Escaping madness

Madness is to get trapped defending a self that doesn’t exist. Photo by Ye Jinghan on Unsplash

There’s a particular kind of madness which causes us great suffering. It’s caused by an imbalance between the self and others.

With this madness:

  1. Our relationships end in distrust.
  2. We find ourselves in perpetual battles, seldom involving direct confrontation, but often involving indirect confrontation.
  3. We are acutely aware of others’ rules, but see ourselves as exceptions to those rules.
  4. We believe the world is wrong, and we are right.
  5. We are desperate to enlist others to give us maximum help for minimum rewards.
  6. We create drama where none need exist.

In short, we become untrusting, passive-aggressive, disobedient, self-righteous catastrophisers.

What are the drivers?  Selfishness, fear and deception – in that order.


The first mistake we make is to put our own interests before others.  We then become extremely watchful of the world, checking for instances where there is a danger of others beating us to prizes, or of us getting left behind.


Now, selfishness, in itself, is quite dry.  It needs something else to spice it up, some emotional colour to add energy.  Fear does this.  Once we experience fear of loss, then it gives our selfishness something to do.  Selfishness obsessively spots where others are gaining an advantage; and fear winds us up so that we need to do something about it.


Obviously, we can’t do this selfish fear thing, and still live with ourselves.  Who wants to see themselves as being selfish and fearful?  Practically no-one.  This is where deception comes in to save the day.  We become experts at reinterpreting situations so that others, not we, are being selfish.

There are a large number of deception techniques, but they are all variations on one simple technique; projection.  Projection is the art of pinning the blame on someone else, and making the self the victim.


OK, so let’s recap.  This is how to drive ourselves mad:

  1. Put our own interests before others
  2. Fear the loss of those personal interests
  3. Disguise the whole thing by pinning the blame on someone else


Once it has built up a head of steam, the madness can only really end one way: in breakdown.  We wrap our selfish fear in blame, and then go looking for more and more losses to fear.  As long as we blame others for everything, we can always take the part of the victim, and keep on collecting even more losses to fear.

Life will be full of distrust (not our fault), we will be fighting battles on many fronts (not our fault), everything will be all wrong (not our fault), and we will be surrounded by drama (not our fault).  Eventually ‘it’ will all become too much.


How do we reverse the situation and give ourselves a rest?  How do we end the madness and encounter peace and sanity?

It’s kind of simple.

  1. We realise that the ‘self’ we are defending doesn’t exist.  (We know this really – I mean, can we really say what ‘we’ are except awareness… and awareness isn’t really a self, it’s just awareness.  It doesn’t need to possess anything or have anything.)
  2. If we can really realise the emptiness of the self, then our fear is likely to subside, because fear is based on self-defence, and there is no self to defend.
  3. If we are merely aware, and unafraid, then there is no need to pin the blame on anyone else, because awareness is not intimidating at all.  We don’t need deception or distortion.  We can just see.

That’s about it.

We go mad all the time, because we fall into selfishness, fear, and deception.  We become a bundle of disguised fear of loss.

We find peace when we become aware, and the myth of the self dissolves.  Our fear subsides, and we simply become present.

It’s just that sometimes we get a bit addicted to the madness.  Some of us need to hit rock bottom before the scales fall from our eyes.  All that drama can be quite intoxicating.