any mythic story,(or any human’s story) from anywhere in the world.

If, at this juncture, you may be reminded of the story of Siddhartha, who is born a prince- goes on a difficult path because his allure for life has been jolted. He sees the possibility of death, suffering, old age and whatever else it was, to realize that everyone will go that way. If you have read the road he takes, he followed no footprints- his is a search, often a perilous one, for he can even die in the process. But he does not- he survives, become the Buddha, and returns back to civilization- to offer that method to others.

The Underworld

That is the method which all those, who makes a descent into what Jung calls the ‘underworld’ (not the one of gangsters/mafia, but one’s own unconscious mind) have to take by default. Those who have long years of depressions, who have nightmares of gigantic proportions, who see great suffering for one reason or another-  descend into a land which inspires fear, where nobody would want to go out of choice. Descent into this underworld may be a one way road for most, because they do not know how to integrate the experiences of that world with the day-to-day reality of living. Their entry into the underworld may be a result of a suicide attempt, a rape, a war, a family violence, a poor exam performance, a divorce or anything else. They become lost, fearful, worried, confused, anxious and bothered. Seemingly simple things like accidents, family violence, bullying at school, dominating adults in the family , untimely  loss of a parent, or anything else that makes a child insecure can much later in life manifest in a sudden descent of the spirit.

I am now going to bring this descent of the spirit, into a contrast with its ascent, due to sudden equally unexpected situations, in a format possibly unfamiliar to many- the serpent power in the subtle body.

The Game of Consciousness- from self to the transpersonal realm

Let me make this transition via the theme of the collective unconscious lying dormant inside every person. In the yoga tradition there is a similar thing- called the kundalini– lying dormant inside everyone. The important thing is that traditions of antiquity have methods to evoke experiences of kundalini (and kundalini -like experiences, including among the natives, the medicine men/shamans and among those who are not averse to a little intoxication via natural opiates. Also recall in this context the issue of drug induced psychosis) and they are meant to be done under the watchful guidance of those who know. But are such knowing guides really so accessible? I have seen many ‘spiritual masters’ who talk about Shaktipat, or about kundalini yoga and whatnot quite laughable, rest assured. Anyways this is not to lampoon anyone. The idea that I am coming to is that there is something called- kundalini, [2]the serpent power, said to lie dormant in every person, at the base of their spine in a form of a coiled serpent (I am not going to give an explanation but hints about many things- read more if you want to). I am not going to get into the debate about whether there is something like kundalini or not, because it does not matter to me. I really do not care about kundalini, as much as I do not care about the electricity coming into my home. If it is an asset to me, I like to honor its presence, when it goes off, then I have something to worry about.

In some cases, this kundalini ‘wakes up spontaneously’- and it runs through the spine in an upward direction. (Even if you do not believe this, just keep reading.) It is a very powerful energy and can unsettle everything in a person- for there is no explanation what happened, how it happened, where the trigger came from and what it means, how one has to behave now, who to talk to. If, of a powerful enough dimension- it may lead to psychosis- then you see all those ‘symptoms’ called grandiosity, running helter-skelter, flight of imagination, racing thoughts, inability to focus and …(please read DSM if you like). But this term ‘psychosis’ is the terminology of psychiatry- based on the outwardly visible ‘symptoms’.

What happens in reality is this- (okay this is self experience speaking now)- a powerful electrical current becomes present in the body, and it keeps the body in a faint vibration, like a hum; just a little more powerful than the one that you may experience upon being intoxicated. Now what happens with alcohol is that after awhile the intoxication comes down and the person is ‘restored’ to normalcy, whatever it had to be. But in case of kundalini/psychotic upheaval the sensation does not get over- it just stays. It makes a person ‘extroverted’, happy, as though intoxicated, carefree and of course expansive- one wants to share this strange sort of ‘happiness’ with others, but does not know how to say it, in what words and whether they cannot see it as well.

