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Monday, June 20, 2011

A Thirst of Our Being for Wholeness

The word "addiction" has the same Latin root as the words "diction" and "dictator" - 'ad' + 'dicere' - which means, essentially, that the addict really has "no say" in his or her behavior.

At heart, a spiritual malady, the "false spirits" of alcohol, drugs, sex, or what have you, gives the addict a taste of the divine, but he or she is never allowed to remain. And, over time, it takes more and more of that which he or she is addicted to, just to get a glimpse of the state of peace and good feeling that was once achieved. Eventually, even a glimpse will be out of reach of the then hopeless addict. And then the individual, once fully addicted, really has no say in how this process inevitably works out.

The thirst of the alcoholic, Carl Jung explained to Bill Wilson, is "the equivalent on a low level of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval terms: union with God."

Addiction is thus a "separation" of our consciousness and being from Wholeness, and unless we can overcome the duality of the false ego of the seeming "self" and our true state of consciousness and being, we will once again try to approach the divine with whatever our drink or drug of choice may be.

Ram Dass - a spiritual teacher who knows a thing or two about addiction - puts it this way: "What you find out with most addictive things (is) that they give you a short rush but they don't allow you to remain at home. They just allow you the taste of it. And then the minute you get thrown out, you go to heaven but you can't stay because you didn't come in through the right way."

However, Dass notes, "(w)hen you start to stand back and see your predicament and see what you are doing, there is a way from a spiritual perspective in which you begin with that slight bit of awareness to extricate yourself from the chain of reactivity" that keeps you in addiction.

"When people come to me with addictions," Dass says, "I'm inclined to say, start doing spiritual practices. Start doing the studies that will allow you to see yourself in a new way, that will allow you to understand what that hunger is you are feeding in a new way, to just get a little different perspective on it."

"The line I always use," he says, "is, "How poignant I am! How poignant the human condition!"

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