In an interview in October, Deepak Chopra said, “I had this moment in meditation where I realized we’re living in a lunatic asylum. There’s no other way to describe it. Everything that we see is madness, but it’s normal…So, we’re in it, there’s no escaping the lunatic asylum. You can choose to be an inmate, or you can pick up your visitor’s badge. That day, I chose to pick up my visitor’s badge.” (begins at 9:25)
When he said “it’s normal,” he kind of waved his arm around and paused—that’s what the “…” means; I didn’t cut anything out. Chopra meant, I believe, that it’s difficult to see the madness because we have been conditioned to believe that it is normal. It’s like the old joke about the fish in the sea having trouble with the concept of “water.” We live within a consensual reality created by our culture and family. We have to take on the beliefs and assumptions of our culture in order to survive, and these beliefs and assumptions skew our perceptions before we even become aware of them.
An example of consensual reality from We Are ALL Innocent by Reason of Insanity: long ago humans divided the Earth into countries and have so completely forgotten that the divisions are arbitrary that we have fought endless battles over the invented boundaries. When people first saw the photos of our planet taken by Apollo astronauts in the 1960s it was a revelation—there were no lines like on our maps and globes! And people had the dawning awareness that all those arbitrary borders are irrelevant when you comprehend the vastness of the blackness surrounding our precious globe of life.
Recognizing the insanity, seeing the delusions, allows us to be a “visitor”; this perspective means we have compassion for the inmates still trapped in their delusions, and compassion for ourselves every day we forget to pick up our visitor badge.