Remember this is the so-called divine potential unleashed in a person who is not ready for it; just like a wire that suddenly has a huge voltage passing through it, but was not expecting it. I must refer you to the writing of Swami Rama here, in particular when he refers to the similarity between the manic and the mystic (Book: Yoga and Psychotherapy, Himalayan Institute)

Religious traditions train their neophytes in various ways and by severe disciplines for any such process to happen- by training their mind, senses, body and thought processes. But awakening the kundalini is not considered necessary by any stretch of imagination, among the truly spiritual. The training of the mind for action without reward is considered more important. (If interested please read Kundalini- by Gopi Krishna). On the other hand, you may be aware that there are several unscrupulous people who want to use the ‘divine’ potential in ‘ugly’ ways- the tantriks etc.

The issue of kundalini that I understood finally is that kundalini is the cosmic consciousness lying inside everyone – a coiled serpent, at the base of the spine. So psychosis is nothing but the spontaneous awakening of the divine potential and a person coming to understand that though s/he is a body , there is also a bigger picture- s/he is also a fragment of the divine. That makes initially (or permanently) people go berserk- because they can see their cosmic potential and believe that –I am god/Jesus/the Saviour etc etc (aham brahmasmi).  We in India know that Aham Brahmasmi comes from the Upanishads, into our traditions. In other words the Upanishads are testimony that though man is a mirror of a cosmic maker, yet there is a path of knowledge and virtue that needs to be followed in order to truly awaken the cosmic potential. Now the Upanishads are the highest knowledge of the Indian civilization that is agnostic or perhaps predates religion. There is no religion in the vedic age- but nature worship. So the human is one with his natural element and through that expresses every aspect of life. Moving away from nature, if you can connect the dots, moves people from their natural and easy selves to their unnatural/cosmetic/dis-eased selves!

The greater issue is that even if the cosmic potential awakens spontaneously, it cannot be utilized unless the person learns to harness it. It is like saying that you have a huge voltage passing through yet you cannot handle the charge- so the body breaks down, the mind breaks down and it causes ‘madness’ . In this case psychiatry enters and says it can handle something that it does not even recognize as such- where are the tools in psychiatry to understand the ‘subtle body’ in which this so-called ‘divine’ potential resides, there is a whole array of nadis, the three dominant ones being ida, pingala and sushamana? I am not accepting anything or rejecting anything. I am simply putting the facts in front, as I have understood in over two decades of my own studies and research.(in fact in Gopi Krishna’s book, there is an explanation about why the wives of Krishna are said to be 16,000 or whatever their number is. That coincides with the number of nadis a person has). I must add that the entire spiritual traditions of India provide subtle and gross references to these things, in different ways. I of course found my anchor in Kabir there, because he was the one master who wrote very clearly about it, without really revealing anything, to those who could not understand. (The more difficult task after the spontaneous awakening is to ‘earth’ the kundalini, otherwise it will make you mad permanently- nobody can handle it. There is a great book in this context- After the ecstasy, the laundry. Please read it in case you have had an experience of this nature. It talks about integrating the knowledge, which is more arduous than one can imagine. It takes years and years, or decades. Even then, there is no guarantee one would learn. In my own case it took me years and repeat incidents of ‘psychosis’ till the time a time came when I would not go into any psychotic breakdowns any more, but simply watch the ‘game’ like a game, and not be ruffled by it, not get hyper in any sense and just accept the polarity of the universe playing within, like the sun and the moon- and carry on my day to day, extremely tough and deliberately solitary life.

Those of you who are aware of the idea that the spiritual traditions recognize that this universe is nothing but consciousness, the human and divine just two aspects of it, will comprehend that there is nothing high or low about it. It simply IS- no judgement. A great amount of work in this realm has been contributed by Stanislav Grof and Cristina Grof- the former being a psychiatrist. What he has done is so remarkable that every psychiatrist needs to at least read it, if not dare to follow. He risked himself by becoming a subject for LSD research and experienced the play of consciousness physically and he writes about that in many books, including The Cosmic Game. Of course the book that I was first introduced to was the Stormy Search for the Self.

