Real concern about a friend...

Steph , modified 12 Years ago at 6/29/10 11:02 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 6/29/10 11:02 PM

Real concern about a friend...

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
I have a friend who was raised by a traditional Hindu family, started meditating at the age of 12, had his first out of body experiences at the age of 14, followed by what he says was a mental breakdown (not knowing how to deal with his "lost" identity at such a young age). He stopped meditating after that, but he said around age 18 he heard the voice of a divine feminine being speak very loudly to him. He was about to attempt suicide because he said he wanted to escape the human world and be totally with the divine, and the voice told him to stop, so he did. No further suicide attempts, according to him. The divine voice didn't come again all too often after that, but within the past couple of years (he's now 30) he claims to have developed full fledged clairaudience (same divine feminine voice from age 18 is now his spiritual guide).

He uses this medium to give readings over the telephone, a few of which I have been in the room to overhear what he is saying. In the readings I've heard, he was answering callers questions about relationships. Whether the readings are accurate according to callers, I have no idea, but what he has said would appear plausible if one believed mediumship is legitimately connected to a higher spiritual being (admittedly, I don't).

Here's where I get really worried. He went to India recently and had an experience where he says he became possessed/directly experienced Darshan - via the Divine Mother (higher spiritual force than his regular guide) and lost all sense of self or attachment in a state of total ecstasy.... and the divine mother possessed him to slit his wrists to sacrifice some of his blood to her. As if that isn't scary enough for anyone to wrap their head around, he says he feels blessed that this happened and claims it has nothing to do with "him" doing it and its occurrence was completely out of his control. When I expressed a lot of concern over this and the possibility that it could happen again, or more seriously that he sacrificed himself entirely at some point (i.e. suicide, which is not far fetched considering prior attempt at 18)... he said his mother doesn't make mistakes and even if he did die, he doesn't care, he's not attached to his body and if that was his destiny, so be it.

I think he's at serious risk here and needs help... However, it's very unlikely he'll get it since he thinks Western psychology is pretty much bullshit and is very vested in his beliefs. I contacted a cousin of his, whom also knows about all his spiritual beliefs and experiences. His cousin said he's talked with him before and suggested he get supervision when doing any work at this level because it is risky and he could waste a potential gift. The cousin also said he's in no position to force him to do anything or watch over him entirely, obviously, but that I should keep checking up. So it appears that although cousin is worried too, he to a degree legitimizes the belief system by saying it's okay to continue with the mediumship if supervised and thinking it is a gift... so I'm not sure how much help he'll be. Does anyone here have experience dealing with this sort of thing.. any advice of what else I could do to help?
J Adam G, modified 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 1:58 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 1:54 AM

RE: Real concern about a friend...

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Well, I could go on about western psychiatric concepts like dissociative disorders, and reality checking, and cognitive training, but since he won't accept any of that...

I'm reminded of Ajahn Chah's recommendation for dealing with people in situations like this. According to the simple 3-type model of personality found in the Vimuttimagga (among other, more complex models of personality), this individual would be of the predominantly deluded type, as opposed to desirous or aversive types. Ajahn Chah always recommended gentle and simple practices for people with significant amounts of delusion, with a focus on gentle and accepting mindfulness.

Actual vipassana practice is not recommended in this situation by the Ajahn, or by the Vimuttimagga or Visuddhimagga. What is recommended is developing an accepting mindfulness, with the aim of gradually reducing the delusion by immersing the person in reality. Concentration practices are also not recommended. The practical reasons for not recommending these advanced meditations is that it could be disastrous to trigger dark night or siddhi stuff in such a person. (Thank you Vimuttimagga for being so practical, and less bogged down in doctrine than most other commentaries!)

So, is there any way you could influence him to look at some gentle choiceless awareness practices, without a particular emphasis on investigation or absorption but rather just on seeing what's happening in the present moment, and accepting that it's happening without spinning in thought or content?
J Groove, modified 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 7:52 AM
Created 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 7:52 AM

RE: Real concern about a friend...

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Hi Yana Pets.
Here's a link to the Spiritual Emergence Network.

This is an organization founded in part by Stanislav Grof, the pioneering consciousness researcher. It is dedicated to helping people integrate and cope with severe kundalini awakenings and other spiritual openings that are usually dismissed by Western scientific materialism. I've read some accounts of the work these people do and it seems like they might be able to either give you some solid advice on how to work constructively with your friend, or even work directly with your friend, should he be open to the idea.
Best of luck!
Steph , modified 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 4:36 PM
Created 12 Years ago at 6/30/10 4:36 PM

RE: Real concern about a friend...

Posts: 669 Join Date: 3/24/10 Recent Posts
Adam - Thanks for the tips. I've discussed my own Vipassana & noting experiences with my friend before and he was curious about it. Good to know that it's not something he should try because at an earlier point I may have suggested it to him. Since he was receptive to what I've told him on that topic, perhaps choiceless awareness (which I've done a slim amount of) might be easy to persuade him to do. Although I will say, I'm hesitant to tell him to try anything new that's meditation related for fear that it might have some sort of opposite effect and reinforce things.

