On Attachment and Addiction

Spiritual practice can help one overcome attachment and addiction. The following video explains the root cause of the very mechanism of addiction. I see subjects like Scientology also as addiction to highs.

Ram Dass explains the psychodynamics of the addiction cycle and he suggests that developing a spiritual practice is the best way to ground yourself and rid yourself of unwanted behaviors and anxieties.

His view that all human suffering comes from our feeling of separateness and that all addictions give the person a taste of the Oneness and of being “home” but only for the short term before the person goes into a cycle into self-loathing.

He describes spiritual practice as a way of delaying the gratification we seek in material possessions, relationships, food, drugs and whatever we use to sate the desperate sense of our separateness. He says that as we seek and as we meditate, we can intervene in the cycle of self-punishment and begin to see the emptiness of the whole cycle.

Ram Dass counsels addicted people to start a spiritual practice, saying that eventually, the addictions and anxieties will fall away. He says:

“The minute you get lost in identification with your personality to the exclusion of identification with your soul, you’ve lost it. And there a thousands times each day that you’ve lost it. And if you get caught in identification of your soul to the exclusion of your personality, you’ve lost it, equally as much.”

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Here is a Wikipedia entry on Ram Dass, who was born Richard Alpert.

Ram Dass

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Here are comments of Richard Alpert on “self” after his  experimentations with LSD.

It is interesting to compare these comments with what Buddha says about “self.”

KHTK 23: Diamond Sutra of Buddha

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I recommend engaging in spiritual practice of Vipassana Meditation (KHTK), and not drugs. Drugs can cause severe and harmful addictions, as was the case with Whitney Houston.

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Here is another interesting interview with a later Richard Alpert (as Ram Dass). This interview is interesting because it takes up the strange subject of spirituality in politics.

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Comments

  • Chris Thompson  On April 14, 2012 at 10:43 PM

    Good post. I knew Baba Ram Dass through his coffee table book BE HERE NOW BE HERE. Along with J Krishnamurti and Carlos Castaneda among a few was quite a bit of help to me as a young man and preceded my Scientology experiences.

    Your video elaborates on my own definition of addiction which is, “The use of a physical universe solution to solve a spiritual problem.”

    I agree with the premise that spiritual practices are helpful both to understand the addictive behavior as well as to provide a more constructive and satisfying path while one is curing of the addiction.

    • vinaire  On April 15, 2012 at 7:26 AM

      Yes, I have that book on my bookshelf. I have read Krishnamurti too. It was Swami Vivekananda who appealed to me the most during my student years.

      The definition of addiction you provide is interesting. To me, the physical universe represents what is mechanical. And the side opposite to mechanical is spiritual. The two, mechanical and spiritual, are different aspects of the same overall system. They are not independent of each other.

      Drugs, probably, create a physical condition that cannot be maintained naturally for long. In that physical condition, the experiences are very different. Obviously, that condition can be created naturally in a sustainable way, but it takes a lot of physical and mental discipline as Buddha demonstrated.

      What makes it difficult to attain that natural equilibrium, in my view, are the filters, which we carry with us all the time. Because of these filters we do not see with exactness what is there. Any attempt to get rid of these filters goes against the agreement, which makes this society what it is. “Self” is very much a part of that agreement. It seems to be the last filter to go under the influence of drugs.

      Buddha recommended a gradient approach to getting rid of these filters. He cautioned against the use of extremes. In my view, addiction somehow relates to the extremes.

      For example, though Scientology talks about gradients, it resorts to extremes with the use of processes like Listing and Nulling. Application of Scientology is like attempting to get rid of the core of the onion, instead of peeling away the onion layer by layer.

      Getting rid of filters seems to require getting rid of the social agreements, which to me are like an “onion of ignorance.” These social agreements, which keep the inconsistencies (ignorance) in place, needs to be peeled away layer by layer. Thus, it would take a grass roots movement like Buddha’s Vipassana (KHTK) to get rid of the filters.

      One may say that these filters are the social “addictions.”

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  • vinaire  On January 8, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    I plan to use this thread to comment on the taboo subject of SEX, because I want to explore its connection to SEROTONIN and a possible addiction to that chemical.

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