In this last installment I will take a look at sanity vs. insanity and how this pertains to Nijinsky specifically, but it is very relevant to us all right now as we shift consciousness and become More than we knew ourselves to be.
I feel this simple premise, sanity vs. insanity, is, in itself, flawed. The issue starts in the prevailing paradigm: science. Science does not recognize the existence, let alone the validity, of a spiritual paradigm. In the split, during the Renaissance era, from the Church and religious doctrine, science threw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. While findings in the Quantum sciences excites the spiritually inclined these days, the opposite is not necessarily true.
The sciences generally are partitioned off from one another. Scientific discoveries are not recognized, nor applicable, across disciplines. In the West, we ‘specialize’ through receiving a very narrow education. We are trained to stay inside the safe ‘box’ and to protect our salary and tenure.
With a great deal of Reality not being taken into consideration by this replacement religion of science, the conditions were ripe for labeling people as crazy, insane, unbalanced, psychotic, etc. There is intrinsically no room for something other than the quantifiable and measurable in this paradigm.
As any Contact Experiencer knows, if we shared our experiences with most psychiatrists, we would be medicated and very possibly institutionalized. Even in the greater UFO community, there are the scientifically minded who are ‘studying’ the actual experiencers. It is the ‘scientists’ who get the air time with their hypotheses and theorizing, while the actual experiencers are still largely marginalized.
The Contact Experiencer, by the way, is only one category on the bandwidth of ‘spiritual experiencer’, which includes the mystic, the shaman; those who see Angels and departed loved ones; channelers, speakers of Star, Light or Mother Tongue Languages, etc. Until this Expanded Bandwidth is experienced and accepted as normal and natural by those interfacing with clients and patients, there is no common frame of reference, and therefore, no wholeness possible to either side of the psychiatric coin.
The essay, Pivotal Mental States (January 28, 2022, Aeon) suggests, as has been my gut feeling for 40 years, that what is going on in the brain preceding a so-called ‘psychotic event’, and a spiritual experience, is the same thing – they cannot be differentiated. I am not going to go into the technicalities here; you can read the article for yourself. You might also find Stanislav Groff’s book The Stormy Search for Self useful.
The various outcomes after an Event are dependent upon the individual’s ability to process the information coming through their hardware (physical body) and their software (programming). The same Event, then, can lead to a perceived psychosis or an expanded state of understanding. Both are measures of the bandwidth available to each of us in which we perceive our reality, and subsequently, orient to Reality.
Here, I refer you again to the analogy of the fast spinning gear trying to interface with the slower spinning gear from the Introduction.
There are many stages or states of Reality depending upon the bandwidth of consciousness we are tuned into. This determines how the information is received by our body/mind/spirit unit, and more importantly, how is it translated by the individual, not the psychiatrist. No one can assess what is going on within you with any accuracy. You are the greatest expert on the subject of you.
One of the criteria that science uses to determine a psychotic state after the Event is one’s usefulness in society; one’s orientation and ability to interact with others in ‘socially acceptable’ ways, being properly socialized into their ‘culture’, and picking up on ‘social cues’, etc.
I strongly object to this defining criteria of psychosis/psychotic behaviors. Perhaps some do not want to interact in the usual 3D material paradigm, a paradigm that contributed to the state they landed in, i.e. being seen as crazy; a paradigm that does not make sense to them. Those operating on the spectrum/bandwidth of what we habitually call Autism do not receive social cues, nor do they adhere to our socialization rules, etc. Should they be considered psychotic, or in a ‘diseased’ state – meaning they need drugs to make them more acceptable (compliant) to society at large?
As science does not recognize a spiritual dimension of reality or a state of spiritual existence, it has only a small portion of the total available information for its assessments, and therefore, treatments. Science purports to look at observable, replicable facts. One cannot observe Consciousness, nor another’s mental processes, only the effect of them, and that effect is determined by our bandwidth.
An individual’s past experiences determine their present perceptions. If one lives in a loving, open-hearted, accepting family and broader cultural context, then one is much more open to the Event establishing into a positive outcome. If one is severely abused, neglected, or has a rigid, dogmatic, narrow-minded orientation, one is likely to experience the Event negatively: demons persecuting one, eliciting fear and dread, shame and guilt. Trauma, also mentioned in the Introduction, is a key component here to opening us to More Bandwidth.
