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As a homeless person, Adam joins thousands of individuals on the street who have ended up there because of mental disturbances.  It has been estimated that 6% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of severe mental illness and that up to 25% of the homeless population suffers from mental illness.  What is it about our culture that makes it so difficult to find effective support for an individual going through an experience like Adam had?

In our last post Rachel mentions how western culture is so focused on a thriving economy that we have a hard time with the idea that we are connected and affected by a universal consciousness. She also made the good point that when someone like Adam has an undeniable urge to explore that idea, our society is not set up to accept the time and resources that journey could require.

I have been interviewing psychiatrists, cultural historians and spiritual leaders who have either had personal experience with or knowledge of episodes similar to Adam’s.

Sadhguru is an Indian yogi and mystic.  He founded the Isha Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers yoga programs around the world.  At twenty-five he had an experience while sitting on a rock on a hill in India.  In his words,

“I was swept away by this completely new phenomenon within myself. All my life I thought that this body and everything that was inside it was me. Suddenly, I did not know which was me and which was not me. The air that I was breathing, the rock on which I was sitting and the very atmosphere around me, everything had become me.

What was happening was indescribable; I was fully conscious and aware, but what I had considered myself to be until that moment had disappeared. I had always been peaceful and happy; that had never been an issue. But here I was, drenched with a completely new kind of blissfulness. I was overflowing with an exuberance I had never known or imagined possible.”

Sadhguru’s description reminded me of something Adam had said in his first interview with me.

In a weird sense it was like a breaking of my ego. . . It was just this total shattering and my mind just opened.  And I started thinking of all these different things and in that sense it was beautiful. I found it was. . . the first time I really felt a connection to the universe. Where I really felt, like, a part of this, that I was this, this was me.”

Sadhguru speaks of the foundation his culture gave him that allowed him to contextualize his experience in a way that didn’t define him as being broken or mentally ill. It makes me wonder, what would be different for Adam if a similar cultural context had been available to him?

7 Responses to “Interview with Sadhguru: Comparing Cultural Foundation”

  1. Inigo

    Hi Phil,

    A couple of weeks ago I watched a 2002 60 minutes about Geel, a town in Belgium, where people who suffer mental illness live integrated in families. I wonder if this way of understanding could be done in many other places. This is the link to the program:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7380278n

    Take care, Inigo

    Reply
  2. Annoymous

    For a variety of reasons, including what Sadhguru states as a lack of foundation, Adam is perhaps experiencing anxiety and fear. Holding space for Adam to freely express his feelings without judging him and supporting him will definitely comfort him but it will go only so far. Ultimately, it is a deep internal process of discovery for him.

    If Adam is truly on a spiritual path then he will benefit from reading the ancient texts of Sanatana Dharma (or Hinduism as it is called today). The ancient sages clearly understood the perils of walking on the spiritual path alone. They are very clear about the path to be taken for a serious spiritual aspirant. The Upanishads (philosophical aspect of the Vedas) emphatically state that no progress is possible without approaching a Guru or teacher who is realized and firmly established in the Truth of the Self.

    Below is a quotes from the works of Sanatana Dharma (which means an “Eternal way of living”)

    तद्विज्ञानार्थं सगुरुमेवाभिगच्छेत्समित्पाणिःश्रोत्रियंब्रह्मनिष्ठम्। –
    Muṇḍakopaniṣad 1.2.12

    (Approximate Translation) In order to (and the only way) to understand this truth, with offerings in his hands, the wise person approaches a Guru, who is both learned in the tradition and is firmly established in the Self.

    Reply
  3. me (aka - Adam)

    I appreciate the book recommendations and powerful words. I do agree with the fact that having an established teacher in my life would be very helpful. Especially due to the fact that I cannot read and retain very well at all. Nor do I have the capacity for social interaction most of the time. I do not have a dedicated guru teaching me. Thankfully, I do have incredible friends loving me. I believe life is the teacher. We are students sharing notes. I try to see everybody as a guru in my life. This was shared with me by one of my gurus. “only you can answer your own questions” -Cara Neil age 15. Until I find someone who will fill the mentor role for me I will continue to trust my heart, my guides, and the guided hearts around me.

    Reply
    • Tina

      I was going to write a spiel about what I had gone through recently but then realized this blog was written two years ago. Is there any outlet to hear how your now doing Adam? Id be so inspired to hear more of what you went through, and who you found as a mentor? Your truly blessed.

      Reply

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