“I demand that you refuse to be entertained and entranced by bad news--by stories whose plots are driven by violence, abuse, terrorism, bigotry, lawsuits, greed, crashes, alcoholism, disease, and torture.”
It's hard to keep thinking, much less writing, about this subject of our search for sanity. Why is it hard? Once you've glimpsed what it's like to be truly sane, it seems all bad habits and lethargy should just fall away. Once awakened ....
But that's just it. It's a long long road to true awakening. It's as if it's a long night and we're living in our dreams – unreal ones generated by our monkey mind, and only once in a rare while do we approach the surface and think, “I should wake up ... there's so much to do, so much life to live ...” But then we drift back into our primitive dream-reality and sleep soundly on.
It's something like a group dream, it seems to me. We share our “daily reality”, or what we take to be reality, with those around us. I believe that upon true awakening we will still share reality with our fellow humans, but a much higher and finer kind of reality than the one we cling to in our dreary existence as insane monkeys.
One thing I believe holds us back from glimpsing and embracing the possibility of true sanity is our ingrained habits, our passivity, our assumptions that this is all there is or ever can be for us. But for you, you who are reading this, there is a part of you that is far from passive. It's that part of you that has at least one eye half-open as you slumber, the eye that keeps glimpsing something so much more real than the sluggish dream we take to be our daily lives.
So I'm trying right now to talk to that eye, that Eye, that “I” that is You (and Me) and here's what I want to tell You: Wake Up!!
One thing that I've found that helps keep me aware of the possibility of sanity is this: the contrast between silence and the noises of our popular media. I'm not advocating you ignore popular media, by the way. Personally I am hooked on novels and cinema, but where possible, I choose those works that in some way question who we are, who we might be, what we might become. Media (books, magazines, movies, and television) is just a means of communication and is a powerful force, perhaps the most powerful force, in shaping our perceptions of what's real. Once you open yourself to that idea, that like it or not, we're forcefully yanked about by others' expressions of what they think is real, you have opened a huge door for yourself. If you have the least interest in becoming a sane human rather than an insane monkey, you must work daily to keep that door open, to stand back mentally from the media bombardment and remember that you can and must shape your own reality, rather than having your reality shaped for you constantly by others.
An important step is to turn off the media flow for yourself, at least long enough to experience what your own reality might be like. Find silence. Enjoy the contrast. Then, when you feel you can maintain that stance, when you're confident that you can remember that TV and magazines and books and movies and the Internet and even gossip are merely reality-expressions by other insane monkeys, and that you don't have to believe it or accept it or allow it to shape your opinions and views and actions – only then should you allow yourself back into the immersion of popular media all around you.
Another tool to release yourself from the powerful grip of media immersion is to remember – remember! - that your reality can be and deserves to be positive, even joyful. So anytime you find yourself exposed to ugly and negative expressions about reality, remember – remember! - that they are expressions of other insane monkeys' realities. You can accept them on their own terms, for what they are, without internalizing them and letting them affect your outlook, your reality. You can notice them, then let them go. Just as you can, when quietly meditating in your private sacred space, notice the wild thoughts of your mind, accept them, not allow yourself to be yanked about by them, and finally let them slide out of sight.
You can remind yourself that you have the power to observe, from your own view of reality, the meanness and anger and frustrations and violence being expressed by others. Importantly, you also have the power now to ignore them. Acknowledge, accept and ignore the blind and insane attempts by other monkeys to impose their limitations on you and your reality. You have that power. You have that choice. Practicing that choice, maintaining that mental and emotional distance can take hard work, especially at first, but believe me, it gets easier. And oh boy is it worth it!
Insane monkeys, awake!