And then there are those, that may not fit the either/or who are just ready for More Bandwidth regardless of what it looks like. Increasing bandwidth is always a challenge because it requires us to question our previously cherished beliefs and it takes time to integrate the information. This is exactly what many of us are being asked to do right now in our lives. Take that time to integrate! Those with whom we have established relationships are often strongly motivated to maintaining the status quo, not expanding bandwidths. It is often more convenient to ‘put someone away’, or medicate them, rather than trying to understand that they are perceiving something we are not.
The Scottish psychiatrist, R. D. Laing (1927 – 1989) had very different views of the causes and treatment of psychopathology than the mainstream professional, and was deeply influenced by his study of philosophy – something the psychiatric orthodoxy took a dim view of. He felt that one should take the feelings of a patient as a valid personal experience rather than as a symptom of mental illness. This may seem obvious to us today, but Laing was way ahead of the curve.
Laing felt that psychiatry itself was founded on false ‘knowledge’, i.e. that a mental illness was diagnosed by conduct, but treated biologically. He further felt that schizophrenia was a theory and not a fact; he rejected the conventional medical model of ‘mental illness’ and questioned the use of antipsychotic pharmaceuticals. He did not deny the existence of mental illness, but felt it could be a transformative episode similar to shamanic journey: the experiencer could return from the Event with important insights and perhaps a path toward personal healing. Exactly the point I am making above. Laing pioneered the way forward to a more wholistic, personally empowered way of looking at the therapeutic process, and recognized the spiritual element that his colleagues denied.
Heather Ensworth, PhD., a shamanic practitioner, astrologer and wholistic psychotherapist, states: “The difference between mysticism and psychosis is the capacity to be grounded so that you can integrate that expanding consciousness, otherwise it tends to destabilize you and overwhelm you, and then you get caught in distortions and imbalances with it.” (Pam Gregory, Youtube, Conversation with Heather Ensworth)
I recently saw a very insightful video interview with Itzhak Bentov, Czech scientist, mystic and inventor. Watch the 30 minute video on Tupacabra channel: Shadow of the Invisible Sun part 1.
Bentov postulates that highly conscious and evolved populations will most likely be found in mental institutions. “These people live in a different reality, a reality which is very changed and few of them are adapted to live in this reality. So naturally they can’t function very well,” states Bentov.
Our senses, through which we perceive are an extension of our nervous system. As our nervous system evolves to accommodate a higher consciousness, our bandwidth of perception widens. “The non-physical reality” becomes part of our perception. He uses the example of a child seeing a dead relative and telling his mother. The child is then labeled as having had a psychotic event or acute schizophrenia.
Bentov, and others, suggest we look to the Artists because they are the first to apprehend expanded realities. Or better yet, be the Artist.
Gary P. Nolan, immunologist and inventor, in the same video, states that the intuitive function interpreted into 3D is done in the basal ganglia. This is also called the brain within the brain. Recall one of the Nijinsky quotes from part 3 written in 1919: “I am the brain in the brain. I like to look closely in the mirror and I see only one eye in my forehead.”
Straight from the Artist’s mouth…. The basal ganglia is a form of higher functioning processing.
Moving forward, we come at last to consider Nijinsky. What did he experience? We cannot know this, but we can know, in part, how he evolved through it by our observation of his life trajectory.
Nijinsky was a child prodigy. He was envied by his peers at a very young age and this never stopped. His parents supported his dancing, but punishments were harsh and he visibly shrunk, according to his sister, when contemplating what would be meted out each time. As a youngster he was very active, mischievous, and often in trouble. As noted in Part 2, he was also incredible sensitive to everything around him.
When he was 12 years old, school mates devised to dare him to jump over a heavy wooden podium. Transiting Pluto was conjunct natal Black Moon Lilith in 8th Taurus (powerful, transformative energy eliciting feelings of not belonging, being ostracised and not fitting in). They soaped the floor and at the last minute, raised the obstacle. Nijinsky crashed into it, hitting full force with his abdomen. He was taken by ambulance to hospital and it was found that he had internal bleeding with laceration to the liver (A Leap Into Madness, Peter Ostwald, 1991, p 12). The attending physician told the family to prepare for the worst; the boy’s condition was hopeless. He came to consciousness on the fifth day, and was in hospital for the rest of the school year. Afterwards he was home on a special diet through the summer. (Early Memoirs, Bronislava Nijinska, 1981, p101/102) Where did he go and what did he experience during those five days?