Grof could see the continuity in LSD research, the shamanic traditions of the world, psychosis and much else. His wife’s near death experience (NDE) during child birth, brought in the concept of PTSD, and became the reason for her to be involved in the same journey that led in due course to the Holotropic Breathwork technique they created and share internationally.  I also found identical ideas, during years of my own inquiry, in the Sudarshan Kriya, though I found it lacking in depth (which no doubt now it must be gaining due to being investigated in medical departments). There are more such things in every religious practice anywhere, where the focus lies on breath. As we all well know, hatha yoga of course begins there- pranayama is one of the first four tenets; prana- meaning life force energy that is manifest through the breath.

Bringing you back to Psychiatry

If you can see from my writing, the two people who contributed immensely to newer understandings, are Jung and Grof- both psychiatrists by training. Of course both created huge traditions, with thousands following in their ways and me learning from all. The Jungian method lead to the tradition of analytical psychology and Grof- transpersonal psychology.

I am now taking you to a different pole- where you get to see the birth of psychiatry itself! This is a very tricky place, because this is the realm of Charcot and France now- (please read Foucault’s –Madness and Civilization, if interested). Foucault shows how madness is ascribed to people who cannot express their suffering properly by a man, who is a powerful physician, who has a great social standing and prestige, and who has the guile to transform the inability of people to express their suffering coherently. So where they lack language, he puts in his own- he becomes their ‘representative’- his language is his representation of their suffering and in fact nothing but a ‘social representation’[3].

Have you ever noticed how socially marginalized people look up to those who they perceive as having a better social standing/class? They feel helpless and meek in front of them. They dare not oppose what the ‘rich’ say. In such a case if a poor wo/man would go in front of a rich person, and the rich person says, ‘you are an idiot’, the poor wo/man will accept it with resignation that the ‘rich’ man really knows better. (Please put this in the same location as poor and rich countries as well). So a rich man, who has close connect with the nobility goes around telling in his evening parties and soirees all about the patients he saw. (I really recommend you read how he is amused at discovering that ‘hysterial’ women are mostly those who are younger women married to older men. But he does not tell this to anyone- he just knows he has ‘figured out’ the roots of hysteria!!). You may know, like me, that many younger bahus in families, because they are periodically the subject of family oppression, show these signs. I also know this to be true for young girls who are not being allowed to marry the boys of their own choice.  If you marry them with the boys they want to, all ‘symptoms’ will instantly disappear! ( one must listen to Parvez Imam about the film he made in this context- yet another psychiatrist here).

So here we are now- back into real world – where the suffering of someone, coming from a huge history behind it, gets to be given a label of ‘mental illness’. By-the-bye, just in case you do not know, Charcot was also one of the early influences of Freud, who in turn influenced Jung. In other words, they were all looking at human behavior and trying to comprehend the reasons for the so-called ‘abnormal’ behaviours. That is why through psychoanalysis and talk-based interventions their hope was that people would be able to go back into their unconscious mind, where their traumas and suffering lay hidden, and possibly in the presence of a person trained to help, be able to get past those traumas.

Anyways, by the time the DSM came into its third version, this behavior-oriented psychiatry was abandoned in favour of the biomedical view, because now the pharma industry wanted to have a fair share of people’s suffering. So psychiatry became a tool for the pharma industry to ‘sell’ cures that simply were not there- in what manner can psychiatry deal with the suffering of a child whose mother committed suicide at age eight, other than stamp her with a schizophrenia diagnosis at age 17, 19 or 22? I strongly recommend two books[4] at this juncture. Ethan Watters[5] talks about the DSM and how it is ‘sold’ to the world by America and another book called Mad Science- Psychiatric Coercion, Diagnosis and Drugs. Both are researched and written in the US.

What happens to people in ‘poor’ countries

The fact of lives in poor countries is that their poverty is not just  chance or destiny ordained by the heavens above. They are the unfortunate bearer of the progress of the rich countries- to the extent that now they are so poor in so many ways that even ‘knowledge’ does not reach them. So if the research that I have quoted above were to happen in India (first of all it cannot happen in India, because the sort of data that has been quoted here, would never be available), it would be kept so ‘hidden’ from the public eye that nobody would know.

