MAST AND MAD
Meher Baba explained
Masts are sincerely and wholeheartedly devoted to Truth. They are divinely mad in search of eternal values. Such persons are not mad in the ordinary sense; they are desperately in love with God, and are known as Masts. Masts are totally different from ordinary mad persons. Although to the casual observer they might seem to be like each other, they are utterly dissimilar in their intrinsic nature and significance. Though both are far from perfection, and need correctives or healing, there is a vast difference in the nature of their inner mental states, and in the spiritual value of the results that are achieved by the application of correctives.
The average person is not familiar with masts or their spiritual condition of God-intoxication. The following description by Meher Baba elucidates what constitutes the mind of a mast:
All masts are intoxicated with God; they are intoxicated by divine love. When a normal person is intoxicated by alcohol or drugs he enjoys this sensation so long as the intoxicant is in sufficient concentration in his physical tissues: a drunkard feels happy, cares not for anyone or anything, and has one dominant sensation of drunkenness, in which the past, present or future has practically no meaning. But as soon as the ordinary intoxication passes away, the drunkard suffers the reverse – the hangover. Stimulated physical intoxication is inescapably temporary, because it is limited by the very stimulant itself, the conditions of the environment, and the cost of the stimulant and the resilience of one's condition.
Now a person who is God-intoxicated experiences the same sensation that a drunkard enjoys, and cares for no one and nothing, in proportion to the extent of his inner intoxication; the vast difference is the mast's intoxication is continual, that it may increase but can never decrease, and that it has no harmful physical or mental reaction. It is an inner state of permanent and unalloyed intoxication, independent of anything external.
The principal sensation of a mast is this permanent enjoyment of divine intoxication. The creation is full of bliss and the mast enjoys this bliss and thereby becomes intoxicated to an almost unlimited extent, virtually consuming him and absorbing him and thereby making the world around him vanish. Absorbed in God, such a person is continually absorbed in thinking about God, and with that comes like a bolt of pure love consuming him further in a state of divine intoxication.
Mast do not suffer from what may be called a disease. They are in a state of mental disorder because their minds are overcome by such intense spiritual energies that are far too much for them, forcing them to lose contact with the world, shed normal human habits and customs, and civilized society and live in a state of spiritual splendor but physical squalor. There are those who have become masts whose minds have become unbalanced through unceasing dwelling upon thoughts of God, so that they neglect all normal human requirements.
No ordinary man can tell whether one man is a mast and another man is mad without the divine authority of a Perfect Master. However, the unmistakable quality that masts possess is their ability to make one happy in their company. Whereas in the company of a mad person one feels depression and sadness. (Lord Meher, 1st. ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 6, pp. 2031 – 2035)
In feeble-minded or mad persons, aberrations from the average pattern of responses and actions are the results of their mental incapacity to adhere to the ordinary ways of the world. Through inherent psychic weakness, their directive effort has come to an impasse, or has fizzled out. The cases of breakdown of the mind in ordinary madness are often due to aimlessness in life, as they are due to insufficiency, or to an inadequacy of the available "will-power” or mental strength. There are usually many other contributory factors in such cases. Persons who find shelter in mental hospitals are generally those who have been subjected to unusual mental shock or strain. They lose their balance of mind due either to insufficient mental development, or to the operation of physiological or psychic forces of disruption. Though these physiological or psychological forces that have caused mental disruption are irresistible, they are of the ordinary kind. In ordinary madness, the collapse of the normal functioning of the mind has come about by unmanageable conflicts or disintegrating factors; and the best that can be hoped for by removing the causes of disturbance, is the restoration of the previous state of normality of the mind.
But the case of masts is altogether different in origin, as well as in potentiality. There is no doubt that masts often exhibit incapacity to deal with the ordinary situations of life; and they are, in this respect, comparable to those who are deranged in mind. But the departure of masts from normal behaviour and responses is not due to lack of sufficient mental development, nor is it due to any chaotic forces of disruption; it is due to a suspension of interest in the ordinary pursuits of life, and to an absorption in the spiritual realities encountered on the path towards Truth-realization.
Like cases of ordinary mental derangement, the cases of many masts may show signs of mental conflict, when considered from the purely theoretical point of view. However from the point of view of their intrinsic nature, the two mental conflicts are poles apart. Ordinary mental derangement is due to an acute and insoluble conflict between incompatible sanskaric inclinations in connection with the world. But the unusual psychic states of the divine madness of masts are due to the dispersion of sanskaric inclinations by the powerful urge to realize the God state. In the divine madness of masts, the advancing urge to realize the Highest brings about a complete shattering of the mental structure, and of all its normal tendencies and capacities. This condition of the mind ultimately leads to a total inhibition of the mind, which is the gateway to the unmani state. The successful termination of the steady impulsion to Truth initiates the mast into the supra-mental state of integral understanding and direct realization of the Supreme Self. But this drive for the Truth, in its process, entails far-reaching ravages in the psychic field. It involves a complete break-up and a reconstitution of the mental structure, and of existing tendencies.
There is no wonder that the inevitable, intermediate mental states are, in their expression,
found to be as much removed from average states as are the abnormal states of mad persons. Confusion between the abnormal and the supernormal states of consciousness arises due to mixing up two ways of interpreting and measuring madness and its degrees. According to one way of interpretation, madness is a deviation from the average mode of consciousness and behaviour; and its degree is to be measured by the amount of its departure from the average pattern. But according to another way of interpretation, madness is the incapacity of consciousness to understand or express truth; and its degree is to be measured by the extent to which it deviates from truth. If these two distinct standards are mixed up with each other and applied simultaneously, they inevitably lead to confusion between the abnormal mad states and the supernormal mast states.
When the mast states are measured by the standard of the average pattern of responses and actions, they will inevitably be interpreted as having an even greater degree of madness than ordinary madness. But if we change the standard, they will be interpreted differently. When the mast states are measured by the standard of realization and expression of truth, they will inevitably be interpreted as having increasing degrees of sanity. When viewed in the light of the Truth, the average pattern of responses and behaviour, which is the most common standard for measuring degrees of madness, would itself appear as a veritable form of madness; and ordinary forms of madness, which have failed to reach even the average pattern, would present themselves as deeper levels of madness. However, all these different phases of unfolding human consciousness are better understood when they are viewed in their continuity, and in relation to the ultimate objective of realizing and expressing the Truth. When viewed in this way, ordinary madness is seen to be the most dim reflection of the Truth, and the average mode of consciousness, and the mast states, are both seen to be increasing degrees of sanity and approximations to the Truth that becomes completely manifest in its unqualified reality and fullness only when the domain of the mind is crossed.