Addiction and Spirituality

Dr. Purushothaman
September 1, 2013

There is a time and place in which the soul begins to seek a path of return to its lost home, and, finding the way blocked or invisible, yearns once again for the sense of peace and love that it remembers as having been part of its deepest longing. In that moment of time, when the soul turns toward the sun of its longing seeking remembrance and reunion, seeking the sense of peace and completion that it believes is possible, a significant step toward the light of Spirit is taken and the soul will never be the same again. At the same time, if the yearning for home is not realized by fulfillment, if the spiritual longing finds, instead, an emptiness of heart and a lack of response to its prayer for reunion, it can become disconsolate and greatly sorrowful, so much so that it gives up that which it has set its heart upon, and instead turns to other means by which to fulfill its desire for peace and for the essence of tranquility which can only be produced by the light.

These are the conditions under which addictive processes take place within the human psyche. They emerge from the condition of perceived separation from one's point of origin and spiritual home, and arise when the deeper longing of the soul still struggling to emerge within the human self, seeks its way back to the point of its Source and origin. They do not arise before this, because before this the embodied soul is fully engaged with life on the material plane. It is engaged both from the standpoint of seeking mastery and a sense of physical comfort and fulfillment, and in the sense of fascination with the many arenas of earthly learning and pleasure that are both sensory and spiritual - though the latter quality may be unknown to the self that pursues them. When the soul begins to find these pleasures and this mastery no longer sufficient to quiet the yearning that grows within the heart and the deeper levels of being, then the soul begins to lose hope that the life of the physical plane will be able to grant the satisfaction that it longs for. Instead, it may seek a substitute gratification that it hopes will steadfastly and surely be able to grant the kind of peace and soul-fulfillment that is desired.

Fundamentally, turning toward addiction is a spiritual act. However much it may be fueled by conditions of poverty, need, emotional instability, immaturity, or any other psychological variable, the replacement of the soul's yearning for completion and peace with a substitute is an act of spiritual seeking that has taken a turn away from its true destination toward an alternative destination. This is an act that is both an effort to resolve a spiritual dilemma, as well as an effort to grant immediate release from the pain of having to wait for a more authentic source of realization.

The difficulty in waiting for what one longs for but cannot yet have, and the emptiness that occurs in the presence of the heart's longing that neither mind nor senses can satisfy – these are the dilemmas of the embodied self that seeks relief from longing and a way of resolving the problems of time and of waiting. If the process of choice were engaged in more consciously, with greater awareness of what truly was being sought, it is likely that many more who turn to addictive substitutes could find within themselves the courage to wait through a period of pain and of emptiness. But the choice before the embodied self is rarely that conscious. And although a spiritual longing exists at its foundation, this longing is often not even dimly recognized by the conscious, experiencing self which only seeks an end to its pain – the pain of emptiness and the pain of loss.

When it is discovered through use of addictive substances, relationships, or habits of any kind that a kind of numbing of pain and of distress takes place through the ability of addiction to grant a temporary feeling of satisfaction, then the original impetus to find a spiritual solution to a basically spiritual dilemma is lessened. In such instances the soul must often wander far down the pathways of illusion before it discovers that the promise of peace and of satisfaction that an addictive substance or process seems to give is an illusion. It discovers that there is often more pain involved than satisfaction, and that the emptiness, in any case, never really goes away.

Some who choose this alternate route for easing a hunger of the soul continue a very long time in a state of illusion, until broken, desperate, and despairing, they return with empty hands and an empty heart to face the source of the problem. Others, who see more clearly or who are able to bear pain with greater courage, find that the path of addiction is a path of illusion and seek a change of direction and movement shortly after having embarked upon it.

The problem for many who embark on this road out of spiritual longing and out of a nameless pain that seems impossible to ease by any other route, is that there is no easing of the underlying cause of the pain except by continuing to incorporate more and more of the addictive substance, relationship, or process. This is true not only because the physiology of addiction prompts this kind of accelerated usage in order to maintain the same effect upon consciousness, but also because underneath it all, the awareness of one's own emptiness still and always remains. Addiction represents the desperation of the hopeless and the yearning who, with a sense of desiring to save themselves, seek a way out of their dilemma by turning to a source which seems to offer a possible way.

In the end, all addictive process whose origin is the state of separation that the embodied self experiences from God and from its true self, must be healed by finding its way back to the center of this dilemma – to the source of its own pain. When this can occur in a more authentic way, that is, when it is recognized that it is spiritual hunger that is fueling the craving for a substitute and illusory peace rather than a real peace, then, and only then, can the spiritual enlightenment of the embodied self begin in an authentic way.

Today, the problem of addiction and its spiritual underpinnings can be viewed in a new light. Because it is the time now of increased spiritual light upon the earth, the underlying truth of addictive process can more easily come to the embodied soul, bringing with it greater clarity concerning inner motivations, longings, and formerly unconscious states. As a result, it is now more possible for the healing of addiction to rise beyond the level of psychological and physical forms of treatment that have proven effective in recent decades, but only to a certain degree, to a new and higher level of healing.

Now, it becomes possible for all addiction to be revealed in its true essence as a spiritual action designed to answer a need that it was believed could not be answered in any other way. With this longing exposed to the light of awakened consciousness, there is hope, today, that what has been a widespread and pervasive problem in both advanced and underdeveloped nations will have the chance of being healed in an equally widespread way at a core level. This new possibility comes out of the increased capacity of the human body and psyche to touch its own spiritual depths in ways that were not possible before. With this contact, the phenomenon of addiction can, in time, disappear as a solution to the problem of the soul's longing, and a new step can be taken toward the soul's true destination – the path of return toward its spiritual home.

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