What is at the heart of addiction?

We will never understand addiction without understanding that we exist as beings of soul and spirit expressing ourselves through a body. We could compare our body to a boat powered and navigated by our soul and spirit.

The great Theosophist, Charles Leadbeater, put it this way, “The human being is a being of spirit and soul, and has a body. The body is not the human; it is only the clothing of the human. What we call death is the laying aside of a worn-out garment, and it is no more the end of the person than it is the end of us when we remove our overcoats. Therefore, we have not lost our “dead” friends; we have only lost sight of the cloak in which we were accustomed to see them. The cloak is gone, but the person who wore it is not; surely it is the person that we love, and not the garment.”

At the core of any addiction is the yearning to become more aware of our soul and spirit, but addiction actually disconnects us from our soul and spirit. This just leaves us adrift in the boat, or in Charles’s terms leaves us with only the cloak.

In the book “The Counselor …as if soul and spirit matter” chapter 9, this issue is explored to reveal the ways in which we work against ourselves if we succumb to addiction. We can be addicted to many things, not just substances.

Addiction first of all disconnects feeling, thinking and will from each other and in so doing disengages the spirit, specifically, the ‘I’. In the present stage of the evolution of human consciousness, we are striving to connect with our ‘I’ and allow it to work consciously through our feeling, thinking and will, uniting them appropriately. This takes quite a lot of effort and we can turn to the various addictive substances thinking it will speed up the process or make the process more manageable.

William Bento outlines three kinds of addiction; one which gives a sense of invincibility (will), one which gives a sense of relaxation (feeling), and the other which is escapist (thinking). He explains that the addict is searching for a deeper sense of self yet their addiction undermines all sense of self.

If we recognise what is at the heart of addiction we can see that “addiction is a developmental opportunity.”

William makes the astounding point that when addicts to alcohol or drugs go to a AA or DA meeting, the first thing they do is to introduce themselves by name and declare “I am an addict” which is a defeatist self-deprecating thing to say. To truly recognise that we are beings of soul and spirit it is better to say, “I have an addiction but I am more than that.”

Image: Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

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