Kaiyum reviews the book by David Hill, aka Anand Chintan.
Within the reality that we call ‘our lives’ there are many instances of ‘two worlds’. Chintan’s deeply personal narrative is a poignant and often potentially painful exploration of one such ‘two world’ situation: on the one hand the label of ‘mental illness’ and the concomitant ineffective, destructive orthodox treatments, and, on the other hand the simple, healing revelation of meditation (specifically catharsis).
With often heart-rending honesty, Chintan sketches his ‘normal’, middle-American family background and the first two very traditional decades of his life as an introduction to his subsequent period of decline into the seemingly bottomless pit of ‘mental illness’. Drugs, infidelity, divorce, alcohol, his brother’s suicide, homelessness… despair, depression, gut-wrenching anxiety… all the messiness is laid out in impressive and relevant detail. That’s the background for the why of this book, the second part. This is where the ‘unseen hand’ leads David Hill to his first Dynamic Meditation and the path to becoming Anand Chintan.
“Osho and meditation were surely new interests, and there was a whole international following to join, but this experience was becoming like an internal whirlpool which was bringing me down into my self. It took me away from dependence on the circumstances that surrounded me. It was paradoxical, impossible to intellectually understand.”
Two names: the author
The second part of the book is also where the lie of ‘mental illness’ and psychotropic treatment is revealed and expanded upon, a lie that forms the background for Chintan’s dedication to his current work. This is how he himself describes it:
“David Hill had to die so that Anand Chintan could be born. My story is like the caterpillar spinning a cocoon, entering into death, and then being reborn as a winged creature. For me, meditation and the various therapy groups provided the cocoon. I entered as a world-weary intellectual, an alcoholic, deluded, manic-depressive atheist, and I emerged as a bright-eyed explorer of new worlds.”
He escaped from the crazy world of his ‘mental illness’ and, after an active period in Pune, Rajneeshpuram and at a meditation centre in New York, created work for himself in mental hospitals, offering – where possible – meditation as an alternative approach. Remarried and now retired, he lives in Florida, writing (mentalillnessmyths.com), promoting meditation as a cure for mental illness, and doing team building work with various groups (mainly college age) as a certified ’High Ropes Course Facilitator’.
This is very much the core message of Chintan’s book, and very much at the heart of his motivation in telling his story. He himself was looking for solutions and only found them in the regular approach to ‘mental illness’: a label, drugs, the prospects of institutionalisation and possible electroshock therapy. If only he had come across a book like this at that time, he writes, a book that recognises the turmoil he was in and offers a simple and healthy escape route…! Perhaps, though, the route seems so simple, that many would avoid it. It’s not just meditation, but the release of suppressed feelings, the deep, cleansing expression of all the pent-up emotions that are inherent to conforming to societal norms.
On the way, Chintan describes the importance of ‘cleaning up one’s act’ in terms of food and exercise. He is in no way dogmatic, just totally clear about the importance of recognising that ‘society’ poisons both the mind and the body, that the conditioning in all areas (including the food that is offered) is just part of the big lie that is discovered when waking up.
Another minor but compelling theme is that of ‘the unseen hand’. It’s interesting to note, considering the meaning of the name, that a woman called Prasad was so instrumental in helping David Hill on his way to becoming Anand Chintan. He notes:
“Those defining moments in a person’s life are usually experienced as just another day, perhaps a really good day or an unusual day, but it is only in retrospect that we see how significant a step it was.”
All in all…
… this slim, easy-to-read volume with fairly large type and clear layout is both a challenge (in terms of the painful history) and a joyous revelation. Who knows, it could be precisely what someone you know, who is ‘mentally ill’, is looking for!
Kaiyum is a regular contributor
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Read an excerpt on Osho News
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