The current popular focus on addiction and recovery is more than just a cultural fad. There is something of universal significance to the recognition that human beings frequently exhibit compulsive and destructive behaviors over which we have little or no control. Addiction is not solely restricted to alcoholics, drug users, gamblers, sex addicts, and food bingers; all of us suffer from obsessive habits and inclinations that are (perhaps) not as grossly destructive as the five cardinal addictions, but which nevertheless bind our energy and attention to unhealthy, repetitive patterns that produce negative effects in ourselves and others. Such things as compulsive buying, "workaholism", excessive exercise, or inveterate complaining and negativity carry with them the force and consequence of addiction. And deeper than these habits and inclinations, Avatar Adi Da tells us, lies the source of all addiction, which must be transcended if we are to be truly free.
What can we understand about human obsession about why and how it takes hold in our lives? And what is the most essential, liberating means by which it can be truly overcome? This article conveys how these questions have been answered by Avatar Adi Da, through His "radical" Wisdom Teaching and through the practice of the Way of the Heart that Avatar Adi Da Offers to all who are moved to accept His Divine Help in their lives.
What Is Addiction?
Speaking of human obsession in Love of the Two Armed Form, Avatar Adi Da notes that all patterns, "whether the patterns appear 'bizarre' and clearly 'antisocial' or 'normal' and 'social'" are attempts to release tension or stress. "This is why it is so difficult to bring an individual, even oneself, to the point of responsibility for breaking apparently negative behavior patterns."
On the surface, the desire to pleasurably release tension seems natural enough. However, addictively derived "pleasures" are always short lived and self defeating. As indulgence increases, so too does our craving, like the aggravation that results from compulsively scratching an itch. Addicts bent on the predictable relief they gain from addictive behaviors may deny that indulgence has a progressively degenerative, rather than palliative, effect. Yet, unless they find the means to change addictive patterns, they inevitably become degraded, desperate, estranged from others, and profoundly un Happy. Addiction, in Avatar Adi Da's words, "is an endless cycle that defeats us".
Recovery Programs and Alcoholics Anonymous
Many addiction recovery programs are based on the model developed by the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, which was established in 1935. The twelve step program of Alcoholics Anonymous has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals overcome alcoholism. In His Basket Of Tolerance Essay on human addiction ("The ego 'I' Is Inherently an Addict: The Necessity of Overcoming Gross Addictions, and the Greater Calling to Transcend All Seeking") Avatar Adi Da observes that the Alcoholics Anonymous program is effective and successful because it is founded on rudimentary principles essential to recovery: (1) honest self appraisal, (2) religious inspiration, (3) a commitment or will to self discipline and self transcendence, and (4) an exemplary "culture of expectation and inspiration" that nurtures and supports recovering addicts in adhering to the first three principles.
A fundamental tenet of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous is that an addict must first acknowledge that he or she is entirely addicted to a substance, pattern, or behavior, and that life has become unmanageable by virtue of this addiction (Principle 1). The addict must then truly resort or surrender to a "Higher Power" (Principle 2). He or she must also make a firm commitment to intentionally and consistently engage the prescribed steps of the recovery program (Principle 3). And he or she must do so in ongoing relationship with and accountability to other recovering, and now responsible, addicts (Principle 4). If the individual consistently adheres to these principles, recovery is assured though it is always a difficult and intensive struggle.
Avatar Adi Da makes a further and remarkable observation about these principles and their effectiveness. He says that they apply not only to recovery from gross addictions, but also to continued growth toward what He calls "basic human maturity" (or demonstrated and trustable responsibility for all the ordinary practical and relational areas of human life). And He tells us that these same principles are absolutely essential for Spiritual Awakening beyond such basic maturity.
Having recovered from alcoholism or any other disabling addiction, many individuals have achieved a comparatively healthy and "normal" life through abstinence and religious inspiration. But they, like all human beings, invariably discover that they are still less than ecstatic, free, and loving in every moment still un Happy. Even all the rich possibilities of ordinary life do not and cannot satisfy the deepest longing within our hearts. Truly, all human beings yearn to be absolutely Free and Happy.
This longing or craving is the original impulse behind all self indulgent behavior. Gross addictions are simply misplaced efforts to contact the Happiness that underlies all of life. As the greatest Teachers and Realizers within the religious and Spiritual traditions of humankind have always proclaimed, there is a profound dimension of existence, a Free, Radiant, and Unqualified Reality that is hidden from our ordinary experience obscured by our very lack of growth and maturity. Yet the intuitive depths of our being signalled by dissatisfaction and un Happiness cry out to know this Reality, Which is Spiritual, Trans cendental, and Divine in nature. To become devoted to this Divine Awakening, Avatar Adi Da tells us, is to respond to "the Greater Calling of humankind".
