Sanity is consensual.
If there's someone else who sees the world in the same way I do, that gives me at least a little bit of confidence that I'm not way out in weirdo-world -- though I'm not saying that would be a bad thing.
This morning I came across a passage in Stephen Bachelor's new book, "Confession of a Buddhist Atheist," that echoed sensations I have frequently these churchless days, and tried to describe at the end of my "Mysticism doesn't have to be mystical" post.
Here's how Bachelor says it:
One evening at dusk, as I was returning to my room along a narrow path through the pine forest, carrying a blue plastic bucket slopping with water that I had just collected from a nearby source, I was abruptly brought to a halt by the upsurge of an overpowering sense of the sheer strangeness of everything.
It was as though I had been lifted onto the crest of a great wave that rose from the ocean of life itself, allowing me for the first time to be struck by how mysterious it was that anything existed at all rather than nothing.
"How," I asked myself, can a person be unaware of this? How can anyone pass their life without responding to this? Why have I not noticed this until now?" I remember standing still, trembling and dumb, with tears in my eyes. Then I continued on my way before night fell.
This experience made me uncomfortably aware of a chasm between what I was studying and something that had happened to me in my own life that struck me as vitally important. The Buddhist texts with which I was familiar did not seem to speak about, let alone value, such experiences as the one that had just shuddered through me.