originally posted by: meomy
Why is one person considered a spiritual leader or having a spiritual experience while another considered to be going through psychosis?
A channeler (this is the people you describe as "spiritual leaders" right?) is willingly putting himself in trance-like state and write down/speaks
the information received during this altered state of consciousness.
A psychotic person is suffering an altered consciousness against his will.
That pretty much sums up the biggest difference between both.
That being said, there is a lot more to say about what you posted;
First the literature does seem to indicate that there are indeed neurological and psychological similarities between mystical states and psychotic
breaks. And yet we can see a psychotic person is different from a mystic. Why is that so? Because the mystic has his # together. He's controlling the
experience to some extent.
Secondly there is a big difference between "spiritual leaders" and "channelers". Spiritual leaders do not necessarily channel or enter trance-like
states. They share insights about life, cultivate and cherish wisdom and above all aim for the love of all things, love being seen as a divine
Channelers are more of a new-age fad, and are people who dabble in the esoteric but without the mastering of true mystics living ascetic lives and
studying for years. The channeler can impress the layman, by parroting self-help advises he gathered during his life, but usually lack the humility
necessary to make sure his own ego isn't tainting the message. For the truly spiritual searcher, the messages from channelers usually feel like a mix
of half-truths and fantasies, desires and fears from the channeler, depending on his own level of spiritual development. Channelers are usually people
who don't really practice what they preach, and their messages can be greatly misleading (stories about alien entities/the end of the world/separation
of people between good and bad/...) because they are influenced by their previous readings.
The messages from channelers are not consistent and vary greatly in quality, yet they can be quite popular in this age where people are not satisfied
with religions and look for other paths that resonate with their belief. The person who believes in aliens will read channelings comforting his
views, the new-agers believing in 2012 will do the same, etc...
Almost all messages from channelers are a reflection of their own psyche, not an insight from the universal consciousness that is called the
To finish this, it is totally possible to be a spiritual person without having experienced a mystical state/spiritual crisis/psychotic break. For some
people the path to higher consciousness is done by following the advises of the masters of the past and everything goes smoothly because the ego has
been tamed during years of hard work.
For some others, this path is faster, but also more violent and dangerous, and the spiritual growth is obtained during a dramatic experience that can
take many forms (NDE, spiritual crisis, psychotic break) but with a similar result in the end IF the experiencer manages to make sense of it and
integrate the experience. If he cannot, he can become overwhelmed by the experience, the ego being unable to manage it, and can develop messiah
complex/megalomania/schizophrenia/... this is common among people in the occult/cult leaders/people who approach the subject too lightly.
Basically the common point of most spiritual tradition is the taming of the ego, the re-connection with the inner source of consciousness that is
(supposedly) shared by all, and the return to the physical world to share with all the benefits of this newfound connection to the universe.
Depending on the way it is approached, on the mental stability of the searcher, on the previous beliefs held and many more parameters, some will
become mystics, other will become egomaniac cult leaders and some will simply become psychotic/schizophrenic. But the vast majority will simply
continue their path with a new outlook on life, more peace of mind, more love for others, and a troubling inherent wisdom that makes it look like that
person has lived much more than his real age.
P.S.: religion/religious people are a whole different topic though because it's the external institutionalized/ritualized evolution of what was once a
personal and internal journey. To get a good understanding of "true" Christian faith, "true" Islam, "true" Judaism, you must look into Christian
mysticism, Sufism and Jewish mysticism.
Anyone can tell a religious extremist
is barely/not at all a spiritual person and doing the opposite of what their religion teach.
The discussion around religions becomes then extremely complicated because some will say religions cause extremism, while reality shows religion can
result in both positive and negative influence, again, depending on the stability of the searcher, his willingness to grow and his ability to live
according to the principle of his religion.
So, IMHO, the only way to talk serenely about spirituality in religion is by looking at where it is to be found; mystic traditions from said
edit on 6-11-2014 by JUhrman because: (no reason given)