One question that I have long pondered, probably from my teen years onward, is: Where is the line between a healthy mind and one that is deemed ill? If one thinks about things in a way that is different from the majority, is that “genius,” or is it “insane?” Is it a little of both?
Soon after college, I first heard of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM, and its various editions). My gut reaction to the volume was similar to the way I feel about the Bible: These books prescribe and describe the “shoulds” of human existence—one takes on mental difficulties and differences, and the other addresses how to behave and the consequences of poor choices. My visceral response is to resist and rebel: If I do not think or act within the confines delineated by “experts,” does that make me a problem?
Throughout history, people have rebelled and questioned; it is human nature. So then why, given that we each have brains, but each one is unique in its stored experiences and subtle powers, is there any need to supply normative ranges? In my opinion, there is an exponential number of mental and spiritual galaxies at play at any given moment, in any given place throughout this earthly realm we call the World.
I have been thinking even more about this topic since Donald Trump began his campaign for president and ultimately became America’s top official. About a year ago, I was in Canada for a kundalini teachers’ training. At some point, as we each were asked to reflect on some Yogi Bhajan quotes, I half-jokingly said that I would have liked to hear a conversation between him and Trump: Yogi Bhajan did not suffer fools, and had a pointed yet profound way of addressing misguided thinking; I was yearning for somebody—even a deceased guru—to halt Trump’s seemingly nonsensical march.
Because I was the only American in the class, there was little understanding of my feelings about the candidate; frankly, my fellow students paid about as much attention to American political races as I do to those in Canada (not much). Understandable, certainly, but when the co-teacher asked me if I could not relate to Trump in some way, I practically spit out, “No, not at all!” My questioner looked back at me, and said nothing, as if I would rethink my declaration. I did not, and we moved on to the next person.
As this past year has been filled with analysis of all-things-Trump, and much of the rest of the world has become equally aware of and disturbed by the man, I am glad that I held to my initial reply during that kundalini session. Yet I also think about Trump’s mind and being: His inner environment epitomizes imbalance. And to that, who can not relate? But there are degrees and durations of imbalance, and therein lies the issue.
I do not want my country’s leader to be mentally ill… and what if he is not? The now-prevalent analogy of Trump to Hitler is fitting: I can not imagine that Hitler did not have a severe mental disorder…but what if he did not? It is far more alarming to me to imagine that these power-wielding, self-serving men somehow surpass most of us in their ability to fathom reality.
What if all the descriptions of “normal” have been used to capture an illusion? What if the “real” example of a realized mind is one that grabs a hold of all forms of subtle energy, and then is able to manifest an outcome comprised equally of horror and light? Is that not how many religions would describe their god, gods, and goddesses?
Since the early days of 2016 campaign, I have thought of Trump as a “pawn of the Universe”: I see him as a tool used by the Universe’s oversight committee to draw out the negative minds and angry hearts that have been busy in the darkness. Only when such “demons” are brought into the light of day can they be addressed. The tension that results from a battle for dominance can not sustain; the tumult that Trump has brought forth is the very thing that has to happen before balance can be restored (at least for a while).
With that thought in mind, does it matter if Trump could be, according to, say, the DSM, mentally disordered? And if the answer to that question is “no,” then can there be any occasion to judge or berate someone who thinks or behaves differently than a normative scale would condone?
My pondering quest thus has become more about how to allow for the necessity of what seems negative alongside all that seems positive: In the end, everything is “just” energy. What we see as physical “reality” is but perception; rather, physical forms are but shaped energetic mass, intrinsically impermanent. And what I may perceive as hateful or horrific is something whose impact carries more negative than positive energy… but that, too, is temporary. Even grief associated with deep loss subsides; the energy shifts.
Resounding in all my thoughts of such things is my favorite saying of Yogi Bhajan: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”