THE FOG – The Addiction Magician
Today when we consider healing we turn to the medical model. An example is the opioid crisis. On one hand people are dying every day due to overdoses. On the other hand we have a Provincial Government in Ontario that wants to make alcohol more accessible by placing it in corner stores. This seems to be a good place to begin a discussion about addiction. First of all alcohol has always been accessible. Just ask yourself when was the last time you could not find alcohol, an LCBO or Beer Store? This rational is just juvenile and the brain child of a patriarchal man-boy which seems to be a political trend across geographic boundaries. But what is more to the point is that when we ignore the alcohol epidemic we are also fueling the opioid crisis. This is because it is all related. Addiction is addiction and one substance is related to the next. Addiction has a social and cultural impact on society and is therefore a medical problem. The problem with solving the substance abuse issues of the day relates to our narrow western medical view. The next problem is that the western medical model influences politicians, lawyers, researchers and pharmaceutical companies. Big business is happy with the current medical model because it is making them rich. This is the commodification of the public trust. So what is the answer?
This is a deep question which has many practical and philosophical dimensions. But to put it succinctly, we need to broaden our view of what medical means and how an illness is defined. Humans are made of a body, mind, emotions and spirit. An addiction attacks all of these domains. So an intervention which does not support all of these domains is destined to fail. Once again to support and increase access to alcohol in a society which already has an incredible rate of alcoholism is just near sighted and foolish. Especially once you grasp that alcoholism and opioid abuse are connected at the hip.
If we turn to the eastern model or more importantly to our ancient predecessors and learn to adopt their healing knowledge and unite them with our western model then we can experience some success. This combination of what the past has taught us merged with what modern science has revealed as truth can be powerful medicine. Rather than the western medical model going it alone an integration of past and present would create alternatives for future healing and endeavours beyond our current comprehension. This amalgamation would be more relevant for modern society.
Consider the word diagnosis. It means to recognize a disease from its symptoms. It’s root comes from “Dia” – to distinguish apart from. And “gnosis” – to come to know. So here we have a key which may unlock the door to human healing. Gnosis has been built right into the diagnostic solution. We can only heal from addiction if we turn inward to Gnosis. This return to Gnosis is a sensibility which tackles the entire spectrum of suffering. Human healing must therefore come from all the domains of life. Not just the physiological. Not just the psychological. Not just the emotional. Not just the spiritual. And certainly not just the medical or illness model.
Addiction is the most complete sickness and parasite known to the human condition. It affects the person completely. Body, mind, emotion and spirit. Society therefore collectively becomes physically sick, intellectually sick, emotionally sick and spiritually sick. Where will this trajectory bring us? What is the next great symptom or parasite which will try and get our attention? This is why if you want to understand addiction at the next level we must also include all the addictive behaviours of humans. This means to identify our addiction to entertainment, video games, cell phones, money, gambling, fossil fuels etc. Once we have a more educated and global perspective of addiction we can intervene in a more meaningful and mindful way. We can readily see how all addiction began with alcohol being abused from the very beginning of human existence. Alcohol has always been the fuel and catalyst for all addiction. And today it has brought us to the crossroads of a climate crisis.
The root word addict comes from the Latin word addictus, which means “to devote, sacrifice, sell out, betray or abandon.” The ancient myth of Addictus tells the story of a slave who is set free from his master but became so used to his chains, that he wandered the land with his chains still attached even though he could have removed them at any time. This story of course can be seen as a metaphor for the modern definition of addiction as we know it today. Because an addict becomes tolerant to the drugs they use, they become a slave that doesn’t recognize their own freedom.
Historical Use of the Word Addiction
The first known recorded reference of the term addiction in the more modern sense, was by Shakespeare in Henry V. Shakespeare used the word to imply a sense of strong inclination. From this point forward, the word addiction began cropping up in other writings, primarily being used to refer to someone that had an inclination towards a habit or goal. The word addict changed from an adjective to a noun at the beginning of the twentieth century, in specific reference to a person with drug dependence.
