If you’ve read Eckhart Tolle’s classic, A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, you’ll be familiar with his reference to “the voice in the head,” where he is referring to our being absorbed in our verbal thinking and identifying with it. This is something I’m familiar with. Moreover, I can recall one day being very involved in a passionate, internal discourse with an imaginary foe – or someone I interpreted as being a foe at that time – and then suddenly realizing what was going on. This was me…yet it wasn’t me. But it was decades later before I began to systematically endeavour to distance myself from thought per se. By this I mean, deliberately choosing to become ‘aware’ and be ‘in the moment’ as a habitual way of life. Developing an ability to ignore thought when I didn’t want to be involved with it.
Insistent Voices in the Head
Today, I went into TED Talks on my PC and the speaker who I ‘clicked on’ was Eleanor Longden. Eleanor presented a very interesting speech on her experiences with Schizophrenia and how, with the help of friends, she worked her way through it. She is obviously now over it and is dedicating her life to helping others who have this problem of hearing ‘voices in the head.’ Her TED Talk is well worth a viewing.
Was Eleanor’s Pain Body verbalizing? Or was it something else?
What surprised me about Eleanor’s description of voices is that they referred to her in the third person. “She is now leaving the room.” “She is now…” This would naturally be interpreted by Eleanor, and anyone else in this situation, I expect, as a voice that was not of her; that the voices were something coming in through her own mind-brain rather than being originated by it. I’m not going to attempt to write about Schizophrenia because it’s something I know so little about. I have read a book or two about Multiple Personalities, e.g. The Three Faces of Eve, and a book by another woman who had even more personalities than poor old Eve White. But have I heard voices myself? Have I heard a voice or voices other than that I would have automatically interpreted as being my own verbal thinking?
We can sense the distinction between verbal thought and ‘Voices in the head?’
I can answer that in the affirmative. The time when, trapped in a quagmire and unable to extricate myself on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, I definitely heard I voice I did not credit as my own. I was completely alone, a good twenty miles from another living soul, I expect. I’d given up hope of rescue or finding a way out. Disbelief had given way to indignation, to anger, to pleading, to praying to…silence. I was resigned to the fact I would not get out and that I would die of exposure overnight. My mind was completely silent. I was at peace. I think surrender does that. That’s when I heard the voice.
“Spread the weight.”
That was all the voice said, and the suggestion, complied with by me, enabled me to save my own life. But I did not put this down as a part of my own self. I put it down to the care and concern of a spiritual being – perhaps a guardian angel – who had interceded on my behalf; an act of love and compassion coming down from a higher realm. It seemed that way to me, and I still believe it to be so.
A Divine Dichotomy: Personal, Collective and Universal Mind.
Now here is where Eleanor Longden and I part company and yet, in a strange dichotomy, come together. We part because Eleanor interpreted her voice or voices as being parts of her own psyche that were crying out to be heard. Perhaps the Inner Child we hear so much about. I believe my warning -and a later one – came from a guardian angel of some sort. My introduction to ‘Other Dimensions,’ if I might put it that way, began way back in the late 1960s and took the form initially of Automatic Writing. Over four decades this ability has grown, along with the quality of the messages I’ve taken down. But it is now my belief that we – all Humankind, both dead and alive – are linked through deep dimensions of our subconscious mind. I’m of the belief the Collective Subconscious does exist and that we are all influenced by it.
Our conditioned beliefs in what we are separate us from what we are
This brings me back to Ekhart Tolle. He, too, is obviously of the opinion that we humans are all conjoined at a deep level, not only to each other but to All That IS. We are the Life which inhabits living things. I’m of the same belief.
Maybe I’m being a bit hard on the medical fraternity as far as Psychiatry is concerned, but I’m of the opinion that Psychiatrists who are not examining themselves through practices such as serious daily meditation – and thus gaining insights through personal experience – are not doing the profession any favours. Being non-spiritual might be deemed scientific but is it wise? From what I hear, psychiatrists are high on the list of suicide statistics. Could it be their rejection of a spiritual meaning in their lives can cause this sort of depression?
Theoretical learning is knowledge : experiencing is knowing
Eleanor Longden describes how she was referred to a doctor who referred her to a specialist who…and after all the various treatments, probably the worse being drugs which covered up the symptoms, was eventually discarded by the system as incurable. It seems to be a fairly common occurrence.
“Thinking without awareness is the main dilemma of human existence” – Eckhart Tolle.
Maybe I don’t have this entirely right, but it does seem that a lot of Psychiatric treatment comes to naught as far as the sufferers are concerned. We know, of course, that there aren’t enough resources to cope with the huge numbers who do suffer psychological illness. We also know that compared with general medicine, the mental field gets short shrift every time when it comes to allocating money to solve the problem. But I digress.
I recall reading somewhere that if people grow old without having experienced a really serious mental abnormality they are not liable to get one in old age – Alzheimer’s , dementia, and senility notwithstanding. These last are physical break downs which result in mental deprivation, not faulty thinking or hearing voices, et cetera (as far as I know)
My own search
25,000 hours of Vipassana and I’m still learning about yours truly
After twenty-eight years of twice daily Vipassana Meditation, backing up forty years of the fairly regular practice of Automatic Writing (Automatic Typing, actually) plus much course and book study, I feel I can claim to know a little more than the average person about the self. The continuing pursuit of self-understanding has gradually brought changes within me which, I expect, do not happen to the average man or woman, hence my temerity to write an essay such as this.
We receive spiritual guidance in accordance to our willingness to receive it
However, my greatest insights were really gifts given to me when I, the little self, was in deep trouble – emotional trouble. You could call them ‘Acts of Grace.’ I recall as if it were yesterday my ‘out of body’ experience where I saw my physical self as an objective of love. But the “I” that was me was outside, observing the physical me looking at its reflection in a shaving-mirror. The moment lasted no more than a few seconds but the knowing that I was (and am) the love, the joy, the compassion I was feeling at that moment is something that is difficult to describe. It was a moment of Samadhi. It has to be experienced.
Do you not know that you are gods? Accredited to Jesus Christ.
I experienced it! That is, I had that moment. From then on I knew that I was not the physical or even the personal psyche of yours truly, but something so infinitely great that it just cannot be described. After that, I knew without the least doubt that I – and therefore everyone else – is also that something great.
“There are none so blind as those who will not see: none so deaf as those who will not hear.”
Now, if a person went along to a psychiatrist and tried to describe an epithany, and that medico had never experienced anything like it, what do you think he or she would do? We know what was done in the Middle Ages. Joan of Arc is a case in point. In quite recent times we’d be locked away. In even more modern times we filled with pharmaceuticals. But this occurs, I think, because so few who study the mind bother to make an in-depth study of themselves. They’ve studied the work of people who studied the work of other people who have studied the work of…ad neuseum. They’ve observed lots of behavior – in others. But they don’t really know who they are themselves. They shy away from self-understanding practices such as meditation. And because they won’t go within – they go without. They go without knowing. And, unfortunately, so do many of their patients.