An Addict Is An Escape Artist
The “addict” is a fictional character just as the “ego” is a fictional character. But until this is realized, it very much feels like there is an addict, as a substantially separate individual who lacks something and must therefore find completion in the future through his drug of choice.
In the recognition of non-dual realization or “no self” (“no addict”) there is often a drastic decrease in addictive behavior including cravings and obsession. This is the great untold secret of non-duality. Let’s tell this story.
Let’s start with what an addict is, what the self is, the one that believes himself to be this substantially separate individual involved in the game of lack and seeking.
An addict is an escape artist. At an early age, the movement to escape begins. The present moment feels like “not enough.” This sense of lack fuels his need to reach for something—maybe a feeling, praise, love, attention, pleasure. And he may find that what is seeking, he may find that ‘something’ for a short while. When he finds that feeling, that pat on the back, that loving smile or attention from someone, that pleasure from getting the toy he wanted, that intoxicating high, the seeking towards something else—something more—stops. But it stops only for a while. Finding satisfaction on the level of form or appearances is always temporary because forms and appearances are, by their very nature, temporary. They come and go. So the feeling or pleasure is temporary. As soon as it wears off, the inner lack becomes apparent again and the search continues . . . . The addict makes a false connection or assumption. He falsely believes that the “thing” (i.e., the form or appearance such as the praise, feeling, drug, relationship) provided his satisfaction. It didn’t. The satisfaction the addict feels in the moment of “getting the thing” is not in the thing at all. The moment of getting is a moment without seeking and without lack. The addict believes that the “thing” contains or gives him that satisfaction. He starts to associate satisfaction and contentment with finding and getting more “things,” better “things,” other new “things.” If in the very moment of gaining a “thing,” the addict would simply look within and reveal that what is happening is that the seeking is gone, he would no longer look to finding more things. He would seek the end of seeking itself. And this is where non-dual realization or the seeing of “no self” is absolutely necessary. It’s the hidden secret for help with addiction. The Holy Grail.
The very moment this belief forms . . . the belief that “things” hold the key to contentment, the addict begins looking to thought for a sense of self. “Things” are thoughts. So he thinks, I need this “thing”—this toy—or that “thing”—that feeling—or this other “thing”—this drug. And all of those things have one other thing in common. They are all thoughts. Nothing more than thoughts. And thoughts of more things to come are really thoughts of future! So the addict takes off looking for future, for more things, not realizing that all that is really happening is thinking. There is no “thing,” and therefore no “future.” Those are thoughts appearing and disappearing within the presence that is the addict’s real identity. But, because the addict has not recognized his real identity as presence (and presence is the end of seeking), the addict continues looking for future. He is looking for himself, for a completion of his inner sense of personal lack, which is the result of believing thoughts about imagined “things” and an imagined “future” that will give him his satisfaction. It’s a game of futility. The future can never be reached because it is only a presently arising thought. And things aren’t separately existing things at all. Things are thoughts. Although there are physical sensations experienced when the drug is taken, this whole movement of addiction is really a mind game. It's an identity crisis. When an addict feels a pleasurable high, he mentally associates the feeling with a thought. He then goes looking for what he thinks is a thing, when what is really happening is a dream of thought appearing and disappearing within presence, his real identity. The simple recognition of presence (i.e., non-dual realization or “no self) ends the misperception of lack and the misperception that there is something outside the addict that can give the addict a sense of completeness. It ends the misperception of separateness, the notion that something exists outside of the addict that he must find to complete himself and feel content. The recognition that presence is his real identity ends the identity crisis. As that crisis is resolved, the search for more ends. Presence is contentment itself.
In the recognition of presence, there is no sense that anything needs to be added, including drugs, praise, acknowledgment, attention, or even a spiritual search. Contentment is always here, and it has always been here, as presence itself. It’s just that the addict can’t see it. He is too busy pretending that contentment is out there in the next moment or in next thing. So the contentment that is a natural attribute of presence "feels" covered up by the movement to escape the present moment.
Yet, the addict does not see this . . . so he continues on his futile search for completion and fulfillment. He keeps chasing and chasing and chasing. And even if he gets clean, he may get involved with a spiritual quest that just keeps him chasing. He is still seeking completion but now he is doing it in the name of the search for spiritual awakening or self-improvement or recovery. The drug has changed, but it's the same chase. It's an identity crisis, no matter how you slice it. The recognition of presence ends even the search for self-improvement and enlightenment in time. It ends the notion of a time-bound, thought-based person who is looking for something in time.
The addict is like a hamster on a wheel. He keeps chasing the carrot right out beyond his reach. But he can't reach the carrot because it is only an illusion within his own mind. He doesn't see that his answer does not lie on the wheel. He doesn’t see that the answer lies in stepping off the wheel completely, in realizing that the wheel is a dream. It lies in seeing that he was always and already home in the kingdom of contentment, the present moment. It was the only the sense of lack that made life appear to be missing something.
Life has never and will never be or appear outside of the present moment. So the addict is only ever chasing an illusion, a dream that life, happiness, fulfillment, contentment is somewhere out there in the future in the next toy, the next relationship, the next drink, the next shot, the next pill, the next smoke, the next needle, the next hit, the next prayer, the next meditation sitting, the next job, or the next self-help book. The addict lives in a world of “next,” always moving away from ‘this.’ ‘This’ is presence. ‘This’ is life. So the movement towards the next thing, the next thought, is an attempt to escape ‘This,’ to escape life itself, in favor of “next.” But “next” is nothing more than a thought appearing and disappearing in life, which is presence. It is “This.” "This" is the answer to the addict's identity crisis. This moment. Presence.
As long as this dream of lack continues, the search continues . . . .
This search can go on for a lifetime . . . .
If you are suffering and seeking within this dream of lack, within the grips of addiction, I invite you to take a look at what is being said on this page and on this site generally.
I suffered in twenty years of addiction. I searched every twelve step method, religion, self-help book, teaching, and positive thinking program that I could find. The seeking for spiritual enlightenment or self-help became my new drug. It was only when I met the non-dual message that the addictive cravings and obsession greatly diminished, to the point of being virtually absent. Presence was the key. I want to share this message with anyone who will listen.