Desert Day 18: The Opposite of Addiction Is Connection …

To be lonely is to feel unwanted and unloved, and therefore unloveable. Loneliness is a taste of death. No wonder some people who are desperately lonely lose themselves in mental illness or violence to forget the inner pain.
― Jean Vanier from Becoming Human

What really causes addiction — to everything from cocaine to smart-phones? And how can we overcome it? Johann Hari has seen our current methods fail firsthand, as he has watched loved ones struggle to manage their addictions. He started to wonder why we treat addicts the way we do — and if there might be a better way. As he shares in this deeply personal talk, his questions took him around the world, and unearthed some surprising and hopeful ways of thinking about an age-old problem.

I’ve spent many years learning how to fix life, only to discover at the end of the day that life is not broken. There is a hidden seed of greater wholeness in everyone and everything. We serve life best when we water it and befriend it. When we listen before we act.

In befriending life, we do not make things happen according to our own design. We uncover something that is already happening in us and around us and create conditions that enable it. Everything is moving toward its place of wholeness. Befriending life requires that we listen for that potential which is trying to actualize itself over time. It will be there whether we are listening to a tree, a person, an organization, or a society. It is always struggling against odds. Everything has a deep dream of itself and its fulfillment.

Befriending life is less a matter of knowledge than a question of wisdom. It is not about mastering life, controlling it or exerting our will over it, no matter how well intentioned our will may be. Befriending life is more about harmlessness than it is about control. Harmlessness requires connection. It means listening to life from the place in us that is connected to the wholeness around us. The place in us that is also whole.
— Rachel Naomi Remen from My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging

When we heal ourselves, we heal the world. For as the body is only as healthy as its individual cells, the world is only as healthy as its individual souls.
— Mark Nepo from Little Book of Awakening

Of course, even when you see the world as a trap and posit a fundamental separation between liberation of self and transformation of society, you can still feel a compassionate impulse to help its suffering beings. In that case you tend to view the personal and the political in a sequential fashion. “I’ll get enlightened first, and then I’ll engage in social action.” Those who are not engaged in spiritual pursuits put it differently: “I’ll get my head straight first, I’ll get psychoanalyzed, I’ll overcome my inhibitions or neuroses or my hang-ups (whatever description you give to samsara) and then I’ll wade into the fray.” Presupposing that world and self are essentially separate, they imagine they can heal one before healing the other. This stance conveys the impression that human consciousness inhabits some haven, or locker-room, independent of the collective situation — and then trots onto the playing field when it is geared up and ready.

It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up — release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature. For some of us, our love of the world is so passionate that we cannot ask it to wait until we are enlightened.
― Joanna Macy from World as Lover, World as Self

… although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. I try to increase the power God has given me to see the best in everything and every one, and make that Best a part of my life.
— Helen Keller from Optimism

forty-days

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