Has the entire world gone utterly insane?
There is a rumor going around that I am mad and I answer: “Of course I am mad, but my madness is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Other people have Sanity No.1 on Monday, Sanity No.2 on Tuesday, Sanity No.3 on Wednesday and another Sanity next week. Of course, I cannot accept that kind of sanity.”
—Murshid Samuel “Sufi Sam” Lewis (1896-1971) letter, December 12, 1961, in Sufi Vision and Inititiation: Meetings with Remarkable Beings 
Has the entire world gone utterly insane?
The only rational answer, of course, is: Yes.
There may be a few exceptions—you know, enlightened saints, holy sages, and such. Most very young children. Maybe even a few more or less isolated communities scattered in overlooked pockets around the planet, tucked away quietly here and there. But otherwise, everyone sure seems utter full-blown batshit crazy looked at from the belfrey rafter I hang from.
How does it all look from where you hang?
Forget, for a moment, the Christian jihadis like Cruz and Carson & Huckabee and all the many other angry clowns & klanners packed into the GOP “Insane in the Membrane Campaign” bus, Keystone Cops car. Forget, for a moment, the Islamist jihadi Daesh battalions of death, the drone-striking Global Death Squad Oil Drug Cartel that is the Pentagon & White House. The henchmen of the weapons manufacturing profiteers, Big Pharm, & Fuel corporations raking in trillions while they destroy life everywhere on the planet. Forget, for a moment, “loner” students turning assault guns on their teachers and fellow classmates all across America. Forget, for a moment, racist cops shooting unarmed black youth in the back eight times as the youth run away or are kicked handcuffed to the pavement. If you haven’t figured out yet that “It’s Paris Everywhere Now” everyday, day after day, then you just haven’t been paying attention. Bombs aren’t going to stop any time soon. More bombs hurled back in any other direction aren’t gonna help those of us who are left. Not for long. We have to figure out something else, something deeper and more effective. Everyone knows this.
We’re all attending a concert or sitting in a sidewalk café in Paris, or sitting in a classroom anywhere across America. We’re all attending a wedding in Beirut, a peace rally in Ankara, sitting down to family dinner in Kabul. We’re all running the Boston Marathon, and the backpack-bombs are set and ticking to go off. We are all on a plane flying home somewhere. We’re all in this together.
Buddha described it as like being inside a burning house and your hair is already on fire. That was over 2,500 years ago.
Of course it all drives one insane, the crazy scarey way things are today. The way they’ve been for a very long time now. Are things getting worse? Doesn’t matter, really—they’re bad enough already.
Way past bad enough right now.
All we have is right now and right now is crazy deadly.
But no one gets out of here alive in the long run, anyway.
And we all know this. We’ve known it all along. This is what Buddha meant by the fire.
And yet, even though we all know this, still, when you realize that you may be blown up this very minute, or be gunned down later this afternoon, it can drive you crazy.
It can block your ability to move forward in this otherwise beautiful world.
It can make it difficult to know how to start your day.
I long ago found my own ways to deal with this. As we all must. I would try to pass these along, but each of us must find our own path, of course. Still, some possibly helpful little hints can be shared from time to time.
Naturally, it simply all has to do with love. Love more, and things will be better. Less crazy. More love, less fear and violence.
One form of love is music. Of course. More music.
I love this piece of music (posted below) and often find it helpful.
Give it a listen. You may enjoy it.
And I certainly had, and have, lots and lots of help finding my own way.
Sufi Sam, quoted above, was a classical musician, and the founder of the Universal Dances of Peace, among other things. He was an American Jew, the heir to the Levis-Strauss blue-jean fortune. He did not accept the inheritance, instead preferring to make his living as a gardener in the San Francisco Bay area, and later as a world-renowned permaculturalist. As a young man he became a personal disciple of the Indian classical musician and teacher of universal Sufism, Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927).
Sam traveled the world for decades presenting his vision of furthering world peace and ending world hunger through organic permaculture farming and gardening.
He also met and studied with traditional spiritual elders and living saints from many of the world’s religious traditions, and eventually he became traditionally-trained-&-recognized as both a Sufi murshid (master-teacher) and a Zen Buddhist roshi (master-teacher).
He may also have been indeed a bit mad. But only in a most loving and blissful way.
Murshid Sam was a personal friend and mentor, though my principal spiritual teachers were others—some of whom Sam and I shared.
He was a most lovable, and also at times irascible, madman, a goofy sufi.
One of Sam's travel journal entries: When you meet real saints, real qawwalis, real sages and real Sufis and feel that marvelous spirit, you can ask for no more. But neither can you devote yourself to less.... July 24, 1956 Dacca, East Pakistan [now Bangladesh] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uziSB-N5iFA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uziSB-N5iFA ]