There is a ‘culture of silence’ at work in poorer countries- anyone who opposes/questions anything (coming from the dominant West) is marginalized or made to look like an idiot or a threat to society. It is very easy to silence someone by making them ‘invisible’ or ‘inaudible’. Most people would not have access to the sort of books it takes to arrive at any real, paradigm shifting knowledge.

The knowledge that is effectively handed out in our universities and institutions, (especially in departments of psychology etc) is all second hand knowledge that is disseminated from the West, repackaged in Indian syllabi and taught to students as though it is the last word. Students memorize theories and ideas and spit them out in exams and become ‘qualified’ to heal others (naturally I am talking in terms of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists etc). If there is any other form of ideas they are derived from quantitative studies that do not examine the differences, diversities and individual realities of people’s subjective experiences.

Where does that leave anyone?

You may have heard of the story of the blind men looking at the elephant. In case you have forgotten here is a great link to remind its metaphor- The symbolism of this story is so significant that it is used in various parts of the world with minor variations.

What my theme from the beginning of this ‘essay’ has been to share with all of you, those ideas which come from such diverse directions that unless you are aware of them, anyone will take a great amount of time to land there unexpectedly. I have spent nearly 23 years of my life to attain this connectivity, coupled with much writing, dabbling in music, encounters with holy men, wise wo/men, sadhus, monks, academics, ‘ill’ people and whatnot to come to this mental and linguistic ‘clearing’ that I can offer you some of these ideas, in this manner. The rest is for you to see, what interests you, makes sense or not, may be it is all nonsense for some.

In the end it is my hope that given the manner in which I have brought all these divergent ideas into a convergent sort of a frame- where the journey of the aggrieved person is not a mental illness but a quest for wholeness, I hope many would be able to help others who they encounter where they do. And I on my part am getting ready for the next phase of my life- in sharing/teaching the path that I have discovered, so that many more heroes will come, in their various faces, voices and contours and each heroes journey will contribute to the overall good of the world.

Thank you for reading till this point. I offer you another linked piece of my writing that I never really wrote fully, but the theme was identical. Kindly click this link for it –

Last, though not the least- I will be thankful for any feedback/comments, but only on blogposts, where they will last longer, and not on email please.

[1] I invite you to read the myth of the churning of the ocean, from the Hindu tradition, as per my interpretation and relevance to the modern time-

[3] Social representation is an idea in social psychology, according to which every one who represents himself or another is making a social representation. The representation of someone’s suffering by another, by changing the language of their suffering, into one’s own (medical or specialized) language is nothing but another such act.

[4] In case anyone of you cares to come by to my home, you can see/read them for yourself.

[5] Here is a blog post that shares a few resources as well-


11 thoughts on “Seeing the Full Elephant- Spirit, Science, Religion and Psychosis  

    1. thank you angliceyez- however i will be presently writing about why recovery from what is called PSYCHOSIS is next to impossible. please remain tuned in, for I do not wish to mislead anyone about their divine potential, which in any case cannot be utilized, until ‘harnessed’ as I have mentioned in the article- which itself requires years and years of labour, guidance of many sorts and utter humility. This last attribute is largely missing in a vast majority of mankind who are completely taken in by the headiness of the experience.

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  1. In the light of some of the comments I have been receiving in response to this article, I will have to write about- why psychosis cannot be handled by ANYone, why psychiatry will be necessarily required to deal with spiritual crises and why more people do not and cannot recover from psychotic breakdowns. However, I do not know in what frame of time I will be able to write this. And of course psychosis is NOT THE ONLY manifestation of human suffering, though definitely the most ‘explosive’- so how does one explain the rest of the ‘illnesses’ which are non-psychotic. And what should be the role of psychiatry in that?

