The Difference Between A Spiritual Awakening and Psychosis

“A genuine spiritual awakening is the awakening of that deep inner layer of Being that is our own truest nature. As our awakening unfolds, we find that our thoughts begin to be more and more in attunement and alignment with the need of the time.”

Thom Knoles

Episode Summary

Episodes of psychosis and experiences of ‘spiritual awakening’ have one key characteristic in common, they are both experiences that are ‘out of the ordinary.’

This can be problematic, especially if the person making a diagnosis has not had an experience of spiritual awakening themselves.

One key distinction between the two states though, is that a spiritual awakening is accompanied by a stable sense of Self (with a capital S), whereas a psychotic episode is the opposite, and is usually accompanied by an erratic sense of self (with a small s).

A spiritual awakening is desirable, whereas a psychotic state is not. Listen to Thom explain the states in more detail, and how you can deliberately set yourself on a path that makes a spiritual awakening the more likely option for you.

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Episode Highlights


AThe State of Psychosis



A Genuine Spiritual Awakening



What Are You Minus All the Thoughts?



Experiencing What is Beyond Thought



Describing Your Experience in Language



Dr. Ronald D Laing’s Research on Psychosis



A World of Psychosis



Knowledge Eliminates Fear



Rapid and Frequent Change of One’s Sense of Identity



In Tune With the Laws of Nature



What is Cosmic Consciousness


Jai Guru Deva


The Crisis of GovernanceThe Difference Between A Spiritual Awakening and Psychosis

[00:00:45] The State of Psychosis

[00:00:45] I’ve been asked, what is the difference between a genuine spiritual awakening and a state of psychosis?

[00:00:53] This is a very good question and, first of all, let’s define psychosis, because the word psychosis is bandied about. Somebody might say, “You didn’t like my Instagram? You’re psychotic!” It’s become a little bit of a rubbish word, psychotic and psychosis, because actually it’s been grossly overused, and people don’t really know what it means anymore.

[00:01:17] So let’s just, first of all, define psychosis. The psychiatric definition of psychosis is complete separation from reality, and in brackets, here or parentheses as American say, (as judged by the majority of others). Psychosis is complete separation from reality as judged by the majority of others, where reality is judged by the majority of others as something different to what this person is experiencing. So then somebody could be classified as “psychotic.”

[00:01:53] Neurotic: partial separation from reality, as judged by the majority of others. So then, if there is nobody at all who’s capable of understanding what you’re experiencing, then technically, you could be judged to be psychotic, because you’re standing outside the range of the reality that’s judged by the majority of others.

[00:02:19] A Genuine Spiritual Awakening

[00:02:19] Now, generally, we think of the word psychotic as being a psychopathology. Pathology means a disease state. It’s a disease state because the person who is experiencing this has no way of integrating what they’re experiencing into the demands of daily life.

[00:02:38] The demand of daily life might be that you’re hungry and it’s time to eat lunch, and the person who’s pathologically psychotic might, instead of that, be out trying to paint a tree and not reacting at all to the fact that their body is very hungry and it’s evident that their body is lacking nourishment.

[00:02:57] And so somebody who cares for this person might look at them and say, “We have to do something about this. They’re engaging in behaviors that don’t appear to be relevant to the reality that most of us subscribe to.”

[00:03:10] A genuine spiritual awakening, let’s talk about that for a moment. Spiritual the word, spiritual comes from the word spirit, and we know that spirit means essence. The spirit of a thing is the essence of that thing.

[00:03:26] What is the spirit of a human? The spirit of human consciousness must be the underlying field of pure Being. Being is that consciousness state that is at the source of thought that underlies the thinking process of all humans.

[00:03:47] What Are You Minus All the Thoughts?

[00:03:47] People who don’t know how to step out of the field of thought and to isolate the state of Being through meditation, to experience just Being on its own, they’re not able to have a spiritual experience because they’re not able to experience spirit or Being. If someone is experiencing their essence, that is consciousness without thought; what does that mean very specifically? It means you minus all the thoughts.

[00:04:18] What are you minus all the thoughts? You are not the thoughts. It’s possible for you to experience just pure consciousness without thoughts.

[00:04:28] I once stated this in a colloquium I was giving at the University of Sydney, to the Department of Philosophy, and the professor who was known to be a rather pompous gentlemen, and I can talk about him now without naming him, but he’s long gone from this world, said in front of the group of 500 students, “A state of consciousness without thoughts?” right in the middle of my lecture he ejaculated these words into the room, “That’s not possible,” he said, “I’ve never experienced that!”

[00:05:00] And then you could hear a titter of laughter go through the 500 students that he had, who were the students of his philosophy course, and one of his very smart students said to him, “Sir, are you suggesting to us that the only experiences that it’s possible for anyone to have are experiences that you’ve personally had already? Could we please continue to listen to Dr. Knoles?” He apologized and said, “Yes, yes, my apologies. I was just so astonished by the concept of it.”

