Spiritual work and psychological work are both necessary to reclaim our true nature. Without psychological strength, spiritual practice can easily become another addictive distraction from reality. Conversely, shorn of a spiritual perspective we are prone to stay stuck in the limited realm of the grasping ego, even if it’s a healthier and more balanced ego.
And here is where I’m humbled. I’m humbled by my feebleness in helping this person. Humbled that I had the arrogance to believe I’d seen and heard it all. You can never see and hear it all because, for all their sordid similarities, each story in the Downtown Eastside unfolded in the particular existence of a unique human being. Each one needs to be heard, witnessed, and acknowledged anew, every time it’s told. And I’m especially humbled because I dared to imagine that Serena was less than the complex and luminous person she is. Who am I to judge her for being driven to the belief that only through drugs will she find respite from her torments? Spiritual teachings of all traditions enjoin us to see the divine in each other. Namaste, the Sanskrit holy greeting, means, “The divine in me salutes the divine in you.” The divine? It’s so hard for us even to see the human. What have I to offer this young Native woman whose three decades of life bear the compressed torment of generations? An antidepressant capsule every morning, to be dispensed with her methadone, and half an hour of my time once or twice a month.
Not every story has a happy ending, ... but the discoveries of science, the teachings of the heart, and the revelations of the soul all assure us that no human being is ever beyond redemption. The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists. How to support that possibility in others and in ourselves is the ultimate question.
We see that substance addictions are only one specific form of blind attachment to harmful ways of being, yet we condemn the addict's stubborn refusal to give up something deleterious to his life or to the life of others. Why do we despise, ostracize and punish the drug addict, when as a social collective, we share the same blindness and engage in the same rationalizations?
Strong convictions do not necessarily signal a powerful sense of self: very often quite the opposite. Intensely held beliefs may be no more than a person’s unconscious effort to build a sense of self to fill what, underneath, is experienced as a vacuum.
At the core of every addiction is an emptiness based in abject fear. The addict dreads and abhors the present moment; she bends feverishly only toward the next time, the moment when her brain, infused with her drug of choice, will briefly experience itself as liberated from the burden of the past and the fear of the future—the two elements that make the present intolerable. Many of us resemble the drug addict in our ineffectual efforts to fill in the spiritual black hole, the void at the center, where we have lost touch with our souls, our spirit—with those sources of meaning and value that are not contingent or fleeting. Our consumerist, acquisition-, action-, and image-mad culture only serves to deepen the hole, leaving us emptier than before. The constant, intrusive, and meaningless mind-whirl that characterizes the way so many of us experience our silent moments is, itself, a form of addiction—and it serves the same purpose. “One of the main tasks of the mind is to fight or remove the emotional pain, which is one of the reasons for its incessant activity, but all it can ever achieve is to cover it up temporarily. In fact, the harder the mind struggles to get rid of the pain, the greater the pain.”14 So writes Eckhart Tolle. Even our 24/7 self-exposure to noise, e-mails, cell phones, TV, Internet chats, media outlets, music downloads, videogames, and nonstop internal and external chatter cannot succeed in drowning out the fearful voices within.
Dr. Gabor Maté Interview | The Tim Ferriss Show
Tim Ferriss speaks with Dr. Gabor Maté, a physician who specializes in neurology, psychiatry, and psychology. He’s well known for studying and treating addiction. I’ve wanted to invite Dr. Maté to this podcast for a while because he is not only an expert in the pathologies of addiction, but he’s experimented with — and used successfully — tools that are perhaps outside the realm of traditional psychiatry. He is also a co-founder, along with Vicky Dulai, of Compassion for Addiction, a group that advocates for a new way to understand and treat addiction.
Dr. Gabor Maté ~ Who We Are When We Are Not Addicted: The Possible Human
Dr. Gabor Maté gives us clues as to who we are when we are not addicted. Filmed January 9th, 2012 in Vancouver, B.C. as part of a launch for Beyond Addiction: The Yogic Path to Recovery.
Who do you THINK you are? - Dr. Gabor Maté with Diederik Wolsak and Sat Dharam Kaur ND
“Who Do You THINK You Are?” public talk in Vancouver Jan 29, 2016, with Dr. Gabor Maté, Diederik Wolsak and Sat Dharam Kaur ND. This talk was a fundraising event for Beyond Addiction: The Yogic Path to Recovery, in Vancouver.