    I will need to tackle these questions in future writing. But rest assured most people cannot and will not recover from psychotic breakdowns, because they would be caught between the polar opposites of headiness that psychosis brings and the depression that follows due to the energy then coming to its ebb. This cyclical nature of ebbs and flow cannot be easily handled, much less harnessed. It asks for years and years of labour -physical, spiritual, emotional, introversion of the senses (just a rank opposite to the expansion that psychosis is causing). It is a very difficult path and nobody NOBODY, can tread it without much guidance and humility. This humility itself will not enter into people’s words and actions and repeatedly I find (on many locations) people insisting about their uniqueness and the unique paths they are following and how they will create their. In reality they can NEVER create any path alone, because there is nothing unique in any of this- just a great cycle, which makes them believe they are ‘different’ from the rest. Let the fools believe it- the wise ones will learn to be humble and with folded hands learn at the feet and classrooms of many a teacher.

    So a spiritual emergence will lead to a spiritual emergency- and land bewildered people at the doors of psychiatrists, who are equally baffled by it and they just know how to suppress the experiences- via anti-psychotics of various sorts. Cannot blame them- they are only doing what they can, with whatever tools they can. And they will prevail because it takes much shorter time to get a psychiatrist (professionally) ready than it takes for a spiritual master to come along who knows the inside out of this spiritual emergence. And of course because matters of the spirit are considered of no significance, in our society where the supremacy of science, no matter how ethically deployed or comprehended, is beyond challenge- in a vast majority of people, more people will remain permanent prisoners of this split of the consciousness.

    So I had to add this little bit for now- not to beat the hell out of psychiatry but to present the case for why there will be no alternative to it in a short run.


  2. Fantastic blog – “Seeing the Full Elephant- Spirit, Science, Religion and Psychosis” – thank you so much Prateeksha! Since all of this deals with ‘reality’, the question of psychosis must be the most difficult ‘thing’ to deal with… there is no one reason, no one answer, no idea of time-span…. no guarantees and nothing to hold on-to but hope and knowing that others ‘have made’ it and are making it.

    Funny that you use the elephant as a metaphor for how to tackle the ‘beast’. As a parent I often see in my minds eye the picture … and I absolutely feel it…. of the mother elephant trying all she can to rescue her baby that had fallen into the water. She’d stay with the baby and try from all angles… pushing from the back, pulling from the front, sometimes just standing there next to him, whispering in his ear, caressing him, some-times shouting. Often just holding on… no more to do or to say or to feel but feeling herself also slipping into the muddy water…. hardly noticing that the herd that have all also given up had moved on to new pastures. She can see that it would only take a step or two and the baby will be free.

    When and how to support, for how long, in what way… all becomes blurred but remains excruciating painful. Death does become a more desirable option. You look at your child and have no idea. You know that there are answers but also that it is the person him/her-self who must have the desire to come to the other side (what-ever that means).

    First one year goes by like nothing, then two years, four years, six years…. and you know about others who have been in the trenches for 11 years, others who made a turn-around after 16 years….. 23 years? How long is long?

    I want to thank you for sharing your feelings, insight, wisdom, all the other information and your efforts to bring about change in the way psychosis (and human suffering in general) is viewed and ‘treated.’ I can see how psychosis is the inability of a person to express his/her suffering and a quest for wholeness. Your contribution in this field (and that of a number of others) is proof that shift is happening but LOTS remains to be done.

    Talking about psychosis to be the ‘most explosive form of human suffering’, here in South Africa just these past days a young man of 20 (allegedly) killed 3 of his family members with an ax. Drugs are said to be involved. This happens regularly in South Africa among rich and poor… in the USA we regularly see mass shootings. This is all the same stuff, and because we are not supposed to have problems or to battle with life thousands of households are suffering behind closed doors. I cannot help but wonder about the years of suffering that precede this day when it all came to end like this for this family. What did the parents do when they realized that the child was battling? Rehabs, psychologists, psychiatrist and psych drugs …. a whole massive system that keeps following an unchallenged unworkable approach?

    As you say Prateeksha – there can be no resolve unless we deal with the underlying spiritual quest that we are ALL on and part of. The unconsciousness is not only in the one who has had the break but in the majority of the people of the world. The evidence is painfully evident in our every-day news – and this is not being negative.

    My heart goes out to the countless individuals and families who do not even have the privilege to have this thinking let alone discussion. Thousands of people young and old staring out in front of them…. looking at nothing.