Avatar Adi Da's "Radical" Understanding of Human Addiction
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: The first thing to notice is that you are seeking. Notice that is all you are doing, and nothing more. That is it. . . . There are all kinds of reactivity, desire, and so forth. There is a different quality behind each kind of seeking, but all seeking is pursuit of union with something or other. All seeking is pursuit of union with some other, some object, some thought that changes everything, whatever it may be. The search is all pursuit of union. How could you pursue union if you did not already feel separate? It is always a feeling of separation that instigates the motive to union. If you did not feel separate from the thing you want to get, you would not have to seek it, would you?
A stressful feeling of separateness motivates this stressful seeking. But what you must find out is that this feeling of separateness is your own activity, one that you are always doing. You are always creating the feeling of separation from this, that, or the other thing and then pursuing the very thing you have separated yourself from. The thing for which you must become responsible is your own separative act. This is self understanding. That not seeking is the understanding that is fundamental to the Way of the Heart.
Avatar Adi Da makes it clear that our constant sense of dis ease and suffering (even if we feel it only in the form of being less than fully ecstatic and unreservedly loving in any moment) is a symptom of our own activity of self contraction. This contraction is so primary, so all inclusive, so forceful, that it affects our perception of, and relationship to, literally everything. Yet we are so habituated to this primary activity that we do not notice it and are unaware of its profound effects in our lives. However, it can be relieved even in every present moment with the Graceful Help of Avatar Adi Da. The purpose of His entire Life and Work is to Guide individuals in the process of self understanding by which we relinquish and become presently responsible for the addictive logic that is constantly creating the self contraction.
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: I have used the analogy of you pinching yourself. You are feeling some pain and you are motivated to get rid of the pain, so you taste this, touch that, have sex with this, read, think, . . . whatever it is, to get rid of the pain. But if you could just notice your own activity, or if someone could draw your attention to the fact that you are pinching yourself, there is no effort involved in taking your fingers away. You are glad to do it! And then the pain and the motivation to seek pass. When you are truly observing the self contraction, it is easy to relinquish. The relinquishment does not require any effort. It occurs rather spontaneously, in fact. . . .
You do not have to get rid of the pain of the pinch when you take your fingers away. All the seeking that your pinching yourself might have otherwise motivated, or that it previously motivated, disappears without effort, because it has no foundation anymore. You do not have to read and try to figure out the universe because you are in pain. The pain is not there. You no longer feel separate from Reality, or from any reality. Rather, the feeling of relatedness, the feeling of non separation, is magnified in the heart spontaneously.
This gesture of self contraction is our primary addiction a compulsive, repetitive, and destructive act. Therefore, just as Alcoholics Anonymous requires the basic acknowledgement that, "Yes, I am an alcoholic" in order for the process of recovery to begin, Avatar Adi Da tells us that continued human growth and Spiritual Awakening require that we observe, accept, and openly acknowledge that our un Happiness, our lack of love, is self generated and represents our most basic human impediment.
AVATAR ADI DA SAMRAJ: Every ego "I" is an addict of self contraction. And egoity, or the addiction to self contraction, is not just one kind of self indulgence. Egoity, or self contraction, is the total pattern of one's life, and it inevitably produces suffering and bondage.
By itself, this seems to be very bad news! But whenever we truly observe and transcend the constant act of self contraction, we intuitively feel our inherent Oneness with what Avatar Adi Da has called "the Self Existing and Self Radiant Divine Reality". Though the Spiritual process must be developed into its advanced and ultimates stages for this intuition to become a stable and constant Realization, its Truth is Present before us in every moment, because Avatar Adi Da is here, Present, and Radiating that Truth Freely to everyone.
Thus, Avatar Adi Da not only Offers a "radical" understanding of the source of all human addictions, He also provides the unique means by which to be relieved of them: He Offers everyone a devotional relationship with Him.
Avatar Adi Da has always dealt directly with the process of addiction, especially in its root form the self contraction. As He once remarked, "If you want to deal with a problem, you must go to its source!" He tells us that all forms of human addiction stem from a primary or essential addiction that is universally in evidence this constant, self defeating process of self contraction and seeking. Therefore, addiction is actually as deep and fundamental to each of us as our most intimate sense of "me". That is why it is such a profound undertaking to truly understand and transcend it. Via the process of devotional submission to the Divine Heart Master, Avatar Adi Da, we gain the capability to acknowledge the self contraction as suffering, and the contraction is thus spontaneously released.
