What is the difference between spiritual growth and spiritual addiction?
Spiritual addiction is an addiction about which very little is known. When someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs or work, it is very easy to recognise that they are outwardly behaving as an addict would. That is, you can see that they fall over and hurt themselves, crash cars, or behave erratically, or are constantly at work and not at home with their family and friends. Their addiction is often visible to outsiders (but not always to the addict themselves).
Spiritual addiction (and its sister addiction, Religion Addiction) are different in that the addiction is an internal process. It does have similar effects on the lives of those around the addict, but the external factors are less apparent.
Spiritual addiction is when you are addicted to the feeling of being in connection with the Divine, whatever that means to you. It is a physical feeling that is similar to the high that drugs or alcohol gives you, and it is very easy to get addicted to. Society also celebrates someone who lives an outwardly "good" life, and so the addiction can be less easy to identify.
Very often, people who become addicted to spirituality are those that find life too painful, and cannot abide living in their body. The process of prayer or meditation or other forms of connection through dance, music, or being of service lead to the person leaving their body or mind and feeling sheer bliss and love in connection. This is a method of escaping the issues and challenges of life, pain, and growth that form part of spiritual growth.
A person who is in spiritual addiction will come to be unable to live without the spiritual high. This is to the detriment of their normal life, and they begin to allow chaos into their life around work, relationships and life as their addiction becomes the most important thing to them. This is the opposite of spirituality where a person embraces life, its challenges and obstacles and works through them to find peace.
Spiritual growth is very much an experience that is had through the body. It also involves learning to control the mind. Whereas spiritual addiction will allow the person to check out as often as they can, spiritual growth encourages people to own their journey, pain and emotions and work through it in order to grow and learn. We chose the lessons that we are being faced with, and we were also given the exact physical body that we needed to learn them.
Consequently, a mystic who goes to sit in a cave for decades is very much in spiritual growth. Whilst he is seen to be apart from society as he works his lessons through the experiences of the body and mind, his communion with the Divine is from a very human stance. He remains in his body and works through his issues and emotions and discovers the Divine without leaving his body or mind.
A spiritual addict can be quite challenging to be around. Spiritual growth is a part of who you are, and it is the way that you choose to live your life and be in the world. Many people that are addicted to spirituality seem to have lost themselves in the addiction and it becomes all they do. Do you know people who talk of nothing else? Who try to persuade you to see it their way?
It is important to understand that no one chooses to become an addict, and it is a disease. Most probably, they are experiencing deep pain, and like the rest of us are just trying to get by the best way that they can. However, any form of addiction will prevent any kind of spiritual growth, because the addiction will keep you in deep denial, and spiritual growth is about facing the demons and moving through the pain.
Recovery from this addiction, like any other, is about learning to accept yourself in entirety, even the parts that you despise. It is about looking at your past, and dealing with it, and moving past it so that it no longer controls you. This allows you to become as the Divine intended, free from self and able to love and be of service to others.
Written by Caroline Nettle
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About the Author
Caroline Nettle is passionate about healing, recovery, and assisting others to grow. Her website Spiritual Growth Tools is the culmination of many years of seeking answers about her own health and well-being, and studying the human condition. She writes articles, is a heal er and gives talks about subjects relating to spiritual growth and personal development.
Spiritual Growth Tools is an online resources dedicated to spiritual growth and personal development. It aims to provide resources and information to assist others on their journey to inner peace, vitality, and a happier, healthier lifestyle!
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