    It is the duty of those who know to tell the truth and to do what needs to be done. Thank YOU for doing so Prateeksha.



    1. Dear Anna-Mari

      thank you for such an echo- it is really heart warming, and more so because you comprehend so much of it in such deep ways. I will respond to your ‘hope’ that ‘many have made it’. To be honest, the ones who have were either never there in a psychiatric imbroglio or if they were they went the non-psychiatry way, including me, you may know.

      Nobody can deal with another’s spiritual quest, so the ones who have been on the path and have reached a certain clearing, can only guide the ones who are following – NOT THEM, but their own paths, and yet they have the humility to ask for directions. THAT HUMILITY is often very seriously lacking in the people who have psychotic breakdowns and becomes a great barrier, towards achieving any real goals.

      For those who have not gone the consciousness path- for they are by dint of sheer labour transforming themselves and the world around them (like you yourself ) their journey is on a different yet convergent path. Sadly from that path you cannot come and guide the ones who are on this path, because you (and scores of others who are equally well meaning, kind and accomplished) cannot understand from there what they are on their own inner and outer journeys as well. ( will write more soon, i have to go to buy some stuff from the market right now!!! Talking about being ‘earthed’ one has to constantly respond to life situations, just like anyone else)

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      1. With an extra moment I want to respond to your remark about consciousness Prateeksha. It is not only people who go through psychosis who become conscious. And those who have recovered are also not on an elevated level of consciousness compared to those how have not… there always remains something that we still do not know and as we remain open and willing to see more and especially to see that ‘I am that….” we keep integrating our knowing and become ever more understanding and compassionate.

        I can see that, the utter deep fall of psychosis gives one a massive chance for an ‘enlightened’ outcome (swing of the pendulum) but this is not guaranteed. I am thinking for example of Eckardt Tolle (author of The Power of Now and A New Earth) who one day all alone and by himself after years and years of manic and depressive life and alcohol abuse he simply ‘woke up’ when he became conscious of his thoughts and his self-created illusions. He turned out to become a much loved and respected spiritually influential person of the world.

        I am saying here that Eckhart Tolle out of the blue one day woke up, but in the end I believe it was not a once of experience but rather the convergence of many insights and ‘messages’ that finally helped him to finally lift the veil. Just as there are many reasons for the development of psychosis (and the moments of relapse in-between as the person makes a u-turn towards ‘recovery’) … so too are there many possible reasons for and roads to healing. Even though the adept has a better understanding of the experience of psychosis the roads are not the same and we never know who and what it is that will finally break the camel’s back.

        I can see that that those who have ‘been there and done that’ – meaning those who have actually suffered through psychosis – know at a deep level what the suffering of another who is on the same road feels like. As the mother and parents of a person who is suffering from psychosis we have the every day experience that family and friends – even the very close ones and the very informed ones – do not see the full picture of the challenge and our dilemma. They are not in our shoes. In this sense one is alone in a big way… we are AS alone as our child.

        Most notably – the world of psychiatry (medical model) has the least understanding. Ironically the very people that are seen as the experts and the healers are totally removed from reality with the harmful solutions that they are selling to the world that are all based on an absolute lie.

        My own transformation did not by far come from being smart, intelligent, accomplished and well-meaning, although this helps. It continues to come through deep inquiry into who I am and why I am here… as part of the greater Universe and rather from a position of comfort it comes through grappling with the immense challenges of life.

        Even though I have not had the experience of psychosis personally it does not mean that I cannot understand where such a person may be on their ‘inner and outer journey.’ In the end – just as we are all part of the fall, as we raise our level of consciousness we become ever more authentically part of the healing.

        We are dealing with the ageless question of reality here and our different views on it. As humanity we are not only uniformed but we are also literally ‘ill-informed.’ In the end it is self-knowledge that sets us free… all of us. All healing is self-healing. And when we look deeply we see that because we are all part of life we are all guides in some way or another.

        Thank you again for your deep desire and relentless efforts to bring about change in this sphere of life.


