Addiction is the no. 1 disease of civilization, and it’s directly and indirectly related to all other diseases. Besides physical addictions, such as the addiction to food, tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, there are psychological addictions, such as the addiction to work, to sex, to television, to shopping, to appearing young, to control, to suffering, to anxiety, to melodrama, to perfection.
Why are we addicted to all these things? We are addicted because we are not living from source; we have our connection to our soul. The use of food, alcohol, or drugs is essentially a material response to a need that is not really physical at its foundation. What we are looking for is pure joy rather than mere sensation. Self-destructive behavior is unrecognized spiritual craving. All addictions are really a search for the exultation of spirit, and this search has to do with the expansion of consciousness, the intoxication of love, which is pure consciousness.
Over and over, people have tried to overcome their addictions through psychological and behavioral methods or through medication. None of these offers a permanent cure. The only cure for addiction is spiritual. We hunger for the ecstatic experience, which is a need as basic as the need for food, water, or shelter. Ecstasy literally means stepping out. True ecstasy is stepping out of the bondage of the time-bound, space-bound world of materialism. We long to step out of the limitations of the body. We long to be free of fear and limitation. We hunger for the oblivion of our ego so that we can experience our infinite being.
Start today to transcend your addictive behaviors by observing them without judgement. Wake every day with a prayer: “Thank you God, for making me just as I am,” and then observe yourself. Be a witness to your thoughts, your moods, your reactions, your behaviors. They represent your memories of the past, and by witnessing them in the present, you liberate yourself of the past.
By observing your addictive behaviors, you observe your conditioning. And when you observe your conditioning, you are free of it, because you are not your conditioning; you are the observer of your conditioning.
Adapted from Power, Freedom, and Grace, by Deepak Chopra (Amber-Allen Publishing 2006).