Friday, December 30, 2016

On Addiction (Revisited)

"The ritual must begin again. The fuck, the murder, the bottle of scotch, the Oreo cookie do not provide everlasting love or solace, so we must try it, hope for it, with the next seductive fuck, murder, drink, piece of cake. Just one more time. Again and again." (Sue William Silverman, quoted in Susan Cheever's "Desire")

I have written well over 2000 blog notes over the years and the most widely read article - by a long shot - was titled "J. Krishnamurti on Addiction". Not because it is so good, mind you, but simply because the subject is so important to so many of us. Addictions, compulsive habits, and binge activities have a message in store for us that our subconscious sends to us, "Hey, you don't look like what you are seeing here? Well, I will be in your face until you listen to what I have to say!"

There are thousands of excellent books and notes on the addiction subject. J. Krishnamurti's message was simply to use mindfulness to figure out what's going on beneath the hood yourself. "Addiction" sounds so scary, but the psychological problem statement is the same for everyone. Realize the process behind your cravings; feel it when the auto-pilot takes over; perhaps you have a chance disconnecting just at the moment when the inner robot demands the reigns. Here is the simple quote from J. Krishnamurti that I shared in the addiction note at that time;

"Habit is a dead thing, it is an action which has become automatic, and the more one fights it the more strength one gives to it. But if the person who smokes becomes conscious of his habit, if he becomes aware of putting his hand into his pocket, bringing out the cigarette, tapping it, putting it in his mouth, lighting it and taking the first puff - if each time he goes through this routine he simply watches it without condemnation, without saying how terrible it is to smoke, then he is not giving new vitality to that particular habit. But really to drop something which has become a habit, you have to investigate it much more, which means going into the whole problem of why the mind cultivates the habit - that is, why the mind is inattentive."

Succumbing to, and being caught in addictive spirals is a process that very much can be monitored, studied and understood, no matter how much we have entangled ourself. "Why can't I stop?", we ask, as we again helplessly watch the broken China on the floor after our nightly excess. We can observe and feel how that strange trance gets activated by specific memories, psychological pressure points, or simply by time passing since our last high. Cravings from sex, to food, alcohol, and mind-numbing activities can propel us to that temporary high that has to be experienced again and again, until we finally figure out how to jump off the train.

As we fight it, as we use our will-power to change directions, we see how the same monster pops up wearing different outfits all the time. A restlessness that we haven't quite felt in the same way, a desire to stuff our face as we cut down the alcohol consumption; the inability to put down the electronic device, or the drive to start one meaningless romance after the other. When we understand the psychological robot at work, we already have made the first big step towards its undoing.

The second step of course - in addition to the hard work of undoing the psychological damage - is to recognize what exactly this craving tries to plaster over: the true love, the ability to love ourself, the repressed childhood memory, the purpose in life we haven't quite found yet, or the passion we are unwilling to grant ourselves. Addiction is really the wake-up call to transform our life. Start this transformative process today, there is nothing to be afraid of, we only have life to look forward to to introduce us to a new self.

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