We are a species gone mad. Why don’t we see the collective psychosis we are in? We are like fish who don’t see the water they are swimming in because the water is everywhere, both within the fish and the fish within it. Some of us have an extreme conception, I imagine, of what it would look like if we were to fall into a collective psychosis. I imagine, for example, that many of us think that if our species has truly gone collectively mad, we’d be running around naked and screaming at the top of our lungs and doing wild and crazy things, or something of that nature. In other words, I find myself imagining that many people think if we were truly a species gone mad, it would look very different than what is happening right now. And yet, because of thinking that a collective psychosis would look a certain way, we miss what is in front of our eyes. The fact that we are systematically, over time, colluding with each other so as to destroy the very biosphere that is our life support system is somehow not recognized to be a form of collective psychosis. I mean, collective psychosis is a strong word. Maybe I should think of a milder word, because I certainly wouldn’t want to offend anyone.
Imagine sometime in the future when we all wake up and contemplate this time in history. Having woken up to that we are not separate from one another, we would look back upon the early part of the twenty-first century and literally scratch our heads in wonderment at what those people in 2006 were thinking. I imagine it would be so strange to consider the extreme dissociation, trauma and unconsciousness that our species was destructively acting out on the world stage.
From an awakened point of view, I imagine, it would seem completely incomprehensible why people, who were interconnected parts of a greater whole and were truly “one,” were trying to destroy each other. It would appear as if they were suffering from a very peculiar form of psychic AIDS, an auto-immune disease of the psyche writ large on the world stage. In auto-immune deficiency syndrome, the immune system of the organism perversely attacks the very life it is trying to protect. In trying to live, it destroys life, ultimately destroying itself. Similarly, we are not only destroying each other, but are self-destructively taking down the biosphere, the global immune system upon which we all depend for our very survival. If the planet were seen as an organism, and people seen as cells in the greater organism of the planet, it would be as if these cells had become cancerous or parasitic, and had turned on themselves, destroying the very organism of which they themselves were a part. Traumatized, it was as if our species was enacting a mass suicide ritual on a global scale.
From an awakened point of view, it would be inconceivable to enact violence on each other, I imagine, for to perpetrate violence on one another is to do violence to ourselves. Those crazy people in the early part of the twenty-first century were unconsciously enacting their trauma onto each other, traumatizing each other while concurrently re-traumatizing themselves in an infinitely self-perpetuating feedback loop. Reinforcing each others’ madness, they were a species unconsciously “possessed” by and compulsively acting out an archetypal power greater than themselves. From an awakened point of view, I imagine, it could not be more clear that people in the early part of the twenty-first century had gone collectively mad.
From an awakened point of view, the early twenty-first century was an age of darkness. A shadow had befallen the planet and was acting itself out by incarnating through our species. People were taken over by fear, and were living in a world of lack and scarcity. People felt themselves “alien-ated” from the natural environment and from each other, as well as from themselves. Our species was absorbed in a world of materialism, having forgotten the spiritual dimension of our experience. Instead of co-operating with each other, we fought with one another. It was as if our species had gone “out of our minds” together, as we all played into and off of each other’s madness.
What is playing out in our world is not “like” a collective psychosis, it is nothing other than a collective psychosis. Look at how we are investing our energy. We are literally investing our resources into engines of mass destruction to “protect” ourselves. And we are destroying ourselves in the process. We are literally feeding and supporting our own genocide. And people ask me what makes me think there is a collective psychosis going on?
It is “shattering” for people to look at and come to terms with the fact that our species is in the midst of a psychic epidemic, for it is to see the part of ourselves that has not been in our “right” mind. This is to look in the mirror, self-reflect and see our own “shadow,” our own darker and inferior half. Realizing our complicity in the collective madness is both liberating and traumatizing, as this realization creates higher-orders of freedom while simultaneously inducing a form of post-traumatic stress disorder, which itself is a form of madness. In other words, to realize how we had been part of the collective madness is truly “shocking” and induces a certain form of madness, just as trauma can literally cause a fever in a person. The fever is potentially the organism’s way of metabolizing the trauma, just like the trauma of seeing how asleep we’ve been propels us to wake up.
