Monday, 27 March 2017

Addiction and spirituality

While preparing a paper on 'Addiction and desires', I was suggested this particular book by one priest.  I read quite a few academic and psychological articles and then read this book, written by a psychologist but with a heavy spiritual bent. Reading this book was a real 'confusion'!  It turned all what I read earlier, on its head. I redid my paper. However, (unfortunately) could not include the spiritual element and that was a real struggle.  The concept is basically based on spirituality.  The name of the book is Addiction and Grace by Gerald May.
The basic premise of the book is that each of us has an inborn desire for God.  Irrespective of whether we are conscious or not, name it so or otherwise, seek it through religion or other ways, this yearning is inescapable.  May calls addiction, the "most powerful psychic enemy of humanity's desire for God" (p. 3).

Addiction then is what distracts us from this desire for God or seek comfortable ways of escaping from His haunting (but not enslaving) love.
Psychologically, addiction uses up desire. It is like a psychic malignancy, sucking our life energy into specific obsessions and compulsions, leaving less and less energy available for other people and other pursuits (p. 13).
Here's what I liked most...
Detachment is the word used in spiritual traditions to describe freedom of desire. Not freedom from desire, but freedom of desire.... detachment has come to be associated with coldness, austerity, and lack of passion. This is simply not true (p. 14).

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