Therefore, this understanding truly is given only by His Grace; it does not come by its own accord or through mere effort on our part. In relationship to Avatar Adi Da, we simply begin to notice that we are contracting, presently. And to the degree we are responsible for this gesture in any moment, all addictive behaviors and compulsions likewise vanish. Ultimately, as Avatar Adi Da says, "They are completely washed."
In this excerpt from "The ego 'I' Is Inherently an Addict", Heart Master Adi Da gives us the "bottom line" on addiction of all kinds and its only true "cure":
The ego "I" is (inherently and entirely) an addict, a seeker in pursuit of utter self fulfillment and self release. No one has ever become an alcoholic or a drug addict who was not first (and already) a self contracted being (or ego "I"). And no one has ever been "cured" of (or made responsible for) alcoholism or drug addiction who did not remain a self contracted being (or ego "I") and a yet active seeker for utter self fulfillment and self release. Therefore, even though to overcome (and to help others to overcome) gross addictions (such as to alcohol or to drugs) is an appropriate and praiseworthy endeavor, the greater Calling of mankind (collectively, and one by one) is to utterly transcend the ego "I" itself, and all of its patterns of self contraction (and seeking). And the beginning of the process whereby the ego "I" is (potentially) utterly transcended is the very same (and basically third stage) discipline whereby the grosser addictions and failures of human life may be overcome. That is to say, human beings must become responsibly able to embrace and maintain a comprehensive practice of self discipline (and, altogether, an effectively ego transcending practice of life). And they become thus responsible only by submitting themselves to be guided by an exemplary "culture of expectation and inspiration", wherein they (in a manner that completes the business of the first three stages of life) exercise discriminative intelligence (to the degree of consistently achieving an honest and right self appraisal, or self understanding) and, on that basis, consistently exercise the will (via a comprehensive practice of self discipline, in the general context of an effectively ego transcending practice of life).
Because it requires an effectively ego transcending practice of life, the process of truly human growth is (necessarily and inherently) religious. The ego "I" is an addict (or a seeker) in everything he or she does. That search is always a lust for objects and effects (whether apparently external or apparently internal). And the search itself is always founded upon "Narcissus" the basic self contraction, the alienated, separate, and separative ego "I". Therefore, to truly understand (and confess) the ego "I" is to understand (and confess) all seeking (or every kind of addiction). And to truly discipline (and relinquish) any kind of seeking (or addiction) is, necessarily, to relinquish egoity, self contraction, alienation, separation, separateness, and separativeness. Thus, to truly understand and discipline and transcend seeking (or addiction) and the ego "I" requires (and more and more becomes) Communion (or re Union) with (and, Most Ultimately, the Inherently Most Perfect Realization of) the (Self Evidently Divine) Source Condition of human (and egoic) existence.
An Essay by Avatar Adi Da Samraj
True change and advanced human adaptation are not made on the basis of any self conscious resistance to old, degenerative, and sub human habits. Change is not a matter of not doing something. It is a matter of doing something else something that is inherently right, free, and pleasurable. Therefore, you must enjoy the freedom to feel and participate in ways of functioning that are right and new.
The tendencies and patterns of your earlier adaptations are not wrong. They were appropriate enough in their own moment of creation, and there is no need to feel guilt or despair about them. Likewise, efforts to oppose and change them are basically fruitless. Such efforts are forms of conflict, and they only reinforce the modes of ego possession.
What is not used becomes obsolete whereas what is opposed is kept before you. Therefore, the creative principle of change is the relaxed inspection and awareness of existing tendencies, and persistent, full feeling orientation to right, new, regenerative functional patterns. If this principle is practiced consistently and in ecstatic resort to Me, the Divine Heart Master, free growth is assured.
Have no regrets. Resort to Me in Truth and in the present. All that has been done by anyone had its logic in its time. Only I avail. Whatever is your habit in this moment is not wrong. It is simply a beginning. No habit is necessary but it is only tending to persist, because it has not yet been replaced by further growth. Hear My Wisdom Teaching of Truth, and understand what is the right, ultimate, and regenerative pattern of each function of the human body mind. Feel free of all negative judgments about what you have done and what you tend to do. Turn with full feeling attention to the happy ordeal of new adaptation in most positive Communion with Me, the Divine Heart Master for I Am The Unbroken (Indivisible and Indestructible) Light That "Lives" you, and I Am The Only One Who Is (Surrounding, Pervading, and Being you, and all, and All).