In India there appears to be a very different view of ADD than is
conventional in the US . . . I took a 12 hour train ride halfway across the subcontinent . . . In the train compartment with me were several Indian businessmen and a physician . . .
I said, "Are you familiar with the personality type where people seem to crave stimulation but have a hard time staying with any one thing? They hop from career to career, and sometimes even from relationship to relationship, and never seem to settle down."
"Ah, we know this type well," one of the men said, the other two nodding in agreement.
"What do you call it?" I asked.
"Very holy," he said. "These are old souls, near the end of their karmic cycle." Again the other three nodded in agreement, perhaps a bit more vigorously in response to my startled look.
"Old souls?" I said, thinking that a very odd description for what we call a disorder.
"Yes," the physician said. "In our religion, we believe that the purpose of reincarnation is to eventually free oneself from worldly entanglement and desire. In each lifetime we experience certain lessons, until finally we are free of this earth and can merge into the oneness of what you would call God. When a soul is very close to the end of those thousands of incarnations, he must take a few lifetimes and do many, many things, to clean up the little threads left over from his previous lifetimes."
"This is a man very close to becoming enlightened," the first
businessman added. "We have great respect for such individuals, although their lives may be difficult."
Another of the businessmen raised a finger and interjected: "But it is the difficulties of such lives that purify the soul." The others nodded in agreement.
"In America we consider this a psychiatric disorder," I said. All three looked startled, then laughed.
"In America, you consider our most holy men, our yogis and swamis, to be crazy people too, " said the physician with a touch of sadness in his voice.
"So it is with different cultures. We live in different worlds."