The Seven Great Addictions

Many winters ago, I was sitting outside at a cafe table by San Francisco’s Mission Street. I saw so many people in the street, outcast and destitute, the dregs of the Bay. Then, I looked through the cafe window and saw myself and immediately understood that I was one of these folks, in my own way, sitting alone sipping coffee through my mind.

Had a flash of On The Road, where Kerouac’s character, Ray, is looking in the picture window near Fisherman’s Wharf. There is a woman fixing one of the mannequins in the window, and for a moment, their eyes meet. Ray (who is drunk in the scene) suddenly has a vision that this woman was his mother two lifetimes ago, and she is still castigating him for being drunk, ” You were no good then, and you’re no good now,” or something like that. At that moment, I had a vision of all the chakras lining up, but instead of the usual words, colors, and meanings attached to them, I saw all the addictions, right out in the street, but also attached within, to each of us in our chakra system and in our lives.

Addiction is not just “out there,” it is the state of who we are. This is the “First Noble Truth” of the Buddha, and it is our lot in life to deal with them, toe have compassion for our own incompleteness and brokenness. My hope is that this piece makes a small contribution toward stopping blame whatever is “out there” and to cultivate our own gardens.

Rick Jarow, Poughkeepsie Sept, 2014

1. The Food Addiction
This is not just about compulsively eating what is bad for you, this is about ignoring one’s relationship with the Divine Mother: the earth, her resources, and her inhabitants. When you do not feel nourished by life, when you are not receiving the ever-flowing energy of Abundance, you feel chronically deprived and look to substances to fill a gaping void. The “original breast” of flowing mercy is the Divine Mother, all the sucking we do to try and feel full is what happens when we misalign with source.

2. The Sex Addiction
As with other addictions, the effort to combat or curb a destructive behavior cannot work long term. The issue to consider is “why,” why is consciousness creating this energy? Usually, it is a compensation for something that is being denied or ignored. In this case, it is the beauty of the sensual world. Beauty might not make overt demands upon us, but when you are not nourished by the blue of the sky, the sounds and smells of the leaves in the wind, and the like; you become magnetized through the second chakra into sensation and sex as compensations for what is sorely missing.

3. The Power Addiction
The power addiction influences one to see and experience life in terms of “rank.” In terms of who has power and influence. Even in spheres of apparent powerlessness (as in outcaste communities I have seen in India) people will align themselves above and below one another. This addiction is especially prevalent in cultures where majorities of people have denied or repressed the body, for full-body experience is one of inherent power. Without it, one is always looking for another mountain to climb.

4. The Love Addiction
The Love addiction takes on two forms. One is romantic love, referred to by some as “the disease of the West.” This is the tabloid, soap- opera version of falling in and out of one’s projections onto other people. When there is a sense of void in the heart, one looks outward. Hence, the second manifestation of the love addiction, shopping! When we stop exchanging energy with other beings, we substitute with goods and services. “Shop till you drop” is not about relating to things or genuine exchange, but rather about filling one-self up to dull the pain.

5. The Fantasy Addiction
The Fantasy addiction is short for any homeostatic fantasy. Creative fantasy has the power and intention of one’s whole being behind it. The endless hours to screen watching or the droning of the “News” (patterned after 1920’s burlesque shows) is a way of balancing out boredom and meaningless work, the staples of contemporary life. It is being “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again.” Now/Here is where the creative action is.

6. The God Addiction
This is a pernicious one because it masks itself in piety and religiosity. What it often is, is the desperate manufacturing of, or holding onto some dogma, belief, or even “spiritual experience” as one’s raison d’etre. This allows other people to be walled off, since “I am right and you are wrong (at best, or “going to hell” at worst). Someone who is truly in touch with the Divine is kind, generous, loving, and compassionate, not angry or demeaning to everyone who is not on the same page.

7. The Nihilistic Addiction
Heroin offers a panacea for feeling pain. In fact, the determination to avoid pain may be seen as the source of addiction itself. As William Borroughs remarked years ago in Naked Lunch, one’s nihilistic drug of choice can be almost anything that allows you to lie back and shut out the world, shut out hope and hence fear. Whenever you throw out a plastic cup and the like, you are participating in this mentality which says “I don’t give a shit” about the planet, about consequences, about anything or anyone who may interfere with my comfort. The nihilist consciousness says “nothing matters” as it sneers and scowls, the free consciousness may also say “nothing matters” with bubbling joy and openness.

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