Nijinsky was fortunate: he had no broken bones and his spine was not injured. He would be able to continue to dance. However, Ostwald makes some interesting points: “Clearly there had been severe trauma, both physical and psychological. Massive bleeding into the abdominal cavity probably had occurred, producing a drop in blood pressure, with concomitant effects on the general circulation. Marked reduction of blood pressure can lead to the coagulation of blood within the main arteries of the brain, a serious complication. “Water infarcts,” these are called, tend to form in the frontal lobes and spread sideways. If that happens, there may be loss of speech (aphasia)…..” (Leap, p12) Was this the inception of Nijinsky’s communication problems, unnoticed at the time and unlinked to the accident later?
Throughout his life he was the recipient of extreme jealousies, petty slights and recriminations from peers. The dance world is a cut throat business. He depended upon Diaghilev for life’s necessities and opportunities to dance. When he was offered the chance to choreograph, he took it.
The public reception of Faune, so far ahead of its time, caused Diaghilev to reconsider Nijinsky’s choreographic career. There was a lot of underhanded negotiations involving Mikhail Fokine who was previously the sole choreographer of the Ballet Russes. Fokine hated Nijinsky and didn’t hide the fact. He quit the Ballet Russes rather than share choreographic privileges with Nijinsky. One wealthy patron, on whom the Ballet Russes depended, wanted Fokine reinstated; but he wouldn’t come back with Nijinsky still a member. What to do?
This lack of support from anyone, and indeed, the behind-the-back activity of Diaghilev laid the groundwork of extreme stress and on-going trauma that precipitated the Event in Nijinsky’s life: his first breakdown in the spring of1914. Prior to the Event, Nijinsky’s stress was compounded by his dismissal from the one institution where he could express himself artistically, the Ballet Russes. After the Event it was further exacerbated by inappropriate psychiatric treatment over a 30 year period.
The majority of Nijinsky’s doctors, as well as the staff in the various institutions where he stayed, did not speak his language – Russian. His mode of communication was through dance, not language, anyway. Somatic therapeutic practices as a method of healing were many decades away. No one was adequately able to reach him.
Had R.D. Laing, or someone like him, been available to Nijinsky, his prognosis may have been very different. Laing recognized the importance of a one-to-one relationship with the client as well as with a therapeutic team. Nijinsky’s journal and his personal experiences would have been seen as important, valid and meaningful, rather than a sign of mental illness. There would have been no question that Nijinsky be provided with support and sympathetic understanding that would facilitate a healing process. He would not have been given drugs for his condition, and his care givers would have been interested in him personally and encouraged Nijinsky’s personal autonomy, creativity, and participation in his own healing process.
Laing states, “the ‘psychiatric ceremony’ of examination, diagnosis, and treatment invalidates the clients as human beings and interferes with the healing potential of their process.” (Spiritual Emergency, Stanislav Groff, M.D., 1989, p 51)
Nijinsky tells us himself what happened in his own words: “I worked hard, but later I lost heart because I noticed that I was not liked. I withdrew so deep within myself that I could not understand people. I wept and wept…”
Nijinsky’s deepest pain was not being understood. His deepest fear was not being able to dance and create what he felt. He longed to be in nature and live a simple life. He spent his life in the large cosmopolitan centers of Europe. We recognize only in our own time how healing Nature Herself is when we need balancing on any level. Nijinsky longed to hear the Russian language and those around him, including his caretakers, only spoke French, German or Hungarian.
And please recall that this is in the early 1900s. There were no self-help books, nor workshops to attend; no collective acceptance of Jungian thought, no R.D. Laing, no one mirroring him, validating or corroborating the experience of his inner life either emotional or spiritual. Nijinsky was utterly isolated.