Knowing what we now know, how can we move forward and defend ourselves against addiction. In the classic Art of Living contributed to Epictetus or in the Art of War by Sun Tzu we learn that strategy is important when it comes to interior battles with addiction. In battle soldiers have to hold the line. If one or two are breached then the whole line of defense can crumble. Then retreat is the only option. Thus far society has been on a steady retreat with each defensive position or boundary being breached by addiction. So far society has not been able to regroup and plan an effective counter attack. What we need to do is plan a counter attack but so far all we have been able to accomplish is respond to symptoms and put out flash fires.
You may have noticed that I am anthropomorphizing addiction. This means to make an animal or object behave and appear like it is a human being. This is exactly what I am doing and is the best way to understand addiction. This means that addiction knows us better than we know ourselves. This is the shadow side in full bloom and the complete dominance of our emotional state known as emotional defilement.
Doesn’t this sound scary and a lot like mythic demonic possession? Well I am sorry to say your right and you should be scared! If you are not then you may be in a trance and walking the earth in a zombie like state of denial. This may sound drastic but how else would you describe human behaviours which are killing the very planet which sustains our life? Have fun exploring the universe but don’t expect to get too far if spaceship Earth is crippled and ultimately dies.
Each of us whether addicted or not must do our part to hold the line. Alcohol, opioids, cannabis, crack, cocaine, social programs, politicians, doctors, parents, families and substance misusers all have to hold their position of the line and defend the boundaries of seduction, ignorance, fear and anger. For instance if alcohol abandon’s the line and is more available then the entire defensive position is threatened. Today we see many of the veteran warriors of addiction dying off and being replaced with man-boys. As a result re-grouping is not happening. Therefore a counter attack cannot be mounted. With no counter attack in sight society is constantly fighting a rear guard and continues to surrender ground to addiction. This means the war against drugs, which it is aptly called, is being lost. With each retreat the invader corrupts society and an addicted society becomes the norm. This is the proverbial run away car approaching a cliff. This is the all-encompassing threat of climate crisis. This is where minimizing our relationship with alcohol has brought us. It has given us the opioid crisis and brought society to the brink of a collective suicide by climate catastrophe.
“Don’t you know life is like a military campaign? One must keep guard, another go out in reconnaissance, another on the front line. So it is for us. Each person’s life is a kind of battle, and a long and varied one too. You must keep watch like a soldier and fulfill your duties to the best of your abilities. You have been stationed in a key post, not some lowly place, and not for a short time but for life”.
Any intervention must embody all domains of life. It must involve the Damon and the Demon. As Carl Jung said, “we must embrace the shadow”. A holistic approach is nothing new, but what can be new is a community of healers populated by Homo Spiritus. If you want to know how to identify Homo Spiritus here are a few hints. Homo Spiritus will possess a beauty and aura which eludes many Homo Sapiens. Other people will be attracted to them, while Homo Spiritus may be more inclined to avoid attention. They are free spirits and thinkers who may seem eccentric at first, but have an uncanny way of making the peculiar seem plausible. The following are a few characteristics, which may help you identify Homo Spiritus.
