Archives for August 2011

Mental Illness, Physical Addiction, Intuition and Non-Attachment Spirituality

Is it real?  It is!  Image credit: Thomas Shahan via Flickr

I asked my friend Paul Loughman, who is not a blogger, to write a Guest Post for me this week.  I kept the topic wide open.  Interestingly, and typically, he chose to write on the topic of Addiction and Non-Attachment Spirituality.  It’s interesting because last week I was discussing the related topic of mental illness and how to differentiate between the “hearing voices” that comes from doing psychic or intuitive readings and the “hearing voices” that comes from schizophrenia with Michael Pierich on his blog post Mental Health and Spirituality.  I was also contemplating the ideas put forth by Justin Mazza in his article Change The Projector Of Your Reality.  Non-attachment is “just one of those things” for me – it will probably take a lifetime (or, you know, maybe next week when I suddenly become enlightened!).  Once again, we are all connected.

One thought I had on the mental health issue is that when I do psychic readings, I intentionally ask to be connected to a spiritual team and so I expect to see things, hear things, and just know things – at that time.  I don’t generally walk around and see, hear or experience anything odd at all…in my own perspective.  If your average person walked around getting gut feelings and “just knowing” certain things about people without intentionally trying or even wanting to know, they might think it IS a mental health problem, but I just see it as “being me.”  I am not in the position of diagnosing anyone, not being a mental health professional, but I do sometimes turn people away from readings and direct them to a physician when I am guided to do so.  It is not an exact science for a non-professional and I don’t profess to have the answers.

Consider the following guest post and let me know your thoughts in the comments:

After decades of struggling with alcoholism and other associated addictions, my good intentions in conquering these demons have been invariably thwarted by this most deceptive of diseases.  For the sake of brevity, I will continue to refer to it as such, though admittedly, I’m still not convinced that addiction possesses all the hallmarks of a disease, especially given the complex psychological states of mind that have inspired me and countless others to return to our self-destructive consumptions after both long and short periods of self-imposed abstinence.  I’ll leave that debate to the AMA.  But for me, despite having devoured countless medical journals on the subject, I still view it as a nihilistic philosophy to which the addictive mind becomes increasingly indoctrinated.  It is, simply put, slow and deliberate suicide; a method of avoiding pre-existing emotional pain.
As I write this, I must shamefully own up to the fact that I have not yet conquered this disease of fragile will, so all further theories I shall explore here are optimistic conjecture.
After my most infamous evenings of alcohol-fueled hijinks, and the resulting day-long nursing of the inevitable hangover and miasma of guilt and regret, I usually turn to the pages of Buddhist and other spiritual writings in the hopes of gaining perspective.  With all due respect to A.A. and 12 step programs in general, I have historically walked away from these universally-embraced rehabilitative venues feeling that the trite and repetitive catchphrases they employ did not speak to me in any substantive way.
Buddha preached above all that the true path to happiness is the pursuit of non-attachment.  While most of us are firmly entrenched in the business of career advancement, child rearing, and the American Dream of wealth accumulation, “non-attachment” may feel like a Utopian goal; one best left to the monk or the ascetic holed up in a remote Tibetan cave.  It’s no wonder the majority of us find this to be a goal beyond our capabilities of achieving.
However, I propose the following to myself as well as to you, the reader.  Perhaps the pursuit of non-attachment is best approached with baby steps.  At this moment, my most significant source of unhappiness, spiritual bankruptcy and self-loathing is the continual pursuit of the object of my addiction; namely alcohol.  So it should go without saying that I am not yet prepared to unfetter myself from other worldly trappings.
I intend to focus instead on re-indoctrinating my mind to understand its impressive level of self-deception.  When approaching a bar or liquor store, money in hand, all of the countless moments of guilt and pain that I have inflicted upon myself and others become suddenly mute.  All I am thinking about at these moments are the occasional good times I have enjoyed under the influence and the initial euphoric sense of relief I experience with my first sip.
These thoughts, more so than the actual bottle itself, are the first things I need to address.  I have fallen in love with the idea of self-destruction, somehow believing that my inevitable death or incarceration will beautifully illustrate to the world the mental and spiritual pain I have endured for the better part of my lifetime.
So I travel with some understandable trepidation towards a figurative Bodhi Tree.  It is to be hoped that this is but step one in a much longer spiritual journey.  But for now, I seek to throw off the maddeningly illogical attachment to death, negativity, melodrama, self-pity and India Pale Ale that have all combined to put me into the state of spiritual and emotional bankruptcy I currently inhabit.
And he said unto them, “Within each of us lies the power of our consent to health and to sickness, to riches and to poverty, to freedom and to slavery.  It is we who control these, and not another.” – Richard Bach