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On June 12, 1981 as I cut the cake my sister had brought in to celebrate my 35th birthday the head psychiatrist at McMaster Psychiatric Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario walked up. “Do you know what is wrong with you?” he asked.

I replied, “Nothing. I am on time and on schedule. I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”

To him my reply must have had the ring of madness.

What no one knew except myself was that a man I had met on my first night in Toronto when I was around 20 had one day told me he was psychic. I laughed. He then said that during the year I turned thirty-five everyone I knew would turn against me. He added, “You are going to celebrate your 35th birthday in a psychiatric hospital after you lose someone very close to you. Don’t worry about it. When you come out you will become the richest person on earth.”

I laughed.

I was not laughing when I cut that cake.

The first thing I noticed walking on to the ward was that there were three types of people. One type had the shakes. The second type was going around the ward like squirrels running in a cage. The third type appeared to be in a state of bliss.

I had had been brought in by my family following the sudden suicide of my younger brother, Michael.

What I did not know was that our families can have us committed for ten days observation against our will. I had asked that I not be given drugs. I was told I would not be by the same man who had asked if I knew what was wrong with me.

When told to line up to take my medication on the first morning I replied I had been told I would not have to take drugs. I was told to take my medication. When I refused security was called. I was stripped naked, placed in a room with a huge plastic bubble in the door so that staff could see inside without opening the door. It was called The Bubble Room. The lights in that room were left on 24 hours a day.

That night as I sat there naked on the floor I realized that unless I took the medication they gave me I would be in that room for a very long time. The woman who had been in that room before me had been in it for three months naked with the lights on. She was probably let out so that I could be placed in it.

I was in that room three days and three nights. By the second day I had my clothes back. On the third day I was allowed to sit there with the door open. On the fourth day I was let out.

I look back on that as my three days in the tomb.

I was in that hospital not for ten days but for a couple of months. Shortly after I willingly took the medication I was given I experienced a severe case of shakes. I was told I was over dosing on the medication they were giving me. A second medication was prescribed. Shortly after taking it I found myself going around the ward like a squirrel in a cage.

My descent into the maelstrom had begun.

In 1992 a man at a talk I had given here on the per-Babylonian story of GILGAMESH stayed while everyone else left.

When it was just he and I he said, “You are a Crazy-Wisdom-Yogin.”

I replied, “I hear crazy often enough. What does the rest of that mean?”

He said, “It is the highest compliment I, as a Buddhist, can pay. It means you are living absolutely the life you are teaching.”

I said, “I would not say that but I am making the effort. Anything less is hypocrisy. Would you care for a beer?”

Luckily for me, he did.

We talked until dawn about things most do not dream about. I learned that he was an extremely high ranking Tibetan lama who had accompanied the Dalai Lama on his first journey across Canada.

“This place is like a university. People can learn here,” he told me.

Over the years there has been no shortage of people saying I am crazy.

But then there have been extremely exceptional people who have found great value in my words and in my work.

One thing is for certain. If we are to have any value in our lives we must be prepared to be called mad by those who think themselves sane.

My only problem with these people who think themselves sane is that I find them so terribly boring.


Why give this program that title? That is one of the things you will learn here.–Reg Hartt 2017–11–17.

Jane Jacobs was a regular at my programs from her arrival in Toronto in 1968.When a person of her caliber says the best part of what we offer is what we have to say it comes easy to dismiss those who say otherwise.

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