What is madness?
There are two possibilities. Madness literally means going out of the mind; hence the two possibilities. You can go out of the mind either below the mind or above the mind.
Ordinarily, people go below the mind because it needs no effort, you don’t have to do anything. Any shock can shatter the stability of your mind: somebody you loved died, your business has gone bankrupt – the shock is so much that you cannot keep your normality. You fall below the mind, your behavior becomes irrational.
But you go beyond the misery. If you had remained in the normal mind the shock would have created immense misery. It is a natural way to avoid the shock. It simply pulls you down; now you don’t know what has happened. Your business has gone bankrupt, your wife has died or your child has died – it doesn’t matter, in fact you don’t even remember. You have entered into a new phase, you have become a new person. But it is going to be irrational, abnormal, unpredictable. All over the world this is ordinarily called madness, insanity.
Only in the East have we found that there is another kind of madness, too, that comes by deep meditation: going beyond the mind. Both are outside the mind; hence there is some similarity. So sometimes you will find that the madman once in a while behaves almost as a wise man. He has insights – he has no control over them, they are just flashes, but sometimes he can see things which you cannot see.
In the East, where the mind has been the sole center of all research down the centuries, we have discovered that you can go above the mind. Sufism accepts that state and calls it the state of a masta – a divine madman. He is mad, but he is superhumanly mad. His behavior is irrational as far as our logic is concerned. But perhaps there is a higher logic, according to which his behavior is not irrational.
In India such a man is called paramahansa. Ramakrishna, in the nineteenth century, was one of the men who was called paramahansa. The behavior of a paramahansa is utterly mad, but intensely beautiful, and has a depth which even the greatest genius of the mind does not have.
It happened, that in Ramakrishna’s time:
He lived just outside Calcutta, on the bank of the Ganges in a small temple. Now many temples have arisen, and in Calcutta…. At that time Calcutta was the capital of India, not New Delhi, so the cream of intellectuals, creative people, was in Calcutta. And anyway, Bengalis are the most intelligent people in India, mostly intellectual.