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The Philosophy of a Mad Man

The Philosophy of a Mad Man

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The Philosophy of a Mad Man

109 pages
1 hour
Aug 4, 2019


The Philosophy of a Mad Man is an autobiographical work documenting the life story and key insights of philosopher Steven Colborne.

The paradoxical title of the book reflects the background of the author, who is both an accomplished academic and a diagnosed schizophrenic. The book is divided into two distinct parts entitled 'My Journey' (Part 1) and 'My Philosophy' (Part 2).

Part 1 includes a vivid and detailed account of the author's visit to the home of the spiritual guru Mooji, who entered the media spotlight following his appearance on the Russell Brand 'Under the Skin' podcast in August 2020. Among a host of other spiritual adventures, Colborne describes a spiritual retreat experience with Indian shaking meditation teacher Ratu Bagus, whose retreats in Bali are known for being both gruelling and spiritually transformative. Colborne also explains in detail what it's like to experience an episode of psychosis, and his portrayal of his spiritual journey is gripping and evocative, containing humour, sadness, and enlightenment.

In Part 2, Colborne tackles a range of important philosophical subjects related to spirituality, including the nature of God, free will, consciousness, and the meaning of life. The author argues that a God exists who is not merely a deeper a level of consciousness (which is the way some Eastern religions describe God), but is a personal being with whom we can develop a relationship and who is intimately involved in every detail of our lives.

The first edition of The Philosophy of a Mad Man was published by SilverWood Books in 2012. With newly refreshed cover art, this second edition of the book (published in 2019) includes an updated introduction and afterword. The book offers a highly stimulating read to anyone on a journey to understand spiritual enlightenment and anyone wishing to engage with the big philosophical questions surrounding our existence.

Aug 4, 2019

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The Philosophy of a Mad Man - Steven Colborne



Welcome to the revised and updated second edition of The Philosophy of a Mad Man.

The first edition of this book, which was published in 2012, has been discontinued as I am no longer working with the publisher of that edition (SilverWood Books). For some time now, I have been keen to re-release the book through my publishing imprint, Tealight Books, so that it will hopefully remain available long into the future. This is the main reason for the publication of this second edition.

I have not revised the book substantially since the first edition. I have merely tidied up the text in places, taken out or replaced sections I felt could be better expressed, and added a few new elements, such as this new preface and an afterword. And, of course, the cover art has been reimagined.

In the seven years since writing the first edition of The Philosophy of a Mad Man my spiritual journey has of course progressed, as followers of my blog at PerfectChaos.org will know. But my key beliefs concerning the God/world relationship (as expounded in Part 2 of this book) remain the same.

I feel The Philosophy of a Mad Man remains an important book, because it is the only place where I have given a detailed account of my spiritual journey, which is the best way to understand the experiences that have contributed to the philosophical perspective I have developed and which constitutes my life’s work — my raison d'être.

However you have come to be reading this book, I’m grateful for your interest and I hope the book delivers a stimulating and thought-provoking read.

Allow me to leave you with a small puzzle which you will hopefully be able to solve by the time you have finished reading this book: Why do we say, my heart is beating (passive), but I am breathing (active)? Can it really be true that I am doing one and not the other?



My life so far has been quite a journey. I have experienced the highs and lows of Eastern and Western religious practices and philosophical traditions by immersing myself in the spiritual practices of many different faith groups.

In terms of Eastern faith groups, such practices have included the self-enquiry of Sri Ramana Maharshi, the meditation propounded by the Indian teacher Deepak Chopra, the Zen Buddhist principles of the comparative religion philosopher Alan Watts, the ‘shaking meditation’ of contemporary Indian teacher Ratu Bagas, and the ‘enlightenment’ schooling of gurus such as Mooji, Gangaji, and Papaji. In terms of Western traditions, I have been a self-confessed Christian, attending both Protestant and Catholic churches, I have studied Philosophy and Religion at a Jesuit Catholic college in London, I have undertaken psychotherapy with a spiritually inclined body psychotherapist, and have undertaken counselling with a Christian counsellor.

I have experienced the highs of ecstatic and hallucinogenic drugs, of deep stages of meditation, and of the love of true friends, and also the lows of suicidal depression, mental disorder and psychological breakdown. Through a mental health condition that I have (currently diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder), I have experienced psychosis and altered states of reality on a number of occasions. I have developed a unique but also, I am quite convinced, realistic perspective on the way God works within the created universe. Through my life’s journey God has demonstrated to me some important truths about His relationship to the world, and I believe that the next step along that journey is to communicate my experiences and views to others in order to help them reach a better understanding of the way God’s world works.

I do not claim to know everything, and I believe that there will always be a mysterious element to human life, as we all struggle with difficult questions about suffering, and death, for instance. But the pursuit of philosophical wisdom is as worthwhile today as it was several thousand years ago in the days of Aristotle and Plato. I do not know what posterity will make of me and my philosophy, but I hope that I will be remembered as someone who is humble, open, and honest, and I hope that you will enjoy reading what I have to say.

When writing about God I sometimes use the pronoun ‘He’. This is merely a convention – I don’t believe God has a particular gender.





November 2004

On my hands and knees, leaning over a small plastic bucket, I am vomiting violently. The blare of fast-paced music and the wailing and yelping of those shaking their bodies behind me provide the soundtrack to my convulsions. I am desperate that the double dose of liquid tobacco solution that I have just squirted up my nostrils will provide a sufficient dose of ‘light energy’ to allow me to access a place of mental oblivion, and that finally this agonising mess of furious and desperate thoughts will dissolve into an eruption of tears and give way to the peace of mind I so desperately crave.

Just two days ago in this large, carpeted tent in the Devonshire countryside, I had experienced something incredible. As I stood shaking with perhaps 40 other people, music booming at full blast towards us, a sudden wave of blackness passed through my body/mind in a way that was unlike anything I had ever experienced. As this happened, I found myself letting out a primal scream, before bursting into tears and falling to the floor, and crying my eyes out uninhibitedly for around five minutes. As soon as the crying subsided, I found myself laughing hysterically for a further ten minutes. It all happened quite spontaneously. When the laughing subsided, the room and everyone’s faces were brighter and clearer. It was an amazing, joyous feeling, and an experience like no other I had ever had.

Presently, things are not going so well. I vomit several more times, and then stand up and resume shaking my arms and legs and whole body violently. My eyes are closed and my head faces upwards. A feeling of sickness still pervades my being, and I feel that I may need to vomit again shortly. I am whispering the chant over and over again at high speed, Om Swastiastu Ratu Bagus, Om Swastiastu Ratu Bagus… and my body is desperately weak and aching. I collapse onto the floor at frequent intervals, but am ushered to my feet by Ratu and his wife who smile and gesture for me to carry on shaking.

I am engaged in the final stages of an intensive five-day ‘shaking meditation’ retreat with Indian guru and powerhouse Ratu Bagus, and the very foundations of my humanity are being, quite literally, shaken. The routine for the last five days has been thus: wake

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