1. They may feel different
2. They are attracted to brightness and sunlight
3. They initially feel uncomfortable when exposed to crowds
4. At times they find day to day living meaningless
5. Generally they shun society and tend to be more reclusive
6. They may be emotionally intense and may experience diverse mood swings
7. They may appear to others to dissociate, but are actually very grounded
8. They may lose track of time
9. They may have some difficulty retaining short term memories
10. They are less interested in linear time
11. They have vivid dreams
12. Others consider them different or a little strange
13. They have difficulty finding like-minded people to be social with
14. They are not always politically correct
15. They are not interested in wealth or power
16. They always see the good in other people, to the point of naïvety
17. They can be easily taken advantage of
18. They possess a strong desire to wake up, change, illuminate, and heal others
19. They are positively rebellious, but respectful
20. They are attracted to mystery and other cultures
21. They are drawn to the metaphysical and theosophical
22. They are interested in developing abstract, philosophical and spiritual realities
23. They have an aversion to technology
24. They are hypersensitive to physical, emotional, mental and spiritual influences
25. They may appear younger than their chronological age
26. They consciously make an effort to share ideas
27. They are cathartic listeners
28. They are drawn to alternative therapies, lifestyles and medicines
29. They have an innate understanding of birth and death cycles
30. They possesses strong opinions, ethical, and moral perceptions
31. They have a love for nature
32. They may feel they are coming close to completing their reincarnation cycle
33. They have amnesia of a past existence when the spirit joined with the physical body
34. They have a sense of being protected and watched over by a guardian
The healing I am referring to is not the superstitious hocus pocus of religion. But, the evidenced based integration of science and spiritual exploration. There was a time when religion, science and spirituality were all esteemed contributors to the healing arts. These practitioners were known as the Therapeutae. The meaning of the name Therapeutae is healers. The Therapeutae were an ancient order of ascetics who lived in many parts of the ancient world, but were found especially near Alexandria, the capital city of ancient Egypt. This group of ascetics is known today from the writings of Philo of Alexandria, who described the group in his De Vita Contemplativa (On the Contemplative Life), written around 10 CE.
The Therapeutae were renowned for both their asceticism and healing abilities. Indeed, the English words therapy and therapeutic are etymologically connected to the name of this ancient spiritual order, indicating that medicine, religion, and healing were deeply connected in the ancient world. In fact, healing was seen as a religious art. If you delve into history you will discover that the library of Alexandrian was the gem of the ancient world. Unfortunately it was destroyed by what can only be attributed to as the incarnation of ignorance. As a result much knowledge was lost and the rule of addictive ignorance won another battle for the church of the mind.
What I am suggesting here is that humanity would benefit from the rebirth of a modern Therapeutica who is free of the dogmatic oversite of religion. A Therapeutae renaissance would be one strategy which would re-engage the healing arts from a completely holistic perspective. It could expand the natural healing arts of evidence based science and the intrinsic mysteries of human spiritual potential. In this context the marriage of both science and spirituality could be a turning point in the war against addiction.
Albert Einstein once said “I believe in “Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind”. He was also once asked. “What is the most important question we can ask?” to which he replied, “Is the universe friendly?” This is a profound question which Mother Earth keeps trying to answer for us. Even if life exists elsewhere in the cosmos you have to admit that the earth is a very special place. So why are we destroying it? How much longer will Mother Earth remain friendly to humans?
The next renaissance will be a step forward, and the bridge between the modern era and the new millennium of Aquarius. Its focus will be on the humanization of knowledge, which will increase, rather than decrease, the dignity of life on Mother Earth. Since things like money, fame and economic growth are often quite literally de-humanizing, they will become less important. Life will stop being commodified and living virtuously will become the focus of our shared value systems. On the surface this may all seem far-fetched, but if you look deeper, you will find many small pockets of people who are already trying to live by these shared virtues. It is through these grass root organisms that the humanization of knowledge, and the systematic birthing of Homo Spiritus, will manifest in the consciousness of humanity. Do not look to the corporate entity for leadership, for they lack the fertility for the child of Homo Spiritus to grow. It will become the task of a mature Homo Spiritus to permeate the corporate world, and become the inspiration for their transformation. When institutions, churches, and corporations are populated by Homo Spiritus, they will become converted into compassionate remedies for positive change.