[00:05:33] Experiencing What is Beyond Thought

[00:05:33] So it is possible for you to experience consciousness, your spirit, consciousness is your essence, without any thought whatsoever. If you keep experiencing that, you’re having a spiritual experience.

[00:05:50] What is the spiritual awakening? That layer that’s deep inside you normally is transcendent. That absolute layer of you is transcendent.

[00:05:59] What does transcendent mean? It lies beyond your regular experience. It lies beyond your regular thinking state. It’s something that is transcendental. Something that’s transcendental is that which is beyond.

[00:06:15] So in order to experience it, we need to transcend thought. Transcend thought means to step beyond thought, to experience that which lies beyond thought. And what is that? It’s the real you. It’s the absolute part of you.

[00:06:34] When you experience that state with great regularity, because in Vedic Meditation we practice the technique for 20 minutes twice, each day, and in every session of meditation our mind settles down and either become very close to that state of Being, or actually steps completely beyond thought for moments at a time, and becomes one with that state of Being, identifying with it totally, then the awakening begins.

[00:07:01] Describing Your Experience in Language

[00:07:01] That which was once transcendental, that is beyond the regular thinking process, awakens inside. That deep inner layer of you, the capital S, Self, the true Self, awakens inside, and when it awakens one’s sense of reality begins to go through change.

[00:07:23] “I am the absolute field of Being, and I generate thoughts in response to the need of the time.” Thoughts appear as a way of interacting with the demand for evolution.

[00:07:39] “My individuality is a means through which my true nature, my spirit, my absolute state of Being is able to operate in the relative world. That deeper inner aspect of me, moreover, is not just my personal little patch of contented happiness.

[00:07:58] “I sense that ground state, that I touch on when I meditate, is actually the ground state of all things and all consciousnesses. That means there’s an element of me that evidently is everywhere, and everything is issuing forth from it.”

[00:08:20] Now, somebody who doesn’t know how to describe their experience in language that is good communication, might have such an experience, and if they’re somebody living in a town where nobody has had any philosophical education or other kinds of true spiritual education, they describe an experience like this. “I’m the absolute field, I’m generating thoughts, and the thoughts are appropriate to the need of the time,” and so on and so forth, someone might look at them and go, “Oh, oh! Certifiable person. Psychotic. Not experiencing reality, according to the rest of us.” That’s a possibility.

[00:09:01] Dr. Ronald D Laing’s Research on Psychosis

[00:09:01] I would like to refer you to the writings of Ronald D Laing, L-A-I-N-G. R.D. Laing was a great psychiatrist from the 1970s who began to identify that in the psychiatric institutions in United Kingdom and the United States, many people who had been locked up there and certified as psychotic, in fact had that treatment simply because they were having experiences of a spiritual nature that were outside the ordinary, and nobody understood it, and they didn’t themselves know how to talk about it.

[00:09:40] And so they were receiving frontal lobotomies, many of which he performed prior to his own illumination on the subject. Dr. Laing performed many of those frontal lobotomies, where frontal lobes of the brain are transected or cut out completely, and electroconvulsive therapy where electrical shocks are applied to the scalp of the person to shock them, and then hopefully their brain will recover from the shock with fewer thoughts that are outside the ordinary.

[00:10:11] He administered many of these electroconvulsive therapy sessions to patients in mental hospitals before his illumination. And then he became illuminated about the subject and began to hold forth on how spiritual emergence might turn into spiritual emergency.

[00:10:30] A World of Psychosis

[00:10:30] And so, it is possible in a society that is ignorant of spiritual experiences, to assess somebody as being “psychotic.” But the opposite also stands true, as we gain more and more enlightenment…

[00:10:47] What does that mean? Awakening of that deep, inner sense of self, as we gain more and more awakening of that deep inner layer of Being, that is our own inner truest nature, and as we find that our thoughts begin to be more and more in attunement, in alignment with the need of the time, in alignment with the laws of Nature, and as we find that we are spontaneously violating laws of Nature less, and making ourselves suffer less, we may look at the rest of the world and think, what is it about that world that’s not psychotic?

[00:11:24] The world itself, from the point of view of an enlightened person, seems to be a psychotic world. People whose personal identity is changing all the time, someone who can become depressed because they didn’t get the 1500 likes that they wanted on their Instagram account.

[00:11:40] Someone who read a Facebook message about them and they realized that maybe they were in danger of being “canceled” on Facebook by people who were going to judge them negatively because of something they accidentally said that wasn’t quite politically correct, and now they feel like their whole life is over, because of this imaginary Facebook thing that, you’re only in that reality if you’re in that reality, it doesn’t have a reality of its own.

[00:12:13] And yet, it can actually drive people into complete unhappy, unfortunate, even suicidal states. “Is that not psychotic,” thinks the enlightened person? “Am I not the one of maybe few who know how to awaken this deep, inner state of Self and living like islands in a world of psychosis?”