The major obstacle blocking people from seeing the collective psychosis that has afflicted our species is our unwillingness to experience the pain, shame, guilt, mortification and trauma of realizing the madness in which we ourselves have been complicit. Most people simply choose to distract themselves and avoid dealing with this most uncomfortable realization, choosing instead to stay asleep, which of course just feeds into the collective madness. Until we recognize our part in the collective madness, we have fallen prey to it and are literally supporting it by our unawareness of it.
People’s reactions to the words “collective psychosis” makes me associate to experiences I’ve had in dreams. There have been times I’ve been in a dream and I’ve told other people in the dream (my fellow “dream characters”) that we were all in a mass shared dream, and their response was to tell me that I shouldn’t use the word “dream,” that it is too strong of a word, that it has too many connotations. Why am I using the dream word anyway, they say, it is confusing. Couldn’t I think of a different word to use?
I really don’t know what to say to someone when they ask me why am I using such an extreme word as collective psychosis, just like I don’t know what to say when someone in a dream asks me to use a word other than “dream” to describe the nature of our shared experience. How can I communicate to fish swimming in water that they are swimming in water? This is a genuine question that I am asking myself.
The question becomes something like “how do I teach the fish to see the water? How do I help the fish to simply recognize the nature of their situation?” It is clear that if I proselytize to the fish, trying to convince them of the water that pervades every aspect of their experience, this wont help, as the fish are not able to see what I am pointing at because it is so overwhelmingly obvious. It is as if the fish are suffering from a form of psychic blindness due to the ubiquity of that which they are unable to see. If I am trying to preach to and enlighten the fish, then who is the one who is blind but me, as if I am the blind trying to lead the blind.
It makes no sense to try to show a Bush supporter their delusion, for example, as they are literally unable to see how they are deceived. To try to convince a Bush supporter of anything having to do with “reality,” no matter how much evidence we have, is itself a form of madness. The question becomes “how do I teach the fish the art of seeing.”
My situation is like I am pointing at all of the faces hidden in the landscape in those children’s books, and some people just don’t see what I am pointing at because their eyes are slightly out of focus. All we have to do to see is make the slightest adjustment in the focus of our vision. The hidden faces are literally staring us in the face, simply waiting to be recognized. We don’t have to add them, they already exist. Our situation is similar, in that our collective madness is what IS happening and we are simply being asked by the universe to recognize what is being revealed to us by our madness.
While acting itself out through us, our collective psychosis is simultaneously showing us something about ourselves. To recognize how our collective psychosis cultivates itself through our unconsciousness of it is to go from being part of the problem to embodying the solution. Encoded in the collective psychosis is a deeper process which (potentially) awakens the participants, which is all of us. As more people wake up to how we are all unwittingly participating in the “insanity” that is playing out in the world, we are able to connect with each other “in sanity,” and unite together like T cells to heal the cancer infecting the greater body politic. We become islands of sanity in an ocean of madness. Over time the islands in our archipelago of sanity join with each other and form continents, so to speak, as we dispel the madness in the field. Just like people who become lucid in a dream can connect with each other in lucid awareness and transform the dream they are all sharing.
How our collective psychosis unfolds depends on whether or not we recognize what it is revealing to us, and both act from, and literally embody this realization. Recognizing what is being revealed by the madness in our world transforms everything, as it is literally the birth of consciousness, or as Jung would say, the incarnation of God through humanity. All we have to do to see is open our eyes and look.
A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. Paul is also a visionary artist and a spiritually-informed political activist. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis,which is available on his website www.awakeninthedream.com. (See the first chapter, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis). Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. You can contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org; he looks forward to your reflections. © Copyright 2010