Joel - Thank you too. I was doing a google search for spirituality and psychology, so that organization seems very helpful. I'll get in touch with someone in their database near my area to feel things out and see what they advise.

Thanks again. Here's hoping this turns out well. emoticon

Tommy M, modified 11 Years ago at 11/13/10 4:29 PM
Created 11 Years ago at 11/13/10 4:29 PM

RE: Real concern about a friend...

Posts: 1199 Join Date: 11/12/10 Recent Posts
I don't know if I'm replying to this after the fact but I hope you're friend is doing ok. A few of the things you've said about him and his experiences remind me of Gopi Krishna, an Indian beaureucrat I read about who experienced a spiritual awakening which was proceeded by a very lengthy period of mental breakdown, psychiatric problems and what I've seen described as a permanently negative somatic state. Apparently this was, outwardly, very similar to what the Western psychiatric profession called schizophrenia. Eventually he came out of this state and became evangelical about the beauty in everything, the presence of divinity in all things, and all that lovely 5th circuit somatic bliss (to steal a model from Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson).

My own experiences in my early teens are very similar to this too but considerably less dramatic so I do kind of understand what you mean.

It sounds to me like your friend, while naturally inclined towards these higher states, has entered into a similar state. Whether or not this is part of his 'destiny', as he puts it, I have no idea but I sincerely hope he remains in this world and deals with these issues for his own benefit.
no-name seems more proper, modified 10 Years ago at 8/16/11 9:51 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 8/16/11 9:51 AM

RE: Real concern about a friend...

Posts: 12 Join Date: 8/16/11 Recent Posts
Some sort of preta, demi-god second most likely. They find clever ways to feed themselves. Like the Mars Volta run in with such a being. I find it difficult to suggest anything of use to you beyond this due to you saying he is vested in his views. This view reenforced due to his recent experiences might make it out of your hands. Stay supportive and read as much as you can find on these beings. Padmasambava might have rituals written down to deal with the specific type of preta.
James Yen, modified 10 Years ago at 12/29/11 4:18 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/29/11 4:18 AM

RE: Real concern about a friend...

Posts: 270 Join Date: 9/6/09 Recent Posts
This quote might be relevant:

Krishnamurti often spoke of the false division between ‘me’ and ‘not me’. He said that in actuality we are all one etc. I have a friend who read Krishnamurti all the time and we used to have interesting conversations about Krishnamurti’s writings. He seemed ok at the time. However, he began to change gradually, and at one point he confessed to me that he has understood Krishnamurti completely, he said that everything looks different and vivid, that every moment is full of joy and bliss. He seemed to be extremely happy and full of energy.

I grew a bit worried about him, as he seemed to be a bit manic. When I next saw him, he really was in a manic state. He had moved away from his wife and children, spent all his money on expensive furniture and at the same time selling everything he had previously owned. I asked him why he did this and what was going on in his mind. He had this strange look when he told me that he had heard voices that told him that he had ‘the face of love’ and that the voices called him ‘his holiness’. He was convinced that he was going through the same ‘process’ that K had gone through. When I suggested that he might need some professional help, he became angry and said that nobody could understand him. He said ‘I’m going my way’ and continued to sell everything he owned. Daily he spent several hours just wondering around streets and told me that he had close contact with nature, that he could feel very deeply the beauty of the nature. He didn’t want to see his wife or children.

As time went on, he began to isolate and didn’t want to see anyone. Occasionally he let me visit him. He was still in a manic state and told me enthusiastically about an experience he’d had: he had felt a flowing feeling in his head, he had felt that his body was not separate from the world around him. He believed that at that moment he was one with the world, that there was no separation anymore between ‘me’ and ‘not-me’ He laughed when he told me that he had had to wrap a scarf around his head tightly so that he could still feel that his head ‘belonged to him’. Also he told me that he’d had an experience where he felt that something was pulled from his head, he thought that it was his spirit being pulled away. He told me that he had panicked but then the voices had told him ‘calm down my dear child, you are not going to die, it is not always easy to be new’. This experience convinced him that he was ‘chosen one’ and that he was a living example of ‘living the teachings’.

His life quickly deteriorated. He quit his job, stopped caring about personal hygiene and only occasionally let me or his family see him. He showed me his writings, which were incomprehensible – he explained that he had found connections between almost everything in the world and he tried to express this in his writing. When anyone tried to suggest that he see a doctor, he began to had these fits of rage, he kept repeating that no-one would understand him, that he was well, he had never felt better in his life and that he would never under any circumstance accept to have medication.

This episode lasted about nine months. For the last few months I didn’t see him. Then he phoned me and spoke in a whispery voice and told me that he couldn’t understand what had went on. I went to see him. He had returned to his family and was a shadow of his former self. He told me couldn’t remember everything about the past months, but he remembered that he had felt extremely powerful. He told me that he had heard sounds louder than normally, also that the colours had looked brighter than usual and he had been much quicker than usual in anything he did. Now he was desperate and depressed and said that he felt totally empty. Nowadays he takes medication for depression and panic attacks and mainly stays at home.

So: could reading Krishnamurti be a threat to your sanity?