  3. Thanx Pratteeksha. It will take repeated readings n reflections. Instinctively I’m drawn to a Holistic view of the Elephant. Recently I be been captivated by Dr Bernard Siegel,’Love Medicine Miracles’, Arrow, based on deep research on his own experiences as a surgeon n physician on Dreams Drawings, and various extensive researches of Psychiatrists n Psychologists. I myself have been using Drawings of individuals to understand n help them, with Canadian First Nation women to North Indian Himalayan Kinnauri polyandrous Women, many students, men women of rural urban of the plains. Also a journey of Mutual Healing respect of Autonomous Living an ordinary Ife of Co travellers ( prefer it to ‘patients’).


    1. Thank you too Kishwar-ji, for a kind and warm echo. I agree it may take another reading or so because it took me so much time to think in what brevity I should try and encapsulate this gathering of such a long span of time. This is just a start for me though. I hope to do more justice to this, but may not be possible in writing all the time- or if it has to be, there is no point in writing a blog post that 40-100 people will read.

      Art has a great therapeutic value in many, many ways and I think you have been doing great in using it mindfully.

      Actually my own word for ‘patients’ is collaborators and I see a reflection in your usage of ‘co-traveller’. yes we are pretty much on the same page about this. warm regards


  4. Dear Anna-Mari

    Please do not get me wrong. In fact if you notice in my comment, to which you responded, I have said earlier that there are many a road to consciousness- and many paths go through the regular life of a householder and its day-to-day responsibilities.

    The reality is that we are ALL ON AN INNER AND OUTER journey, only the pace is different. The only difference which brings acute distress is when we leap from one level to a level much higher one without being ready for it. And that happens, as I shared in the language of the kundalini, because of a certain force propelling us from within ourselves and which behaves autonomously. Nobody can control it. Logically everyone should go from point 1 to point 2. But if someone goes from point 1 to suddenly point 5 or 6, that is where the unexplainable happens and they spiral out of control, because they were just not ready for it.

    We are all pure consciousness at some level and nobody is outside of the circle. Please see what I am saying, i am not saying having a ‘peak experience’ (Maslow’s words) makes anyone ‘superior’ in any sense of the word. It is so tragic, traumatic and heartbreaking -not only for that one person but for a whole family. That is why the best practice is one that is family systems oriented. But the ‘peak’ experiences do not become psychosis for most- and for some they do. And that is the challenge that psychiatry likes to address itself to, whether it can deal with it or not, is a different issue.

    In your own journey, you are very much on the same path of universality that I am on- though for some mysterious reasons I have to also go through the maze of mental illness, and in a different way you too- we all have our paths cut out very neatly. But then that is what life is and the evolutionary journey of the soul is always on, in greater and greater recognition of the oneness despite diversity, despite differences. I think you would now see this whole thing a little differently and not as the one-upmanship your comment seemed to be accusing me of.

    my respect always and warm regards


    1. Hello my dearest Prateeksha – thank you so much. I feel your sincerity and your heart absolutely. I just wanted to confirm my view on consciousness with regards to the whole discussion. In traditional settings we also see how the natural progression of ‘maturation’ used to be lived and supported through initiation and rites of passage etc. I have more thoughts on ‘being ready’ but we can do this in another conversation and I can see what you are pointing to. Thank you.

      In an earlier remark you said that people “often do not yet they have the humility to ask for directions, and that this humility is often very seriously lacking in the people who have psychotic breakdowns” and “and becomes a great barrier, towards achieving any real goals”.

      This is so true Prateeksha – and this is where the painful dance with life lies… What to do for a person who does not yet see/admit his/her situation or position let alone what the possible ways out may be. A person who can hardly utter a word because the knot of pain is just too tight? In our own case – not knowing and doing what is right or wrong – because we don’t know – we are somehow choosing to stay in touch with our highest knowing and with our heart. We are holding the space in which the window can open up ever more for a beloved. And the only reason why we follow this road is because it has resulted into progress… there is more presence… and it is staying for longer periods.

      I feel very very blessed to have this conversation with you and to feel our way through with you.

      With high regards. Anna-Mari


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