In 1981 I spontaneously went into such an ecstatic state that I was hospitalized by what I call the “anti-bliss patrol.” The authorities had become alerted because I was simply unable to restrain my enthusiasm at the “good news” that was beginning to reveal itself to me about the nature of reality. Stepping out of my usual way of trying to control my experience, during that next year I was thrown in mental hospitals a number of times and (mis)diagnosed as having manic-depressive (bi-polar) illness. I was told that I had a chemical imbalance and would have to go on medication and learn to live with my “illness” for the rest of my life. Little did the doctors realize that although my experience looked like a typical nervous breakdown, I had actually gotten “drafted” into a deeper psycho-spiritual process of an entirely different order – a spiritual awakening/shamanic initiation – that was blowing my mind as it was simultaneously revealing it.
My inner process had spilled outside of my skull and just like a dream was synchronistically expressing itself through events in the seemingly outer world. Finding myself in a meaning-filled, meaningful, and enchanted universe, the world had become animated by spirit, as if it was a living oracle, a continually unfolding revelation that was speaking symbolically. It became glaringly apparent to me that there was an intimate correlation and synchronistic correspondence between what was going on in the internal landscape of my psyche and the seemingly outer world. The boundary between inner and outer was dissolving. It was as if something deep inside of me was expressing itself through the medium of the outside world, and was able to extend itself into the outside world and configure events so as to in-form and give shape to itself.
According to consensus reality, I was “certifiable,” and I was in full agreement, in that I had certifiably stepped out of my self-entrancing, self-limiting, and self-binding conceptual, cognitive mind into a much more expansive “space.” As if snapping out of a trance, I found myself not out of my mind, in the sense that I was crazy, but rather, inside of my mind, which was now discovered to be everywhere, in that I was beginning to realize that I was dreaming.
My parents bought into the psychiatrist’s diagnosis that their only child had a mental illness, as in my parents’ world doctors were genuine authority figures who knew what they were talking about. In the words of the late psychiatrist R. D. Laing, “Attempts to wake before our time are often punished, especially by those who love us most. Because they, bless them, are asleep. They think anyone who wakes up, or who, still asleep, realizes that what is taken to be real is a ‘dream’ is going crazy.” Tragically, with the support and blessing of the psychiatric community, both of my parents passed away convinced their son was crazy.
When we begin to spiritually awaken, our personality structure and sense of who we are can melt down and dis-integrate, as our inner “constitution” is being rewritten. This process can convincingly appear to others as if we are having a nervous breakdown or a psychotic break.