There’s a new sort of addiction that I’ve started to come across in recent years.
In my opinion, this is an addiction specific to those interested in spiritual matters, and it’s called spiritual energy practices addiction. People with this addiction feel they must constantly participate in all the up-and-coming spiritual energy practices. After a while, these people never stop speaking about what they gained from this or took from that. As with all addictions, though, the underlying matter is the same…
About a few weeks ago, I watched a scene from the spectacular documentary People vs. The State of Illusion. It transformed my outlook on all the existing addictions. Until then, I had looked at all addictions judgmentally, referring to addicts as drunks, weed addicts, sex maniacs, womanizers, gamblers, and so on. I believed them to be sacrificing their families’ sustenance to fuel their addictions.
We learn these typical judgments from our parents, our environments, our societies, and TV and movies, and they are likely in most of us somewhere. Sure, all addictions are bad and should be avoided. We judge addicts in many numerous ways. We try to manipulate them. We try to get them to stop by reasoning with them and forcing them to make promises. This rarely stops them doing what they’re doing, because no one thinks to ask, “Okay, but why is he/she doing this?”
I also judged addicts, and this question never occurred to me either. While society tells us that these addictions are bad and should be avoided, it also teaches us to label and outcast those who fall prey to them. When it’s a person you love, such as a lover or a relative, you are torn between your love and the pressure to label that person. In short, you get hurt.
During that scene in the documentary, I had a moment of clarity. The main character is in jail. He has a guardian he did not get along with in the past. The main character then starts a spiritual development in himself, and he makes it up with his guardian. One day, his old guardian comes and asks, “Can you please help me? I am about to be fired from my job, my wife has left me, and I don’t know what to do…” At first, the character doesn’t know how to help him, but he asks the wise jailhouse servant who has also helped him. The conversation is here for you:
(Aaron: Man in jail.)
Aaron: I got a question for you. If somebody came to you with drinking problem. How would you help?
Jailhouse Servant: I would help them to see what was good about being an alcoholic.
Aaron: But there is nothing good about being an alcoholic. Is there?
Jailhouse Servant: Just like you thought there wasn’t anything about this cell when we first met. It is always how you see things. Do you think somebody who drinks so much seems themselves as whole?
Aaron: Of course not.
Jailhouse Servant: So to help them about their problem is to focus on the idea that something’s wrong with them. I’d help them change that view. Because people who sees themselves as whole don’t bring that kind of drama into their lives. I’d ask them what might be good about their accessive drinking.
Jailhouse Servant: There always is. When you are drunk what do you thinking about?
Aaron: Just, feeling good.
Jailhouse Servant: Exactly. No thought for the past, no thought for the future, just being present. The addict desires presence. Sometimes more than rest of us. That is a good thing. Presence is the same value we get from meditation, reading, sports. So i can focus on his problem, or i can focus on his desire to be present. And help him find other ways to do it.
Aaron: I wish i had some way explaining them.
Jailhouse Servant: You do, you had it ever since we first met.
Aaron: What do you mean?
Jailhouse Servant: Do you have that picture that i give you when we first met?
Aaron: Keep it right my bed every night.
Jailhouse Servant: Do you remember what i said when i give it to you?
Aaron: Yeah, you were a bit dramatic. And said it had the power to change my life.
Jailhouse Servant: Have you ever really looked at that picture?
Aaron: Of course. Many times.
Jailhouse Servant: What did you see?
Aaron: A beatiful woman.
Jailhouse Servant: Anything else?
Aaron: It is made up of all kinds of pieces of glass and stone.
Jailhouse Servant: Right, it is a mosaic. If you took pieces out of mosaic and looked at them individually, what would you see?
Aaron: All kinds of different pieces: Some dark, some cracked, some dirty, some smooth…
Jailhouse Servant: How is the picture formed from these pieces?
Aaron: Well, suppose from the arragement and the contrast.
Jailhouse Servant: Upclose and disected, it is not so nice. But from a different perspective and viewed as a whole. It becomes a work of art.
“The Addicted one desires his/her existence.” The key is hidden here. Well, after watching the scene, I found another fantastic example that I have repeated here because it’s also a significant key. But first, to view the underlying cause of the addiction, I’ve brought another perspective with me.
Each of us is a part of divine mosaic, similar to the tiny stones of a typical mosaic. Each one of us has an individual structure, and by coming together, we form something more. Just like there is the divine mosaic, we also have our own internal mosaics. These consist of smooth white stones, pieces of glass, fractured pieces of other materials, and other different characteristic features. This all builds up into a whole. However, in the scenarios we live in, we forget our place in the divine mosaic. We feel we are so far from ourselves, so to feel good again, to stop our minds and live like ourselves, we start grasping at alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, adrenaline, and so on. The real problem comes at the point that we build up tolerance to whatever we’re abusing, and it needs more and more stimulus to excite us. The body always wants and seeks more, but this starts to harm both ourselves and our environments. At this juncture, it is possible to find other ways of feeling our existence with activities like meditation, reading, yoga, sports, and so on. This only helps if we maintain the balance, however. For example, working out at the gym and then progressing to taking steroids is just another kind of addiction.
Well, now I want to return to the spiritual energy practices addiction I mentioned at the start. Sure, spiritual energy practices can open up some great ways to discover the inner being, but searching for one after another, saying how each one is much better than the last, jumping at each new one, and following anyone who claims to be a guru is just another addiction. Yes, it may ease you for a moment each time, but then to feel the same satisfaction, you need to look for more. Nevertheless, as you bustle around, someone comes and eases you, and you feel the inner being again. In the meantime, though, you are running from something. When you become aware of this, you can find the power in yourself to stand and face whatever you are running from. When you face it and embrace it, you do not need to pursue anything anymore. Of course, you can continue to practice with many mentors and use many methods, but it won’t be because you feel you owe your inner being to them—it will be because you enrich your life experiences with whatever you get from them.
Deep down, we are just like the fish in the ocean. We seek the ocean, so we swim around trying to find it, unaware that we’re already in it. This is what our inner being looks like. All we need to do is stop and realize where we exist. At this point, we find the answer to the question of “How much are we addicted to our addictions?” How much are we aware of our inner being? Is it a little or none at all?
With infinite love to all addictions, to all my own addictions, to all our addicted brothers and sisters, to myself, and, of course, to the infinite being of all of us…