Thus, Nijinsky made a decision to retreat within. There was certainly an on-going deep struggle within him between the creative artist, the sensitive needing safety, and the enraged individual who cannot abide injustice, cruelty, war, and deception. His decision was so thorough that after a time, he never would return. Yet the spark of his genius was still noticed on occasion by those with whom he connected. It would ignite briefly, and then too soon disappear, as he again chose to stay safe within himself.
Incredibly, with only an approximate 10-year career, Nijinsky inspired and still inspires thousands. There are many ballets honoring him, of course; the one by John Neumeier comes to mind. And a ton of books about him, many written by those who never met him or saw him dance. They usually reference Bronislava Nijinska’s wonderful memoirs for their information, as I did in part.
He inspired many beautiful artworks from the artists of his time: Barbier, Sargent, Troubridge, Cocteau….
At 18 years of age, at the Maryinsky Theatre he did away with not only the full-skirted costume, but the traditional wire frame wings for the Blue Bird part in Sleeping Beauty. He used his body to dance the act of flying rather than relying on the traditional props.
When toe shoes were typically worn only by women, Nijinsky learned to dance en pointe, a rare skill among men at that time. It wasn’t until the late 1940s that more men started doing so.
There are poems, music and plays dedicated to him; he appears as a character in several novels.
There was a racehorse named Nijinsky (1967 – 1992) who became one of the greatest, most successful racehorses in history. After his retirement he sired a great number of successful offspring.
There aren’t many films about Nijinsky’s life and work, sadly. The 1980 Nijinsky staring the fabulous George de la Pena, and Riot at the Rite (2005) which was about the making of Sacre du Printemps are well worth seeing in my opinion. I keep hoping that Peter Jackson will have a secret desire to make a series on Nijinsky’s life. It’s about damn time!
In 2003 a champion Russian figure skater, Evgeni Plushenko, created A Tribute to Vaslav Nijinsky.
In 2011 bronze cast figures of Nijinsky and Nijinska as the Faun and Nymph were unveiled in Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki’s foyer. The sculptor was well-known Ukrainian artist, Giennadij Jerszow. Rodin also created a sculpture of Nijinsky who sat for him, and it was cast in 1912 after Rodin’s death.
There is a 14.83 karat Russian pink diamond named The Spirit of the Rose (the ballet created for Nijinsky); the raw diamond was named The Nijinsky. The cut piece sold for $26 million in 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland, to an anonymous buyer.
But the most important legacy that Nijinsky has left us is our fascination with him and his life that many of us feel. Not just professional dancers, but just ‘regular’ folks that really resonate with him. I love reading the comments on Youtube pieces having to do with Nijinsky. He touches many so deeply 70 years after his death, and more than 100 years since he stopped dancing professionally.
I have learned so much throughout the writing of this article over the first months of 2022. Not only did I come to understand more about what Nijinsky was up against as an artist, and his deep inner conflicts and longings, but I learned a huge amount about myself. It rekindled my love of dance both as a participant and an observer. I connected with an era of time that had been very important to me as a young woman. It awakened an awareness of myself in a much broader context: trans-dimensionally. It has been extremely cathartic on occasion, and a healing process of the old unworthiness wound has begun.
I keep wondering what this piece is. During so much of the research and subsequent writing I felt driven; as if I were writing to save my life. I can’t explain it any more than that. Is this piece a series of dovetailing essays, a short book, or very long article? A magical spell-working?
But now as I come to the end, I believe that what I’ve written is actually the longest love letter ever. I fell in love with the Spirit of Nijinsky 40 years ago when Pluto squared my natal Moon, at last giving it expression in this 4-part article as Pluto conjuncts my natal Moon. I hope it does his life justice, brief though it is; I hope he will accept my offering.
In closing, I will let Nijinsky’s dear sister, Bronia, have the last word, which I feel sums up his life’s necessity pretty succinctly, as well as my own conclusions.
“For many years I continued to believe that Vaslav would recover completely. Whenever a conversation around him touched on the Dance, one could see a sudden spark of consciousness. That part of his consciousness that lived in his vision of Art was preserved, and I knew that in this Vaslav remained completely sane. For Nijinsky, the Dance was credo, life, and soul. Without the theatre Nijinsky withdrew into himself and closed the door to the realities of life, to abide in his own inner world of the Dance.” (Memoirs, p515)
With all my heart,