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Chapter 29: Madness as a Method

This meditation seems to be sheer madness!

It is, and it is that way for a purpose. It is madness with a method. It is consciously chosen.

Remember, you cannot go mad voluntarily. Madness takes possession of you. Only then can you go mad. If you go mad voluntarily it’s a totally different thing. You are basically in control, and one who can control even his madness will never go mad.

You can go mad at any moment because you have accumulated everything that is necessary to go into madness. Everyone is just on the verge of madness.

I am reminded of an incident.

One of the greatest psychologists of this century, William James, once went to visit a madhouse, a mental asylum. He was one of the sanest men possible, one who knew much about the human mind, its mechanism and its working.

He visited a madhouse. Suddenly, he became sad. Looking at the madmen he became worried, a deep anguish overcame him. He left, but that night he couldn’t sleep. In the morning he was trembling - a fear, as if a deep fear had been awakened.

His wife became disturbed, his students became disturbed. They asked, “What has happened to you? Your face looks pale, deathly pale. Are you ill? But you were okay. Yesterday you were okay, healthy, everything was good. What happened to you in the madhouse?”

William James said, “A thought came to me. I saw one of my old friends there. He was sane once, as sane as anyone. Now he is mad, and he couldn’t do anything to prevent it. A thought came to my mind that if, tomorrow or the next day, I am taken possession of by madness, how could I prevent it? Man is helpless. This friend of mine was as sane as me, or even more so. He couldn’t do anything, he has become mad. I also can become mad, and nothing can be done to prevent it. That helplessness makes me sad.

“Last night I couldn’t sleep. At any moment madness may come and I cannot do anything to prevent it. I am on the verge.”

And William James remained sad his whole life. He couldn’t forget that mad friend who had once been okay and now there was nothing that could bring him back from that world of madness.

Anyone can become mad at any moment. But I was not there to talk to William James, otherwise I would have said to him that something can be done to prevent it. Go mad voluntarily! Use madness as a method to be relieved of madness. Throw the madness out of your system, don’t go on accumulating and repressing it. Allow it to escape from you, don’t preserve it.

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