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A Delusion or a Gift?
by Bill Page
Two years ago, I found myself alone at the end of a dock on a remote island in the Bahamas. Earlier in the fall, the eye of two major hurricanes passed over the island and the dock had been contorted into a roller coaster.
I made my way to my parents' vacant retirement home at the top of the hill. No one from my family had visited the property since the storms, so I approached my home with trepidation. As I waited for the arrival of my older brother, I began to assess the damage. I found that most of the exterior windows were broken and the concrete foundation had partially buckled under the force of more than one hundred and forty mile per hour winds.
When my brother arrived, we jumped into the work at hand. We tacked temporary screens over the broken windows, ripped out rain soaked carpets, and tore down mildewed ceiling tiles. As the hours passed, I found myself gaining energy rather than the expected exhaustion from a day of travel. I've always enjoyed physical labor and I find nothing more rewarding than working on one's home.
The timing for conducting this renovation work was ideal. As a neuroscientist, I had just made a presentation at a national neuroscience conference, so taking a little time off work was not a problem, and my wife was taking care of our children. In addition, the renovation work was critical because this house would host a reunion for my extended family in two months.
As we continued into the late hours, creative ideas began surfacing in my mind. I started to analyze issues that I contemplate at my work in brain research. Solutions to these problems became immediately incredibly clear and simple. Webs of confusion disentangled before my eyes. At first, I didn't question where the answers came from, or why I was suddenly able to discover these solutions.
The next day, however, as I reflected on my revelations from the previous evening I kept coming to the same conclusion: A portal to some nonordinary realm of knowing had been opened. While this portal remained opened, I tried to gather answers to some of my burning questions: Is there a spiritual realm? How does it interact with the cerebral cortex? What is the purpose of our existence? When I addressed these profound questions I was once again amazed by the simplicity of the answers. At this point, I began to wonder where these answers originated. They were evidently spiritual in nature. I also realized this knowledge wasn't self-created. I didn't have the background to construct these concepts and solutions. My training as an engineer and scientist told me that you have to at least be exposed to ideas and information before you can form such concepts. I sensed this information had to be external, from another source. It felt as if I had some sort of spiritual guide giving me advice.
When my brief vacation came to an end, I felt the urge (maybe from the "guide" who had been supplying me with information) to visit a colleague who was a clinical neurologist. After telling him that I thought I was getting information from "an external source" he told me that I needed a psychological evaluation at a local ER. I found it incredibly bizarre to see medicine from the point of view of a patient. However, my guides, or whatever you want to call this external force, assured me that this was part of my next lesson—to appreciate the biases woven into the world around me. I was told that my future research would be more resistant to preconceived notions and I'd be better able to understand conflicting positions. The risk was that I was precariously close to being put in a straight jacket.
I was diagnosed as having a manic episode and was referred to a psychiatrist, who confirmed the diagnosis, and labeled me as bipolar. He recommended initiating drug therapy, a therapy that cannot be stopped without a high probability of relapse. I left the decision to my wife who is also a physician. The two doctors decided to postpone therapy until the first sign of another episode. I'm happy to report it never occurred.
Today, I am less reactionary and embrace new concepts. I've begun to slow my pace and find I'm more in sync with the flow of life around me. I am increasingly aware of life's synchronicities that help confirm that my new state is not diseased (delusion) but instead a gift.
Two years ago my eyes were opened. I have found strength by reading extensively about religion, alternative medicine, philosophy, psychology, world cultures, history and psychotherapy (from yoga to sports). My guides translate these manuscripts, and I see that they are all pieces of the same puzzle. Society is beginning to get the supreme message: There is only one truth. Someday in the near future, we will bring the pieces back to the table so that we can capture the essence of truth and admire the breathtaking beauty of our existence.
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