{Ram Dass/Alan Watts Week 4: Day 23}: Divine Madness

Alan Watts calls it “The divine madness” of love?

What do you think he means? What does it mean to you? How hard is it to surrender to this divine madness in your life? How might it change your life if you did?

I think that he means quite mischievously, the playfulness created by some sort of natural tension between the reality of what’s unfolding and the surface-level social narrative on as much, that some sort of genuine “madness” is unfolding as the active experience of “love”, both in a playful and medically academic sense of it, and that this is the madness of “divinity” in some meaningful sense.

In a pop culture shallow sort of fashion, we construe madness as possession by a mind that is not our own, whether that really be a second, sentient mind, or simply the alluring power of impersonal temptations (such as diet soda or lavender). In a more socially serious take on it, one might note that “madness” often entails a subject being exposed to stimuli which strongly encourage them to pervert social values/norms.

Historically, romance has been known to do as much. The immature love-stricken suddenly feel as if their romantic partner is the literal center of the universe (which is true, at some level, but in valuing them above all other social carrots strung up on corporate sticks they start to do things which are considered very taboo), whereas the mature realize the relationship is a transcendental institution which shapes the very forces of the cosmos/how they manifest fate. While we welcome this with open arms, it somehow flies in the face of cultural programming which came before it (we’re essentially affirming the unfolding events of the natural world are a response to needs within already existing Beings…that everything that happens is an act of God meant to serve us/be in our best interests…and that like we can make it rain because we love our partner so much and stuff like that…), after said programming has instilled some sort of necessary discipline, even if at the expense of our potential dignity as divine entities…

And yeah, that’s what the “divine” “madness of love”…of romantic love, will quickly do to people; it’ll cause them to realize that not only they are divine, but that the universe is a conspiracy built to actualize the individual…to awaken them to their boundlessness/divinity.

See also: the supremely weird/egdy anime FLCL. Most reboots/versions of it feature a storyworld in which libido is the driving force of the cosmos, and the job of government, as they see it, is to facilitate a constructive/compassionate-anti-establishment dynamic between people like the teenage protagonist and the subject/objects of their desire. Red-tape and dehumanizing procedures/insults are used strategically/tantrically, and tonally it feels like a dungeons and dragons campaign in that the bad guys are moreso characters than who they really are as people, and are fully conscious that they will be bested. While the protagonist wins glory, they somehow milk they situation for free energy.

It feels like Madness when you are in the Abyss, the Void, the Dark Night of the Soul. Nothing humans have ever taught you is working. Whom can you trust?

But as you take each next step, one step at a time, helpers appear, miracles happen, and you slowly emerge into clarity and empowerment. It becomes fun and fascinating when you realize you are just one player in the Cosmic game of life, but you get to play your own part full out!