The key problem with the very insane is that they think they are very sane, and that those who think they are insane are truly insane ones. Ironically, since only the very insane and very enlightened are very sure of themselves and others, this makes it more ‘sane’ and safe, as long as not unenlightened, to think of ourselves as somewhat insane, or some extent insane. ‘Insane’ here does not have to refer only to being raving mad. It also includes being insensible, to be subtly deluded.
Thus was the Buddha truly wise when he uttered this teaching (from the Dhammapada verse 63) — ‘A fool who knows his foolishness is wise at least to that extent, but a fool who thinks himself wise is a fool indeed.’ Again, it is paradoxically wiser to think of oneself as foolish, just as it is more foolish to think of oneself as wise. The first attitude ensures there will be continual learning, to be more wise. The second attitude ensures there will be no more learning, to remain ever foolish.
We just need to write down the number of assumptions made in a day, and to check how true they turned out to be by the end of the day, to realise how outrageous we are in jumping to wrong conclusions habitually. Precisely since we are not yet Buddhas, we should be ‘assured’ that we do generate warped perceptions of people, matters and things more or less constantly. To acknowledge this is the first step to advance on the sliding scale of sanity, away from total insanity and towards total sanity. Mind your mind soundly or be minded by an unsound mind!