Several times in my life I've experienced the sorrow of witnessing the absolute emotional and psychological unraveling of another human being. I am, at the present moment, once again observing exactly such an experience. As I take a deep breath and step back from the self-induced, self-destructive, take-no-prisoners carnage that this individual is currently creating, I find myself examining the way the situation has been unfolding. I have been seeking to understand - with deep feelings of loving compassion for the individual in question - why it is that sometimes good people go crazy.
The following quote by Albert Einstein has been most instructive: "The intuitive voice is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant, but has forgotten the gift."
Irrationality, which is the energy that fuels mental craziness as well as all emotional reactivity, does not arise from the intuitive voice, which doesn't create fear or encourage fear-based thinking. The intuitive voice is - always and ever - arising out of the energy of unconditional love. Irrationality can only arise when the formerly rational mind - the faithful servant of the deepest essential self - has lost its way, and is no longer listening to the powerful intuitive voice that is encouraging it to value love before all else. What causes that to happen is a function of separation consciousness, the mistaken belief that each of us is entirely independent from one another, and from the larger world that has created and contains us all. It's hard to unconditionally love the external world (or its occupants) when we perceive it to be a dangerous and hostile environment for us to navigate, threatening to our very existence - because we imagine the totality of our existence to be only our mind-based self. Of course, it is only the mind that is telling us that terrifying story; the mind - out of fear of its own mortality because deep down it knows IS a mortal element and will ultimately dissolve with the body - that has attempted to elevate itself to the level of the infinite, eternal One Source that is manifesting life through every one of us.
Our society, such as it is, does not make it easy for those whose rational minds have (consciously or unconsciously) severed their connection to their deeper intuitive voice to find their way back to emotional wellness. As Einstein inferred, we have created a modern society that itself has elevated the status of mind to a level above the intuitive voice, which means we have - for all intents and purposes - created an insane society. Love these days therefore takes a back seat to success; empathy and respect take a back seat to personal reputations and self-image; integrity takes a back seat to the fear-based drive to accumulate wealth and perceived security.
Irrationality arises when the rational mind, faced with the cognitive dissonance of wanting to act out of accordance with its own highest principals in service to its own fears, chooses to invent a rationalization to justify the wrong action. The rationalization that occurs (which is actually irrational at the deepest intuitive level) goes something like this: "I can't afford to practice my highest values and be my best self at this point, because I'm not yet secure enough to do so. When I have attained the level of security I desire (or fame, fortune, public accolades, etc.) then I will be free to be fully and truly myself."
Having personally attained (and then willingly surrendered) the things I once thought I needed to feel security, if I've learned anything in this life it's that the search for one's self-image "out there" is an endless quest that is doomed to end in failure. Once we achieve what we believed we needed to be happy and feel secure, we discover either that it's relatively hollow and quickly loses its luster, or we discover we have to continually to battle the external world to hold onto whatever we've gained. The fact is, any quest to hold onto impermanent things is a fool's game, because all things must eventually dissolve. As Eckhart Tolle says so eloquently, "The things we think are so important in our lives, all the life dramas and suffering that consume so much of our attention and our energy, one day amount to the dash between the date of our birth and the date of our death on our tombstone."
Therefore, how we choose to live within the context of that dash matters more than all the narrative stories we're creating about ourselves to satisfy or quiet the fears of our mind.
Yesterday I took a time out from life and strolled through an old Vermont cemetery. I noted the dates of birth and death on many tombstones, wondering at the life stories that lay beneath my feet. Who was Lena, aged 13, and what was the cause of her untimely death? I'll never know. I'm sure she had many amazing life experiences, suffered some tragedies, was mourned by her family members and friends. Yet all that remains to remember her by is that dash.
This is true for most all of us. Most of us are not destined to become rich, or famous, or to go down in history as movers and shakers of human society. Most of us will live our lives quietly, and our bodies will dissolve as bodies inevitably do. The key then, is to be able to wake up every day - knowing it may well be our last day on this Earth - and to live it as if that is so. That most of us fail to do that, imagining we will only be able fully live in accordance with our intuitive voice, the voice that is always on the side of love, once we've accomplished our personal goals, is to put the destination ahead of the journey, allowing the end to justify the means.
That is humanity's collective insanity, and it is indeed what causes good people to occasionally go crazy.