Don Juan helps us understand Brain Malfunction in Spiritual Seekers
Don Juan teaches a very interesting way of looking at mental derangement. He teaches that mental derangement has to be considered quite differently when it happens to a spiritual seeker verses an ordinary person. Don Juan teaches that every spiritual seeker will, at some point, bump up against and experience a mental derangement that would be properly be diagnosed as a mental illness or abnormality if it occurred in an ordinary person and was assessed by an ordinary psychologist. But we should know, Don Juan teaches, that mental derangement means something completely different when it happens in a spiritual seeker. He calls this experience of mental derangement a normal process for a spiritual seeker and even a necessary test.
Don Juan explains that spiritual seekers experience mental derangement for many reasons but the principle one is to test their sobriety and detachment. When an abnormal mental experience happens to a spiritual seeker the important point is to remember to remain detached, unemotional and patient. Don Juan explains that the mind of a spiritual seeker will sometimes just go haywire because of the pressure it is under to break out of conventional and limited viewpoints. The process of expansion naturally leads to moments of mental disconnect.
[When the central viewpoint loses its rigidity] if they’re not [spiritual] warriors then they think they’re losing their minds . . .
If they’re warriors, they know they’ve gone crazy but they patiently wait. You see, to be healthy and sane means that [your view] point is immovable. When it shifts, it literally means that one is deranged.
There are two options [open] to warriors whose [view] points have shifted. One is to acknowledge being ill and to behave in deranged ways, reacting emotionally to the strange worlds that their shifts force them to witness; the other is to remain impassive, untouched, knowing that the [view] point always returns to its original position.
From The Fire From Within by Carlos Castaneda, pg. 126.
According to Don Juan, sanity always returns naturally to a spiritual seeker if he or she can remain impassive and patient (sober) even when feeling, perceiving or even seeing strange things. Of course, when sanity does return it is never the same. The new found sanity is from that point forward imbibed with an expanded awareness of what’s possible and what’s real. And the new found sanity does not forget the strange points of view experienced so that such a spiritual seeker will always consider him or herself partially insane even when his or her actions start becoming far more reasonable that the average person. The spiritual seeker becomes a model of correct behavior only after having experienced a period of near insanity, assuming they were able to make it through that experience using their utmost self-control.