Have you ever run across a simple concept either in reading or in life that was so obvious after you read or experienced it that you were almost embarrassed? This happened to me after reading Kathleen Brugger’s “We Are All Innocent By Reason of Insanity.” I remember feeling miffed when Eckhart Tolle used the word “insanity” so many times in “The Power of Now.” I thought that was a bit extreme. Several years later, however, here is a book not only asserting and demonstrating that we are insane, but declaring us innocent for that reason, and suggesting ways to be saner, and to deal with the insanity we see everywhere: We are All Innocent By Reason of Insanity, by Kathleen Brugger, a forum member and contributor. The subtitle is odd: “The Mechanics of Compassion.” But Ms. Brugger clarifies the steps at the end of the book and gives an exercise / example.
I promised Kathleen a review, and read the book twice, taking notes, etc. But, instead of a rather academic review and commentary, I’m just going to touch on a few points…hopefully enough to get you to buy the book (the Kindle version is $4 on Amazon.) In brief, she asserts that we form our image of reality in our minds from a combination of “objective” and cognitive thought-forms and subjective individual points-of-view which add value judgments. Actual reality might be a complete mystery, but the fact that “something’s happening,” is certainly real. What we live in is a mind-generated virtual reality. And it is delusional. And we are insane.
Whew. Bold stuff – easy to discard as radical and, well, insane. But then she brings in the ego, collective egos, the fallacy of free will, survival techniques of the subjective mind’s primary identity, pride and shame, no-fault crime and alternatives to current “correctional” institutions, arbitrary value standards, acceptance, presence, the fallacy of forgiveness, and finally, compassion. Plus there are many very forthcoming personal reflections and observations, a treatise on sexuality, and a powerful conclusion, part of which is: “Happiness is a by-product of acceptance.”
As a nondualist (is there such a thing?), I was particularly impressed with how she finds relief and peace in very nondual theses: 1) there is no free will 2) we are innocent and “perfect” just as we are, fully deserving of compassion, 3) we can be comfortably free from beliefs, either individual-story-beliefs or collective value-judgment beliefs, 4) and the profound virtues of humility, acceptance and surrender. Ms. Brugger makes no claims to be “enlightened,” but reaches these conclusions from years of observation and examined personal experience. In a way, this fundamentally non-spiritual book actually adds support to the already powerful nondual assertions in literature written by formal spiritual teachers. Her conclusions are very familiar to all of us in this forum. This unusual perspective was, for me, simple and obvious after reading it, and allowed me to bring into focus a number of personal judgments which had been lurking out of conscious range, reminded me to accept them, now see them clearly and let them die. This book was a watershed for me – it is really a world-view book…deserving a much wider audience, extensive commentary, and perhaps even a following/discipline such as we saw for Transactional Analysis. You will not be disappointed by reading this…it is stunning.
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce