Sanity seems to be, as far as I can tell, the word we use for “normal”. It is the descriptor attached to modes of perceiving and behaving that do not stray outside of the boundaries of our cultural, familial, social and psychological norms. So sanity, then, is predictability. If we can predict roughly what a person will do next, we say that it sensible, it is sane. That man is crossing the street after looking both ways, he must be sane. That woman is reading a book the right way up, she must be sane. That person is smacking their child for yelling, they must be sane.
Now that last one should have twigged you to an important fact about sanity: the definition changes from person to person. What is normal to one may not be normal to another.
So really, our concept of sanity is a mess, propped up mostly by force. If we are deemed insane, we are forcibly removed from the environment sane people inhabit and we are taken to an “insane asylum”, where presumably by being surrounded by procedures and chemicals that dull the nerves and, of course, other “insane” people, we will immediately come to our senses and become “sane” once more.
To most psychiatrists, especially Freudian analysts, ego-death is considered a regression and therefore a form of neurosis. They see the common, day to day neurolinguistic functioning of the adult as the baseline of sanity, from which deviations must be treated with suspicion.
Likewise with business. The experience of ego-death is a deviation from the baseline of productivity and external focusing of the nervous system, and therefore it is “insanity” in the context of business.
Government, who rely on “sanity” for their control and power as much as psychology and business, also view ego-death as madness, as evidenced by the enormous propaganda campaigns against altered states of consciousness over the past fifty or so years. So by now I’m sure you’re starting to see that insanity in this context we have placed it, is almost entirely meaningless. It helps us understand nothing about the human condition and instead grants us the ability to marginalise. So what then can we say about sanity and insanity if we want to make them into useful concepts with descriptive validity?
Let’s try a new approach. Sanity can be defined as:
“That state of feeling and thinking which is most conducive to the fulfilment of the organisms authentic needs and desires, free from contradiction, conflict and confusion, that which allows the organism to act with vital freedom and without harm to itself or other.”
And perhaps we can see insanity as what impairs us from reaching that state, which we could also call basic nature, enlightenment, or simply being in the moment.
Let’s try a few more to see if we can outline sanity by taking passes at it.
Sanity is relaxation. Sanity is a state of non-pushing. Sanity is non-resistance to suffering. Sanity is seeing without naming. Sanity is awareness.
We can then see insanity as what hinders us from reaching these states, or the opposite of these states.
So, could we not say, if we agree on the above (and if we don’t please, let’s go into this together and find out), that ego-death is one of the purest forms of sanity, as it allows “…that state of feeling and thinking which is most conducive to the fulfillment of the organisms authentic needs and desires, free from contradiction, conflict and confusion, that which allows the organism to act with vital freedom and without harm to itself or other.”
What do you think?