tangyabominy: (like slow-spinning redemption)
[personal profile] tangyabominy
A thought:

How quick we are, when one conclusion of two seems less likely to us, more remote, more strange, to not only write it off but dumb everything that claims to be the less likely down to the level of the more likely; to assume that everything which manifests features of B is "just" A, to declare B defunct because A explains a limited subset of the things which fall under B and that's good enough for those who don't really know what B is. And how unlikely we ever, ever are to go in the opposite direction, and assume that maybe all B-like things are, in fact, facets of A, even if we've decided that B also exists.

To give a more concrete example, and to raise the topic that this post is actually about: I was reading comments on Slacktivist, and came across someone who mentioned their lover with mental issues, who had believed he was Jesus during one high period until he was taken to hospital and medicated, at which point he stopped believing he was Jesus. The following thread ensued:

"Irreverent guy that I am, I wonder what would have happened if someone had had a syringe full of Haldol to give to Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Jeanne D'arc, etc."

"Actually, I had a massive crisis of faith when my ex (we were still married at the time) had his meltdown. I really began questioning whether God was real or whether S/He was just a manifestation of a psychotic mind. I spent a lot of time wondering whether Jesus was in fact just a madman in need of a syringe of Haldol and a prescription for Zyprexa.

I can laugh about it now (this was 6 years ago) but back then it was extremely unfunny."


My response was this:

My sincere condolences over your crisis of faith, in the past though it may have been. Those aren't fun.

I actually see it the other way around, though. From the first mention of the guy who thought he was Jesus (until he'd had a syringe of Haldol), the thought was running through my head, "what if he was right?"

Mind you, I don't mean the Jesus, singular, one and only, incarnate with all his powers and abilities. I mean, I wonder if that which we call psychosis is actually the result of bumping up aganst the soul-shaking awareness that We Are All God, and not being able to bring that vast knowledge back to a human body without shattering and spouting nonsense and having trouble making sense because it's all so vast?

Not that we have any practical alternative, really, at this level of understanding, but to treat these people the medical way for everyone's safety... but I do wonder, would Jesus' feelings that he was Jesus have gone away on Haldol, and would we have been wrong to treat him that way?

How, in fact, would we tell the difference, between someone who was having genuine mystical experiences which could be drugged out of them, and someone who was experiencing aberrant neuron firings unconnected with any true divinity? People tend to think the acid test for mysticality is that it doesn't go away if you drug it, but why should this be? Do we know the slightest thing about mysticality that would prove that, or is it just what seems to make "common sense"? And how many things that make "common sense" to us, in fact, turn out to be complete fallacies?


To put it in the terms laid out at the beginning of this post: we're so very eager to believe that spirituality is "just" a delusion. We're so much less eager, even if we accept spirituality, to ever argue that mental illness is "just" spirituality-- even if we also acknowledge that it's not practical, given that we don't know either way, to give it the benefit of the doubt and not treat people as if it were a sickness. Perhaps because to bring up the very question of its being a genuine revelation that's untenable to society raises ethical issues about how we treat people with mental illness, ethical questions we can't solve without truly knowing.

But I think it's more that we have a habit of admitting the remote and the unlikely into our lives as little as possible. We trust in all the "safe" answers first and foremost-- which is a good way to go about life, ordinarily. But when that keeps us from ever even considering the "unsafe" ones when there's a mundane explanation-- however incomplete that explanation is, however little of the actual issue it takes into account-- we choke wonder.

If we can't even contemplate the possibility that these people could be seeing something real without scoffing, can't even ask ourselves the question-- when even a spiritual person, presented with a delusional man who thinks he's Jesus, begins to doubt the whole of spirituality yet never once questions the idea of delusion-- there is a problem with us. We have biased ourselves too far in one direction.
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