SAND Italy 2015 (5)

A.H.Almaas, Sheikh Burhanuddin Herrmann, John Hagelin – SAND Italy 2015 (5)


Both neurotics and psychotics seem to have a greater preoccupation with religious and spiritual

issues than the so called “normal.” What is the relationship between mental illness and

spirituality? How do they influence each other?


Chris Bache: It has been said that a mystic learns to swim in waters that a psychotic drowns in.

It takes a strong constitution, a strong ego, to open deeply to the divine depths of existence

without being shattered in a negative way. When all goes well, a strong, healthy ego becomes

transparent to the divine. (One of the translations of sunyata, “emptiness,” is “transparency.”)

When things do not go so well, instead of transparency there can take place fragmentation.

One must heal the fragmentation and strengthen the ego before safe transparency can emerge.

As always, there seem to be countless permutations of these processes.


Chris Bache has been a professor of religious studies at Youngstown State University for over two decades. He teaches in transpersonal studies, comparative spirituality, consciousness research, and Eastern religion. Chris has written one of the groundbreaking books in the growing field of collective consciousness, Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps to a Deep Ecology of Mind, which was published by SUNY Press in 2000. In addition, he has written Lifecycles: Reincarnation and the Web of Life (Paragon House, 1990). For over twenty years, he has worked with sacred medicines, and has been a Vajrayana Buddhist practitioner for six years.