[00:12:37] Knowledge Eliminates Fear

[00:12:37] There is a very good argument to be made about the entire collective of the world today being marginally, at least, marginally psychotic. So then, these words need to be examined, both in terms of their broadest possible meaning.

[00:12:53] What we advocate is that knowledge eliminates fear. If you understand spiritual experience and you have it explained to you by a qualified teacher, someone who knows how to give you language for what you’re experiencing, someone who knows what the steps of progress are, from one level of experience, as a result of practicing meditation every day, to another level, and who can teach you through their own language, how to communicate about what you’re experiencing and not to bewilder the public.

[00:13:28] We have an old saying from the Vedic tradition, “the wise do not bewilder the ignorant.” When we’re having experiences that are not understandable by people who have not yet experienced what we’re experiencing, then if we don’t wish to be persecuted or crucified, it’s best that we don’t try to explain what we’re experiencing until somebody has shown some worthy inquiry about understanding a little bit about what it is we’re doing with our practice.

[00:13:59] And then, learning how to communicate without bewildering people, learning how to understand and explain your own experience, knowing what it exactly is, removing from it the veil of mysticism, and making it instead a realm of systematic knowledge, that can be delineated conceptually in a way that meets all the standards of modern science, and which produces, as a result of the experience measurable phenomena in the human brain and body, that then match the theory.

[00:14:33] So then, when we have theory and the applied science both together, we have a systematic approach, and it makes what we’re doing attractive to people, instead of people looking at us and saying, “Those people are psychotic.”

[00:14:51] Rapid and Frequent Change of One’s Sense of Identity

[00:14:51] So then this thing about who’s psychotic, who’s actually psychotic? Well, whoever’s identity changes with the greatest frequency. This is, again, a psychiatric assessment.

[00:15:02] If someone’s identity, that is, their sense of who they are and what they are, changes with great frequency, “Did I get Instagram likes, Facebook likes? Did I this? Did I that? Do people like me, my fashions? Am I wearing the right thing?

[00:15:15] “When I saw somebody scoff, were they looking at the person behind me? Were they looking at me? I don’t really know. Are they serious? Are they joking? I don’t have an identity except that, which I see reflected back to me, or as I think it is reflected back to me by other people around me.

[00:15:31] And so, I’m constantly changing my identity to keep up, to be politically correct, to use the right words, and never use the wrong words. Otherwise, somebody might cancel me.”

[00:15:41] I just saw a fabulous ad for a new t-shirt that you can buy: “Can’t wait to be canceled,” it said right across the front, but even that won’t cure this.

[00:15:55] If there’s a rapid and frequent change of one’s personal inner sense of what one is and who one is, this is one of the psychiatric definitions of someone who has psychopathology, who has a mental disease.

[00:16:11] In Tune With the Laws of Nature

[00:16:11] Whereas a meditator, a meditator is growing every day in consolidation of the direct experience, “I am Totality. I am, meaning at the baseline of my consciousness, not my little individual body and all of that, but at the baseline of my consciousness, my spiritual reality, the reality of my essence, my spirit, is that my deep inner sense of Self is the basis of all things.”

[00:16:39] This is what enlightenment is and, in that state, one’s behavior only ever is in tune with the laws of Nature. One can no longer inadvertently make oneself suffer by violating the laws of Nature. Nobody ever intentionally makes themselves suffer like, “I’m going to go out and make myself have a really painful experience now.”

[00:17:02] Thinking that we’re going to make ourselves happy through some kind of unsustainable behavior, inadvertently, we violate laws of Nature that create a cascade of effects that end up causing us to suffer instead of being happy.

[00:17:18] And we hear it all the time, “I was only trying to make myself happy when I…” whatever. Fill in the blank. “When I did this, I thought I was going to make myself happy.” And then what ended up? Gross unhappiness.


[00:17:31] What is Cosmic Consciousness

[00:17:31] As we develop in our consciousness, our deep, inner spiritual reality, we make this, consolidate this, and turn it into a solid, invincible consciousness state, then individuality and cosmic nature merge together, and we refer to this consciousness state as Cosmic Consciousness.

[00:17:53] And in Cosmic Consciousness, one is no longer capable of cooking up plans to be happy that involve violating laws of Nature, that ultimately are just going to make you unhappy.

[00:18:05] One’s thoughts don’t have to be guarded. The thoughts that arise in the mind of someone in Cosmic Consciousness are only those thoughts, which, if acted upon, will bring good to all others, as well as to oneself.

[00:18:20] Spontaneous right action is all that emerges, without having to think about what is spontaneous right action or debate inside oneself. No more debating. Just spontaneously, from within, the only kinds of thoughts that can bubble up are those thoughts which, if acted upon, will bring good and evolution and progress to oneself, and to all those who are surrounding us, who are concerned with our daily life. No more psychosis.

[00:18:50] Jai Guru Deva.

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