A beautiful young man, after Zikr last night, shared his struggles and challenges in finding compassion for a family member caught in the throws of addiction. He felt it was so difficult to comprehend why any person would be caught in such a trajectory of self-annihilation. But an addict is an amazing being– someone who is willing to annihilate themselves, even for the momentary illusion of being more alive, someone seeking life more passionately than many of the successful, careful and properly behaved among us may ever know.
Perhaps that is why, in 1968, God told Murshid Samuel Lewis, “Teach the Hippies.” Perhaps God looked with great appreciation upon those reckless young people who were throwing themselves over and over at the jaws of death in hopes of a glimpse of Truth, a sweet taste of the Infinite.
It is so easy to turn away from suffering. Addicts walk the edge, but how insane are those of us who feel that if we do not look at the suffering in the world, it will pass us by? Do we honestly believe that by dissociating ourselves from that which is too painful to see, we will insure our safety from pain as if God were an insurance salesman and our willful blindness was a signature on His contract?
Oh, and then there are the Fixers. Not the healers, healers are of another ilk, but the Fixers– those of us who believe we have all the solutions, and by following the appropriate rules, all problems will be solved. What a comforting offer! It’s so seductive, so seductive. Here is the attraction and beauty of religious Fundamentalism at it’s core: follow the rule book and we will be spared all pain… or at least whatever inexplicable pain we are subject to endure in this life will be explained or rewarded the next.
What addiction is the obsessive attachment to the belief that if we just find the right rule book and follow it exactly, that we will finally be saved, blessed, free of pain? What a dark road it leads us down, over and over again, into Holy Wars and hell on Earth and yet we persist. What ‘loss of control in limiting intake” is that?
And Fundamentalism isn’t limited to the spiritual realms. There are Material Fundamentalists, even Atheist Fundamentalists. For when we cry “Give me rational proof or give me death!” we are no different than those who cry, “Give me my God my way or give me death!”. In these cries, we are still courting death to preserve our precious attachment to the righteousness of our points of view. How precious is it to simply question? To possibly not know? To be willing to consider? To be willing to examine the possibilities?
What if Heaven and Hell as places of reward and punishment don’t exist? What if they are here, right now, here with us, in our minds, our points of view, our beliefs and concepts? What if we truly have the power to bring Heaven to the Earth, or Earth toward Heaven, just by altering the condition of the human heart? What if the addict’s painful and often horrible descent into personal hell is just the result of throwing herself into God without any flying lessons ? What if the horrible face that stares back at the addict from his mirror each day is a face humanity needs to recognize as part of itself every bit as much as humanity needs to recognize the Saints and the Prophets? What if “There but for the Grace of God go I” is a lie because all of us are everyone and none of us is truly free until we can accept fully and completely both the beauty and the capacity for utter devastation within us?
After all, we would not expect a child to excel at any academic discipline without recognizing and training his or her capacities, so why would we think we can fully attain our potential as a humanity or realize, as a humanity, any real self- responsibility at all by persisting in denying the darkness within us.
Perhaps the addicts among us are actually Saints, sacrificing themselves so that we can finally see who and what we truly are. Ask any addict in recovery and he will tell you– no matter what horrible things he did and how many people he hurt, the person who was hurt most by his addiction was the addict himself.
On the clinical view of Addiction–
On Murshid Samuel Lewis (Murshid SAM)–