“Suffering is caused by the behavior patterns of one’s own mind”
The following is an imaginary futuristic community called Sophia’s Nest. In ancient Greece “Sophia” meant “wisdom”. “Philosophy” meant the “love of wisdom”. A bird’s nest is a symbol of the home, it is considered a good luck symbol, and represents the love, warmth, enthusiasm and commitment required in creating a home. Sophia’s Nest is the home of Homo Spiritus. It is a therapeutic sharing community built on the love of wisdom. Therefore its intention will be to present a new Therapeutica which will attend to the spiritual sickness created by an addicted human soul. It will be a retreat for science to catch its breath and nourish its creativity before returning to the world. It will be a refuge to detoxify the mind, heart, emotions and soul. Here the healing metaphor of a ship may help to explain how science and spirituality can navigate the stormy seas of addiction in harmony.
The ship is the vessel which possesses the potential to heal
The rudder is science which will give us the knowledge to navigate the world
The ships compass is the spiritual virtue which provides good orderly direction
The Patience of the Pyramids
To some a sharing community comprised of Homo Spiritus may sound futile and ridiculous. But not to Homo Spiritus. Just as Rome was not built in a day neither were the Pyramids of Egypt or the great Cathedrals of Europe. All of these endeavours took tremendous patience and many years and life times to complete. Likewise addiction has taken many lives and life times to entrench itself in our modern world. Therefore a tactic of addiction is to erode patience. This is what we have come to know as the need for immediate gratification. Addiction wants it now. It wants it all. And if it can’t find what it wants it will steal it. Incidentally this can also be the definition of greed. So patience is very important if we want to recover from addiction. The ancients who built the Pyramids and Cathedrals had patience. Something many of us in today’s modern world lack in grave amounts. What we don’t lack is impatience fueled by addiction and its spawn of greed, ignorance, anger and violence. We want the good life now and it must meet the seductive promises of immediate gratification. In the world of addiction there is no room for patience, pain, discipline or the mature progress of scientific evolution and spiritual growth.
In the material world a community like Sophia’s Nest may seem fantastic. However in the spiritual domain it is as normal as breathing is for the material body. If any futuristic attempt to instill the virtues of a sharing community such as Sophia’s Nest seems like a futile and ridiculous idea then maybe it is just what we need. After all if addiction possesses intellect then it would stand to reason that it will place doubt and discouragement in the mind of any of its detractors. Once this is accomplished it will supplant patience with impatience and reason with its own logic based on greed and chaos. This is why it is always important to practice the opposite virtue when dealing with impatience.
A paradigm for what Sophia’s Nest could be may be found by studying the futurist Jacque Fresco and the Venus project. The Venus Project proposes an alternative vision of the future by applying creativity and inventiveness to what we already know in order to achieve a sustainable new socio-economic system. The Venus project is much grander than what Sophia’s Nest aspires to be but will provide you with some insight into the benefits of community support when dealing with the status quo of an addicted and distracted mind.
There will always be plenty of criticism of any futuristic thought. Everything from: the evils of socialism, to a centralized and community focus which cannot escape evil which is the human nature argument. Other criticisms are concern for utopian dictatorships which are regimented and a front for personality cults which are financial money pits. And there are many more. However the vast majority of these criticisms are either based on not enough information or based on problems of today’s operating systems. This is not to say that an effort like Sophia’s Nest won’t have a boat load of problems. But so did sailing to the new world or the moon.
Present John F Kennedy said, “We don’t go to the moon because it is easy. We go because it is hard”. This is what brings out the best in humanity. This is stepping into the mystery of life where addiction cannot go. This is the curious mind at work and play.
The problem is the human condition as it is known today. If we want something better then we have to build it and the parasite of addiction must be defeated. People with the best intentions, are fallible and have been programmed to adopt bad habits and are influenced by real world stressors and problems. Humans may have developed great communication skills but we have yet to perfect it. Antidotal thought may be an acceptable motivator but it must be respectful of a scientific method. Yes there will be a boat load of problems to contend with. Especially during a period of transition. However Sophia’s Nest can become a social experiment for the world to watch. It could become a testing ground for the future of humanity. Maybe even a model for future colonies on other planets. But like the great Pyramids and Cathedrals someone has to lay the first stone which rejected by all the others becomes the corner stone for the evolved humanity of Homo Spiritus.