We are all created, composed of tiny particles, so scientists say. Before we were born they already existed, and when we die, these atoms that formed us do not disappear. They live on. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We come from all, and we return to all. We are all. We did not choose our parents, the color of our eyes, our sex, the place and the circumstances we were born in. In fact there is very little we choose, most of it simply, miraculously happens. Somehow and sometimes we still realize that we are part of creation, of this incredible engine or wheel of life. That we are one with it. Unfortunately most of the time we lose sight of this awareness, because we have become addicted to experiencing our life, we have lost ourselves to this earthly life experience. We are scared to death of losing this or having to give that up. But what are we afraid of?
Who and what are we compared to the greatness and the perfection of creation. Where does this life force that was given to us, that was instilled in us, come from. This force that is present in everything: animals, plants, water, the earth, the universe. Isn’t it amazing how seemingly insignificant we are on a cosmic or universal scale.
And yet, on the level of the “self”, everything we were given to experience, all the facets of this human, earthly life (pain and pleasure, love and hate, peace and war, beauty and ugliness) are so important and overwhelming to us. It seems it is all there is and we expect and want it to be better and we want more of it. It has turned into a chase that has blinded us from our oneness with creation.
To use a biblical metaphor: in tasting of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we have received the faculty to experience, to know life in all its fullness, but it has separated us from paradise (perfect creation) because we cannot handle both. We have lost our way back to this original state of oneness and perfection where there is no judgment, no guilt, no shame.
I too am still struggling with the letting go of this addiction to the worldly. Of the urge to have more and better still: power, sex, status, luxury and love. Deep down I know that this is madness and yet, I participate in it. But who am I struggling with. Which part of me is writing these words. Who makes my choices. My soul or my reason, my left or my right brain hemisphere, the male or female aspects of me. Or the child. In fact, deep down I know that all of this is me.
We have become addicted to the lusts, the sensual experiences, the love this life offers us. The thought never to be able to experience this again, the fear of losing that gift lies at the root of addiction, disease and suffering. And it is a double-edged sword.
To those, who experienced terrible suffering or trauma in this life, it is a fear of realizing that you may have to go through experiencing more of this pain – or worse – in your life time. This is an overwhelming fear in which death may appear to be salvation. It also causes unrealistic expectations. How can someone who grew up in a dysfunctional family or who was the victim of abuse know what a harmonious, normal family situation is like.
The biggest fear for those who have led a life with experiences of pleasure and joy, free from suffering, is to lose life.
These two fundamental fears cause us to separate ourselves from each other, and from creation. Either because we are afraid that others may hurt us more than we already have been hurt or because we are afraid others will have or take what we want, what expect next. Both fears lead to a separation between the self and “them”, the outside world.
And yet each of us, together, we need the sun, the water the land and all that is living. The life we know would and could not be, without the rest of creation.
We have become addicted to experiencing the good things in live (whatever these may be for each of us) and we have become obsessed with fulfilling our expectations of actually experiencing them. We have them about everything. We make checklists and wish lists. We want more, ever more. It has become the purpose of our life. And when everything on our list is fulfilled, we keep coming up with new ones. We apparently believe that we are what we have. But if we have not, do we cease to exist?
We make our choices to fulfill our expectations and we behave accordingly, in pursuit of them. And the more expectations we have, the more likely it is that some or many won’t be met. And that makes us feel unhappy, angry, afraid or frustrated.
Take a look at your life: your partner, your children, your parents, your friends, your job, your house, your car. Are they really, exactly what you expected them to be? Of course not. If even two or three of these things were exactly according to your expectations, it would be truly amazing. The fact is that our expectations have no influence whatsoever on the actual outcome in reality. Life is the experience of a succession of unexpected events. Suffering begins when expectations are not met.
Sometimes our expectations can be so obsessive that we would rather undergo the suffering caused in pursuit of them, than to give up our expectation of the next ultimate rush, high, kick, relationship or of any other experience we think we so badly crave. We want it bigger, better and intenser with each additional expectation. This is not just a form of insanity; the problem is that this route inevitably leads to overdosing (and to overdoing) and to all of the negative consequences. No matter the type of the addictive or obsessive behaviour. This constant progressive form of overdosing and overdoing to extremes is what causes addiction, and what is at the origin of obsession. The anorexic in losing yet one more pound, the bulimic in eating still more, the alcoholic in picking up yet another bottle, the love addict in engaging in yet another relationship, the workaholic in putting in yet one more extra hour, in the obsessive compulsive cleaner, the abused child in overachieving even more, etc. The problem is that we do not know where it ends. What is the ultimate high or the ultimate partner or the ultimate sexual experience or the ultimate body. And that is why we keep overdosing and overdoing it.
Death is not the only possible consequence of overdosing. Depending on the obsession we suffer from (alcoholism, addiction to drugs and substances, obsessions with food or our body), it can lead to all kinds of diseases (obesity, disease of the liver and the heart, deterioration of nose cartilage, malnutrition, etc.) and it causes a lot of sadness and suffering in ourselves and in others. These consequences often slowly sneak up to us. And this is probably one of the reasons why we persist and why we keep pursuing our expectations so obsessively and for such a long time: we keep on drinking, gambling, eating, dieting, buying, cleaning, exercising, etc. We believe that we have control. Well, we don’t.
Healing from addiction or obsession is possible. In many treatment programs the first step required for recovery is “acceptance” of your powerlessness over addiction and of the unmanageability of your life. To me healing is not about this acceptance, because acceptance implies some form of admittance of guilt or of submission and confession. This is not necessary at all and in a way it is madness, since I have just made it clear that we have no control over the events in our lives, so there is no ground for feelings of guilt or sin or shame. Healing is – in stead – about awareness and consciousness. And about choices, based upon the belief in the oneness of creation.
What we believe is a matter of choice. It suffices for us to sincerely believe that we are part of and one with creation. And this is actually easy, since creation is all around us, it is alive and it is undeniable: the wind, the clouds, the water, the sun, the moon, the stars, all the life, in creatures and in atoms, our human race, everything happening around us right now in this instance.This is not a matter of acceptance either. It simply was, is and always will be.
To believe that the pursuit of the unfulfillable, uncontrollable illusions of a reality based on expectations will make us happy, is a mistake, a fallacy.
The awareness of this mistake is the basis for healing. And it does not require medicine – although with some types of addiction or obsession it may be necessary to gradually reduce the addictive substance use or the obsessive behavior under medical supervision.
There is a difference between knowing and believing. You may know that an addiction or obsession is not good for you. But do you believe it too. Or do you believe that you can ‘have another one’, that you can handle “it” one more time, one last time, one for the road. No one but you determines what you believe. You choose.
We are what we believe and we choose and act accordingly. If we believe that our planet is in a critical situation, it is so because of what we believe. This too is undeniable. We catch the fish in the oceans, we cut the trees in the rain forests, we breed animals in stables, we grow crops, we eat chemicals, we wage war. We do all these things because we believe this is what we have to do. If I believe I am an addict I will be an addict.
These are the choices that we make and keep making. It makes it clear to me that there is something seriously wrong with what we believe. This is why I have changed my belief and it is healing me, everyday.